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: AQAP beheads three suspected spies in Ma’rib governorate; Yemeni tribesmen kidnap nine truck drivers in Lahij governorate; Hashid tribal confederation leader Sheikh Sadiq al Ahmar calls for dialogues among opposition factions; Yemeni security forces disrupt Iranian and Syrian spy networks in Sana’a and Aden; an unidentified American AQAP member is arrested in Shabwah governorate; Yemeni security forces foil terrorist attack on al Anad airbase in Lahij governorate; Yemeni Republican Guard troops rebel against their commander in al Mukalla city; Yemeni army soldier kill Southern Movement member in Lahij governorate

Horn of Africa: Interim government installed, IED explodes, curfew imposed in Kismayo; al Shabaab bans Islamic Relief from areas under its control; Somali president announces new prime minister; al Shabaab attacks military base in Kahda, Mogadishu; grenade attack kills two at Bakara Market, Mogadishu; fighting amongst Somali and AMISOM forces breaks out in Beledweyne; suicide bomb detonates in Afgoi; Al Shabaab attacks Somali bases in Garbaharey, Gedo; Somali and AMISOM troops capture Wanlaweyn, Lower Shabelle; Somali and AMISOM troops capture Buur Hakabo, Lower Shabelle; Kenyan police thwart potential IED attack; elderly peacemaker killed in IFO Refugee Camp in Dadaab, Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni security forces discovered the remains of three decapitated bodies in Ma’rib city, the capital of Ma’rib governorate east of Sana’a, on October 9. According to Yemeni security officials, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the beheadings, stating that the three individuals were assisting Yemeni and American intelligence officials by placing tracking devices on AQAP equipment or personnel. Local sources reported that the beheadings occurred in Ma’rib governorate and the bodies were left in Sana’a in order to intimidate civilians. Two of the three victims have been identified as Abdullah Sharaf al Raymi and Abdulkarim Dawoud Ahmad Ali.[1]
  • Yemeni tribesmen from the Sabbeiha tribe kidnapped nine truck drivers in southwestern Lahij governorate on October 7. According to a security source in Lahij governorate, five of the truck drivers were Syrian and four were Yemeni. The captors are reportedly demanding the release of 13 fellow tribesmen before releasing the kidnapped truck drivers.[2]
  • Sheikh Sadiq al Ahmar, leader of the Hashid tribal confederation, urged Yemen’s opposition factions on October 7 to renounce violence and begin dialogues. According to Sheikh al Ahmar, this demand for dialogue includes representation from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Sheikh al Ahmar added that the alternative to dialogue would be armed conflict.[3]
  • Yemeni security forces announced on October 8 that several Iranian, Syrian, and Yemeni spies operating in Sana’a and Aden were arrested. According to Yemeni government website 26 September, Iranians posing as investors opened a factory in Yemen and began shipping military equipment to the Port of Aden in southern Yemen. 26 September added that when reassembled, the military equipment could be used for making rockets.[4]
  • Yemeni security forces detained an unidentified American in Ataq city in Shabwah governorate on October 8. According to a Yemeni security official, the captured American is wanted by the Yemeni Interior Ministry for his connection to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The unidentified American was transferred to Yemeni intelligence services in Sana’a.[5]
  • An unidentified Yemeni security official reported on October 6 that Yemeni security forces have foiled an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) attack on al Anad airbase in Lahij governorate. The unidentified security official added that two individuals, driving a vehicle packed with explosive devices and anti-tank missiles, were arrested at the gate of al Anad airbase.[6]
  • An improvised explosive device (IED) disrupted internet service in al Qatan city in eastern Hadramawt governorate on October 9. According to local sources, the explosion inflicted limited damage on internet infrastructure; however, internet service was completely cut off for the city. It is unclear who planted the IEDs.[7]
