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 claims attack on al Houthis, threatens revenge in south Yemen; Petraeus says AQAP most dangerous al Qaeda franchise; UN calls for Yemeni government to halt attacks against civilians; Yemeni website shows kidnapped French hostages

Horn of Africa: Somalis in Sweden accused of plotting terror attacks; al Shabaab appoints new governor of Galgudud; al Shabaab attacks Ahlu Sunna in Bulu’ale

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has claimed responsibility for the August 15th suicide bombing of an al Houthi meeting in a government administration complex in al Matama in al Jawf governorate. AQAP reported that its operative, Abu Bakr Muhammad al Najda, executed the attack, which AQAP claimed killed over one hundred al Houthis. A second communiqué detailed the September 5 airstrikes in Jaar, which AQAP reported hit the Gran Mosque, the Mosque of Sheikh ibn Ba’az, al Razi hospital, and the produce market. AQAP reported that no militants were killed in the airstrikes and said that “these operations by the Americans and their agents confirm the enemies’ atrocities.”[1]
  • General David Petraeus, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), testified in front of Congress that AQAP “has emerged as the most dangerous regional node in the global jihad." Petraeus noted that the group has taken advantage of the unrest in Yemen.[2]
  • The United Nations has called upon the Yemeni government to halt attacks against civilians and has ordered an international probe based on reports that hundreds have been killed and thousands wounded as a result of the excessive force against them by Yemeni security forces.[3]
  • A Yemeni website, Masdar Online, released video footage of three French workers who were kidnapped in May in Hadramawt governorate. A French diplomat who saw the footage confirmed that the three individuals shown were the French workers that were kidnapped back in May. The workers work for Triangle Generation Humanitaire, a Lyon-based charity. In the video, one of the workers criticized the French government for doing little to secure their safe release and appealed to the French people and human rights organizations to help free them. A French Foreign Ministry spokesman said that the authenticity of the video is being verified.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Three of the four men arrested in Sweden on charges of terrorism on September 10 are of Somali origin.  Kulan Mohamud Abel and Mohamud Abdi Weli are both Swedish citizens since 2000 and Mahamud Abdi Aziz has lived in the country since 1999. Investigators are following leads that the men, arrested for suspected terrorist activity, had connections to al Shabaab. Police had evacuated the Roda Sten art center, located under Goteborg’s half-mile Alvsborg bridge. The bridge connects Oslo in Norway to southern Sweden.[5]
  • Al Shabaab announced that it had appointed a new governor of Galgudud.  Sheikh Awali Muhammad Ali replaced Sheikh Yusuf Sheikh Issa.  No reason was given for the change in leadership.  Al Shabaab further claimed that its hand grenade battalion attacked soldiers in the Yaqshid district of Mogadishu killing eight.[6]
  • Al Shabaab attacked a base controlled by Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a in Bulu’ale east of Dhusa Mareb in the Galgudud region. One person was killed and at least two were seriously injured.[7]

[1] “AQAP Claims Suicide Bombing Against Houthis in al-Jawf,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 12, 2011. Available at SITE.
“AQAP Threatens Revenge for Ja’ar Airstrike,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 12, 2011. Available at SITE.
[2] “CIA chief: Yemen Qaeda Affiliate Most Dangerous,” Reuters, September 13, 2011. Available:
“Qaeda’s Branch in Yemen Poses Growing Dangers: US,” AFP, September 13, 2011. Available:
[3] “UN Cites Outsize Government Force in Yemeni Deaths,” AP, September 13, 2011. Available:
[4] “Yemen Website Shows Video of French Hostages,” Reuters, September 12, 2011. Available:
The video is available here:
[5] Per Nyberg, “Swedish terror suspects are Somali and Iraqi, authorities say,” CNN, September 12, 2011. Available:
“Swedish Terror Suspects From Somalia, Iraq,” AP, September 12, 2011. Available:
[6] “Shabaab Appoints New Governor; Reports Attack, Aid Distribution,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 12, 2011. Available at SITE
[7] “Fighting escalates on the outskirt of Dusamareb, Galgadud region,” Bar Khulan, September 13, 2011. Available:
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