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: An AQAP IED attack targets STC-backed forces in southern Yemen

Somalia: SNA and Ma’awisley clear al Shabaab from multiple villages in deadly fighting in central Somalia; al Shabaab assassinates local elders in central Somalia; SFG deploys SNA soldiers to central Somalia to clear al Shabaab strongholds in Galgudud region; al Shabaab releases video threatening escalation against SFG and allied clans; NISA forces break up al Shabaab cell in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief:

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting the STC-backed 8th Thunderbolt Brigade near Wadi Amran, Mudiyah district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on September 18.[i] The AQAP IED killed two members of the 8th Thunderbolt Brigade, and wounded ten more, including the brigade commander.[ii]

Somalia Security Brief:

Somali National Army (SNA) forces cleared al Shabaab from several villages east of Bulo Burde town, Hiraan region, central Somalia, between September 16 and 17. The SNA cleared Aborey village, 15 miles northeast of Bulo Burde town, early in the morning of September 17.[iii] The SFG and SNA claimed that the fighting killed between 30 and 43 al Shabaab militants and wounded five SNA soldiers.[iv] SNA and local militia are still attempting to clear al Shabaab from Yasooman village, 20 miles northeast of Bulo Burde town, after initially clashing with al Shabaab the night of September 16.[v] The Somali federal government initially claimed on September 18 that the fighting killed at least 45 al Shabaab militants.[vi] The SNA chief raised the al Shabaab toll to at least 75 militants and claimed anti–al Shabaab forces had captured several others in the still ongoing operation on September 19.[vii] Somali officials have not disclosed any friendly casualties. Local militia soldiers near Yasooman have reportedly beheaded several al Shabaab militants in retaliation for al Shabaab atrocities.[viii] SNA and local militia also secured four other villages southeast of Bulo Burde in the same operation.[ix]

Al Shabaab assassinated three elders with a roadside improvised explosive device near Buqda village, Hiraan region, central Somalia, on September 16.[x] The attack also killed the son of one of the elders and injured several others. Al Shabaab blamed the attack on a US drone strike.[xi] US and Somali officials have not disclosed any drone activity in the area. US-trained Danab forces attacked al Shabaab forces near Buqda for the first time since 2015 on September 14.[xii]

The Somali Federal Government began preparations to secure Elbur on September 17 by deploying hundreds of SNA soldiers and military equipment to Dhusamareb, Galgudud region, central Somalia.[xiii] These forces reportedly secured the Jaw area on September 18, which lies between government-controlled Guriel and Elbur.[xiv] Al Shabaab has controlled Elbur since 2017 and has organized Eid celebrations and drought relief in Elbur town in 2022.[xv] 

Al Shabaab threatened to retaliate against anyone working against the group on September 19.[xvi] An al Shabaab spokesperson labeled the clan militias working with the federal government “infidels.” He said al Shabaab will accept Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s declaration of war and see “which one of us is left standing.”[xvii]

The National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) arrested ten alleged al Shabaab operatives in Mogadishu on the night of September 15.[xviii] The al Shabaab cell reportedly included hitmen, doctors to treat wounded operatives, and logistical facilitators. NISA forces reportedly cleared three al Shabaab safehouses in the operation.


[i] Yemen Future, “Yemen: A senior military commander in the forces loyal to the Southern Transitional Council was killed in clashes with al Qaeda in Abyan,” September 18, 2022, https://yemenfuture.net/news/10531.

[ii] Shabwah Press, “Statement of the 8th Thunderbolt Brigade about the bombing that targeted its forces during the storming of the Amran camp,” September 19, 2022, https://shabwaah-press.info/news/81749.

[iii] Istar Cabdi Yuusuf, “DF announced that it killed 30 members of al Shabaab in an operation,” Caasimada, September 17, 2022, https://www.caasimada.net/df-oo-shaaca-ka-qaaday-inay-howlgal-ku-dishay-35-ka-tirsan-al-shabaab/; SONNA, “SNA: More than 30 Al-Shabab militants killed in Aboorey area, Hiran region,” September 17, 2022, https://sonna.so/en/2022/09/17/sna-more-than-30-al-shabab-miltants-killed-in-aboorey-area-hiran-region/.

