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: Senior intelligence officer Col. Abdullah al Ashwal assassinated in Sana’a; President Hadi arrives in New York for the UN General Assembly; Yemeni Defense Ministry denies rumors of a power transfer in the absence of President Hadi; unidentified assailants target liquefied natural gas pipeline in eastern Shabwah governorate

Horn of Africa: Unknown aircrafts bomb Kismayo airport; KDF and al Shabaab fight in Janaa Cabdalle; man killed in Afgoi; 100 arrested during searches in Afgoi; searches for al Shabaab militants begin in Mogadishu; KDF airlifts supplies after water is poisoned in Janaa Cabdalle, Burundi to supply 200 police officers to Somalia; Djiboutian forces take over security in parts of Beledweyne; Somali parliament convenes; President Mohamud meets with British officials

Yemen Security Brief

  • Colonel Abdullah al Ashwal, a senior intelligence officer in Yemen’s Political Security Organization, was assassinated in Sana’a on September 24. According to local sources, Col. Abdullah al Ashwal was shot by masked gunmen as he left his office in Safiya neighborhood in central Sana’a. Yemeni security officials said Col. Abdullah al Ashwal is the most senior intelligence officer to be assassinated in Sana’a. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQA) is suspected of being behind the attack.[1]
  • Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour al Hadi arrived in New York on September 24 to participate in the United Nations General Assembly. President Hadi is expected to meet with the international community on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to discuss development and aid plans.[2]
  • The Yemeni Defense Ministry denied rumors on September 24 that President Abdu Rabbu Mansour al Hadi transferred power to Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed. According to local newspapers and websites, President Hadi, who is currently out of the country, transferred power to Defense Minister Ahmed during his absence. The Yemeni Defense Ministry called the claims baseless and urged the media to seek accuracy and credibility in reporting.[3]
  • An explosion occurred at the liquefied natural gas pipeline between the Safir region in Ma’rib governorate and Belhaf in eastern Shabwah governorate on September 25. According to a local source, the liquefied natural gas pipeline connects to the southeastern Belhaf terminal. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is suspected of being behind the attack.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Airstrikes carried out by unknown planes hit the airport in Kismayo on September 25. The airport is used by al Shabaab militants as a base and training ground. Two bombs landed within airport grounds, and two bombs landed in nearby areas. The number of casualties and who carried out the strikes is not known.[5]
  • Al Shabaab attacked a Kenyan Defense Force base in Janaa Cabdalle, Lower Jubba, on September 24. Fighting lasted for several hours and became so severe that local residents were forced to flee their homes. The number of casualties from both sides is not yet known.[6]
  • A man was shot and killed in Afgoi town, 70km outside of Mogadishu, on September 24. Abdikadir Omar Mohamed was leaving a mosque in the Hawo Takoe neighborhood in Afgoi when he was shot by unknown assailants. The attackers were able to flee the scene but an investigation into the murder is taking place. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.[7] 
  • Following the shooting of a local Afgoi man on September 24, forces loyal to the Somali government have carried out searches in Afgoi for al Shabaab militants. Over one hundred people have been arrested who are suspected of some connection to the terrorist group.[8]
  • Search operations in Mogadishu began on September 25 to purge the city of al Shabaab-linked extremists. Somali security forces were instructed to carry out these searches because of the high level of killings in Mogadishu recently (thirty deaths since September 20). The Somali forces will be focusing on the Wadajir district where the violence seems to be concentrated. The number of people detained has not yet been revealed.[9]
  • Kenyan Defense Forces had to airlift food and water to Somali and AMISOM soldiers headed toward Kismayo on September 22 and 23. Al Shabaab dropped poison in a well and vandalized pipes in Janaa Cabdalle in an attempt to slow the Somali advance on Kismayo.[10]
  • The nation of Burundi has announced on September 24 that it will send 200 peacekeeping police officers to Somalia before the year ends. The Burundian Security Minister Gabriel Nizigama says those sent to Somalia will be chosen from three different police forces and will all be the be the top picks after a series of physical tests. Burundi has already sent six battalions to Somalia for peacekeeping purposes since 2007.[11]
  • The Djiboutian contingent of AMISOM took over security of the Hawl Wadag neighborhood in Beledweyne from the Ethiopian contingent on September 25. Despite Djibouti’s small contingent in Beledweyne, Djiboutian senior officers have said they soon hope to take over security of the entire city.[12]
  • Somalia’s parliament convened on September 24 to hold the first parliamentary meeting since President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected as Somalia’s first president in decades. The two-hundred members of parliament that were present discussed legislative and security issues, and chose a committee that will select the parliamentary sub-committees.[13]
  • Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud welcomed British officials to Mogadishu on September 24. The UK’s Chief of the General Staff Sir Peter Wall, and British envoy to Somalia Matt Bough spoke with President Mohamud about strengthening Somalia’s security forces. During the meeting the British envoys made it clear that British leaders will support Somalia’s new government.[14]  

[1] “Yemeni Intelligence Official Shot Dead in Sana’a,” Reuters, September 24, 2012. Available:
“Yemen: Intelligence Officer Killed in Drive-By Shooting,” Washington Post, September 24, 2012. Available:
“Assassination of Intelligence Officer Col. Abdullah al Ashwal in Safiya Neighborhood in Central Sana’a,” Yemen Nation, September 25, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[2] “Yemeni President Arrives to New York for the UN General Assembly,” 26 September, September 25, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[3] “Official: Transferring Power to Defense Minister Is Baseless,” SABA News, September 24, 2012. Available:
[4] “Another Attack Targets Liquefied Natural Gas Pipeline in Shabwa,” al Masdar Online, September 25, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
“Attacks Blow Up Belhaf Liquefied Natural Gas Pipeline,” al Watan, September 25, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[5] “Foreign Airstrikes Hit Kismayo Airport,” Bar Kulan, September 25, 2012. Available:
[6] “Kenyan Army Clashes with Al Shabaab in Southern Somalia,” Shabelle, September 25, 2012. Available:
[7] “Gangs Kill Local Sports Club Member in Afgoye,” Bar Kulan, September 25, 2012. Available:
[8] “Around 100 People Arrested in Afgoye Town,” Shabelle, September 25, 2012. Available:
[9] “Somali Security Forces Conduct Operation in Mogadishu,” Shabelle, September 25, 2012. Available:
[10] “KDF Airlifts Water to Troops as Wells Poisoned,” The Star, September 24, 2012. Available:
[11] “Burundi to Deploy 200 Police Agents for Somalia Peace Keeping Mission,” September 25, 2012. Available:
[12] “AMISOM to Take Over Parts of Beledweyne’s Security,” Bar Kulan, September 25, 2012. Available:
[13] “Parliament Meets for the First Time Since Election of New President,” Bar Kulan, September 25, 2012. Available:
[14] “President Meets Top British Officials in Mogadishu,” Bar Kulan, September 25, 2012. Available:
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