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: Yemen security officials reveal Ansar al Sharia still has cells in south Yemen; Yemeni EOD teams destroy stockpile of explosive devices in Abyan governorate; 2nd Mountain Infantry Brigade deploys troops to Lawder district in anticipation of AQAP attack; Yemeni and American officials discuss counterterrorism cooperation in Sana’a; Jamal Benomar travels to Aden to convince southerners to participate in National Dialogue; Yemeni security forces find seven landmines in Taiz governorate; Yemeni intelligence arrests six Yemenis in Sana’a airport

Horn of Africa: A Somali journalist is shot in Las Anod, Sool region; Britain condemns the killing of the Somali journalist in Las Anod, Sool region; Kenyan troops arrest 72 al Shabaab suspects in Kismayo; Kenyan soldiers clash with al Shabaab militants near Kolbio, Kenya; Puntland court convicts Yemeni national on counts of terrorism; Kenyan troops vacate Kismayo University

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni security officials and local residents noted that Ansar al Sharia, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s insurgent arm, has formed “sleeper cells” in Abyan governorate. These cells, such as the one led by Nader al Shaddadi that was targeted on October 18, remain active in the region. An unidentified official in the Interior Ministry discussing the cells was quoted as saying, “Yemen is well prepared to eradicate terrorism and the militants will receive even more severe blows this time.”[1]
  • Yemeni explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams destroyed a stockpile of rockets, land mines, and other explosive devices in Abyan governorate on October 24. Local sources reported that the explosive devices were collected from Abyan governorate and neighboring regions and posed a security threat to citizens. Residents in Aden governorate originally reported witnessing a large explosion in Khormaksar region of Aden on October 24; however, the Yemeni Ministry of Defense stated that the explosions were from the same EOD teams destroying rockets in neighboring Abyan governorate.[2]
  • Yemeni soldiers from the 2nd Mountain Infantry Brigade deployed a number of vehicles and personnel in Lawder district in Abyan governorate on October 24. Local sources reported that 2nd Mountain Infantry Brigade was deployed in anticipation of an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) attack. The deployment of 2nd Mountain Infantry Brigade coincides with a redeployment of Yemeni Republican Guard troops to the area.[3]
  • Yemeni Interior Minister Major General Abdul Qadir Qahtan met with American Deputy Ambassador Elizabeth Richard in Sana’a on October 23 to discuss counterterrorism cooperation. Both sides discussed efforts to strengthen security and accelerate development in Yemen.[4]
  • Jamal Benomar, UN Special Envoy to Yemen, traveled to southern Yemen on October 24 to convince leaders of the Southern Mobility Movement to participate in the Yemeni National Dialogue in November. Local reports from Aden governorate on October 24 suggest that Jamal Benomar was unsuccessful in his attempts; however, Southern Mobility Movement leaders have not yet commented on the most recent meetings with Jamal Benomar.[5]
  • Yemeni security forces found seven individual landmines in Taiz governorate on October 24. Local sources reported that one of the landmines was a large anti-tank landmine. Yemeni security forces were deployed to the location of the landmines to conduct an investigation.[6]
  • Yemeni intelligence arrested six Yemenis in Sana’a International Airport on October 24. Local sources reported that the six Yemenis were returning from Iraq. Intelligence personnel from the National Security Bureau (NSB) transferred the six Yemenis to a special prison used by the NSB.[7]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • A journalist working for the Somali television station, Universal TV, was shot and killed near his home in Las Anod, Sool region on October 23. Ahmed Farah Ilyas was on his way home from work when unknown men opened fire on him and fled the scene. Ilyas is the 16th journalist to be shot in Somalia this year. Las Anod is a particularly dangerous place for journalists and over 20 journalists have been detained in the town for the past ten months. The assailants have not been caught and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.[8]
  • Britain has strongly condemned the killing of the Somali journalist Ahmed Farah Ilyas. British envoy to Somalia, Matt Baugh, gave his condolences to the family members and advised Somalia to bring the killers to justice in order to prevent further killings from occurring.[9]
  • Kenyan troops captured the al Shabaab women’s leader, Marianna Issa Mohammed, in Kismayo during search operations throughout the city on October 21. In addition to Marianna Issa, 71 additional suspects were arrested during the searches as well as an assortment of weapons. Kenyan spokesman Colonel Cyrus Oguna said the residents in Kismayo were an integral part of the operation.[10]
  • Kenyan troops captured five al Shabaab militants who were trying to enter Kenya near the border town of Kolbio, Kenya. The militants engaged the Kenyan troops when they were stopped and a gunfight ensued. Two Kenyan troops were injured and three al Shabaab militants were killed. The Kenyan soldiers also recovered two AK-47s and a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG).[11]
  • A Puntland court convicted a Yemeni national on counts of terrorism on October 24. Salihi Afifi Al Amoudi was arrested in July 2012 in Xabo, Bari region, for transporting a shipment of weapons from Yemen that included guns, munitions, RPGs, and bomb making materials. Salihi Afifi Al Amoud was sentenced to death by the Puntland court, but has the opportunity to appeal the conviction. This is the first time the Puntland court has convicted a non-Somali on terrorism charges.[12]
  • Kenyan troops have left Kismayo University on October 23. The Kenyan Army had been using the university as a base since Somali and AMISOM troops took over the city in September. Kenyan troops vacated Kismayo University so that school could resume.[13]   

[1] “Yemen Reveals Qaeda Plot to Retake Former Stronghold in South,” Yemen Post, October 23, 2012. Available:
“Interior Ministry: Revealing al Qaeda Terrorist Plan to Retake Areas of Abyan,” 26 September, October 23, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
“Al Qaeda Goes Underground in Yemen against U.S.-Driven Crackdown,” Reuters, October 23, 2012. Available:
[2] “Military Engineers Destroy Rockets and Explosive Devices That Were Collected from Abyan in Dofes,” 26 September, October 24, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
“Breaking: Violent Explosions Shake Aden and a Military Source Says They Are the Result of Destroying Landmines,” Aden al Ghad, October 24, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
“Breaking: Violent Explosions in Aden are the Result of the Military Destroying Explosive Devices,” Aden al Ghad, October 24, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[3] “Military Alert in Lawder District,” Barakish, October 24, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[4] “Yemen, USA Discuss Counterterrorism Cooperation,” SABA, October 23, 2012. Available:
[5] “Jamal Benomar Travels to Aden for Meetings with al Hiraak,” Barakish, October 24, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
“Breaking: Benomar Fails to Convince Southerners to Participate in Dialogue during His Visit to Aden,” Aden al Ghad, October 24, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[6] “7 Mines Found in Taiz Governorate,” al Watan, October 24, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[7] “National Security Bureau in Sana’a Airport Arrest Six Yemenis Returning from Iraq,” al Masdar Online, October 24, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[8] “Somaliland Journalist Ahmed Farah Ilyas Killed,” BBC, October 24, 2012. Available:
“TV Journalist Killed in Northern Somalia,” Bar Kulan, October 24, 2012. Available:
[9] “Britain Condemns Killing of Somali TV Journalist,” Bar Kulan, October 24, 2012. Available:
[10] “Shabaab Women’s Leader Captured,” Standard Media, October 24, 2012. Available:
[11] “Shabaab Women’s Leader Captured,” Standard Media, October 24, 2012. Available:
[12] “Somalia: Puntland Military Court Sentences Yemeni to Death on Terrorism Charges,” Garowe Online, October 24, 2012. Available:
[13] “Somalia: Kenyan Forces Vacate Kismayo University,” Garowe Online, October 23, 2012. Available:
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