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 expresses condolences for death of al Shabaab leader; U.S. sends counter-terrorism advisor to Yemen; Security forces use tear gas and water cannons on al Houthi protestors; Yemeni Air Force carries out airstrikes on al Houthis in al Jawf; Yemen appoints new head of Special Security Forces

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab appoints new leader; suspected al Shabaab detonate SVBIED near AMISOM convoy; AMISOM and Somali National Army forces seize villages from al Shabaab militants in Galgudud and Bakool regions; Somali National Security forces shut down two Mogadishu radio stations

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) issued a statement on September 6 expressing condolences for the death of al Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane and praising his tenure as leader of al Shabaab. The statement also condemns the U.S. airstrike that killed Godane and reaffirms Ayman al Zawahiri’s position as the emir of al Qaeda.[1]
  • The United States sent the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism, Lisa Monaco, to Sana’a on September 6 in an effort to reaffirm the U.S.-Yemen counter-terrorism partnership. Monaco met with President Hadi and stated the United States will support the Yemeni government as it continues to face threats to its stability.[2]
  • The al Houthis continued to escalate their protests in the capital, Sana’a, and closed off the roads to Sana’a International Airport and various government ministries on September 7. Yemeni security forces used tear gas and water cannons in an attempt to break up the al Houthi blockades, marking the first time the government has used riot control tactics on al Houthis since protests began on August 18. The al Houthis later condemned the government’s actions.[3]
  • The Yemeni Air Force conducted airstrikes on al Houthi positions and vehicles in al Ghayl, al Jawf, resulting in an unknown number of al Houthi deaths.[4]
  • The Yemeni government appointed Mohammed Mansour al Ghadara as the acting commander of the newly-renamed Special Security Forces (formerly known as Central Security Forces) on September 8.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab officials announced the appointment of Ahmad Umar, also known as Abu Ubaidah, as al Shabaab’s new leader on September 6 after confirming the death of former al Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane. The officials renewed al Shabaab’s loyalty to al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri and vowed to avenge Godane’s death.[6]
  • Suspected al Shabaab militants detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) near an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy near Hawo Abdi, Lower Shabelle region on September 8, killing at least 12 civilians and injuring two AMISOM soldiers. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast. Separately, suspected al Shabaab militants fired mortar shells in the Hamar Jabjab district of Mogadishu on September 7, injuring five civilians. [7]
  • Somali National Army (SNA) and Ethiopian AMISOM forces seized El Garas, Galgudud region from al Shabaab on September 7, killing nine militants. Separately, SNA and AMISOM forces seized several villages in Tiyeglow district, Bakool region from al Shabaab on September 6.[8]
  • Somali National Security forces shut down two local radio stations and arrested an unspecified number of media personnel in Mogadishu on September 7. The stations reportedly broadcasted an audio clip of al Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamed Rage speaking about the death of former al Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane.[9]

[1] “AQAP Statement 83: About the martyrdom of the mujahid Sheikh Mukhtar Abu Zubair, Emir of Mujahidin Youth Movement – God’s mercy on him,” AQAP JustPasteIt Account, September 6, 2014.
[2] “Statement by NSC spokesperson Caitlin Hayden on Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco’s trip to Yemen,” White House Press Secretary, September 6, 2014. Available:
[3] “Supreme Security Committee says they tried to open road to airport after al Houthis disabled traffic and closed two ministries,” al Masdar, September 7, 2014 [Arabic]. Available:
“Riot police break up al Houthi sit-in north of Sana’a,” Yemen News via YouTube, September 7, 2014. Available: 
“Yemen police clear airport road of protesters with tear gas,” Deutsche Welle, September 7, 2014. Available:
“Breaking: Spokesman: we hold the government responsible for the repercussions of its aggression and we emphasize our people’s right to defend itself by all means,” Ansaru Allah, September 7, 2014. Available:
[4] Airstrikes targeting al Houthi positions in al Jawf and cars carrying weapons to Amran and Arhab,” al Masdar, September 8, 2014. Available:
[5] “Major General Mohammed al Ghadar assigned as commander of special security forces,” 26 September, September 8. 2014. Available:
“Interior minister assigns Mohammed al Ghadara to lead Special Security Forces as successor to al Qawsi,” al Masdar, September 8, 2014. Available: 
Tweet from Yemeni spokesman, Mohammed al Basha.
[6] “Shabaab Appoints New Leader After Death of Godane, Renews Pledge to Zawahiri,” SITE Intel Group, September 6, 2014. Available at SITE.
Abdi Guled, “Somalia’s Islamist rebels, al-Shabab, name new leader,” The Washington Post, September 6, 2014. Available:
[7] “Mortar shells hit Somalia capital after militants vow to avenge militant leaders death,” AP, September 7, 2014. Available:
“Bomb in Somalia kills at least 12 civilians: governor,” Reuters, September 8, 2014. Available:
“Breaking News: Heavy explosion rams AMISOM convoy near Hawo Abdi locality,” Goobjoog News, September 8, 2014. Available:
[8]“7 killed in Al Shabaab attacks in Galgadu region,” Bar Kulan, September 8, 2014. Available:
“Somalia: Federal Govt, Ethiopian forces seize Al Shabaab-held village,” Garowe Online, September 6, 2014. Available:
“SOMALIA: Allied forces capture villages in Bakol region from Al-shabab,” RBC Radio, September 6, 2014. Available:
[9] “Two more radio stations shut down in Mogadishu,” Bar Kulan, September 7, 2014. Available:
“SOMALIA: Government forces raid two media houses and arrest staff,” RBC Radio, September 7, 2014. Available:
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