AL-MUKALLA: Yemeni security forces in the eastern province of Al-Mahra detained a prominent zealot loyal to the Houthi movement, returning from Iran through neighboring Oman, local officials and media reports said on Saturday.
Disguised as a student, Hassan Ali Al-Emad attempted to cross into Yemen at the Shehan border crossing with Oman two weeks ago, and was detained by border guards and moved to a security facility in Al-Ghaydah city, a local security official told Arab News.
Images of Al-Emad’s passport circulated on social media, showing he was born in Sanaa in 1977 and exited Oman’s Al-Mazunah land border crossing with Yemen on Aug. 25.
He also traveled to Lebanon, and has lived in Iran for two decades.
Al-Emad is a staunch supporter of the Twelver Shiite sect. Heading the Future of Justice Party, Al-Emad told local media outlets several years ago that he received his religious education at Iraq’s Al-Hawza Al-Ilmiyya institute, and called for followers to embrace the late Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s teachings.
When the Arab coalition stepped in militarily in Yemen in favor of the legitimate government in 2015, Al-Emad urged followers to rally behind Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, the leader of the Houthi movement.
Meanwhile, fighting has raged between government troops and the Houthis in key contested areas outside the central city of Marib and in the northern province of Jouf.
Yemen’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday that warplanes from the Arab coalition carried out six air raids, targeting Houthi military equipment and locations in Rahabah district, southwest of Marib city.
The warplanes have helped Yemeni government troops on the ground to foil aggressive Houthi advances.
According to the Defense Ministry, more than 10,000 Houthis have been killed in fierce fighting with government forces or in Arab coalition airstrikes since January this year.
Yemeni troops and allied tribesmen have pushed back more than 300 Houthi attacks in Marib’s Al-Mashjah, Al-Kasara, Jabal Murad, and Serwah since the beginning of the Houthi military operations in Marib province.
Yemeni commander Maj. Gen. Mansour Thawaba said that military experts from Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah who had illegally sneaked into the country prepared and led military operations with the Houthis.