  • A group of Yemeni Republican Guard soldiers in al Mukalla city in eastern Hadramawt governorate rebelled against their commander, Yahya al Shanbali, for denying the soldiers of their financial rights. The Republican Guard soldiers were reportedly guarding the presidential palace in al Mukalla when they staged the rebellion.[8]
  • Yemeni army soldiers killed one Southern Movement activist and wounded another in southwestern Lahij governorate on October 7. According to local sources, an army checkpoint in al Hawta city was reportedly attacked by the two Southern Movement activists. Yemeni army soldiers returned fire during the incident, killing Abdulmajid Mabrouk and wounding Basil al Baghdadi.[9]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • A new interim government has been created in the port city of Kismayo on October 9 to replace the al Shabaab authority that fled the city on October 1. The new government consists of twenty-five members but it has not been reported who the members are, or their clan affiliations. Control of Kismayo is disputed between three powerful clans in the area: the Marehan, the Majerten and the Ogaden. Additionally on October 9 a roadside bomb detonated in the port city, killing two and injuring five. The remote controlled land mine hit a vehicle carrying Somali and Ras Kamboni soldiers. In response to recent attacks, a nighttime curfew was imposed in Kismayo on October 8 and Somali soldiers have arrested dozens of people who were in violation of that curfew.[10] 
  • Al Shabaab announced on October 8 that it has banned the Islamic Relief aid group from providing relief to the 1.2 million Somalis at risk of starvation in areas it controls. Islamic Relief was the last aid group allowed to operate in areas under al Shabaab control. Since Islamic Relief was working with outside groups including the UN World Food Program al Shabaab has said the group did not adhere to “operational guidelines” and “was found to be covertly extending the operations of banned organizations.”[11]
  • President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud announced his prime minister on October 6 at Villa Somalia in Mogadishu. Newly appointed Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon is new to politics and worked as an economist who ran an import company in Kenya for the past twenty years. Prime Minister Shirdon is married to Somali Minister of Parliament Asha Haji Elimiand and must pick his own cabinet of ministers within one month.[12]
  • Al Shabaab militants ambushed Somali soldiers at a military base in the Kahda neighborhood of Mogadishu on October 7. There was heavy gunfire, artillery fire, and RPGs used in the skirmish. At least four combatants from both sides were killed in the fight.[13]
  • A grenade was thrown at a security checkpoint in Bakara Market in Mogadishu on October 8, killing one soldier, one civilian and injuring ten others. The attackers were able to flee the scene. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.[14]
  • A fight between Ethiopian troops and Somali soldiers erupted in Beledweyne, Hiraan on October 6 when Ethiopian forces prevented Somali troops from entering a fortified area. One Somali soldier was killed and two other were injured. On October 8, Somali troops engaged other pro-government troops in Beledweyne, Hiraan when Somali troops suspected their own men of being militants. The firefight left one soldier dead and many more injured.[15]
  • A suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt in Afgoi, Lower Shabelle on October 6. The bomber walked into a bar but did not reach his target before detonating. No one besides the bomber was injured in the explosion. Al Shabaab has taken responsibility for the act.[16]
  • Al Shabaab militants attacked Somali bases in Garbaharey, Gedo on October 6. Al Shabaab initiated the attack by launching RPGs at Somali bases. The ground engagement that ensued caused heavy losses on both sides of the engagement but exact casualty numbers are not known.[17]
