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: Syrian Islamist militant group reportedly kidnaps five Yemeni military officers in Syria; President Hadi comments on targeted strikes in Yemen; pro-government PRC leader survives assassination attempt in southern Abyan governorate; Yemeni Chief of Staff of the General Command meets with U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein in Sana’a; President Hadi meets with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in Washington, D.C.; Yemeni security official denies rumors of an attack on a Saudi military attaché in Sana’a
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab leaves Kismayo, AMISOM and Somali troops enter; grenade attack kills one child, injures six in Nairobi, senior Somali government official killed in Baidoa; airstrikes in Gedo region kill three civilians; two police officers shot in Garissa, Kenya; explosives found traveling from Liboi to Nairobi; 24 arrested during searches in Baidoa
Yemen Security Brief
- Jabhat al Nusra, an Islamist militant group fighting against Bashar al Assad’s regime in Syria, posted a video online on September 30 claiming to have captured five Yemeni military officers in Syria. In the video, one of the Yemeni officers identified as Mohammed Abdu Hezam al Malayki said the Yemeni government sent military officers to Syria to help Bashar al Assad’s regime defeat opposition rebels. The Yemeni government has denied these comments, stating that the Yemeni military officers were studying at a military academy in northern Aleppo city.
- Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi said on September 29 regarding targeted strikes in Yemen that “Every operation, before taking place, they take [sic] permission from the president.” President Hadi added, “The drone technology is more advanced than the human brain.” This is the first time President Hadi has publically commented on his role in targeted strikes in Yemen.
- Mohammed al Aydarus, leader of pro-government Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in Lawder, survived an assassination attempt on September 29 in southern Abyan governorate. According to local sources, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device near al Aydarus’ vehicle, wounding ten individuals and killing one of al Aydarus’ bodyguards. This is the fourth failed assassination attempt on Mohammed al Aydarus.
- Maj. Gen. Ahmed Ali al Ashwal, Chief of Staff of the General Command, met with U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein on October 1 in Sana’a. Both sides discussed how to better improve military cooperation, including the sharing of information and expertise on issues related to counterterrorism.
- Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi met with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on September 29 in Washington, D.C. During the meeting, both sides discussed cooperation in strengthening security at airports and shipping harbors in Yemen.
- An unidentified Yemeni security official denied reports that an explosion occurred at a Saudi military attaché in Sana’a on October 1. The unidentified Yemeni security official called on Yemeni news sources to investigate the accuracy of stories before publishing.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab left the port city of Kismayo on September 28 in the face of a joint AMISOM and Somali attack. Al Shabaab announced its exit via Twitter but al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage, also known as Ali Dhere, promised to strike back when the Kenyan AMISOM contingent entered the town. Following al Shabaab’s departure, there were targeted killings and looting throughout the city causing fear among the residents. AMISOM troops did not initially enter the city due to reports that militants were still inside. Instead Kenyan ships bombed parts of Kismayo on September 30 and cleared areas surrounding the city. These airstrikes did cause civilian casualties but were targeted at hideouts where al Shabaab fighters were assumed to be hiding. Al Shabaab continued to fight back carrying out a series of guerilla attacks against AMISOM forces, sixteen were killed in one such attack on September 30. On October 1, AMISOM troops finally entered Kismayo without encountering any al Shabaab troops.
- A grenade attack targeting a Sunday school for kids killed one child and injured six others at a church in Nairobi on September 30. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack but blame falls on al Shabaab. Following the attack a mob armed with sticks and stones attacked Somali people who lived in the surrounding area. Thirteen were injured during the mob attack.
- Senior government official Muqtar Qasim, was killed on September 30, in Baidoa town in the Bay region of Somalia. Qasim, who worked in the government tax office in Somalia’s third largest city, was shot on his way home after leaving his mosque. The assailants fled the scene and have not been caught. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
- Airstrikes targeting al Shabaab positions in Bardhere town in the Gedo region killed three civilians on September 29, including women and children. The unidentified planes did hit Islamists training camps, and those casualties are unknown. 
- Two police officers were killed in Garissa, Kenya, located near the Kenya-Somalia border on September 30. The two police officers were walking to their posting at a college when they were shot and killed from a taxi cab. The shooters then hopped out of the cab and took the officers’ guns. The guns were later recovered in a nearby bush, but the shooters have yet to be caught.
- Explosives that were being trafficked from Liboi, Kenya to Nairobi were caught by Kenyan police during the search of a van at a roadblock on the road leading to Nairobi on September 28. The twin bomb, which is a powerful type of IED, was already assembled and only needed to be connected in order to be operational. There were eight men arrested who were traveling with the bomb, two were Kenyan and six were Somali.
- Twenty-four people were arrested on September 30 during a search of Baidoa town conducted by Somali government troops. Many of those arrested are suspected of being members of al Shabaab.