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: Russian ambassador discusses UNSCR 2216; popular resistance forces attack al Houthis north of Sana’a; AQAP attacks al Houthis in al Bayda; AQAP fires on protestors in al Mukalla, Hadramawt

Horn of Africa: High-ranking al Shabaab leader pledges allegiance to ISIS; al Shabaab claims to have killed Somali intelligence officer in Galkayo, Mudug region; Kenyan Anti-Terror Police arrest two Tanzanian al Shabaab members in Lamu County, Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

  • The Russian ambassador to Saudi Arabia met with Yemeni Vice President Khaled Bahah in Riyadh on October 22. They discussed the need for a peace deal in Yemen, as well as the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2216, which requires the al Houthis to disarm and withdraw from seized territory. Russia abstained from voting on UNSCR 2216 in April, but the resolution is currently a centerpiece of upcoming UN-led peace talks. The ambassador said that the al Houthis made “a number of mistakes” that brought Yemen to its current state.  Al Houthis demonstrated in front of the Russian embassy in Sana’a on October 22 and called for Russia to intervene against the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.[1]
  • Popular resistance forces attacked an al Houthi patrol north of Sana’a city on October 22, marking the first ground attack in al Houthi-controlled Sana’a governorate in months.[2]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants reportedly ambushed a group of al Houthi fighters in al Bayda on October 20, four days after pro-al Houthi militias drove popular resistance forces out of the central Yemeni governorate. An improvised explosive device (IED) killed two civilians in Mukayras district, al Bayda on October 20. A second IED detonated at a police headquarters in al Bayda on October 22, according to reports. No group has claimed responsibility for the IED attacks.[3]
  • AQAP members opened fire on a group of demonstrators in al Mukalla, Hadramawt on October 22. The demonstrators were demanding the release of two journalists and a photographer who were kidnapped following their coverage of an anti-AQAP protest in al Mukalla on October 12.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Sources within al Shabaab state that a high-ranking al Shabaab leader, Abdul Qadir Mumin, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) in a video released online. Mumin is a religious leader operating out of Puntland. Militants fighting under Mumin similarly pledged their allegiance to ISIS as well, with certain anonymous members reaching out to Western media sources to confirm their change of allegiance. Unconfirmed reports of support for ISIS among lower level al Shabaab members have emerged over the past months; however, this event represents the first major instance of a high-level al Shabaab member choosing to affiliate with ISIS. The reports Mumin’s change of allegiance has since been supported as valid by U.S. intelligence sources.[5]
  • Al Shabaab claimed to have shot and killed a senior Puntland intelligence officer on October 23, in Galkayo, Mudug region’s capital. The group said that the targeted individual was associated with both Ethiopian and U.S. intelligence services. Government sources have yet to confirm the attack or comment on the militant group’s claim of credit.[6] 
  • Kenyan Anti-Terror Police participating in the ongoing Operation Linda Boni arrested two Tanzanian members of al Shabaab on October 23. The individuals were attempting to cross the border into Somalia to join with al Shabaab’s core group when they were arrested in Lamu Country, Kenya. Both are self-admitted members of al Shabaab and had been arrested in Kenya before under similar circumstances.[7] 
[1] “Russia says that al Houthis made a number of mistakes that brought Yemen to the current state,” Al Masdar, October 22, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
“Al Houthis ask Russia for military intervention in Yemen,” al-Tagheer, October 22, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[2] “Azal resistance attacks al Houthi and Saleh patrol in Sana’a,” al-Tagheer, October 22, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
“The army to Sana'a- the Azal resistance begins the battle from the airport,”, October 22, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[3] Mohammed Albasha, Twitter, October 22, 2015. Available:
“Casualties in al Qaeda ambush in al Bayda, central Yemen,” Khabar Agency, October 20, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[4] “Al Qaeda fires live bullets to disperse protestors demanding freeing of kidnapped journalists,” Barakish, October 22, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[5] Robyn Kriel and Briana Duggan, “Al-Shabaab faction pledges allegiance to ISIS,” CNN, October 23, 2015. Available:
Abdi Sheikh, “Small group of Somali and al Shabaab swear allegiance to Islamic State,” Reuters, October 23, 2015. Available:
[6] “Al-Shabaab claims killing Puntland Intelligence officer in Galkayo,” Wacaal Media, October 23, 2015. Available:
[7] “Tanzanians arrested in anti-terror operation,” Daily Nation, October 23, 2015. Available:
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