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: Ansar al Sharia launches simultaneous operations in Shabwah and Hadramawt; Yemeni government releases recommendations for ending political crisis; al Houthi official comments on new presidential initiative; al Houthis demonstrate in Sana’a; AQAP religious judge releases five-step strategy for defeating al Houthis in Yemen; AQAP releases videos depicting operations against the Yemeni military in Hadramawt; Yemeni military clashes with Ansar al Sharia and AQAP militants in Hadramawt; Ansar al Sharia militants assassinate Yemeni military officer in Lahij; Ansar al Sharia militants dump the bodies of alleged spies in Hadramawt; Yemeni military bombs AQAP camps in Abyan and Hadramawt; Yemeni military raids suspected Ansar al Sharia safe house in Hadramawt; suspected AQAP militants open fire on local officials and Yemeni military soldiers in Lahij and Abyan; Yemeni military clashes with al Houthis in al Jawf; al Islah Party tribesmen clash with al Houthi militants and both groups set up checkpoints in Dhamar and Taiz; alleged Southern Yemeni militant group claims credit for IED explosion in Hadramawt; Southern Movement protesters demonstrate in Aden and Hadramawt
Horn of Africa: U.S. military forces conduct operation against al Shabaab in Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab militants conduct complex attack on Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency compound in Mogadishu; AMISOM and Somali National Army forces seize territory in Bakool, Hiraan, Lower Shabelle, and Middle Shabelle regions from al Shabaab; suspected al Shabaab militants attack Kenyan police camp in Kenya’s North Eastern Province
Yemen Security Brief
- AQAP’s insurgent arm, Ansar al Sharia, detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) and raided the Jul al Rida military barracks in Mayfaa, Shabwah on August 31, killing eight soldiers and wounding two others. Following the clashes, anonymous local sources reported that the Yemeni military deployed tanks and soldiers to the town of Jul al Rida and imposed a curfew. Simultaneously, Ansar al Sharia raided another Yemeni military barracks in al Khrima near the town of Azzan in Mayfaa, Shabwah on August 31. Following the two operations, Ansar al Sharia released several statements via Twitter on August 31, claiming credit for the attacks and identifying the SVBIED driver, Marsil Abdul al Basit al Samai.
- Ansar al Sharia militants detonated a SVBIED and raided a Yemeni military checkpoint near the entrance of the town of Azzan and the bridge leading to the Baqadir area in Maifa’a, Shabwah on August 31. Three Yemeni soldiers were killed in the fighting. This attack occurred simultaneously with the two other August 31 Ansar al Sharia operations in Shabwah. Following the operation, Ansar al Sharia released a statement via Twitter on August 31, claiming credit for the operation and stating only one militant was wounded in all of Ansar al Sharia’s operations in Shabwah.
- Ansar al Sharia attempted to detonate two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) at the Yemeni Special Forces base in al Qatan, Hadramawt on August 30. The two VBIEDs detonated before reaching their intended targets, killing five militants. Following the explosions, Ansar al Sharia militants fought with Yemeni soldiers, killing four soldiers and 10 militants and wounding three others. Yemeni soldiers from the First Regional Command and the 135th Infantry Brigade eventually repelled the militants. Following the clashes, Ansar al Sharia released a statement via Twitter on August 31, claiming credit for the operation asserting that one militant, Abu Nasser al Baidhani, was killed, and two militants were wounded.
- The Yemeni government released a series of recommendations in an attempt to end the current political crisis with the al Houthis. The recommendations call for the formation of a new government, a reduction in fuel prices, economic reforms, encouraging media organizations to not foment sectarian tensions, a rejection of violence by all armed groups, and a meeting between al Houthi leadership and other Yemen political leaders. The recommendations follow meetings between President Hadi and Yemeni government officials on August 30 and September 1.
- Ali al Bukhati, an al Houthi official, released a statement on September 2, rejecting many of the Yemeni government’s latest efforts to end the political conflict with the al Houthis. Al Bukhati stated the reduction in oil prices does not satisfy the demands of protesters demonstrating in Sana’a and criticized the government’s new initiative as weak and contradictory. The statement follows a call on September 1 by Abdul Malik al Houthi to escalate protests in Sana’a.
- A large group of al Houthi protesters demonstrated in Sana’a on September 1, traveling from Ring Road to Tahrir Square and moving along University Avenue. Separately, al Houthi militants blocked off the streets containing al Houthi demonstrations in Sana’a. Finally, al Houthi militants transferred a convoy of military vehicles and heavy equipment from Amran to al Houthi camps in Bani Matar, Sana’a on August 31.
