Gulf of Aden Security Review

A regularly updated review of both Yemen and the Horn of Africa covering topics related to security, governance, and militant activity.

Yemen: ISIS Wilayat Hadramawt attacks a Yemeni Army checkpoint in Hadramawt governorate; popular resistance forces take control of Waziyah district in Taiz governorate; popular resistance forces repulse al Houthi attack

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab blockades Burdhubo, Gedo region; Somali and AMISOM police arrest al Shabaab suspects near Mogadishu, Banadir region; pro-ISIS militants reported to flee to Galgala hills, Bari region

Yemen Security Brief

The Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham's (ISIS) Wilayat Hadramawt attacked a Yemeni Army checkpoint in the Shibam area of Hadramawt governorate in eastern Yemen on November 20. The attackers detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) and a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) at the checkpoint’s entrance and then proceeded to capture three Yemeni Army barracks. The attacks killed at least nineteen soldiers and wounded dozens. Early reports identified al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) as responsible but a pro-AQAP Twitter account later confirmed the attack as the work of ISIS after an ISIS Wilayat Hadramawt Twitter account claimed responsibility for it.[i]

Popular resistance forces, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, pushed back al Houthi forces and took control of al Waziyah district of Taiz governorate in central Yemen on November 20. Reports indicate that the al Houthis have retreated west to the coastal district of Mocha. Al Houthi-Saleh militants and coalition-backed popular resistance forces are attempting to consolidate territory along Yemen’s battle lines before the impending Geneva peace talks.[ii]

Al Houthis unsuccessfully attacked a school controlled by popular resistance forces in the Bayhan district of Shabwah governorate in central Yemen on November 20. The popular resistance received support from Saudi airstrikes. Reports indicate the fighting killed at least 35 al Houthi militants.[iii]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants blockaded the Gedo region’s Burdhubo town on November 20. Government officials said that the militants are occupying all of the key roadways leading to the town and refusing to allow anyone in or out. The town’s mayor has asked the federal government to mount an offensive to end the blockade and drive the militants away.[iv]

Somali and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) police conducted security operations on November 20 in Arbiska village, located on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Banadir region. Police conducted house-to-house raids and detained a number of youth believed to be affiliated with al Shabaab. The arrests are likely due to increased security measures in and around the capital city of Mogadishu following a number of assassinations of government workers.[v]

A pro-ISIS faction of al Shabaab militants is believed to have abandoned their former group and fled north to join a pro-ISIS cell operating in Puntland’s Galgala hills. The militants previously operated within southern Somalia’s Jubbaland State territories before leaving to head north. It is unclear whether the militants fleeing to Puntland are the same ones who pledged allegiance to ISIS in an online video on November 9. The reports come from Somali media outlets citing “reliable sources.”[vi] 

[i] “Islamic State claims Yemen attack,” Reuters, November 20, 2015. Available:
Pro-ISIS Twitter account, November 20, 2015. Source Available Upon Request.
Pro-AQAP Twitter account, November 20, 2015. Source Available Upon Request
[ii] “Pro-government forces in Yemen wrest control of al Waziyah from al Houthis,” November 20, 2015. Available:
[iii] “35 al Houthi supporters killed in Bayhan district, Shabwah,” Barakish, November 20, 2015. Available:
[iv] “Al Shabaab militants put blockade on Burdhubo town – Official,” Shabelle News, November 20, 2015. Available:
[v] “Somali police conduct security sweep outside Mogadishu, detains al Shabaab suspects,” Shabelle News November 20, 2015. Available:
[vi] “Pro ISIL faction of Al-shabaab militants flee to Galgala hills from Jubbaland,” Wacaal Media, November 20, 2015. Available:
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