On September 23, 2001, then-U.S. President George W. Bush signed Executive Order (EO) 13224, which “authorizes the U.S. government to block the assets of individuals and entities that provide support, services, or assistance to, or otherwise associate with, terrorists and terrorist organizations designated under the Order, as well as their subsidiaries, front organizations, agents, and associates.”* “Executive Order 13224,” Terrorist Designations and State Sponsors of Terrorism, U.S. Department of State, September 23, 2001, https://www.state.gov/executive-order-13224/. x This EO covers support for Lebanese Hezbollah and Gaza-based Hamas* “Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” Terrorist Designations and State Sponsors of Terrorism, U.S. Department of State, https://www.state.gov/foreign-terrorist-organizations/. x and there remains considerable interest within the U.S. government to disrupt those groups’ financial networks as is evident from recent designations.* “Treasury Disrupts International Money Laundering and Sanctions Evasion Network Supporting Hizballah Financier,” U.S. Department of Treasury, April 18, 2023, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy1422;
“Treasury Targets Covert Hamas Investment Network and Finance Official,” U.S. Department of Treasury, May 24, 2022, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0798. x
Both Hezbollah and Hamas are Iranian-sponsored,* Emanuel Fabian, “Gallant: Iran gives Hezbollah $700m a year, is ‘driving force’ of current escalation,” Times of Israel, April 20, 2023, https://www.timesofisrael.com/gallant-iran-gives-hezbollah-700m-a-year-is-driving-force-of-current-escalation/.x internationally sanctioned terrorist groups that have killed hundreds of Israeli citizens as well as Americans.* “Timeline of Terror: A Concise History of Hezbollah Atrocities,” Henry Jackson Society, 2012, https://henryjacksonsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Timeline-of-Terror_Membership-version_low-res.pdf ;
Jim Zanotti, “Hamas: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service, December 2, 2010, https://sgp.fas.org/crs/mideast/R41514.pdf.x The two organizations depend on a variety of sources of funding, including revenues from illicit activities and charitable donations, to finance their operations. This report documents how Yemen’s Houthi rebels provided financial support to Hezbollah and Hamas as well as which Yemeni government officials, corporations, and private individuals were involved in this undertaking.
In 2021, the Houthis launched a fundraiser called “Jerusalem is Next” that collected money from Yemeni donors to support “Palestinian resistance,” including apparently Hamas. The campaign amassed approximately $4 million of contributions which were deposited via the Yemen Post banking system or the cellular provider Yemen Mobile. Al-Masirah, the Houthis’ premier media outlet, also ran TV advertisements to promote the effort.
Two years prior, in 2019, the Houthi-run Radio Sam FM launched a grassroots fundraiser to support Hezbollah. At the conclusion of the campaign, Sam FM released a document stating that it collected an amount equal to hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars to be gifted to Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. One of the Sam FM employees leading the campaign, Hamoud Mohammad Sharaf, previously worked at Al Manar, which is currently sanctioned for fundraising for Hezbollah. The fundraiser also utilized the Yemen Post banking system to collect funds from Yemeni donors.
2021 Fundraiser for Hamas
During the May 2021 clashes between Israel and Hamas/Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza, the Houthis launched a public fundraiser to allegedly “support Palestine.” This effort was promoted by Houthi officials and media outlets alike.* Dhaif Allah al-Shami (@DhaifAlShami650), Twitter, May 12, 2021, https://twitter.com/DhaifAlShami650/status/1392248810232066051?s=20; “Houthi TV Airs Fundraising Campaign For Hamas Rockets To Be 'Fired Towards Tel Aviv',” MEMRI TV, June 8, 2021, https://www.memri.org/tv/houthi-yemen-fundraising-campaign-palestinian-rockets-tel-aviv. x
In an advertisement posted to Twitter by the Houthi Minister of Telecommunication and Information Technology, the Yemeni public was encouraged to donate to the cause by either depositing funds into account #1140 at the Yemen Post banking system or calling/texting the phone number 1140.* Misfer Abdullah al-Numeir (@AlnomeirMosfer), Twitter, May 20, 2021, https://twitter.com/AlnomeirMosfer/status/1395139430214688770?s=20. x
Translation: “So that the sword of Jerusalem is not sheathed, I remind you to spend in the way of God and to respond to the call of the Leader [Abdulmalik al-Houthi] to support the people of Palestine through the "#Jerusalem_is_next" campaign by: 1) ️Yemeni Post Account No. 1140. 2️) Continue calling or sending to the [telephone] number 1140. 3) Push your friends and family members to donate. Allow me [to thank you], members of the committee.”
