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: U.S. Department of State condemns al Houthis' detention of American citizens; suspected AQAP militants attack security forces at al Mansoura prison, Aden city; Southern Movement leader reiterates call for independent southern Yemeni state; Saudi-led coalition airstrikes target al Houthi-Saleh Political Security headquarters in al Hudaydah governorate; al Houthi-Saleh delegation meets with German ambassador to Yemen in Muscat, Oman

Horn of Africa: Somali officials reschedule Lower House elections for October 23; al Shabaab releases video of captured Ugandan soldier; SNA and AMISOM forces launch counterterrorism operation in Bakara Market, Mogadishu; suspected al Shabaab militants attempt to assassinate military official in Warta Nabadda, Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

  • The U.S. Department of State calls for the immediate release of U.S. citizens detained by al Houthi forces. Al Houthi forces abducted Peter Willems, the director of the English-language Exceed Language Center in Sana’a, on September 20. Al Houthi forces may have detained Willems to deter Saudi-led coalition strikes on the National Security Bureau (NSB), the al Houthi-Saleh military intelligence headquarters, according to local sources. Al Houthi forces kidnapped Peter Willems one day after the Saudi-led coalition bombed the NSB.[1]
  • Suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked security forces with a grenade and small arms fire outside of the al Mansoura district prison in Aden city on September 27. Security forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi arrested the militants. Suspected AQAP militants last targeted security forces near the prison in late July.[2]
  • A leader of the Southern Movement, Ahmed bin Farid al Suraimah, reiterated his call for an independent southern Yemeni state on September 27. Farid argued that an independent southern Yemeni state is important for security in the Gulf region. Activists raised the South Yemen flag over government buildings throughout Hadramawt governorate on September 27. Multiple southern Yemeni governors called for the formation of a new political council to ensure southern Yemeni representation on September 15.[3]
  • Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeted the Political Security headquarters in al Hudaydah governorate on September 27. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeted al Houthi-Saleh positions in al Hudaydah governorate on September 21 and September 1. Coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al Asiri has asserted that airstrikes on al Hudaydah port targeted al Houthi-Saleh naval bases.  The airstrikes supplement the coalition’s naval blockade of Yemen’s Red Sea coast. Most humanitarian aid delivered to Yemen passes through al Hudaydah port. Al Houthi-Saleh forces detained two oil tankers in al Hudaydah port on September 15.[4]
  • An al Houthi-Saleh delegation met with the German ambassador to Yemen in Muscat, Oman on September 27, to discuss the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen. The al Houthi-Saleh delegation expressed its willingness to observe a ceasefire along the Saudi-Yemeni border if the Saudi-led coalition halts its bombing campaign. Germany reiterated its support for the UN-led peace process. The German ambassador to Yemen also met with a Southern Movement leader on September 21.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Somali officials rescheduled Lower House elections to October 23 and the presidential contest to November 30. Officials already postponed election dates twice this cycle. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is occupying the presidency in a limited capacity. The Federal Indirect Election Implementation Team (FIEIT), headed by a former Mohamud advisor, extended President Mohamud’s mandate through the November 30 election. Somali ministers are accusing the current administration of intentionally delaying the elections.[6]
  • Al Shabaab released a video of a captured Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF) soldier on September 26. Al Shabaab militants captured the soldier, referred to as “Masassa M.Y.,” during a raid on a Ugandan African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in Janale, Lower Shabelle region in September 2015.  The soldier calls on Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to speak with the leaders of al Shabaab in the video.[7]
  • Somali National Army (SNA) and AMISOM forces launched a counterterrorism operation in the Hodon, Hawl Wadag, and Wardhigley districts of Mogadishu on September 27. The operation targeted an al Shabaab cell in Bakara Market, the largest marketplace in Mogadishu and the site of frequent al Shabaab attacks.[8]
  • Suspected al Shabaab militants attempted to assassinate a Somali National Army (SNA) deputy prosecutor in Warta Nabadda district of Mogadishu on September 26. Abdullahi Hussein Mayonge was wounded in the attack but was taken to a nearby hospital.[9]
[1] “On Reports of U.S. Citizens Detained in Yemen,” U.S. Department of State, September 27, 2016,
[2] “Soldier killed in an attack by unidentified gunmen on the central Mansoura prison in Aden,” al Masdar, September 27, 2016,
[3] “Ahmed bin Farid: An independent southern state is a security necessity for the Gulf,” Aden Tomorrow, September 27, 2016,; and “Houdarm activists call a national campaign to raise the flag on the southern headquarters of all government buildings,” Aden Times, September 27, 2016,
[4] “Arab coalition warplanes targeted the Political Security Headquarters in al Hudaydah,” al Masdar, September 27, 2016,
[6] “Somali President's stay in office extended further as poll teams push vote to Nov 30,” Goobjoog News, September 27, 2016,; and “MP: Delay of the election is ‘politically motivated,” Shabelle News, September 27, 2016,
[7] “Shabaab Release Video of ‘Urgent Plea’ from Captive Ugandan Soldier,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 26, 2016,; and “Al Shabaab parades UPDF soldier captured in Somalia,” Shabelle News, September 27, 2016,
[8] “SNA, AU troops carry out joint sweep in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, September 27, 2016,; and “Somali forces launch security operation in Mogadishu,” Goobjoog News, September 27, 2016,
[9] “Somalia military official wounded in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, September 26, 2016,
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