Hussein al-Houthi

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Hussein al-Houthi
حسين الحوثي
Hussein Al-Houthi.jpg
Official portrait
Born20 August 1959
Marran district, Saada Governorate, Yemen
Died10 September 2004 (aged 45)
Marran district, Saada Governorate, Yemen
Known forFounder of the Houthi movement
RelativesAbdul-Malik al-Houthi (brother)
Yahia al-Houthi (brother)
Military career
Allegiance Houthis
Years of service2004
Battles/warsHouthi insurgency in Yemen

Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi (Arabic: حسين بدر الدين الحوثي;‎ 20 August 1959 – 10 September 2004), also spelled Hussein Badr Eddin al-Houthi, was a Yemeni Zaidi religious, political and military leader, as well as former member of the Yemeni parliament for the Al-Haqq party between 1993 and 1997. He was instrumental in the Houthi insurgency against the Yemeni government, which began in 2004. Al-Houthi, who was a one-time rising political aspirant in Yemen, had wide religious and tribal backing in northern Yemen's mountainous regions. The Houthi movement took his name after his assassination in 2004.

Early life[edit]

Al-Houthi was born in 1956 or 1959 in the Marran area of Sada'a region. His father, Badr al-Din, was a prominent Zaydi cleric who briefly took control of the Houthi movement after his son's death.[1]

According to a disciple, al-Houthi lived part of his life with his family, including his father and his younger brother, Abd al-Malik,[1] in Qom, Iran. The disciple also claimed that al-Houthi had close relationships with Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, and Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's leader.[2]

Political career[edit]

Member of Al-Haqq[edit]

Al-Houthi was a member of the Yemeni Zaydi/Shafi'i political party Al-Haqq (The Truth). When the party supported South Yemeni separatism, it became a target of the government, and he fled, allegedly, to Syria and then to Iran. After his return to Yemen, he broke with Al-Haqq to form his own party.[3]

Believing Youth movement[edit]

Al-Houthi founded the Believing Youth movement (Arabic: شباب المؤمنین) in 1990 or 1992 to teach young persons about Zaidi and its history to revive Zaidism in Saada Governorate.[4][5][6]

Forming Ansarallah[edit]

Al-Houthi was accused by the Ali Abdullah Saleh government of trying to set himself up as an imam, of setting up unlicensed religious centres, of creating an armed group called Ansarallah and of staging violent anti-American and anti-Israeli protests, as al-Houthi's followers felt Yemen's government was too closely allied with the United States.[7][8]


On 18 June 2004, Yemeni police arrested 640 of his followers, who were demonstrating in front of the Great Mosque of Sana'a. Two days later the Yemeni government offered a bounty of $55,000 for his capture, launching an operation aimed at ending his alleged rebellion.[9]

In July, Yemen Army forces killed 25 of his Houthi supporters and increased the bounty to $75,500.[10] After months of battles between Yemeni security forces and Houthis, on 10 September the Yemeni Interior and Defense Ministries released a statement declaring that he had been killed, along with 20 of his aides, in Marran province, Saada Governorate.[8][11]


On 5 June 2013, tens of thousands of Yemeni Shias attended the reburial of the remains of al-Houthi in Sa'dah, where armed rebels were deployed in large numbers. The new Yemeni government had turned over his remains to his family on 28 December 2012[12] as a goodwill gesture to bolster national reconciliation talks. The previous government of Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had stepped down in 2012 after the Yemeni Revolution, originally buried al-Houthi in 2004 at the Sana'a central prison to prevent his grave from becoming a shrine for the Zaidis. A representative of Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi attended the funeral, but a Houthi spokesman accused the central government of refusing to give visas to several dignitaries who wanted to travel to Yemen to attend the ceremony and of tearing down pictures of al-Houthi put up in the Yemeni capital.[13]

The Houthis take their name from the family name al-Houthi. His brothers Abdul-Malik, Yahia, and Abdul-Karim are leaders of the rebels as were his late brothers Ibrahim[14] and Abdulkhalik.[15]


  1. ^ a b Ludovico Carlino (August 2013). "Militant Leadership Monitor". The Jamestown Foundation - Militant Leadership Monitor: 12. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  2. ^ Yemeni Shi'ite Cleric and Houthi Disciple 'Issam Al-'Imad: Our Leader Houthi is Close to Khamenei; We Are Influenced Religiously and Ideologically By Iran Special Dispatch No.2627, MEMRI, 2 November 2009
  3. ^ Manuel Almeida (8 October 2014). "Profile: Who are Yemen's Houthis?". Al Arabiya News. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  4. ^ "Yemen's Abd-al-Malik al-Houthi". BBC. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  5. ^ "al-Shabab al-Mum'en / Shabab al-Moumineen (Believing Youth)". Global Security. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  6. ^ Freeman, Jack (2009). "The al Houthi Insurgency in the North of Yemen: An Analysis of the Shabab al Moumineen". Studies in Conflict & Terrorism. 32 (11): 1008–1019. doi:10.1080/10576100903262716. ISSN 1057-610X. S2CID 110465618.
  7. ^ "Yemen continues anti-cleric drive". BBC News. 9 August 2004. Retrieved 5 February 2008.
  8. ^ a b "al-Shabab al-Mum'en / Shabab al-Moumineen (Believing Youth)". Retrieved 5 February 2008.
  9. ^ Iris Glosemeyer and Don Reneau, "Local Conflict, Global Spin: An Uprising in the Yemen Highlands," Middle East Report, No. 232 (Autumn 2004), pp. 44–46
  10. ^ "Yemen kills cleric's followers, offers reward". The Sydney Morning Herald. 11 July 2004. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  11. ^ "Yemeni forces kill rebel cleric". BBC News. 9 October 2004. Retrieved 5 February 2008.
  12. ^ Yemeni Regime Releases Body of the Shiite Leader of al Houthi Movement After 9 Years Archived 26 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine, 2 June 2013
  13. ^ "Yemenis bury remains of founder of Houthi rebel group". Reuters. 5 June 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  14. ^ "Clashes in southern Yemen; rebels leader's brother killed". Globe and Mail. Associated Press. 9 August 2019. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  15. ^ "Brother of Houthis' top leader believed dead after air strike". The National (Abu Dhabi). 1 September 2018. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
Preceded by
Leader of the Houthi Movement
June 2004 – September 2004
Succeeded by