The total amount raised through this campaign, according to the Houthi Zakat Authority, was around $4 million or slightly above 1 billion Yemeni Rials (YER) based on the 2021 exchange rate.* General Authority of Zakat (@ZakatYemen), Twitter, May 29, 2021, https://twitter.com/ZakatYemen/status/1398656494187515907?s=20. x
That the beneficiaries of this fundraising effort included Hamas is based on evidence beyond the campaign’s suggestive phrasing that funds are collected to support “the Palestinian resistance.”* General Authority of Zakat (@ZakatYemen), Twitter, May 29, 2021, https://twitter.com/ZakatYemen/status/1398656494187515907?s=20; “SAM FM Radio Continues To Collect 100 Million Riyals, The Value Of Muhammad Ali Al-Houthi's Dagger, In Support Of Palestine,” Ansarollah, June 28, 2021, https://www.ansarollah.com/archives/442569. HAMAS is an acronym for the Arabic name of the group Harakat Al-Muqawama Al-Islamiya, which translates as “Islamic Resistance Movement.” x
Firstly, in an animated advertisement for the fundraiser aired on the Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV channel,* “Houthi TV Airs Fundraising Campaign for Hamas Rockets To Be 'Fired Towards Tel Aviv',” MEMRI TV. x Yemeni rials are depicted as dropping into a charity collection box that is connected to an identifiable Hamas rocket which is then fired on an Israeli bunker. The Qassam rocket with the Hamas insignia (see below) indicates to the Yemeni public that their donations are in support of Hamas.
Second, editor Ebrahim al-Wadi from Al-Masirah posted a tweet saying that money raised by this campaign was provided to Hamas and PIJ in an official ceremony on May 12.* Ibrahim al-Wada’I (@ebrahimwadi), Twitter, May 12, 2021, https://twitter.com/ebrahimwadi/status/1392256391952412678?s=20&t=oMlz6VULCjO-5-ucdOJx2g. x According to Wadi’s tweet, the amount raised at that early point in the fundraising campaign was 70 million YER (or approximately $280,000).
Translation: “In Sanaa, Representatives from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Democratic Front [for the Liberation of Palestine] receive 70 million YER in an official ceremony, which are the initial donations to Palestine and the resistance #Sword of Al-Quds #Jerusalem is next #Jerusalem revolts #Palestine is our main cause #Palestine revolts #Palestine #Palestine is the matter of the honorable.”
At a fundraising event for this cause organized by the Houthi Zakat Authorities several weeks later, Houthi media noted official representatives from Hamas and PIJ were present.* “The Zakat Authority Launches a Campaign to Support the Palestinian people and their Resistance by Providing One Billion Riyals,” SABA NET, May 29, 2021, https://www.saba.ye/ar/news3141709.htm. x
Third, on June 7, 2021, Hamas representative in Yemen Moaz Abu Shamala met publicly with senior Houthi official Mohammad Ali al-Houthi. According to the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, Abu Shamala “gave senior Houthi leader Mohammad Ali al-Houthi a gift of appreciation for launching a fundraising campaign to support the group amid Israel’s recent military campaign in Gaza.”* “The Yemen Review: Eye on the East,” The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, June 2021, https://sanaacenter.org/files/TYR_June_2021_en.pdf. x The Hamas representative noted during the meeting, which took place one month after the fundraiser’s launch, “We appreciate the initiatives launched by the Leader of the Revolution, and the Yemeni people’s actions to support the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause.”* “Al-Houthi Discusses the Latest Developments in the Palestinian Issue with Hamas Representative in Yemen,” Al Mayadeen, June 6, 2021, https://www.almayadeen.net/news/politics/1486399/%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%ad%d9%88%d8%ab%d9%8a-%d9%8a%d8%a8%d8%ad%d8%ab-%d9%85%d8%b9-%d9%85%d9%85%d8%ab%d9%84-%d8%ad%d9%85%d8%a7%d8%b3-%d8%a8%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%8a%d9%85%d9%86-%d8%a2%d8%ae%d8%b1-%d8%aa%d8%b7%d9%88%d8%b1%d8%a7%d8%aa-%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%82%d8%b6%d9%8a%d8%a9-%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%81%d9%84%d8%b3%d8%b7%d9%8a%d9%86%d9%8a%d8%a9. x
Hamas representative in Yemen Moaz Abu Shamala (second from left) meets with senior Houthi official Mohammad Ali al-Houthi (center) on June 7, 2021. Abu Shamala is presenting al-Houthi with a plaque from Hamas to express his appreciation for the fundraiser to benefit the Gaza-based group.
