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: Suspected Yemeni ISIS militants attempt attack on Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Defense in Riyadh; Oman facilitates release of Indian priest; reported U.S. airstrikes kill AQAP militants in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen

Horn of Africa: SNA forces recapture town from al Shabaab militants in Gedo region, southern Somalia; KDF troops destroy three al Shabaab hideouts in Lamu County, southeastern Kenya; al Shabaab militants ambush KDF soldiers near Somali border

Yemen Security Brief

Two suspected Yemeni ISIS militants attempted to attack the Saudi Ministry of Defense headquarters with small arms and suicide vests in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on September 11. Saudi security forces interdicted the attack, arresting the militants and two other affiliated Saudi citizens. ISIS and al Qaeda regularly criticize the Saudi regime and its alliance with the U.S. in their propaganda.[1]

Omani authorities facilitated the release of Father Tom Uzhunnalil, an Indian Christian priest, on September 12. Four militants killed 15 people and kidnapped Uzhunnalil from a Christian-run nursing home in Aden city in March 2016. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) officially denied that its forces were involved in the incident. Local security officials claimed ISIS militants were responsible. Uzhunnalil appeared in a video pleading for help in May 2016. Oman has helped facilitate the release of a number of hostages in Yemen.[2] 

Reported U.S. airstrikes targeted AQAP militants in Ja’ar area, al Sawma district, al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on September 11. Three reported U.S. airstrikes targeted suspected AQAP militants in Quraydah area, al Sawma district, al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on September 9.[3] 

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Somali National Army (SNA) troops recaptured Beled Hawo town, Gedo region, southern Somalia with the help of Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) on September 12 according to KDF official Mohamud Saleh. Al Shabaab militants captured Beled Hawo and the SNA base on September 11 expelling 180 SNA troops from the area. Al Shabaab militants looted the SNA base, a local police station, and destroyed phone lines while they retreated.[4]

Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) soldiers destroyed three al Shabaab bases in Lango la Simba, Witu, Lamu County, southeastern Kenya on September 12, according to Operation Linda Boni Director Joseph Kanyiri. Operation Linda Boni is a Kenyan military operation seeking to eliminate al Shabaab militants in Lamu County, southern Kenya. Al Shabaab uses the rural Boni forest as a base to launch attacks in Kenya.[5]    

Al Shabaab militants ambushed Kenyan Defense Forces and detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) in Dhobley, Somalia on September 12, according to the group’s social media channel. Dhobley connects the Somali Federal Government Jubaland territory with Kenya and lies on Somalia’s largest trade route. Al Shabaab killed three Kenyan engineers in Dhobley on September 5.[6] 

[1] “Saudi security announced the arrest of a Yemeni cell was planning to carry out terrorist attcks in Riyadh,” Al Masdar, September 12, 2017,; “State security presidency was able to detect, thwart Daesh terrorist organization terrorist plot against two headquarters of Ministry of defense in Riyadh,” Saudi Press Agency, September 12, 2017,; and “Saudi Arabia says foils Islamic State bomb, foreign spying plots,” Reuters, September 11, 2017,
[2] “Indian priest Tom Uzhunnalil, kidnapped by ISIS terrorists in Yemen, freed, announces Sushma Swaraj,” The Indian Express, September 12, 2017,; and “Omani mediation succeeds in the release of a kidnapped Indian priest in Yemen nearly a year ago,” Al Masdar, september 12, 2017,
[3] “US drone aircraft launch raids in al Sawma district, al Bayda governorate,” Al Masdar, September 11, 2017,; and Demolinari, Twitter, September 12, 2017,
[4] “Somalia Army regains control of border town after fierce fighting,” Xinhua, September 12, 2017,
[5] Kalume Kazungu, “Kenya: Security Agents Destroy 3 al Shabaab Camps in Boni Forest,” All Africa, September 12, 2017,
[6] Al Shabaab claims attack on Kenyan Defense Forces, Telegram, September 12, 2017; and “Al Shabaab claims killing Kenyan military engineers in Dhobley,” Garowe Online, September 6, 2017,

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