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: U.S. lawmakers challenge U.S. support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen; al Houthi forces claim to destroy Saudi naval ship northwestern Yemen; political parties aligned with Hadi government criticize al Houthi movement and southern secessionists; Hadi government forces kill al Houthi commanders in Sa’ada governorate; Saudi-led coalition air defense systems intercept al Houthi explosive drone near Red Sea coast

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab executes five suspected foreign spies in Jilib, Middle Jubba region, southern Somalia; suspected al Shabaab militants kill two teachers in Mandera County, northeastern Kenya; U.S.-backed Somali special forces kill al Shabaab recruiter in Wanlaweyn, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia; al Shabaab condemns former deputy leader Mukhtar Robow’s campaign for office

Yemen Security Brief

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators plans to send Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a letter expressing their significant concerns over continued U.S. support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen on October 10. The group questioned Pompeo’s September 12 certification that the Saudi-led coalition is undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians resulting from military operations in Yemen.[1]

Al Houthi forces claimed to have destroyed a Saudi naval ship in the Red Sea near Midi district, Hajjah governorate, northwestern Yemen on October 10. Saudi officials have not confirmed the claim.[2]

Political parties aligned with Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi blamed the al Houthi movement for prolonging the war in Yemen and exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in an October 8 joint statement. The political parties also rejected the October 3 statement issued by the Transitional Political Council of the South (STC), which called for peaceful uprising against the Hadi government. The joint statement said that the STC’s call for protest threatens Yemen’s stability.[3]

Hadi government forces killed al Houthi commanders Abdullah Yousif Thawra and Abu Ali al Nawari in Baqim district, northeastern Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen on October 8. Thawra was reportedly a senior military commander in Sa’ada and Nawari was appointed by the al Houthi movement ten days ago as the commander of the Baqim front, according to Saudi news. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes also killed eighteen al Houthi troops in these clashes.[4]

Saudi-led coalition air defense systems intercepted an al Houthi explosive drone near the Red Sea coast on October 10. Emirati news claimed the drone was an Iranian-made Qasef 1.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab publicly executed five men it accused of spying for the U.S., British, and Somali intelligence services in a public square in Jilib town, Middle Jubba region, southern Somalia on October 9. Al Shabaab claimed that one of the victims, a British citizen, admitted to providing intelligence to British agencies about al Shabaab supporters living in the United Kingdom. Al Shabaab claimed one of the other victims had been an informant for Somali intelligence. The informant had attached a device to an al Shabaab convoy in order to help U.S. forces conduct a drone strike, according to the group. [6]

Suspected al Shabaab militants killed two non-Muslim teachers at a secondary school in Lafey, Mandera County, northeastern Kenya on October 9. The militants threw an explosive device at a teacher’s home and burned down the school’s staff room before fleeing from police.[7] 

U.S.-backed Somali special forces raided a suspected al Shabaab recruiter’s home in Wanlaweyn town, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on October 9. Somali special forces killed the suspected al Shabaab recruiter, a well-known elder.[8]

Al Shabaab issued a statement denouncing the group’s former deputy leader,  Mukhtar Robow, labeling him an apostate and calling for his death. Robow announced his campaign for Southwest state president on October 4. The Somali Federal Government barred his candidacy because he remains under international sanctions for his previous terrorist activity. Robow disagreed with al Shabaab’s former emir Ahmed Abdi Godane over al Shabaab’s objectives before defecting to the Somali Federal Government in August 2017. He remains a Specially Designated Global Terrorist according to U.S. law.[9]

[1] “U.S. lawmakers challenge Trump’s support for Saudi war in Yemen,” The Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2018,

[2] “Destruction of a military boat of the forces of aggression off the coast of Midi,” Al Masirah, October 10, 2018,

[3] “Yemeni political parties hold al Houthi accountable for what is happening in Yemen and reject STC latest statement,” Saba Net, October 8, 2018,

[4] “20 al Houthi militiamen killed in Yemen’s Baqim including two commanders,” Al Arabiya, October 10, 2018,

[5] “Arab coalition intercepts al Houthis drone loaded with explosives in Yemen,” Sky News Arabia, October 10, 2018,; and “Saudi-led coalition intercept an al Houthi drone loaded with explosives,” Emirati News Agency, October 10, 2018,

[6] “Al-Shabaab says it executes 5 suspected spies in Somalia,” Associated Press, October 10, 2018,; and “Somalia’s al-Shabaab says it has killed British spy,” BBC, October 10, 2018,

[7] “Al-Shabaab militants kill two teachers in Kenya’s Mandera county,” Goobjoog, October 10, 2018,; and Wazir Khamsin, “Teachers killed in Kenya by suspected militants,” BBC, October 10, 2018,

[8] “Somali, U.S. Forces Raid on Wanlaweyn Town, Kill a Radical Islamist Militants’ Recruiter,” Intelligence Briefs, October 10, 2018,; and “Somali, Foreign forces raid on Wanlaweyn town,” Cassmidada, October 9, 2018,

[9] “Somalia: Al-Shabaab denounces ex-deputy leader as an ‘apostate,’’ Garowe, October 10, 2018,; “Gulf of Aden Security Review, October 4, 2018” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, October 4, 2018,; and “Profile: Sheikh Mukhtar Robow (Abu Mansur),” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, November 14, 2011,

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