Hassan al-Hamran is the Houthi official responsible for the Palestinian file and, in his own words, involved in orchestrating cooperation with Palestinian “resistance” organizations.*“Hassan Al-Hamran: The Results Of Continuous Communication With The Palestinian Resistance Movements Will Materialize Soon,” Ansarollah, July 16, 2020, https://twitter.com/ansarollah2/status/1283772307459248130?s=20&t=PBdXhgGWF-0JSlDmY298bA. x He does this both in his capacity as a government official as well as his role leading a dubious Sanaa-based NGO entitled “Yemen Palestine Organization For Development And Humanitarian Response.”*Yemen Palestine Organization For Development And Humanitarian Response (@YPODHR), Twitter, May 17, 2021, https://twitter.com/YPODHR/status/1394309546181599232?s=20 x Given his open ties with Hamas and PIJ*“Broader Palestinian Meeting in Sanaa… [We’re] with Palestine Until Liberation” Qods News Agency, http://qodsna.com/ar/343907x and his attendance of events promoting the terror fundraiser,*Yemen Palestine Organization For Development And Humanitarian Response (@YPODHR), Twitter, May 16, 2021, https://twitter.com/YPODHR/status/1393885062186291200?s=20x it is likely that al-Hamran is linked to Houthi cooperation with and support for Palestinian terror groups.
Entities Associated with the Houthi Fundraising Campaign for Hamas
Yemen Mobile,* Yemen Mobile (@YemenmobileYe1), Twitter, https://twitter.com/YemenmobileYe1?s=20&t=6Qya50Y1kiaxTolnt3aDPQ. x the country’s largest mobile network operator (MNO), was both a financial channel for and a contributor to the Hamas fundraiser.
Yemen Mobile was founded by the government of Yemen in 2004, and it has remained majority owned and controlled by the Public Telecom Corporation which is a component of the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology (MTIT). After the Houthis overthrew the internationally recognized government and seized power in Sanaa in 2014-2015, they began to use telecommunications companies based there (including Yemen Mobile) as tools to advance their territorial ambitions. Several sources have documented the Houthi tactic of compelling MNOs to cut off cell coverage to particular areas for days or weeks ahead of an invasion as a means to sow panic, confusion, and rumors, demoralizing local resistance prior to their onslaught*Michael Knights, 25 Days to Aden (London: Profile Books Ltd., 2023). Similar reports can be found here: https://al-masdaronline.net/national/716x. Of course, after the areas fall under Houthi control, cellular service would resume.
In January 2018, the Houthis sought to enhance their control over Yemen Mobile by pushing out the company’s leadership and installing their own loyalists in key positions.*“After Dismissing the Competent Employees… “Houthization” of Yemen’s Largest Telco,” Al-Arabiya, July 8, 2019, https://www.alarabiya.net/arab-and-world/yemen/2019/07/08/%D8%A8%D8%B9%D8%AF-%D8%B7%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%83%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%A1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%88%D8%B7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AD%D9%88%D8%AB%D9%86%D8%A9-%D9%83%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%89-%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%83%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9.x The group’s appointments and allies in the company*Abdul Qadir Muhammad Al-Mutawakel,” Yemen Mobile, Accessed May 30, 2023, https://www.yemenmobile.com.ye/staff.php?id=55&lng=arabic.x include Chairman of the Board Essam al-Hamli,* Essam al-Hamli is the brother of Houthi leader Taha al-Hamli who was killed in a 2018 coalition airstrike. “Saada: Funeral Of The Two Martyrs of Al-Hamli And Quraish,” Saadah News, September 3, 2018, https://www.saadahnews.com/?p=67989; “Members Of The Board Of Directors,” Yemen Mobile, Accessed May 30, 2023, https://www.yemenmobile.com.ye/staff.php?cid=1. x Financial Director Mohammed Sharaf al-Din,* Sharaf al-Din appears to be an ideological spokesperson for the Houthis based on his role as a “cultural lecturer” (Houthi indoctrination) at a 2022 event held by MTIT on the occasion of the Prophet’s birthday. “The Ministry of Communications and Post and TeleYemen celebrate the birthday of the Prophet,” MTIT, October 3, 2022, https://mtit.gov.ye/news_info.aspx?NID=254; Muhammad Abbas Sharaf Al-Din,” Yemen Mobile, Accessed May 30, 2023, https://www.yemenmobile.com.ye/staff.php?id=51&lng=arabic. x and Commercial Executive Director Abdulqadir al-Mutawakel.* Al-Mutawakel was reportedly appointed to his role at Yemen Mobile by senior Houthi official Khaled al-Madani, after he was appointed by the Houthis to function in the capacity of GM at Yemen Oil Company. “Houthi militias in Sana'a tamper with the ‘Yemen Mobile’ company and control its management,” Akhbar Alyom, July 9, 2019, https://akhbaralyom.net/news_details.php?sid=113078; “The employees of the oil company unveil the real director of the company,” Huna Aden, December 21, 2014, https://huna-aden.com/news20697.html. x This step was reportedly followed by the dismissal of dozens of junior employees at Yemen Mobile based the extent of their loyalty to the Houthi cause rather than competence, the next stage in the “Houthization” of the company.
