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. State Department offers reward for information on senior AQAP propagandist; ISIS Wilayat al Bayda defectors claim that Taiz governorate is a major ISIS recruiting area; Hadi government vice president says that Iran supports terrorism in the region; UNICEF warns that economic crisis and al Hudaydah offensive place millions of children at risk; Giants Brigade seizes large cache of al Houthi arms in al Hudaydah  

Horn of Africa: KDF bombs al Shabaab bases in Gedo region, southern Somalia; al Shabaab ambushes AMISOM convoy in Hiraan region, central Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

The U.S. Department of State announced on October 18 that it is offering a reward of up to five million U.S. dollars for information on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) senior official and propagandist Khalid al Batarfi. The U.S. Department of State also increased its reward for information on AQAP emir Qasim al Raymi from five million to ten million U.S. dollars.[1]

Alleged ISIS Wilayat al Bayda defectors claimed that Taiz governorate is a major recruiting area for ISIS, according to an unofficial AQAP-affiliated Telegram post. They also claimed that ISIS bans its members from traveling abroad and tortures anyone who attempts to defect. At least four militants have left ISIS since late August 2018, according to the Telegram post.[2]

The Vice President of the Yemeni government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Lieutenant General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, said on October 19 that Iran is supporting and sponsoring terrorism in the region through the al Houthi forces, which he claimed have caused suffering for the Yemeni people. Al Ahmar stated that the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen will continue its efforts to eliminate the presence of al Houthi forces and liberate Yemen.[3]

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore called all parties in the Yemen conflict to cease attacks on civilian infrastructure, including al Hudaydah port in western Yemen, on October 18. The combination of the deepening economic crisis and violence in al Hudaydah city will likely deprive another 1.2 million Yemenis of basic water and sanitation, according to UNICEF. An additional 3.5 million Yemenis will suffer from food insecurity. Four million more Yemenis are likely to become food insecure if al Hudaydah port is blocked or damaged.[4]

The Giant Brigades recovered a large al Houthi cache of 120 caliber mortar shells while combing farms adjacent to al Hali district, east of al Hudaydah in western Yemen, on October 19. Emirati-backed Yemeni forces repelled an al Houthi counterattack in the Kilo 10 area along the road linking al Hudaydah and Sana’a on October 18.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) fighter jets bombed al Shabaab bases in Geriley town, Gedo region, southern Somalia on October 19.[6] KDF soldiers executed three civilians and wounded four others in Barmili village, near Geriley on October 18, according to local witnesses. The KDF soldiers attacked the civilians after their vehicle ran over an improvised explosive device (IED) in the area.[7]

Al Shabaab ambushed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) vehicles along the road between Bulo Burde and Halgan in Hiraan region, central Somalia on October 18. Al Shabaab killed two Ugandan AMISOM soldiers in an ambush in Marka town, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on October 16.[8]


[1] “Rewards for Justice-Reward offer for information on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula key leaders,” U.S. Department of State, October 18, 2018,

[2] “ISIS defectors reveal that Taiz is a major recruiting area for ISIS,” Twitter, October 18, 2018,

[3] “Yemeni Vice President: Iran sponsors sabotage and terrorist project in the region,” Saudi Press Agency, October 19, 2018,; and “Yemen’s Vice President: Iran sponsors terrorism project in region,” Al Arabiya, October 19, 2018,

[4] “In Yemen, millions of children could soon be without food or water as economic crisis deepens and al Hudaydah violence drags on,” UNICEF, October 18, 2018,

[5] “The Giants Brigades combs a number of farms in al Hudaydah,” Saba Net, October 19, 2018,

[6] Philip Mwakio, “Kenyan Defense Forces fighter jets have bombed Somalia southern region,” Standard Media, October 19, 2018,

[7] Harun Maruf, Twitter, October 18, 2018,

[8] “Shabaab claims bombing 2 Kenyan military vehicles in Mandera, attacks on AMISOM, PSF, and SNA forces in Somalia,” SITE Intelligence Group, English translation available by subscription at; and “Somalia: AU peacekeepers killed in Al-Shabab ambush,” Garowe, October 18, 2018,

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