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: Saudi air defenses intercept al Houthi-Saleh missile 65 km from Mecca; WHO reports significant increase in cholera cases in Yemen; AQAP official calls conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen plots against Sunnis; security forces thwart AQAP assassination attempt in al Mukalla city, Hadramawt governorate

Horn of Africa: Knife attack on Kenyan police officer outside U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya; ISIS-affiliated militants remain in control of Qandala town in Bari region; KDF airstrike repels al Shabaab assault in Ali Hared area, Gedo region

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces launched a Borkan-1 ballistic missile reportedly targeting King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on October 28. Saudi-led coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri stated that Saudi air defenses intercepted a missile 65 kilometers from the holy city of Mecca. He said that the missile was launched from northern Sa’ada governorate in Yemen. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) denounced the missile attack. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir accused the “Iranian-allied” al Houthis of targeting Mecca. Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed accused the Iranian regime of supporting the attack.[1]
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on October 28 that the number of cholera cases in Yemen has risen to 1,410, a significant increase from the October 24 report of 644 cases. A WHO official stated that cholera cases are primarily spreading in Taiz, Aden, Lahij, al Hudaydah, and Sana’a governorates. Internally displaced persons living in improvised camps are more susceptible to the outbreak due to insufficient food, lack of clean water, and poor hygiene services. The civil war has destroyed significant portions of Yemen’s infrastructure, including medical facilities.[2]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) disseminated three major propaganda pieces on social media on October 26. AQAP emir Qasim al Raymi released a five minute sermon titled “Brotherhood” as part of AQAP’s Concepts series on October 26. Al Raymi urged supporters to not stray from God’s path and to be patient. AQAP senior official and former AQAP emir in Abyan governorate Khaled Batarfi gave a speech accusing Iran and the West of plotting against Sunnis in  the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen  on October 26. Batarfi called on scholars to spread the concept of jihad and for Sunnis to help one another where they are threatened. AQAP also released a video highlighting clashes between AQAP-affiliated Ansar al Sharia fighters and al Houthi-Saleh forces in Rada’a district, western al Bayda governorate on October 26.[3]
  • Security forces thwarted a suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) assassination attempt on a military commander in al Mukalla city, Hadramawt governorate on October 27. AQAP controlled al Mukalla city from April 2015 until Hadi government and allied forces seized the city in April 2016.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • An unidentified attacker assaulted a Kenyan police officer with a knife outside the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi on October 27. Security personnel shot and killed the assailant. Kenyan politicians are under increased pressure to defend the nation from radical Islamists. Officials in Mandera town in northeastern Mandera County on the Kenyan-Somali border announced a 90-day curfew on October 27 in the wake of two overnight attacks by al Shabaab militants on civilians in the area.[5]
  • Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS)-affiliated militants still occupy Qandala town in Bari region. The militants, led by former al Shabaab commander turned ISIS leader Abdiqadir Mumin, captured the town on October 26 without resistance. Puntland President Adiwal Gaas has announced plans for Puntland Security Forces (PSF) to retake the port town.[6]
  • Suspected Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) aircraft launched strikes on al Shabaab militants attacking a security forces base in the Ali Hared area of Gedo region on October 28. Security forces repelled the al Shabaab attack but suffered at least four casualties.[7]
[1] “Yemen's Houthis launch missile toward Saudi holy city, coalition says,” Reuters, October 28, 2016,; “Jubeir: Houthis do not respect or care for the Muslims they target,” Barakish, October 28, 2016,; and “Asiri after Houthi attempt to target Mecca,” Barakish, October 28, 2016,  
[2] Tom Miles and Stephanie Nebehay, “Yemen's suspected cholera cases soar to 1,410 within weeks: WHO,” October 28, 2016,
[3] “AQAP official Batarfi portrays battles in Iraq Syria and Yemen as crusader safavid plot against sunnis,” SITE, October 27, 2016, available by subscription at; “AQAP video shows attacks on multiple Houthi positions in al Bayda,” SITE, October 26, 2016, available by subscription at; “New video message from al-Q?’idah in the Arabian Peninsula’s Shaykh Q?sim al-Raym?: “Concepts #16,” Jihadology, October 26, 2016,
[4] “Thwarted assassination attempt on Second Military Commander in Mukalla region,” Aden Tomorrow, October 28, 2016,
[5] “Man shot dead outside U.S. embassy after attacking Kenyan officer,” Goobjoog News, October 28, 2016,; and “Kenya declares curfew in strife-hit Mandera,” Shabelle News, October 27, 2016,
[6] “ISIL militants still in control of Qandala-Puntland government,” Goobjoog News, October 27, 2016,
[7] “KDF jets bomb Al shabaab stronghold in Gedo region,” Shabelle News, October 28, 2016,
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