In 2022, the United Nations described the telecommunications industry in Yemen as “a major source of revenue for the Houthi authorities.”*“Final report of the Panel of Experts on Yemen established pursuant to Security Council resolution 2140 (2014),” UN Panel of Experts on Yemen, January 25, 2022, p. 37. https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/S_2022_50.pdf#page=259. x The question of exactly how much money the Houthis have skimmed off Yemen Mobile’s revenues remains difficult to answer. However, it is clear based on publicly available information that the number is at least tens of millions of dollars, when taking into account the massive hikes in “licensing fees” and the newly instituted “Zakat tax.”*“Telecommunication: A Tool of War,” Regain Yemen, June 30, 2022, p. 28. https://www.regainye.org/2022/06/30/regain-yemen-issues-its-fifth-report-telecommunication-is-a-tool-of-war/ x And while tens of millions of dollars may not seem like much for a national government, it is indeed a very significant amount of money in Yemen where the GDP per capita is below $700.*“Republic of Yemen,” World Bank, April 2022, https://thedocs.worldbank.org/en/doc/de816119d04a4e82a9c380bfd02dbc3a-0280012022/original/mpo-sm22-yemen-yem-kcm.pdf.x
Yemen Mobile’s involvement in the 2021 fundraiser for Hamas/PIJ is evident from a conversation on Twitter between Houthi Minister Al-Numeir and a Yemeni who donated 10,000 YER (approximately $40) to the campaign via his mobile device. The donor complained that Yemen Mobile took nearly 20 percent in fees for facilitating the transaction (see screenshot above).*Misfer Abdullah al-Numeir (@AlnomeirMosfer), Twitter, May 21, 2021, https://twitter.com/AlnomeirMosfer/status/1395509686179409921?s=20&t=6Qya50Y1kiaxTolnt3aDPQ.x Al-Numeir advised the donor to address the matter directly with Yemen Mobile, and the fees were cancelled.*The initial tweet in the conversation is an advertisement for the “fundraising campaign for Palestine” published by Misfer Al-Numeir, Houthi Minister of Telecommunication and Information Technology, from the account @AlnomeirMosfer.x
Then @alamir72 tweeted in response:
“Mr. Mujahid / Misfer Al-Numeir [Minister of Telecommunication and Information Technology]
Has a tariff been deducted from [phone] lines without prepayment [by the fundraisers] for each call or message to spend in the way of God? When donating 10 thousand [YER], Yemen Mobile deducts [an additional] 1900 YER for itself. My question which [I am asking you to] please answer, is this acceptable to you? Shouldn’t these services [of facilitating donations] be provided free of charge?”
Then @AlnomeirMosfer responded by saying:
Whether it is a question or a complaint from you on the matter
Please contact the customer service of the company and raise the issue to them to receive their response. @YemenmobileYe1
If the company does not respond to you, call the Ministry's complaints [line] at [phone number] 8000080 so your issue will be dealt with and the company will be obligated to solve the issue if correct [to do so].