- Mamoun Hatem, an AQAP religious judge, released a statement, entitled “Operational Steps for Facing al Houthis,” via Twitter on August 28. Within the statement, Hatem accused Iran of supporting al Houthi militants in Yemen, questioned al Houthi commitments to follow through on their anti-U.S. and Jewish propaganda, condemned the lack of U.S. drone strikes against al Houthi gatherings despite their anti-U.S. rhetoric, and urged Muslims to band together to fight the al Houthis. Hatem also provided five steps for defeating al Houthi militants in Yemen.
- AQAP’s media arm, al Malahem Media Foundation, released a video, entitled “From the Field: Raid on al Batinah Military Barracks in al Qatan, Hadramawt,” via Twitter and YouTube on August 30. The video provides the operational details and contains footage of AQAP fighters attacking Yemeni military positions during an AQAP operation near the al Batinah military hospital in al Qatan, Hadramawt on June 28. Separately, al Malahem Media Foundation released video, entitled “From the Field: Bombing of Several Military Checkpoints in Hadramawt,” via Twitter and YouTube on September 1, 2014. The video contains footage of AQAP operations in Hadramawt over the past three months and asserts that these operations are revenge for the Yemeni military’s crimes against Muslims.
- Ansar al Sharia militants assassinated Colonel Saleh Abdullah Saleh, a Yemeni military police officer that served as the Lahij security director, near his house and the al Khatib mosque in al Hawtah, Lahij on August 30. Following the assassination, Ansar al Sharia released a statement via Twitter on August 30, claiming credit for the operation.
- Ansar al Sharia militants dumped the body of one alleged spy in al Qatan, Hadramawt and dumped the bodies of two other alleged spies in Shibam, Hadramawt on September 1. All three corpses had execution-style gunshot wounds and were accused of supporting U.S. drone operations. Following the event, Ansar al Sharia released a statement and a photo of documents dumped with the bodies via Twitter on September 1, claiming credit for the operation, condemning the Yemeni government’s policies and the Yemeni military’s recent raids on AQAP safe houses, criticizing U.S. drone strikes in Yemen, asserting the three corpses were alleged spies, and promising death for any spy associated with helping U.S. operations.
- Soldiers from the Yemeni 115th Infantry Brigade fired mortar shells at AQAP camps in the Taran and al Kur Mountains in Lawder, Abyan on August 29. No casualties have been reported. Yemeni airplanes also bombed AQAP positions in Jazol and Fort Baqaroan near al Mukalla, Hadramawt on September 1. No casualties have been reported. Finally, an airstrike struck AQAP positions near al Qatan, Hadramawt on August 30. It is unclear who conducted the airstrike.
- The Yemeni military raided a suspected Ansar al Sharia safe house and clashed with suspected Ansar al Sharia militants in al Hawtah, Hadramawt on August 30, resulting in no casualties. Four suspected militants residing in the house fled and evaded capture by Yemeni soldiers. Anonymous local sources reported that one of the militants was from Saudi Arabia. Following the clashes, Yemeni soldiers seized operational documents, computer hardware, explosive materials, and three identification cards for Yemeni soldiers executed by Ansar al Sharia in Shibam, Hadramawt on August 8. Separately, Yemeni helicopters and tanks bombed an AQAP safe house in Shibam, Hadramawt on August 30, killing 3 AQAP militants. Following the airstrikes, the Yemeni military arrested one AQAP militant fleeing from the house.
- Suspected AQAP militants, riding on a motorcycle, ambushed a car traveling along the road to Aden in Lahij on August 29, killing two local government officials in al Hawtah, Lahij. Separately, suspected AQAP militants ambushed a Yemeni 39th Armored Brigade water truck in a market in Mahfad, Abyan on August 29, wounding one soldier.
- The Yemeni military, supported by al Islah Party tribesmen, fought with al Houthi militants in al Jawf on August 30. Ten people among the Yemeni military and its supporting tribesmen were killed, and 11 al Houthi militants were captured during the fighting. An anonymous local official in Sana’a reported that al Houthi militants attempted to seize the road that connects Sana’a with Ma’rib, Shabwah, and Hadramawt. Separately, the Yemeni military, supported by al Islah Party tribesmen, fought with al Houthi militants in al Saqia, al Jawf on August 31. No casualties have been reported. Finally, al Houthi militants fired mortar shells and destroyed a mosque in the al Salim area of Ghayl, al Jawf on August 31.
