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: Former president Saleh supports UN peace talks; AQAP members fight in Taiz; ISIS Wilayat Sana’a detonates two IEDs in Sana’a; UAE counterterrorism forces arrive in Aden; residents protest AQAP in al Mukalla

Horn of Africa: SNA officer captured by al Shabaab in Doonga, Lower Shabelle region; security forces arrest al Shabaab regional leader in Elbur, Galgudud region; Galmudug forces retake Amaar from al Shabaab in the Mudug region; Kenyan NGO worker kidnapped by suspected al Shabaab militants in Garissa county, Kenya; police arrest over 100 al Shabaab suspects near Mogadishu, Baanadir region

Yemen Security Brief

  • Former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh spoke to Lebanon-based al Mayadeen News from Sana’a on October 12. Saleh said that he is prepared to participate in the UN-led peace process and will vacate his position as head of the General People’s Congress (GPC) within the next three weeks if the Saudi-led coalition ceases all airstrikes, withdraws its troops, and lifts the blockade on Yemen’s ports. Representatives from the al Houthi movement and the GPC submitted a seven-point peace plan to the UN last week.[1]
  • The Independent reported that approximately 50 al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) members are fighting alongside popular resistance forces in Taiz city. AQAP reportedly controls the taxation and security infrastructure in Suq al Samil district.[2] 
  • The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat Sana’a claimed an October 12 improvised explosive device (IED) attack on the home of Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former president’s son, in al Wazirat, Sana’a. Ahmed is currently in the United Arab Emirates under the protection of the Emirati government, according to an October 12 statement from Ali Abdullah Saleh. ISIS Wilayat Sana’a also claimed a second IED attack on al Houthi militants who responded to the scene of the original bombsite.[3]
  • Emirati counterterrorism units arrived in Aden on October 12. They will reportedly reinforce the security forces in Aden following October 6 attacks on Yemeni government and Arab coalition sites in the city. ISIS Wilayat Aden-Abyan claimed responsibility for the attacks.[4]
  • Dozens of civilians protested the presence of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in al Mukalla, Hadramawt on October 12. AQAP has controlled the port city since April. In response to the protests, AQAP deployed militants throughout the city and claimed that the demonstrators were paid by the “infidel” Yemeni government. AQAP militants also kidnapped a Yemeni journalist who covered the demonstrations.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Government officials confirmed that Mohamed Haji, a high-ranking Somalia military official was kidnapped by al Shabaab on October 11. The kidnapping took place in Doonga town in Lower Shabelle region. Haji remains in al Shabaab’s custody, and the group has since circulated images of the detained official, stating that the victim’s fate will be determined by an “Islamic court.”[6]
  • Somali security forces successfully captured an unnamed high-ranking al Shabaab member following a raid that took place on October 11. The raid, which occurred in Elbur town in Galgudud region, was conducted following a tip that an al Shabaab commander was residing on the outskirts of the town.[7]
  • Galmudug security forces successfully retook the town of Amaar from al Shabaab on October 13. The town, which is located in the Mudug region, has been under al Shabaab’s control since it was initially captured on October 1. Casualties are reported to have occurred as a result of the operation, although specific figures are unavailable at this time.[8]
  • A Kenyan teacher working for the non-governmental organization (NGO) Windle Trust was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen on October 12. The kidnapping occurred near a refugee camp in the town of Dadaab, located within Kenya’s Garissa County. The victim is believed to have been taken across the Somali border after the vehicle she was riding in was seized by the perpetrators. Although no one has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, authorities suspect al Shabaab’s involvement. Additionally, it should be noted that the NGO had a driver, whose fate is unknown following the attack.[9] 
  • Joint Somali and AMISOM security forces arrested over 100 people on the outskirts of Mogadishu, located in the Banadir region. The house-to-house security operation, which was focused on detaining suspected militants, or individuals suspected of harboring members of al Shabaab, occurred on October 11 after local residents provided information about al Shabaab sympathizers in the area.[10] 
[2] Michelle Ghabrial, “Yemen conflict: How al-Qaeda is thriving in the nation’s civil war,” Independent, October 12, 2015. Available:
[3] SITE Intelligence Group. Source available upon request.
Mohammed Albasha, Twitter, October 12, 2015. Available:
 Pro-ISIS Twitter accounts. Sources available upon request.
[4] “Establishment of camps to mix the resistance and the army and Emirati counterterrorism forces arrive in Aden,” Barakish, October 12, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[5] “Protest in al Mukalla against al Qaeda, who described them as calling for strife and chaos against the mujahideen,” Al Masdar, October 12, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
“Al Qaeda intensifies the spread of its militants in al Mukalla hours after demonstrations,” Al Masdar, October 12, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
“Al Qaeda kidnaps correspondent from Azal station in al Mukalla,” Barakish, October 13, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[6] “Top Somali military commander kidnapped by al-Shabaab,” Africa News Agency, October 11, 2015. Available:
“Government confirms capture of security officer by al-Shabaab,” Wacaal Media, October 12, 2015. Available:
[7] “Government Forces arrest Al-shabab Ring Leader in El-Buur,” Goobjoog News, October 11, 2015. Available:
[8] “Al-shabaab takes control of Amaara Locality,” Goobjoog News, October 2, 2015. Available:
“Breaking: Galmudug forces recapture Amara from Al Shabaab,” Shabelle News, October 13, 2015. Available:
[9] “Suspected Al-Shabaab gunmen kidnap teacher in Kenya’s Dabaab,” Xinhua, October 13, 2015. Available:
[10] “Over 100 arrested in security swoop in Mogadishu,” Xinhua, October 12, 2015. Available:
“Somalia: 100 arrested in Mogadishu security sweep,” Shabelle News, October 11, 2015. Available:
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