May you be well”
To understand the mechanics of the fundraiser, it is important to understand how payments to mobile providers function in Yemen. Rather than using a credit card connected to a bank account to subscribe to regular/monthly mobile services, Yemenis purchase cards at local shops which enable them to “load” a specified amount of credit into their account with their MNO. This system enables them to use their cell phone for calls, texts, and internet so long as they can pay for the activity from the funds loaded into their account. After mobile customers called or texted the number provided by the Houthi fundraising ad “for Palestine,” the MNO (in this case Yemen Mobile) was responsible for moving funds into the relevant bank account (presumably account #1140 at Yemen Post) provided the customer had adequate credit.* For an additional example of how this process worked with Yemen Mobile, see: Radwan Hussein al-Mu’ayid (@rad050), Twitter, May 12, 2021, https://twitter.com/rad050/status/1392264381866651649?s=20. Radwan writes the caption “To donate via Yemen Mobile, use the (phone) number 1140 👇” On the screenshot, you can see Radwan has texted the phone number 1140 several times and each time the received the following response: “Thank you for your contribution to the campaign (Jerusalem is Next) to donate to Palestine. A donation of 100 YER is made for each text message sent to the number 1140.” Under the most recent message from the provider, it notes “via Yemen Mobile.”x
Yemen Mobile’s role as a channel for funds destined to terrorist organizations such as Hamas is cause for concern, especially given its status as a company controlled by the Houthi government. But beyond that, Houthi Minister Misfer Abdullah al-Numeir was involved in not only facilitating the transfer of funds through Yemen Mobile (and Yemen Post which will be elaborated upon further) operating under his authority, but the MTIT and its affiliates even donated a total of 300 million YER ($1.2 million) to the campaign.*Misfer Abdullah al-Numeir (@AlnomeirMosfer), Twitter, May 29, 2021, https://twitter.com/AlnomeirMosfer/status/1398574495431024641?s=20&t=6Mi5MTOEKmxTgau25tzr5A; “The Ministry Of Communications And Yemen Mobile Donate Three Hundred Million Riyals To The Palestinian People,” Almasirah, May 30, 2021, http://www.almasirahnews.com/64172/.x
Al-Masirah promoted the 2021 fundraiser by airing a Houthi advertisement, which depicted the campaign as an opportunity to support Hamas.*“Houthi TV Airs Fundraising Campaign For Hamas Rockets To Be 'Fired Towards Tel Aviv',” MEMRI TV.x As the U.S. Treasury Department noted in 2006 when it designated Hezbollah’s TV and radio stations (al Manar and al Nour, respectively):
Al Manar and al Nour have supported fundraising and recruitment efforts by Hizballah. Al Manar raised funds for Hizballah through advertisements broadcast on the network and an accompanying website that requested donations for the terrorist organization. As recently as late 2005, Hizballah-affiliated charities aired commercials on al Manar, providing contact information and bank account numbers for donations. [emphasis added]* “U.S. Designates Al-Manar as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity Television Station is Arm of Hizballah Terrorist Network,” March 23, 2006, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/js4134. x
Al-Masirah has engaged in similar activities to al Manar and al Nour in support of a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).
Managing Direct of al-Masirah Noureddine al-Sharif (left) and Director of Political Programs at al-Masirah Hamid Rizq (center) visit Lebanon in March 2023 and meet with Hezbollah officials who presented them with Quranic artwork.
On the organizational level, al-Masirah continues to operate as a mouthpiece for Abdelmalik al-Houthi, the group’s military, spiritual, and political leader in Yemen. The media outlet’s control by Abdelmalik’s most loyal representatives (including Mohammed Abdulsalam who leads the Houthis’ international negotiations)*Other senior officials at the channel include General Manager of al-Masirah Ammar al-Hamzi, Managing Director of al-Masirah Noureddine al-Sharif, and Director of Political Programs at al-Masirah Hamid Rizq. These individuals play critical roles in pushing the Houthi agenda at home and abroad, and they do so in close coordination Iran and Hezbollah’s “axis of resistance.”x and its consistently pro-Houthi messaging*Hussain Albukhaiti (@HussainBukhaiti), Twitter, July 23, 2017, https://twitter.com/HussainBukhaiti/status/889191388943876101?s=20. x have led to its justified recognition as a Houthi platform.*“Yemen,” Reporters Without Borders.x
While Twitter has previously removed al-Masirah from its platform*(@Almasirah_En), Twitter, https://twitter.com/Almasirah_En.x for violating its rules and policies, new accounts*Al-Masirah Breaking News (@alosbou), Twitter, accessed May 26, 2023, https://twitter.com/alosbou; Al-Masirah Channel (@mohamad3g2), Twitter, accessed May 26, 2023, https://twitter.com/mohamad3g2?s=20&t=Z8pzpS0C8jm-bQ-oy2DDZA; Watch Al-Masirah (@ShahidAlmasirah), Twitter, accessed May 26, 2023, https://twitter.com/ShahidAlmasirah?s=20&t=Z8pzpS0C8jm-bQ-oy2DDZA.x continue to be created to disseminate Houthi materials produced by al-Masirah. In addition, the al-Masirah app remains readily available in Apple’s App Store.*“Almasirah App Store Preview,” App Store, accessed May 26, 2023, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/almasirah/id981847117.x
In the U.K., Almasirah Network Limited was incorporated in 2014 and remains an active company today.*See “ALMASIRAH NETWORK LIMITED,” Companies House, Accessed June 6, 2023, https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/09222174. x Its list of registered directors include Ammar Al-Hamzy (“Ammar al-Hamzi”), who is the general manager of al-Masirah TV,*“Al-Masirah Network DG: Media Battle No Less Important Than the Military One,” Almasirah, accessed May 29, 2023, https://english.almasirah.net.ye/post/31592/. x as well as his predecessor Ebrahim Mohammed Al-Dailami, who has since resigned and moved on to serve as Houthi ambassador to Iran.
