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: Anwar al Awlaki killed in al Jawf; Saleh will step down only if “key rivals” do not take over; Yemeni forces attack Ahmar tribe fighters in Sana’a; clerics denounce armed conflict; 15-year-old boy dies after al Qaeda amputated hand

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attacks TFG in Dhobley; TFG troops seize al Shabaab checkpoint near Garbaharey; al Shabaab amputates hand and foot of young boy; airstrike kills militants in Mogadishu; 300 “youths” defect from al Shabaab 

Yemen Security Brief 

  • Yemeni and U.S. officials confirmed that Yemeni-American radical Islamist cleric Anwar al Awlaki has been killed in a U.S. airstrike eight kilometers from the town of Khashef in al Jawf governorate.  Reports indicate that several other suspected al Qaeda militants were in the targeted convoy.  Awlaki was born in the U.S. and had no principal leadership role in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), but he played a crucial part in recruiting for, inspiring, and planning attacks against the U.S. and the West.  He is linked to the Ft. Hood shooting, the attempted Christmas day bombing of an airplane in 2009, and a disrupted 2010 plot to send explosives to a Chicago synagogue using printer toner cartridges.[1]
  • Saleh said in an interview to The Washington Post and TIME magazine that he would only step down if key rivals were not given positions in the new government.  These key rivals include General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, a defected general  now commanding forces against the Yemeni Army, and the Ahmar clan.  He gave the reason for this as “because if we transfer power and they are there, this will mean that we have given into a coup . . . if we transfer power, and they are in their positions, and they are still decision-makers, this will be very dangerous. This will lead to civil war.”[2]
  • A group of clerics warned opposition members from armed conflict, instead urging talks.  The group said that if the opposition becomes armed, it will legitimize government violence.  It also called on the president to address all of the grievances.  Opposition cleric Sheikh Abdul Majid al Zindani, listed by the U.S. as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist for his ties to al Qaeda, said that the group was controlled by a government intelligence officer.[3]
  • Maher Ali, a 15-year-old boy, died overnight from blood loss after al Qaeda-linked militants cut off his hand as a punishment for theft.  The punishment was carried out in Jaar in Abyan governorate.  The boy was accused of stealing electrical cables.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief 

  • Al Shabaab militants attacked the government-held town of Dhobley.  The group initially pushed the Ras Kamboni militia-supported Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces back, but the government was able to regroup and retake the entire town after a few hours.  Al Shabaab reports that six militants and forty TFG troops were killed but the number cannot be verified.[5]
  • Somali legislator in Garbaharey Mohamud Sayid Adan said that government troops attacked the checkpoint in Ras Qode area, 12 km east of Garbaharey in the Gedo region. He said that they attacked when residents in the area complained that militants at the checkpoint were robbing people. He claimed that TFG troops had killed three militants and wounded six while suffering two casualties and three wounded.[6]
  • Al Shabaab has amputated the hand and foot of Mohamed Hassan, a young boy accused of armed robbery in the outskirts of Mogadishu.  The militant group had gathered a number of people in the Alamada Internally Displaced Persons camp to witness the punishment.[7]
  • An airstrike in the Elbur district in Galgudud targeted al Shabaab militants.  The attack occurred in the early morning as militant leaders were holding meetings.  Locals report that militants vacated the town following the attack. It is unclear who initiated the airstrikes.[8]
  • Three hundred teenaged fighters defected from al Shabaab, denounced fighting, and formed a political group. They said that they were tired of fighting the Somali people and called on other militants to do the same. They said that they were willing to cooperate with the TFG.[9]


[1] Erika Solomon and Mohammed Ghobari, “U.S.-born al Qaeda cleric killed in Yemen: officials,” Reuters, September 30, 2011. Available:
“Officials: U.S.-born al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki killed,” CNN, September 30, 2011. Available:
“US officials: US attack in Yemen kills al-Awlaki,” AP, September 30, 2011. Available:
[2] Sudarsan Raghavan, “Saleh says he won’t step down until rivals are out,” Washington Post, September 29, 2011. Available:
[3] Shuaib al Mosawa, “Yemen clerics urge dialogue, warn against armed protest,” Yemen Observer, September 30, 2011. Available:
[4] “Yemeni teen dies after ‘Qaeda’ cut off his hand,” AFP, September 30, 2011. Available:'Qaeda'_cut_off_his_hand
[5] Yara Bayoumy, “Somalia's al Shabaab launches offensive in south,” Reuters, September 30, 2011. Available:
[6] “Several killed as Al-Shabaab and government troops fight in parts of Gedo,” Bar Kulan, September 28, 2011. Available:
[7] “Al shabaab cuts the limbs of Somali young boy,” Shabelle Media Network, September 29, 2011. Available:
[8] “Aerial attacks hit Al-Shabaab base in Eel Buur,” SONNA, September 30, 2011. Available:
[9] “300 youths quit Al-Shabaab,” SONNA, September 30, 2011. Available:
Arrow down red
Oct '11
Sep '11
Aug '11