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 conducts complex attack on STC-backed force in southern Yemen; AQAP releases hostage video; Djiboutian national airline cancels flights to Sana’a airport after miscommunication

Somalia: Al Shabaab attacks civilians in central Somalia; SNA attacks al Shabaab logistics hub in central Somalia; al Shabaab claims to kill 22 Somali soldiers in Mogadishu outskirts

Yemen Security Brief:

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) conducted a complex attack against the Southern Transitional Council (STC)-backed Abyan Counterterrorism Unit near Fort Saeed, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen, on September 6.[i] The AQAP attackers used rocket-propelled grenades, small arms, and vehicles in the attack.[ii] The attack killed at least twenty-one Counterterrorism Unit members, including a battalion commander. The STC-supported forces killed six AQAP militants.[iii]

AQAP released a video of one of five UN hostages it kidnapped in February 2022 on September 3.[iv] The speaker, a UN field security coordination officer, called on the UN, the international community, and other humanitarian organizations to meet AQAP’s demands. AQAP is demanding a $1 million USD ransom for each UN hostage.[v]

The Djiboutian national airline said that it would not resume flights to Sana’a International Airport on September 7.[vi] The Houthis previously announced that flights between Djibouti City and Sana’a would resume on August 31.[vii] The Djiboutian airline said that it had initially believed Sana’a Airport was open to all flights.

Somalia Security Brief:

Al Shabaab fighters killed over 20 civilians and set more than seven trucks on fire in the Hiiraan region, central Somalia, on September 3.[viii] Al Shabaab claimed it targeted pro-government Ma’awisley militia members in the attack.

The Somali National Army (SNA) claimed to liberate several villages and seize boats that al Shabaab uses to transport logistics in Mahaas district, Hiiraan region, on September 6. [ix]Al Shabaab claimed to have killed more than 50 members of the Ma’awisley militia group in the Mahaas distrct on September 6.[x]

The SNA, Haramcad special police, and the National Intelligence and Security Agency, began deploying troops to the Basra district on the outskirts of Mogadishu on September 5 to clear al Shabaab militants from the area and destroy an al Shabaab Islamic court. Al Shabaab and the joint forces clashed in the Basra district on September 5 and both sides suffered an unknown number of casualties.[xi]Al Shabaab also attacked a group of soldiers who had left Mogadishu to go to the Basra district on September 5. Al Shabaab said it killed at least seven soldiers and injured 15 others. [xii]

[i] Akhbar Yemen, “27 killed in clashes between the ‘security belt’ and al Qaeda in Abyan,” September 6, 2022,

[ii] Reuters, “Al Qaeda attack kills 20 Yemeni forces in Abyan, says southern military,” September 6, 2022,

[iii] SMA News, “Six al Qaeda militants were killed while the security belt was responding to a terrorist attack west of Ahwar,” September 6, 2022,

[iv] SITE Intelligence Group, “AQAP releases hostage plea from UN security director abducted in Aden in February 2022,” September 3, 2022,

[v] Akhbar Yemen, “The kidnapping of a British doctor in Lahij and the kidnappers announce their demands,” February 23, 2022,

[vi] Khabar Agency, “Djibouti officially apologizes for operating flights to Sana’a airport,” September 7, 2022,

[vii] Liam Karr and Brian Carter, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – September 2, 2022,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 2, 2022,

[viii] Voice of America, “Al Shabaab Kills 21 in Somalia’s Hiran Province,” September 3, 2022,

[ix] Halbeeg, “SNA liberates villages, kills al-Shabaab fighters in central Somalia, “ September 6, 2022,

[x] Somalia Memo, “ More than 50 Maawisleys were killed in the suburbs of Mahaas, and their weapons were released,” September 6, 2022,

[xi] Somali Dispatch, “Haram’cad & NISA forces Raided Basra District, rids of courts,” September 5, 2022,

[xii] SITE Intelligence Group, “Shabaab Claims 22 Casualties Among Somali Special Forces in Counter-Offensive in Mogadishu Outskirts,” September 6, 2022, available by subscription at

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