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: Al Houthi-Saleh forces detain U.S. citizen in Sana’a city; Saudi air defense systems intercept al Houthi-Saleh ballistic missile in southwest Saudi Arabia; Emirati-backed forces raid AQAP strongholds in southern Yemen; reported U.S. airstrike targets AQAP militants in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; suspected AQAP militants attack security forces in Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab claims its militants assassinated Somali general in Mogadishu, Somalia; Kenya’s chief prosecutor orders investigation of Kenyan electoral commission; Somali Prime minister calls for the end of arms embargo; Puntland maritime forces interdict weapons smuggled from Yemen; al Shabaab claims it ambushed U.S. forces in Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia; al Shabaab ambushes Kenyan Defense Forces in Gedo region, southwestern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi-Saleh forces reportedly detained a U.S. citizen working for the Yemeni oil company Safer in Sana’a on September 24. Local sources identify the American citizen as Danny Lavone Burch and claim he has lived in Yemen for several years with his Yemeni wife. The sources report he was detained while driving his children to school.[1]

Saudi air defense systems intercepted an al Houthi-Saleh ballistic missile over King Khaled air base in Khamis Mushayt city, Asir province, southwest Saudi Arabia on September 23. Saudi forces also claimed to destroy the missile launch pad in al Matun district, al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen. An al Houthi-Saleh news outlet claimed the missile hit the Saudi air base.[2] 

Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces raided two AQAP safe houses in southern Yemen between September 23 and 25. Al Hizam forces arrested two local AQAP commanders in Mudiyah district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on September 23. Al Hizam forces also arrested three suspected AQAP militants and seized explosive devices in Bir Haidra area, al Hawta district, Lahij governorate, southern Yemen on September 25.[3]

A reported U.S. airstrike targeted AQAP militants in al Sawmah district, al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on September 22. An AQAP-affiliated social media account claimed the airstrike killed several civilians. Local news outlets did not corroborate AQAP’s claim. This is the third reported U.S. airstrike in al Sawmah district in September.[4]

Suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked security forces in Daw’an district, Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on September 24. AQAP militants frequently attack Yemeni security forces in Daw’an.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab assassinated Somali Major General Abdullah Qarrah and his bodyguard in Mogadishu, Somalia on September 25, according to their social media account. Maj. Gen. Qarrah served as deputy commander of logistics for the Somali National Army (SNA). Al Shabaab militants attempted to assassinate the commander of the SNA General Ahmed Jimale in Mogadishu on April 9.[6]

Kenyan director of public prosecutions Keriako Tobiko ordered an investigation of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for the irregularities in the August 8 presidential election results on September 24. Tobiko stated the investigation will conclude in 21 days. The re-run presidential election is scheduled for October 26, although opposition candidate Raila Odinga pledged to boycott the election unless the current IEBC officials are replaced.[7]   

Prime Minister of Somalia Hassan Ali Khaire called on world leaders to lift the international arms embargo on Somalia so the Somali Federal Government (SFG) can acquire heavy weapons to defeat al Shabaab during a speech to the UN General Assembly on September 22. PM Khaire also requested assistance on debt relief to fund human rights and education initiatives. The UN lifted parts of the embargo for one year in 2013 to permit the purchase of light weapons.[8]

Puntland naval forces interdicted a boat smuggling weapons from Yemen on September 23. The smugglers were transporting anti-aircraft guns and small arms. Director of the Puntland maritime police force Abdirahman Hassan stated the weapons were likely en route to arms smugglers in the Somali black market.[9]

Al Shabaab claimed its militants destroyed a U.S. armored vehicle in an ambush in Bula Gaduud, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on September 24. The town sits along the Kismayo-Jamaame-Jilib road approximately 30 km north of Kismayo. Al Shabaab operates from Bula Gaduud to launch attacks on Kismayo, Jamaame, and Jilib.[10]

Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a convoy of Kenyan Defense Forces as it exited Bardhere city, Gedo region, southwestern Somalia on September 23, according to their social media account. Bardhere lies at an important crossroad for African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces and the Somali Federal Government (SFG), where the Luq-Kismayo and Baidoa-Wajir, Kenya highways intersect.[11]

[1] “Yemen Houthis detain U.S. citizen in capital Sanaa - local sources,” Reuters, September 25, 2017,; “American citizen Danny Porsche kidnapped in Yemen by houthi rebels,” International Business Times, September 25, 2017,; and Mohammed Jumeh, Twitter, September 25, 2017,
[2] “Saudi Arabia: Houthi missile intercepted and launch pad destroyed in Yemen,” Al Arabiya, September 23, 2017,; “Saudi air defense intercept Houthi missile;” Al Masdar, September 23, 2017,; and “Ballistic missile launched toward King Khaled air base,” Al Motamar, September 23, 2017,
[3] AQAP targets al Hizam forces in al Ayn, Telegram, September 22, 2017; AQAP attacks al Hizam in Bir Hadidra, Telegram, September 25, 2017; “Abyan: al Hizam continues it security campaign against al Qaeda elements,” Aden Lang, September 23,
[4] “U.S. airstrike in al Bayda kills civilians,” Telegram, September 22, 2017; Maher Farrukh, Twitter, September 22, 2017,
[5] AQAP targets soldiers in Daw’an, Telegram, September 25, 2017; AQAP targets Hadhrami special forces commander in Mukalla city, Telegram, September 22, 2017; and “Death and wounding of five soldiers in an attack by al Qaeda elements in Wadi Hadramawt,” Al Mashhad Al Yemeni, September 25, 2017,
[6] “Al Shabaab militants assassinate Somali Major General,” Telegram, September 25, 2017; “Somalia: Senior General gunned down in Mogadishu,” All Africa, Septemebr 25, 2017,;  and Hussein Mohamed and Mohamed Ibrahim, “Ten die in Somalia suicide attack on new army chief,” New York Times, April 9, 2017,
[7] “Kenya police ordered to investigate election officials,” Al Jazeera, September 24, 2017,
[8] “Somalia: Govt seeks easing of arms embargo in effort to defeat al Shabaab,” All Africa, September 23, 2017,
[9] “Somalia: Puntland forces capture weapons-laden boat from Yemen,” All Africa, September 23, 2017,
[10] “Al Shabaab militants ambush U.S. forces,” Telegram, September 24, 2017; and  “Shabaab claims destroying U.S. vehicle near Kismayo, attacks in capital and Puntland,” SITE, September 25, 2017, available by subscription at
[11] “Al Shabaab militants detonate IED targetting KDF troops,” Telegram, September 23, 2017; and “Shabaab claims destroying U.S. vehicle near Kismayo, attacks in capital and Puntland,” SITE, September 25, 2017, available by subscription at

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