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: AQAP seizes military headquarters in al Mukalla, Hadramawt; President Hadi’s relative survives assassination attempt in Sayun, Hadramawt; AQAP denies involvement in Rabat Street bombing; U.S. delivers transport plane to Yemeni Air Force; explosives experts disarm IED in Aden; gunmen kill police colonel in Taiz; Saudi border guards clash with smugglers; AQAP executes informant in Abyan; motorcycle bomb explodes in Ma’rib; AQAP plotted to assassinate Ali Abdullah Saleh

Horn of Africa: Somali National Army forces kill five al Shabaab in Bakool region; al Shabaab attacks AMISOM base in Beledweyne, Hiraan; Puntland forces raid al Shabaab base in Galgala Mountains; Turkey to train Somali Special Forces; Kenya suspects former Kenyan Special Forces soldier led al Shabaab during Westgate attack; South African groups find al Shabaab profiting from ivory smuggling; Barclays closes remittance accounts; British MI5 suspects up to 60 Britons recruited to al Shabaab; U.S. Intelligence Community fears al Shabaab attacks similar to Westgate; Kenyan Red Cross drops number of missing from 61 to 39 

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants seized the Yemeni Army Second Military District headquarters in al Mukalla, Hadramawt governorate on September 30. The gunmen killed three soldiers and wounded six. Sources said the militants were wearing special forces uniforms and driving military vehicles. Reinforcements from the 27th Mechanized Brigade arrived to encircle the headquarters. Local sources said security forces were negotiating to provide safe exit for the gunmen in exchange for handing over hostages, who included the division commander and other high level officers.[1]
  • Colonel Ali Nasser Dambur survived an assassination attempt in Sayun, Hadramawt governorate on September 28. Gunmen on motorcycles shot Colonel Dambur four times before being airlifted to a hospital in Sana’a. Colonel Dambur is a relative of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.[2]
  • AQAP’s al Malahem Media Foundation released a statement on September 29 denying AQAP’s involvement in the September 26 blasts on Rabat Street. They claimed the bombs were planted by the U.S. to “tarnish the image of Jihad.”[3]
  • The U.S. military delivered a CASA CN-235 transport plane to the Yemeni Air Force at Daylami air base in Sana’a on September 30 as part of a military aid package.[4]
  • Explosives experts disarmed an improvised explosive device (IED) in Sheikh Othman, Aden governorate on September 30.[5]
  • Unidentified gunmen on motorcycles killed a police colonel with silenced pistols in downtown Taiz on September 29. [6]
  • Saudi border guards clashed with gunmen smuggling pistols across the Yemeni border into Saudi Arabia on September 29. One border guard and two smugglers were killed. Three smugglers were captured.[7]
  • AQAP gunmen killed a Yemeni man in Tubn, Abyan governorate on September 29. The man had formerly been a part of AQAP and was accused of cooperating with security forces against the organization.[8]
  • Security officials said that a militant blew himself up in al Kushayf, Ma’rib city with a motorcycle bomb on September 29.[9]
  • Security forces revealed that they received information about an AQAP plot to assassinate former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The plot involved militants dressed as soldiers infiltrating Saleh’s neighborhood and blocking the entrances from reinforcements. Another group would enter Saleh’s house, kill him, and cut off his head.[10]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Somali National Army forces killed five al Shabaab militants and seized their weapons in El Lelow village, Bakool region on September 29. Somali casualties were not reported.[11]
  • Suspected al Shabaab militants attacked an AMISOM base housing Djibouti troops in Beledweyne, Hiraan region on September 30. Casualty figures were not released by either side.[12]
  • Puntland security forces raided an al Shabaab base in the Galgala Mountains on September 30. Puntland authorities claimed to have killed one al Shabaab militant during the raid.[13] 
  • Turkey signed a bilateral agreement with Somalia promising to train Somali Special Forces to fight al Shabaab on September 28.[14]
  • Al Shabaab’s leader during the attack on Westgate Mall was a former member of Kenyan Special Forces and was born Christian, according to reports released on September 29. The man converted to Islam and joined al Shabaab around 2005 under the name Omar or Umayr.[15]
  • South African environmental groups announced that al Shabaab receives up to 40 percent of its income by smuggling poached ivory through Kenya. The groups came to this conclusion after an 18-month investigation.[16]
  • Barclays Bank closed all remittance accounts from the UK to Somalia on September 30.[17] 
  • British intelligence agency MI5 believes al Shabaab recruited up to 60 Britons for potential operations in the UK. British officials also confirmed that six Britons died in the Westgate attack.[18] 
  • U.S. intelligence agencies expressed concerns that al Shabaab is planning other Westgate type attacks in Kenya and East Africa, based on classified information. These concerns influenced the U.S. State Department’s decision to issue a travel advisory warning for Kenya, on September 27.[19]
  • Kenyan Red Cross officials announced the number of missing from al Shabaab’s attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall fell from 61 to 39 on September 30. The drop came after finding 14 people alive and seven more deceased inside the mall.[20]  

[1] “Militants Disguised as Security Officers Kill Three Yemeni Soldiers,” Reuters, September 30, 2013. Available:
“News on the Arrival of Military Reinforcements to Regain the Second Division After it’s Fall,” Huna Hadhramout, September 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
“Security Committee in Hadramout Undertakes Negotiations with Gunmen That Control the Second Division Command Building to Regain the Building in Exchange for Safe Withdrawal for the Gunmen,” Hadramout Press, September 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[2] “Yemeni Officer Escapes Assassination Bid,” Yemen Post, September 28, 2013. Available:
[4] “Yemen Receives Second Payment of American Aid, a CASA CN-235 Plane,” Al Sahwa Yemen, September 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[5] “After Surveillance Cameras Spotted it: IED Disarmed in Sheikh Othman Planted by Someone in the Ahmad al ‘Amari Exchange,” al Bida Web, September 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[6] “Assassination of Officer with the Rank of Colonel in Downtown Taiz,” HSHD, September 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[7] “Two Smugglers and One Saudi Soldier Killed in Border Clashes,” al Bald News, September 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[8] “Al Qaeda Kills Defector Accused of Spying for Security Services,” al Mashhad al Yemeni, September 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[9] “Death of Terrorist in Explosion of Motorcycle Bomb in Ma’rib,” Yaspr, September 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[10] “Al Qaeda in Yemen Plots to Cut Off Head of Saleh and Escape With it in an Unknown Direction,” Mareb Press, September 13, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[11] “Somali government forces claimed victory over fighting with Shebeb in Bakol region,” Mustaqbal Radio, September 29, 2013. Available:
[12] “AMISOM base in Beledweyne attacked by unknown gunmen,” September 30, 2013. Available:
[13] “Somalia: Puntland forces, al Shabab fight in Galgala Mountains near Bossaso,” September 30, 2013. Available:
[14] “Somalia, Turkey sign bilateral agreement,” Dalsan Radio, September 28, 2013. Available:
[15] “Member of Kenyan Special Forces part of Westgate Mall militant,” Shabelle, September 29, 2013. Available:
[16] “al Shabaab now turns to poaching to fund terror activities,” Standard Media, September 28, 2013. Available:
[17] “Oxfam reaction to Barclays closing last remittance accounts to Somalia,” Bar Kulan, September 30, 2013. Available:
[18] “MI5 fears over 60 Somali jihad plotters in UK,” Shabelle, September 29, 2013. Available:
[19] “US intel info suggests al-Shabaab may be planning new attacks,” CNN, September 27, 2013. Available:
[20] “Kenya’s Westgate siege: Number of missing reduced to 39,” September 30, 2013. Available:
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