At least three additional companies have registered their address to the same U.K. flat as Almasirah Network Limited.*The address they were registered to prior to June 1, 2023, as they now appear to be shifting from the Wembley flat to a London address.x This includes Arabic Islamic Broadcasting Union Limited,*“ARABIC ISLAMIC BROADCASTING UNION LIMITED,” Companies House, Accessed June 6, 2023, https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/10896814. x which lists Nasser Akhdar and Mahboob Nader Golzadeh among its directors. According to a Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) report, Akhdar (a.k.a. Abu Mustafa) is “the former programming director for Lebanese Hizballah’s al Manar television network” and is currently “in charge of formulating media strategy for Yemen’s Houthi rebels, serving as their main communication link with Hizballah and Iran.”*Hamdi Malik, “Understanding Iran’s Vast Media Network in Arab Countries,” The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, March 2, 2021, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/understanding-irans-vast-media-network-arab-countries.x Golzadeh, like Akhdar, is a member of Iran’s Union des Radios et Télévisions Islamiques (Islamic Radio and Television Union or IRTVU) which is registered in Geneva and has been described by experts as “tasked with disseminating an anti-American and anti-Israeli narrative in the Middle East… functions as an umbrella for ‘axis of resistance’ media outlets throughout the region.”*Hamdi Malik, “Understanding Iran’s Vast Media Network in Arab Countries,” The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, March 2, 2021, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/understanding-irans-vast-media-network-arab-countriesx
Members and officers of Iran’s Union des Radios et Télévisions Islamiques (IRTVU) as registered in the government database of corporations in Geneva,Switzerland.*“Union des Radios et Télévisions Islamiques (IRTVU),” Central Business Name Index, accessed May 26, 2023, https://ge.ch/hrcintapp/externalCompanyReport.action?companyOfsUid=CHE-275.763.241. x
2019 Fundraiser for Hezbollah
In 2019,the radio station Sam FM launched a public fundraising campaign to support Hezbollah with the Twitter hashtag #من_يمن_الإيمان لـ #مقاومة_لبنان(“From Faithful Yemen to the Lebanese Resistance”).* Hamoud Mohammad Sharaf (@sambnfm), Twitter, July 20, 2019, https://twitter.com/sambnfm/status/1152597650954510336?s=20&t=-tmxrtuSHf_B1dc_c0ZuxA.x Sam FM, like other media organizations operating in Houthi-controlled territory, is a mouthpiece for Abdelmalik al-Houthi. It was founded in 2014, the year the Houthis took Sanaa, and has a section on its website dedicated to the speeches of Abdelmalik al-Houthi.*“Speeches (of Abdelmalik al-Houthi),” SAM FM, accessed May 26, 2023, https://samyemen.fm/MR-ABDULMALIK.aspx.x
The fundraiser was promoted by Houthi officials and media outlets alike, and it encouraged Yemenis to dnoate by depositing funds in Yemen Post bank acount #555555.
The fundraiser was promoted by Houthi officials and media outlets alike, and it encouraged Yemenis to donate by depositing funds in Yemen Post bank account #555555. According to campaign organizers, these funds were collected by Sam FM, turned over to a representative of Abdelmalek al-Houthi, and then provided to Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.* Hamoud Mohammad Sharaf (@sambnfm), Twitter, July 20, 2019, https://twitter.com/sambnfm/status/1152597636886814720?s=20.x
The SAM FM fundraising team standing behind the funds they collected for Hezbollah.*Hamoud Mohammad Sharaf (@sambnfm), Twitter, July 20, 2019, https://twitter.com/sambnfm/status/1152618472616202241?s=20.x
Translation: “The moment that the final outcome of the campaign was delivered to the representative of Sayyed Commander Abdulmalik Badr al-Din al-Houthi, may God protect him. # From Faithful Yemen to the Lebanese Resistance (grassroots campaign) #Live best Yemen 1440 AH Sam FM radio #encourage victory.”
