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 forces raid AQAP safe house in Hadramawt governorate; AQAP militants detonate IED targeting Emirati-backed forces in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen; Hadi government-aligned militias clash in Taiz city; President Hadi meets Chinese ambassador to discuss increased cooperation

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab commander surrenders to Somali security forces; al Shabaab calls for attacks on Myanmarese officials in defense of Rohingya Muslims; U.S. airstrike kills senior al Shabaab militant; al Shabaab attacks Burundi AMISOM forces in Middle Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief

Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi government forces raided an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) safe house in Tarim city, central Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on September 6 after beginning a sweep of the city on September 3. Hadi government forces seized equipment, explosives, and a hit list of government officials to target. Security forces killed one AQAP militant and apprehended another. Eleven suspected AQAP militants reportedly escaped. Suspected AQAP militants killed an Emirati officer and the Deputy Head of Security of Daw’an district in Hadramawt on September 5.[1] 

AQAP militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces in Khabr al Muraqisha, southeastern Abyan governorate, central Yemen on September 8. AQAP frames its attacks on Emirati-backed security forces as in reprisal for security forces abusing the local population.[2]

Hadi government-aligned militias clashed with one another in the Habil Suleiman area, Taiz city, central Yemen on September 7. Abu Abbas militants, a Salafi militia that cooperates with AQAP in Taiz, attacked militants led by Hashid al Awni of the Islah political party. The Hadi government integrated both militias into the 35th Armored Brigade in mid-2016 and both are backed by the Saudi-led coalition. Abu Abbas militants besieged the home of al Awni due to a territory dispute in the Habil Suleiman area. Abu Abbas militants blocked a road north of Taiz city in order to prevent al Awni’s militants from leaving the area.[3]

President Hadi met with China’s ambassador to Yemen Tian Qi to discuss Chinese investment in Yemeni reconstruction at the ambassador’s residence in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on September 7. The Chinese ambassador emphasised the government’s intent to increase cooperation between the countries. China has previously cooperated with Yemen on economic and technical development. Ambassador Qi pledged $4.4 million in aid to Yemen on June 15.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab commander Abdi Hassan Heybe surrendered to security forces in Bardere, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on September 7, according to Jubbaland state Security Minister Mohamed Abdi Kaliil. Heybe served as al Shabaab’s commissioner of the Sablale district in Lower Shabelle and is an explosives expert. Over fifty al Shabaab militants surrendered to security forces since the Somali Federal Government began its amnesty program for al Shabaab militants in April 2017.[5] 

Al Shabaab urged Salafi-jihadi groups in the Indian Subcontinent to conduct attacks in support of the persecuted Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar. The Myanmarese government’s ethnic cleansing of its minority Rohingya Muslim population forced over 150,000 Rohingya to flee from Myanmar since August 25. Al Shabaab and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) also called on al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) to attack Myanmarese officials.[6]

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) confirmed a U.S. airstrike killed one al Shabaab militant in Barawe, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on September 8. U.S. forces last struck al Shabaab militants in Somalia on September 6. U.S. forces coordinated the airstrike with the Somali Federal Government.[7]

Al Shabaab militants attacked Burundi African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops in Mahaday town, Middle Shabelle region, southern Somalia on September 8, according to the group’s social media channel. One thousand eight hundred Burundian troops deployed to Somalia on August 21.[8]

[1] “The First Military Region controls a terrorist cell in Tarim,” Barakish, September 3, 2017,; and “An al Qaeda operative was arrested, another was killed and 11 were wounded in the Tarim operation and they found explosives and dangerous documents,” Barakish, September 7, 2017,
[2] AQAP claims to target al Hizam forces, Telegram, September 8, 2017.
[3] “Heavy arms confrontations between troops of the 35th armored brigade west of Taiz city,” Al Masdar, September 7, 2017,; “Armed clashes in the ranks of mercenary aggression in Taiz,” Khaber Agency, September 7, 2017,; “The closure of the road leading to the university district of Taiz and the ongoing armed clashes have left a woman injured,” Yemen Akhbar, September 8, 2017,; “Details of what is happening in the clashes in Taiz between Abu Abbas Brigades and another armed faction,” Al Rai Press, September 7, 2017,; and “Six people injured in clashes between two factions in Taiz city,” Barakish, September 7, 2017,
[4] “President Hadi met with the Chinese ambassador the contribution of Chinese enterprises in the reconstruction process,” Al Masdar, September 7, 2017,; “China’s Role in the Yemen Crisis,” The Diplomat, August 11, 2017,; “China to open first overseas military base in Djibouti,” Al Jazeera, June 12, 2017,; and “President Hadi receives Chinese Ambassador,” Saba New, September 7, 2017,
[5] “Jubbaland parades surrendered Al Shabab leader in Bardere,” Radio Shabelle, September 7, 2017,
[6] Echoing AQAP, Shabaab urges AQIS to physically support Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, SITE, September 8, 2017, available by subscription at
[7] “U.S. Conducts Airstrike in Support of the Federal Government of Somalia,” AFRICOM, September 8, 2017,
[8] Al Shabaab claims attack on AMISOM forces, Telegram, September 8, 2017; and “Burundi Send Fresh Peacekeepers to Somalia,” All Africa, August 21, 2017,

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