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: Hadi government forces arrest Salafi-jihadi commander in Taiz city, central Yemen; militants attempt to assassinate imam in Aden city, southern Yemen; AQAP militants conduct complex attack on security headquarters in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen; Hadi government prime minister announces seizure of Iranian vessel in Gulf of Aden; AQAP senior spokesman criticizes Saudi Arabia; AQAP militants detonate IEDs targeting security forces in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen

Horn of Africa: Kenyan chief prosecutor arrests two opposition leaders; Kenyan police arrest suspected al Shabaab militant in Mombasa, southeastern Kenya; al Shabaab militants detonate IED in Lower Shabelle, southern Somalia; Mudug governor blames Puntland forces for farmer attack; Ethiopian security forces kill Oromo and Amhara protesters in Oromia, western Ethiopia

Yemen Security Brief

Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi government-aligned 22nd Armored brigade forces arrested Salafi-jihadi commander Hashim al Sana’ani along with eight of his militants in Osifa neighborhood, north of Taiz city, central Yemen on October 23. The Hadi government-aligned 35th Armored Brigade also arrested likely al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants during a raid in al Hajriyah village, southern Taiz governorate on October 20. Military sources state the militants were planning attacks on government buildings and assassinations of military leaders. The 35th Armored Brigade includes the Salafi Abu Abbas brigade, which has previously cooperated with AQAP. Abu Abbas militants reportedly clashed with AQAP militants in Taiz city on October 17 after the Abu Abbas brigade agreed to increase cooperation with the Saudi-led coalition.[1]

Militants attempted to assassinate imam Sheikh Mohammed Ali al Nashiri in Dar Saad district, Aden city, southern Yemen on October 22. Security forces dismantled an explosive device attached to his car after al Nashiri discovered it. Militants assassinated two other Salafi imams on October 10 and 18 in Aden city. Aden governor Abdul Aziz al Muflihi announced on October 22 that security forces would begin providing protection for imams and mosques in the city.[2]

AQAP militants conducted a complex attack on an Emirati-backed security headquarters in Mudiyah district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on October 22. An AQAP militant detonated a suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) at the gate of an al Hizam base in Qarn Ashal area, Mudiyah district. AQAP militants then stormed the base with small arms and suicide vests (SVESTs). One AQAP militant detonated his SVEST inside the base. Al Hizam forces killed two other AQAP militants before they were able to detonate their SVESTs.[3] 

Hadi government Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghir announced that local fishermen seized an Iranian vessel and its 19 crew members off the coast of Yemen’s Socotra island in the Gulf of Aden on October 21. Iranian news reported Daghir’s claim, but did not verify the event.[4]

AQAP senior spokesman Khaled Saeed Batarfi criticized Saudi Arabia’s Westernization and encouraged Muslims to rise up against Saudi Arabia in a video produced by AQAP’s media foundation on October 20. Batarfi highlighted Saudi Arabia granting women the right to drive and arresting scholars as proof of the country’s secularization.[5]

AQAP detonated two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) targeting security forces guarding a government building in Rada’a city, al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on October 20. AQAP fights alongside local tribal militias in al Bayda and frames itself as protectors of the Sunni population.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Kenyan chief prosecutor Keriako Tobiko charged former Kisumu county Deputy Governor Ruth Odinga, sister of Opposition leader Raila Odinga, and member of parliament Fred Outa on October 23 for obstructing the re-run election preparations and inciting violence during opposition protests. Raila Odinga called for daily protests against Kenya’s electoral commission after withdrawing from the re-run election because of concerns of the election’s credibility. Odinga stated he will not recognize the results of the re-run election and will announce a new plan for the election on October 25.[7] 

Kenyan police arrested suspected al Shabaab militant Hamida Awadh during a raid in Kibokoni, Mombasa, southeastern Kenya on October 22. Awadh was planning an attack on Mombasa city, according to Kenyan police. Awadh regularly communicated with an al Shabaab militant in Somalia. Police discovered al Shabaab propaganda in her apartment.[8] 

Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED), striking a minibus in Daniga village, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia, 35 kilometers north of Mogadishu on October 22. The minibus was traveling on the Afgoi-Balcad highway ahead of Somali National Army (SNA) forces, the likely intended target. Eleven farmers died in the blast.[9] 

Mudug regional governor Abdirashid Hashi Artan blamed Puntland security forces for killing farmers outside Galkayo, Mudug region, central Somalia on October 22. Galmudug and Puntland state forces clashed on October 7 and 13 over disputed territory in the Mudug region. Galmudug and Puntland forces also clashed after Puntland officials allegedly provided faulty intelligence that resulted in a U.S. airstrike killing several Galmudug forces on September 28, 2016. Galmudug and Puntland state leaders have broken three peace agreements since December 2016.[10]

Ethiopian security forces killed eight Oromos and three Amharas during protests against the Ethiopian government’s repression of the ethnic groups in Buno Bedele, Oromia, western Ethiopia on October 22, according to Oromia spokesperson Addis Arega. The Oromos and Amharas are Ethiopia’s largest two ethnic groups. Ethiopian police killed eight civilians and wounded 30 others while attempting to disrupt the protests in Oromia on October 12. The Tigray ethnic community, the country’s fourth largest ethnic group, control Ethiopia’s government.[11]

[1] “Government forces arrested a senior leader accused of belonging to an extremist organization north of Taiz,” Al Masdar, October 23, 2017,; “Government forces in Taiz announced the arrest of a terrorist cell that was planning assassinations and bombings,” Al Masdar, October 23, 2017,; and “Armed clashes in Taiz expose the relationship between Abu Abbas and Al Qaeda,” Mareb Press, October 17, 2017,
[2] “An explosive device planted under the car of imam Mohammed Ali al Nashiri of the al Rahman mosque in the meat district,” Aden Tomorrow, October 22, 2017,; and “Governor of Aden to provide security protection for preachers and mosques,” Aden Tomorrow, October 22, 2017,
[3] AQAP detonates SVBIED, Telegram, October 22, 2017; “Three security forces were killed and three others wounded in a suicide attack in Abyan,” Al Masdar, October 23, 2017,; Demolinari, Twitter, October 22, 2017,
[4] Ahmed bin Daghir, Twitter, October 23, 2017,; and “Yemeni PM says fishermen have seized Iranian vessel, sailors,” Reuters, October 21, 2017,
[5] AQAP releases new Batarfi video, Telegram, October 20, 2017; and Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, October 22, 2017,
[6] AQAP detonates bombs in al Bayda, Telegram, October 21, 2017.
[7] Duncan Miriri, “Kenya to charge opposition leader's sister with incitement to violence,” Reuters, October 23, 2017,; Hamza Mohamed, “Raila Odinga says he will not recognise Kenyatta win,” Al Jazeera, October 22, 2017,; “Wait for my word on October 25, Raila Odinga tells supporters,” The Standard, October 21, 2017,; and “The Latest: Kenya to charge 2 for disrupting elections,” Washington Post, October 23, 2017,
[8] “Kenyan Police Nab Terror Suspect In Mombasa,” Radio Shabelle, October 23, 2017,
[9] Harun Maruf, “Landmine blast kills six in Somalia,” VOA, October 22, 2017,; and “Mogadishu: 11 killed week after deadliest blast,” Al Jazeera, October 22, 2017,
[10] Galmudug balmes Puntland for deadly battle in Galkayo, Radio Shabelle, October 23, 2017,; “Puntland and Galmudug forces clash,” Hiiraan Online, October 7, 2017,; and “Somalia: Renewed fighting between Galmudug and Puntland in Galkayo,” Garowe Online, October 13, 2017,
[11] “Ethiopia hit by deadly Oromo-Amhara clashes,” Africa news, October 23, 2017,; and “Ethiopia: 11 killed in continued violence in restive reegion,” Radio Shabelle, October 23, 2017,

View Citations
Arrow down red
Nov '17
Oct '17
Sep '17