A coordinated Houthi-Hezbollah media campaign in support of the fundraising effort, with a sign promoting the fundraiser photographed in a shrine for Hezbollah “martyrs.”*Osama al-Shami (@5Bhj9pp3SvV97gm), Twitter, July 15, 2019, https://twitter.com/5Bhj9pp3SvV97gm/status/1146917018865680384?s=20.x
Translation: “From Faithful Yemen to the Lebanese Resistance #Live best Yemen Seventy-three million Yemeni riyals, [raised by] the campaign from the Yemeni people for the Lebanese resistance, Hezbollah Yes, long live the good of Yemen, the people who support the oppressed.”
As is evident from the document published by Hamoud Mohammad Sharaf, who serves as the general manager of Sam FM, the grassroots Yemeni campaign provided the Lebanon-based FTO Hezbollah with hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more than 74 million YER).
Translation: “On Saturday, July 20, 2019 AD, corresponding to [Islamic calendar date] Dhu al-Qidah 17, 1440 AH, and in the presence of management of the grassroots funding campaign #Live Best Yemen, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sam FM Mr. Ismail Muhammad Al-Mutawakel and GM of Sam FM Radio Hammoud Muhammad Sharaf, the final financial proceeds of the third phase of the [Hezbollah fundraising] campaign for the year 1440 AH, which was launched during the period of May 25 - June 30, were officially handed over to the representative of Sayyed Commander Abdulmalik Badr al-Din al-Houthi - may God protect him – for [the purpose of] supporting, backing and supplying the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon (Hezbollah) under the slogan
# From Faithful Yemen to the Lebanese Resistance
Sayyed Commander Abd al-Malik Badr al-Din al-Houthi - may God protect him - will hand over the proceeds of the campaign to His Eminence the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Mr. Hassan Nasrallah - may God protect him - in the name of the campaign managers and all its participants. And in addition to the financial proceeds, a text message from the campaign management [will be sent] to His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on behalf of the participants and all the free people of Yemen, and Sam FM Radio will publish the text of the message later, God willing.
And SAM FM indicates that the final outcome of the campaign, thank God Almighty, has reached / (74,010,000)
(Seventy-four million and ten thousand YER)
This includes the value of in-kind items donated via the campaign management.
The management of the campaign, along with Board of Directors of Sam FM Radio, expresses their pride and appreciation for the loyal radio audience and gratitude to them and to all Yemeni people who are fighting and spending [their money] in the path of God Almighty.
Sam FM Radio”
Entities Associated with the Houthi Fundraising Campaign for Hezbollah
Sam FM is the radio station that publicized and led the 2019 campaign. Since al Manar and al Nour were sanctioned by the U.S. government for fundraising for Hezbollah, it stands to reason that Sam FM’s creation and then promotion of a fundraiser for Hezbollah should be given similar treatment.
The two individuals leading the effort on behalf of Hezbollah at Sam FM, at least according to the radio station’s own statement presented and translated in this report, are Hamoud Mohammad Sharaf and Ismail Muhammad Al-Mutawakel. Sharaf* Hamoud Mohammad Sharaf (@sambnfm), Twitter, accessed May 26, 2023, https://twitter.com/sambnfm. x is the general manager of Sam FM and previously served as a correspondent for Hezbollah’s al Manar.*Albin Szakola, “Yemen’s Houthis launch fundraising drive for cash-strapped Hezbollah,” The National, May 27, 2019, https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/mena/yemen-s-houthis-launch-fundraising-drive-for-cash-strapped-hezbollah-1.866660.x Al-Mutawakel is chairman of the board of directors of Sam FM and also serves as the president of the Yemeni Center for Human Rights (YCHR).*Yemen Center for Human Rights, “Mr. Ismail Mohammed al-Mutawakel,” YouTube, accessed May 26, 2023, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obXkjUzpgFY.x YCHR is essentially another Houthi-controlled outlet that promotes the narrative of the brutal regime of Abdelmalik al-Houthi, but it does so under the cynical cover story that it is an NGO advancing human rights.*An example of their work, which ignores all human rights violations conducted by the Houthis and actually collaborates with some of the worst offenders, can be found here: “Training members of the prosecution and judicial officers in monitoring and documenting the crimes of the aggressor coalition,” Yemen Center for Human Rights, May 21, 2023, https://ychr.org/news/8085/.x
Ismail Muhammad al-Mutawakel speaking on Sam FM and identified as president of the Yemeni Center for Human Rights.*"The Security Council and the aggression against Yemen, raids and resolutions," Last Minute Talk with Abdel Rahman al-‘Abed, Sam FM, February 11, 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gWbfGYtMi4.x
Yemen Post (Postal Service Banking System)
Yemen Post*Yemen Post, accessed May 26, 2023, https://post.ye/web/.x was also used to facilitate banking activity for the fundraiser. Instructions for the campaign, as posted on Twitter as well as the local Yemeni post offices themselves, explicitly encouraged Yemenis to deposit funds into Yemen Post bank account #555555 to support Hezbollah.
