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: Hadi government arrests AQAP and ISIS leaders in Aden; U.S. airstrike kills six AQAP militants in Ma’rib; AQAP releases video about execution of alleged spies; Hadi government forces begin offensive on Sirwah district, Ma’rib governorate; Hadi government forces seize positions in al Ghayl district, al Jawf governorate

Horn of Africa: U.S. Special Operations Forces advise Somali forces in raid on Tarotorow, Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab militants conduct multiple attacks in Mogadishu; al Shabaab militants detonate IED targeting bus in Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region; UN envoy calls for President Mohamud’s mandate to end on November 6; pro-al Shabaab women’s magazine releases fifth issue in Swahili

Yemen Security Brief

  • Forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government dismantled a number of terrorist cells and arrested a prominent al Qaeda and the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militant in Aden on September 2-3. Hadi government forces announced the arrest of a key AQAP financier for southern Yemen on September 3. The AQAP militant admitted his role as a financial officer and leader of an AQAP branch in Aden. Hadi government forces disrupted an AQAP cell that conducted terrorist operations in al Mukalla, Hadramawt governorate in Aden on September 3. Hadi government forces arrested an Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) recruiter in al Mansoura district, Aden city on September 2.[1]
  • A reported U.S. airstrike killed six AQAP militants in the Wadi Obeida area of Ma’rib governorate on September 4. Reported U.S. airstrikes targeting AQAP resumed on August 24 following a nearly month-long lull.[2]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a video about the arrest and execution of two alleged spies responsible for facilitating U.S. airstrikes on August 29. The video, titled “Harvest of Spies,” accused one of the spies of planting a tracking device on Jalal al Bali’idi al Marqishi, the leader of AQAP’s insurgent arm, Ansar al Sharia. A U.S. airstrike killed al Marqishi, also known as Hamza al Zinjibari, in Abyan governorate on February 4, 2016.[3]
  • Hadi government and allied forces began an offensive on al Houthi-Saleh positions in Sirwah district, Ma’rib governorate on September 2. Hadi government forces seized positions in Sirwah’s mountains from al Houthi-Saleh forces on September 5. Al Houthi-Saleh forces had launched an offensive on Ma’rib to counter the Hadi government’s offensive on Nihm district, Sana’a governorate on August 8. Sirwah district is less than 100 km from the capital city, Sana’a. Hadi government forces will likely need to secure Sirwah before an offensive on Sana’a city can begin.[4]
  • Hadi government and allied forces seized a military camp from al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Ghayl district, western al Jawf governorate on September 6. Al Houthi-Saleh forces have controlled Camp al Salan since September 2014. Al Ghayl district is northeast of Sana’a city. Hadi government forces seek to secure al Ghayl district as part of shaping operations for an offensive on Sana’a city.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) advised Somali SOF in a raid on al Shabaab positions in Toratorow village in Lower Shabelle region on September 4. Unidentified aircraft launched two missiles at the village following the firefight between Somali SOF and al Shabaab forces. The raid killed three high-level al Shabaab commanders, including the commander of Lower Shabelle region. Al Shabaab claimed to repulse the attack on Toratorow on Twitter and Telegram.[6]
  • Al Shabaab militants conducted a string of attacks in Mogadishu on September 5 and 6. Al Shabaab militants conducted a mortar attack targeting Villa Somalia, the home of Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, on September 6 that wounded seven individuals. Militants also conducted a grenade attack that wounded three Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers in Mogadishu on September 6. Suspected al Shabaab attempted to assassinate a well-known businessman using a car bomb on September 5.[7]
  • Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) on a bus traveling outside Afgoi town in Lower Shabelle region on September 4. The blast killed at least five civilians and wounded multiple others. Al Shabaab militants took up positions outside Afgoi town after SNA forces drove the militants from nearby towns on September 3.[8]
  • The UN Special Envoy to Somalia, Michael Keating, urged the Somali National Leadership Forum (NLF) to announce a clear end date to President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s mandate. The international community fears that President Mohamud and the current parliament may try to delay the scheduled September and October elections in order to stay in power. President Mohamud and the current parliament already voted to extend their mandates beyond original end dates of August 19 and September 10, respectively.[9]
  • Al Ghurabaa, a pro-al Shabaab women’s magazine, released its fifth issue on Twitter on September 5. The Swahili magazine called on Muslim women to support their male jihadi counterparts and noted the increasing role that women will play in jihad. The magazine also claimed that victory was near in Yemen and Somalia and mentioned allied Salafi-jihadi militants in Tanzania.[10]
[1]“Security Forces Arrest financial officer of al Qaeda in Aden,” Barakish, September 3, 2016,; and “Aden Police announces the arrest of ISIS and al Qaeda leadership, including recruitment official,” Barakish, September 3, 2016
[2] Mohammed Ghobari, Noah Browning, and Sami Aboudi “Blast kills 20 Yemeni government troops, six Qaeda militants dies in drone hit,” Reuters, September 05, 2016,
[3] “AQAP Video Focuses on Arrested Spies Involved in Assassination of Military Commander  Zinjibari,” SITE, September 05, 2016,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” Critical Threats, February 8, 2016,
[4] “Government troops start military operation to restore the province of Marib Serwah area,” al Masdar, September 05, 2016,; “The killing of 10 soldiers of the government army and dozens of rebels in the liberation battles Serwah Mareb,” al Masdar, September 05, 2016,; and “National Army advanced in Serwah Mareb after fierce battles with the coup forces,” al Masdar, September 05, 2016,
[5] “After two years of control of the rebels .. army and resistance restore camp in Al-Jawf,” al Masdar, September 6, 2016,
[6] “Somali Commandos, US forces raid Al Shabaab stronghold,” Shabelle News, September 5, 2016,; “Four Al-Shabaab senior officials killed in Lower Shabelle,” Goobjoog News, September 6, 2016,; and “Shabaab Claims Confronting U.S. Air Drop Operation Near Mogadishu, Attacking Saracen Int. Truck in Puntland,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 5, 2016,
[7] “Mortars land near Somali palace in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, September 6, 2016,; “Somalia: 3 hurt in Grenade attack in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, September 5, 2016,; and “Car Bomb in Mogadishu wounds Businessman,” Shabelle News, September 5, 2016,
[8] “Roadside Explosion outside Afgoye kills at least five,” Shabelle News, September 4, 2016,; and “Car Bomb in Mogadishu wounds Businessman,” Shabelle News, September 5, 2016,
[9] “Exclusive: End President’s mandate on November 6, UN tells Somali leadership,” Goobjoog News, September 4, 2016,
[10] “Female Jihadist Releases Fifth Issue of Swahili Magazine For Women,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 5, 2016,
View Citations
Arrow down red
Oct '16
Sep '16
Aug '16