U.S. To Designate Iran-Backed Houthis As Terrorist Group

(New York, N.Y.) – On Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States intends to designate the Houthis—officially known as Ansar Allah (Partisans of God)—as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) entity. The U.S. Department of State will also designate three of the group’s leaders, including Abdul Malik al-Houthi, as SDGTs. The announcement comes after the State Department conducted a terrorism and intelligence review in September and builds on an April 2015 Specially Designated National (SDN) designation of al-Houthi by then U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

The Houthis are an Iranian-backed, Shiite Muslim military and political movement in Yemen. Its members, who subscribe to the minority Zaidi sect of Shiite Islam, have waged a series of bloody insurgencies against the Yemeni government since 2004, overthrowing the government and seizing power in Sanaa in 2015. In 2016, the group announced the formation of its own government. The Houthi movement began as an effort to maintain tribal autonomy in northern Yemen and protest Western influence in the Middle East.

Counter Extremism Project (CEP) Executive Director David Ibsen applauded the State Department for these steps, which will prohibit any U.S. contact with the group and isolate it financially.

“Designating the Houthis and its leadership is an important step forward in targeting and disrupting Iran’s long-running financial and material support of the Houthis, which relies on funding, training, and logistical support from the regime,” said Ibsen. “We applaud these measures to hold the Houthis accountable for perpetrating a brutal campaign of terror and inflicting dire humanitarian harm. The long trail of bipartisan support for clamping down on the Houthis demonstrates that the U.S. will not tolerate—and is prepared to take a tough stance on—groups and individuals that willfully embrace the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism.”

To read CEP’s Houthis resource, please click here.

To read CEP’s Yemen resource, please click here.

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Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


On October 27, 2018, domestic terrorist Robert D. Bowers carried out an anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. He fired on congregants as they gathered for worship, killing 11 people and wounding six others.

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