Houthi militias blackmail Yemenis living in US
Houthi militias are threatening Yemeni expatiates in the US with seizing and kidnapping their properties and relatives in Yemen if they refused to fund the Iran-backed group’s war effort.
In Ibb governorate, where the largest community of Yemeni expatriates in the US comes from, Houthis launched an expanded extortion campaign targeting Yemenis with relatives living abroad, Asharq Al-Awsat reported.
Militants collected millions of Yemeni rials from Ibb’s al-Shaar and al-Nadrah districts, local sources told Asharq Al-Awsat, adding that Houthi officers argued the need for either sending more fighters to battlefronts or paying large sums of money to underpin the group’s operations.
Locals reported that Houthi officers claimed the group having “enough information” about the assets and wealth accumulated by Yemenis in the US and were using it to blackmail their relatives in the war-torn country.
Houthis have employed their connections in the US to produce a database for Yemeni expatriates there, sources said.
Back in the 50s, flocks of Yemeni families from al-Shaar and al-Nadrah traveled to the US, where they were either naturalized as citizens or given permanent residency.
A descendant of those families, who requested anonymity, said that a pro-Houthi individual living in the US had contacted members from the Yemeni diaspora and demanded they pay money to the Iran-aligned group.
The individual that approached the families on behalf of Houthis is from al-Shami family and is the child of one of the group’s senior intelligence officers.
“After refusing to make the payoff, Yemeni expatriates were told that their relatives in Yemen will pay the price for their refusal,” said the descendant.
Blackmailing Yemenis abroad has expanded the reach of Houthi extortion.
Houthis have tasked agents in the US and some European countries with reaching out to Yemeni expatriates and asking them for money in exchange for the group staying away from their homes and relatives in Yemen, the daily added.