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: Clashes erupt between Saleh’s forces and Ahmar loyalists; explosions target intelligence services and police in Aden; Yemeni troops fire on Taiz protesters; 12 al Qaeda-linked militants killed in Zinjibar; radical Islamist explains plan in Zinjibar; AQAP releases audio lecture

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab claims high death toll in Elwaq clashes; Somali military threatens action in Jubba; al Shabaab cracks down on Mahaday district; Somali military removes checkpoints in Hiraan; wounded al Shabaab taken to Baidoa; AFRICOM Commander General Ham notes AQIM, Boko Haram, and al Shabaab’s desire to increase cooperation

Yemen Security Brief

  • Violent clashes erupted between government forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh and tribesmen loyal to Hashid tribal confederation leader Sheikh Sadiq al Ahmar in al Hasaba district in north Sana’a. Three people were killed after shells struck a house in the district, according to sources from Sheihk Sadiq al Ahmar’s office. Reports also state that Republican Guard forces attempted to approach his residence causing violent clashes to erupt between government forces and opposition tribesmen.[1]
  • Four explosions were heard in Aden’s al Mansoura and Mualla districts. Witnesses report that the explosions occurred at the political security headquarters, also reported as the intelligence service headquarters, and al Mualla police station, but did not breach the walls of either building. Following these two blasts, witnesses say that police began shooting from the rooftops, killing a 14-year-old boy and wounding five other people. A security official said that it is unlikely that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was behind the attacks because they were “weakly planned.”[2]
  • Yemen’s elite Republican Guard forces and local security forces opened fire on thousands of protesters in Taiz who were calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down from power. Protesters report that at least 10 protesters were wounded.[3]
  • Fighting between al Qaeda-linked militants and Yemeni forces in Zinjibar killed 14 people; 12 of them are reported to be militants. A military official reported that the militants were trying to sneak into the city in order to carry out a suicide bombing attack, but were killed by army snipers before they were able to enter the city.[4]
  • A radical Islamist posted on the Shumukh al Islam web forum that the al Qaeda-linked militant group Ansar al Sharia is executing a strategy. According to the writer, the militants’ withdrawal is strategic. It will permit the group to carry out suicide attacks and it will protect the group from airstrikes, among other items.[5]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released its first lecture in an audio series called, “The Merits of Martyrdom and the Virtue of Martyrs.”  The first episode features an audio lecture given by an AQAP member named Sheikh Harith bin Ghazi al Nadhari, also known as Muhammad al Murshidi. Murshidi outlined what he called ten merits of martyrdom. AQAP had released a September 4 audio recording of Murshidi in which he called for Muslims to commit jihad.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab issued a communiqué that claimed its militants had killed seventy pro-government soldiers in Elwaq in Gedo region.  The attack on September 11 began at 5:30 am and that by 9:00 am the militia had seized control of the city.  Al Shabaab reportedly captured ten “military land cruisers.”  The statement does not mention a counter-attack and subsequent loss of the city to pro-TFG forces. Al Shabaab also reported that five soldiers surrendered to their forces near Busar in Gedo, following the battle the day before. A third communiqué reported that al Shabaab’s explosives battalion targeted the Guriel district commissioner, Osman Ise Nor, with a roadside improvised explosive device. The last communiqué reported that an al Shabaab court in Galgudud punished six people for adultery in Wabhu.[7]
  • Mohamed Farah Dahir, a spokesman for the Somali military, announced that the military had new plans to push al Shabaab out of the Jubba region.[8]
  • Al Shabaab cracked down on Mahaday district in Middle Shabelle preventing people from conducting daily activities such as farming, herding, and business for three days.  Reportedly, this is in retaliation for locals killing two militiamen.  The Somali government has condemned this, adding that the people should join with the government and push al Shabaab out.[9]
  • Somali military commander Col. Issack Ali Mohamed says the Somali military has removed illegal militia checkpoints in Hiraan region and had arrested many of those who manned them, who will be tried in court for banditry.  He added a warning that armed gangs running checkpoints need to stop or they will face the same action.[10]
  • At least eighty wounded al Shabaab militants were moved to Baidoa in the Bay region after sustaining injuries during the fighting in the town of Elwaq on September 11.[11]
  • General Carter Ham, AFRICOM commander, warned that three African terrorist groups, al Shabaab in Somalia, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and Boko Haram in Nigeria, were trying to form an alliance and attack the United States and western interests. He said, “What’s of greater concern actually is the voiced intent of the three organizations to more closely collaborate and synchronize their networks.”[12]


[1] Hakim Almasmari, “Attacks Target Security Offices in Yemen,” CNN, September 15, 2011. Available:
“Yemeni Troops ‘Fire on Anti-regime Demo,’” AFP, September 15, 2011, Available:
[2]  Hakim Almasmari, “Attacks Target Security Offices in Yemen,” CNN, September 15, 2011. Available:
[3] ““Yemeni Troops ‘Fire on Anti-regime Demo,’” AFP, September 15, 2011, Available:
[4]  “Twelve al Qaeda Linked Militants Killed Southern Yemen,” AP, September 14, 2011. Available:
[5] “Yemeni Jihadist Explains Ansar al Sharia’s Plan in Zinjibar,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 14, 2011. Available at SITE.
[6] “AQAP Member Promotes Martyrdom in First Episode of Audio Series,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 13, 2011. Available at SITE.
[7] “Shabaab Claims Killing 70 Soldiers; Reports Bombing, Surrender,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 14, 2011. Available at SITE.
[8] “Somali govt threatens it will liberate Al shabaab from Jubba regions,” Shabelle Media Network, September 15, 2011. Available:
[9] “Government condemns sanction against Mahaday people,” Radio Bar-Kulan, September 14, 2011. Available:
[10] “Government overruns checkpoints in Hiran region,” Radio Bar-Kulan, September 14, 2011. Available:
[11] “Injured al-Shabaab reportedly taken to Baidoa,” Radio Bar-Kulan, September 15, 2011. Available:
[12] Craig Whitlock, “Al-Qaeda’s Affiliates in Africa, Working Side by Side,” Washington Post, September 14, 2011. Available:
View Citations
Arrow down red
Oct '11
Sep '11
Aug '11