[iv] SONNA, A huge blow to terrorists as army captures key villages,” September 19, 2022, https://sonna.so/en/2022/09/19/a-huge-blow-to-terrorists-as-army-captures-key-villages/.

[v] Radio Mogadishu, “The SFG army went to civilians that the terrorists blew up,” September 16, 2022, https://radiomuqdisho.so/ciidanka-xds-oo-ku-baxay-dad-shacab-ah-oo-argagixisadu-ay-qarxisay/; SONNA, “SNA chief confirms 75 Al-Shabab terrorists killed in operation,” September 19, 2022, https://sonna.so/en/2022/09/19/sna-chief-confirms-75-al-shabab-terrorists-killed-in-operation/.

[vi] SONNA, “More than 45 Al-Shabab terrorists killed in an operations by the SNA,” September 18, 2022, https://sonna.so/en/2022/09/18/more-than-45-al-shabab-terrorists-killed-in-an-operations-by-the-sna/.

[vii] SONNA, “SNA chief confirms 75 Al-Shabab terrorists killed in operation.”

[viii] Abdi Sheikh, “Somali militia beheads Islamist insurgents after battle, witnesses say,” Reuters, September 18, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/somali-militia-beheads-islamist-insurgents-after-battle-witnesses-say-2022-09-18/.

[ix] SONNA, “Somali forces liberates several villages from terrorists,” September 17, 2022, https://sonna.so/en/2022/09/17/somali-forces-liberates-several-villages-from-terrorists-2/.  

[x] Puntland Post, “An explosion killed a famous peacemaker in Hiraan region,” September 17, 2022, https://puntlandpost.net/2022/09/17/qarax-lagu-laayay-nabaddoono-caan-ah-oo-ka-dhacay-gobolka-hiiraan/.

[xi] Somali Dispatch, “Al Shabaab blame U.S for death of Clan leaders,” September 17, 2022, https://www.somalidispatch.com/latest-news/al-shabaab-blame-u-s-for-death-of-clan-leaders/.

[xii] Brian Carter and Liam Karr, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – September 16, 2022,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 16, 2022, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-september-16-2022.

[xiii] @GaroweOnline, Twitter, September 17, 2022, https://twitter.com/GaroweOnline/status/1571201841202970630?s=20&t=vMks6-AMLyAFal07uMFlHQ.

[xiv] Puntland Post, “The government forces moved towards Elbur district in Galgadud region,” September 18, 2022, https://puntlandpost.net/2022/09/18/ciidamada-dowladda-oo-u-ruqaansaday-dhinaca-degmada-ceelbuur-ee-gobolka-galgaduud/; SONNA, A huge blow to terrorists as army captures key villages.” 

[xv] Somalimemo, “The people of Elbur town put on an amazing show,” July 10, 2022, https://somalimemo.info/articles/16699/Shacabka-magaalada-Ceelbuur-oo-ciyaaro-cajiib-ah-soo-bandhigay; Somalimemo, “Relief delivered to drought affected people displace din Elbur,” January 30, 2022, https://somalimemo.info/articles/15870/Dadka-ay-Abaaruhu-Saameeyeen-ee-Kusoo-Barakacay-Ceelbuur-oo-Gurmad-la-Gaarsiiyey-SAWIRO.

[xvi] Somali Dispatch, “Al Shabaab Spokesman warns Ma’awisley, as hundreds of militants complete training, September 19, 2022, https://www.somalidispatch.com/latest-news/al-shabaab-spokesman-warns-maawisley-as-hundreds-militants-complete-training/.

[xvii] SITE Intelligence Group, “Addressing Military Camp Graduates, Shabaab Spokesman Welcomes Challenge by Somali President to Eliminate Group,” September 19, 2022, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.  

[xviii] SONNA, “10 Al-Shabaab terrorists arrested and their secret houses seized by Somali Security forces,” September 16, 2022, https://sonna.so/en/2022/09/16/10-al-shabaab-terrorists-arrested-and-their-secret-houses-seized-by-somali-security-forces/.

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