- Al Islah Party tribesmen fought with al Houthi militants in Mabar, Dhamar on August 31. No casualties have been reported. Separately, al Houthi militants ambushed a car carrying tribal mediation committee members in Jahran, Dhamar on August 31, killing four tribal committee members. Unidentified tribesmen subsequently fought with the al Houthi militants, killing two al Houthi militants. Also, dozens of al Houthi militants set up a checkpoint and blocked off Jamal Street in Taiz on September 1. Finally, al Islah Party tribesmen set up a checkpoint and blocked off the road from Taiz to Sana’a in Mabar, Dhamar on September 2.
- The Southern Freedom Brigades, a militant group allegedly affiliated with the Southern Movement, released their first statement via Facebook on August 30. Within the statement the official spokesman for the Southern Freedom Brigades, Abu Abdullah al Hadrami, provided the operational details of an IED explosion and subsequent raid that struck a Yemeni military checkpoint in al Mukalla, Hadramawt on August 28. Hadrami also asserted that the formation of the brigades was a result of the Yemeni’s military crackdown on the Southern Movement and vowed to launch more attacks against the Yemeni government. Separately, Nasser Baqizquz, a local leader of the Southern Movement, reported that The Southern Freedom Brigades is not linked to the Southern Movement. Baqizquz added that the Southern Movement is solely comprised of a peaceful political organization.
- Suspected Southern Movement gunmen opened fire on a Yemeni Special Forces checkpoint and a Yemeni 33rd Armored Brigade camp and the gunmen subsequently fought with Yemeni soldiers at both locations in al Dhaleh on September 1. No casualties have been reported.
- A large group of Southern Movement protesters demonstrated in Sheikh Othman, Aden on August 31, traveling from the Central Square to the al Mansoura district. The protesters called for southern independence from northern Yemen and condemned the Yemeni military’s crackdown on Southern Movement demonstrations. Separately, thousands of Southern Movement protesters demonstrated in al Mukalla, Hadramawt on September 1, celebrating southern Yemen’s previous independence from northern Yemen, calling for rebuilding the southern Yemeni army, and criticizing the Yemeni government’s treatment of southern Yemen.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- U.S. military forces conducted an operation against al Shabaab near Sablale district, Lower Shabelle region on September 1. Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby confirmed the operation but declined to provide additional information. Somali government and security officials acknowledged the operation, reporting that it was an airstrike targeting a meeting of senior al Shabaab militants in the area. It remains unclear, despite popular rumor, if the operation targeted or killed al Shabaab’s leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane.
- Al Shabaab militants conducted a complex attack on a Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency compound, containing the Godka Jilacow prison, in the Bondhere district of Mogadishu on August 31. An al Shabaab militant detonated a SVBIED at a gate before six additional militants, some reportedly garbed in stolen Somali military uniforms, stormed the compound, killing three Somali security forces and two civilians. Somali government officials stated that the security forces then repelled the attack, killing the six militants and preventing them from freeing any of the detained al Shabaab militants held in the facility.
- African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali National Army (SNA) forces seized territory from al Shabaab in several regions as the renewed offensive against al Shabaab, Operation Indian Ocean, continues in southern and central Somalia. AMISOM announced on August 30 that AMISOM and SNA forces seized Bulo Marer, Goolweyn, and Jerlio in Lower Shabelle region after briefly clashing with al Shabaab militants in the area. An AMISOM official reported that the capture of Bulo Marer, an al Shabaab recruitment center, was necessary to advance to Barawe, al Shabaab’s primary stronghold in Lower Shabelle region. AMISOM and SNA forces then seized Kuntuwarey, Lower Shabelle region on September 1 after al Shabaab militants withdrew without confrontation.
- AMISOM announced on August 30 that Burundian AMISOM and SNA forces seized Kiliga Shinaha and Dangaras near Jowhar in Middle Shabelle region, as well as Fidow in Hiraan region, from al Shabaab militants. A Somali military official reported that the al Shabaab militants withdrew from the locations without significant resistance. An AMISOM commander stated that the AMISOM and SNA forces operating in the area will continue to advance toward Jalalaqsi, an al Shabaab stronghold in Hiraan region.
- An SNA commander in Bakool region reported on August 31 that AMISOM and SNA forces seized territory in the region after al Shabaab militants withdrew from several unspecified locations. Separately, an SNA commander in Galgudud region reported that AMISOM and SNA forces left Dhusamareb on September 2 to target al Shabaab militants controlling territory in the Elbur and Dhusamareb districts of the region.
- Suspected al Shabaab militants attacked a Kenyan police camp in Mandera, North Eastern Province on August 31. The attack, which included rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) and standard gunfire, reportedly destroyed one building in the camp without inflicting any casualties.