Yemen’s Central Post Office had a sign posted to promote donations to Hezbollah via the Yemen Post banking system.*Albin Szakola (@AlbinSzakola), Twitter, June 3, 2019, https://twitter.com/AlbinSzakola/status/1135573110781108230.x
Translation of the large white poster (center, below the yellow sign for the Central Post Office):“Here is collection point #1 for funds in support of Hezbollah #Live best YemenThe grassroots campaign to support the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon!”
Yemen Post is a governmental body which operates under the auspices of the MTIT and is overseen by Minister Misfer Abdullah al-Numeir, who also serves as chairman of the board of Yemen Post.*Presentation of the Chairman of the Board, accessed May 26, 2023, https://www.post.ye/web/index.php/about/wordman.x In 2021, when al-Numeir stated that the MTIT and its affiliates donated 300 million YER to the “Palestinian people,” Al-Masirah reported that this gesture involved Yemen Post employees “donating” (willingly or otherwise) one month’s salary to the fundraiser.*Al-Masirah – Breaking (@alosbou), Twitter, May 29, 2021, https://twitter.com/alosbou/status/1398583617501155334?s=20.x
It is worth noting that both before and after the fundraiser for Hezbollah, Yemen Post bank account #555555 is cited by Houthi supporters as the account to donate to in order to support the Houthi military industries.*Abdulmalek Ali (@abdulmlek10_ali), Twitter, March 29, 2020, https://twitter.com/abdulmlek10_ali/status/1244260749851140096?s=20&t=ALd8ovmS3LWVZDz66a7HnQ; Sara Abdullah (@sa___sara), August 13, 2018, https://twitter.com/sa___sara/status/1028968439744884736?s=20&t=OPTSZVSo2JWIhWe8_ECZYg.x This may indicate that the fundraiser was actually a scheme to have Yemeni citizens foot the bill so that the Houthi Armed Forces could purchase additional weapons/training from Hezbollah.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The Houthi movement and its growing cooperation with Iran and Hezbollah’s “axis of resistance” means that the threat the Houthis pose is no longer confined to Yemen’s Gulf neighbors. The group’s financial support for global terrorist organizations should be of great concern to the international community. The amounts of money raised for and transferred to Hezbollah and Hamas may seem minor in comparison to the groups’ total operating budgets, but this activity highlights a newfound depth of cooperation between Iran’s proxies in the region.
The Houthi movement and its growing cooperation with Iran and Hezbollah’s “axis of resistance” means that the threat the Houthis pose is no longer confined to Yemen’s Gulf neighbors.
Officials, organizations, companies, and individuals who provide financial support for designated terrorist organizations should be sanctionable under existing U.S. regulation EO 13224.* “Executive Order 13224,” Terrorist Designations and State Sponsors of Terrorism, U.S. Department of State, September 23, 2001, https://www.state.gov/executive-order-13224/.x This report sought to identify those parties to the terror fundraisers that were likely aware of their role in financing Hamas or Hezbollah. Promulgating new sanctions against Houthi leaders demonstrates that their support for terrorism will not be tolerated, and further designations against entities are needed to help isolate Houthi-backed companies from benefiting from open international commerce.
Of course, sanctions may not diminish Houthi determination to fund terrorist groups or cooperate with them, but sanctions should financially hamstring the Sanaa-based corporations mentioned in this report. That would, in practice, make these companies far less useful as facilitators of or donors to future terrorist financing schemes.