  • Somali and AMISOM troops captured the town of Wanlaweyn, Lower Shabelle after al Shabaab militants fled on October 7. Somali and AMISOM troops are now carrying out IED sweeps and have set up military bases at Balidogle airport just outside the city.[18]
  • Somali and AMISOM troops capture Buur Hakabo, Lower Shabelle from al Shabaab troops on October 8. Al Shabaab militants fled the town before Somali and AMISOM soldiers arrived and took over the town peacefully.[19]
  • Kenyan police stopped a potential IED attack in Garissa, a town close to the Kenya-Somali border, on October 9. A suspicious looking briefcase sitting at a popular commuter road junction was spotted by a taxi driver and called in to the police. Kenyan authorities were able to safely detonate the IED that was inside of the suitcase with no casualties. No one has claimed responsibility for the attempted attack.[20]
  • An elderly peacemaker was shot and killed in IFO Refugee Camp in Dadaab, Kenya on October 8. The assailants shot the old man seven times before fleeing the scene. None of the attackers have been caught and no one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.[21]


[1] “Yemeni Qaeda Beheads Three Men for Spying Operations,” Reuters, October 9, 2012. Available:
“Found in Ma’rib Corpses of 3 Citizens Slaughtered by AQAP,” 26 September, October 9, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[2] “Yemen Tribesmen Kidnap Nine Truck Drivers: Source,” Reuters, October 8, 2012. Available:
[3] “Powerful Yemen Tribal Leader Urges Factions to Start National Dialogue, Not Fight,” Washington Post, October 7, 2012. Available:
[4] “Yemen Busts Iran Spies, Detains ‘American’ on Qaeda Wanted List,” al Arabiya, October 8, 2012. Available:
“Spy Cells Captured Including Iranians, Syrians, and Yemenis,” 26 September, October 8, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[5] “Yemen Busts Iran Spies, Detains ‘American’ on Qaeda Wanted List,” al Arabiya, October 8, 2012. Available:
[6] “Yemen: al Qaeda U.S. Base Bomb Plot Foiled,” Huffington Post, October 6, 2012. Available:
[7] “IED Explosion in Hadramawt Targeted Internet Cables,” Aden al Ghad, October 9, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[8] “Battalion from the Presidential Guards Rebel against their Commander in al Mukalla, Shots Fired are Heard in Presidential Palace,” Aden al Ghad, October 9, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[9] “Yemen Troops Shoot Dead Gunmen, Hurt Southern Activist,” AFP, October 7, 2012. Available:
[10] “Government Sets Up Interim Admin for Kismayo,” Bar Kulan, October 9, 2012. Available:
“Kismayo is Under Night-Time Curfew, Says Somali Army Officer,” Shabelle, October 9, 2012. Available:
“Roadside Bomb Kills 2, Injures 5 In Somalia’s Port City of Kismayo,” Shabelle, October 9, 2012. Available:
[11] “Somalia’s Al Shabaab Militants Ban Islamic Relief Aid,” BBC, October 8, 2012. Available:
“Somalia: Rebels Ban Relief Group from Their Territory,” NYTimes, October 8, 2012. Available:
[12] Somalia’s President Appoints New Prime Minister,” Shabelle, October 6, 2012. Available:
“Somali President Appoints Prime Minister,” CNN, October 7, 2012. Available:
[13] “Militant Attack on Government Forces in Mogadishu Kills 4,” Shabelle, October 7, 2012. Available:
[14] “Blasts Hits the Main Market in Mogadishu,” AMISOM, October 8, 2012. Available:
[15] “Somali Soldiers Exchange Gunfire in Beledweyne, Central Somalia,” Shabelle, October 8, 2012. Available:
“Heavy Fighting Central Somalia Kills a Soldier,” Shabelle, October 6, 2012. Available:
[16] “A Powerful Suicide Blast Rocks Afgoye Town,” Shabelle, October 6, 2012. Available:
[17] “Government Soldiers Clash with Al Shabaab in Gedo Region,” Shabelle, October 6, 2012. Available:
[18] “Allied Forces Capture Wanlaweyne,” Bar Kulan, October 7, 2012. Available:
[19] “Al Shabaab Flee from Buur-Hakabo Town,” AMISOM, October 8, 2012. Available:
[20] “Police Foil Terror Plot in Northern Kenya,” Bar Kulan, October 9, 2012. Available:
[21] “Gunmen Kill an Elder in IFO Refugee Camp, Northeast Kenya,” Shabelle, October 9, 2012. Available:
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