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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

On September 28, 2009, the Iranian website ayandenews.com, which is affiliated with former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezai, published an interview with cleric 'Issam Al-'Imad, who is a disciple of Hussein Al-Houthi, leader of the Houthi rebels in Yemen. [1] Al-'Imad, who was born 1968 in Yemen, received his religious education in Saudi Arabia, but after studying Shi'ite Islam left Wahhabism to become a Twelver Shi'ite. Since1989 he has been pursuing advanced Islamic studies in the holy city of Qom in Iran. [2]

In the interview, Al-Imad describes the religious, ideological, and political affinity that has evolved between the Yemeni Houthis and the Iranian regime, saying that the Houthis have effectively converted from Zaidi Shi'a to Twelver Shi'a, which is Iran's official religion. [3] He adds that Houthi leaders have visited and lived in Qom, that their leader Hussein Al-Houthi considers Ayatollah Khomeini to be a model for emulation, and that Al-Houthi's relationship with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is similar to Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah's.

Following are excerpts from the interview:

"When the Yemen Government and the Sunni Leaders Say [the Houthis are Twelver Shi'ites] ) -It Is Not a Lie"

Q: "Are the Houthis Zaidis or Twelver Shi'ites? Because it is said that they perform the 'Ashura rituals and celebrate the festival of Ghadir. [4] Moreover, in his book The Zaidis in Yemen, [Houthi leader Hussein] Badr Al-Din Houthi attacks the Zaidi belief in [all] four Righteous Caliphs as erroneous, and presents evidence to show that the Houthis belong to Twelver Shi'a more than to Zaidi Shi'a. Could you elaborate on the Houthis' basic beliefs?"

Al-'Imad: "Hussein Badr Al-Din [Houthi] is the current Houthi leader. [His father], Badr Al-Din Al-Tabatabai, was Houthi as well, and [both of them] lived in Qom, as well as [Hussein's brother] 'Abd Al-Malik. Their stay in Qom was not without consequences. 'Abd Al-Malik, Hussein's younger brother, is about 28 years old. I must point out that [the Houthis follow] the philosophy of Hussein and not [of his father] Badr Al-Din. The Houthis themselves emphasize this."

Q: "You keep stressing that [Hussein Badr Al-Din Al-Hussein] is the Houthis' current leader, but there are several versions regarding this. The Houthis claim that he is alive, but those who oppose them [the Yemen government] say that he was killed in 2004."

Al-'Imad: "It doesn't matter if he is alive or dead. What matters is that he is the leader. That is, in terms of ideology and the Houthis' philosophy, Hussein is the leader. I mean, the Houthis' strategic outlook and ideology are taken from Hussein's books. Even [his brother] 'Abd Al-Malik says this. He says, 'everything we have comes from my brother, Hussein.'

"The Yemeni attack on the Houthis and Hussein started in 2004, [and] the target [of this attack] is Hussein. They say, 'We are killing Hussein's disciples.' I myself have listened to Hussein's tapes and read his books. He strove to end the silence of the Shi'ites [i.e. the Zaidis], which has lasted for 30 or 40 years."

Q: "So we can say that the Houthis are Twelver Shi'ites?"

Al-'Imad: "Yes. You know why? I went to Sa'da [a province and Zaidi religious center in northern Yemen], that is, to the Houthi center. I traveled [from Qom] to Yemen to see for myself what was happening. [i saw that] all the books they had there were Ja'fari [i.e. Twelver Shi'ite]; not a single one was Zaidi. I myself was surprised.

"Before [becoming a Twelver Shi'ite], I was a Wahhabi [Muslim], and I had heard that [the Zaidis] had become Ja'fari. [When I came there,] I saw that they did not have a single Zaidi book. All the libraries - both the public [libraries] and private or family ones - held Ja'fari books. The Houthis read books printed in Qom, and that's the truth.

"So when the Yemen government and the Sunni leaders say that [the Houthis] are Ja'fari, it is not a lie. They [i.e., the Sunnis] really believe that they are Ja'fari, that they have changed their beliefs...

"'Ali 'Abdallah Saleh, [Yemen's current president, himself a member of the Zaidi minority], rose to power with the help of Saudi Arabia and its [royal] Al-Saud family. The day he became president, there wasn't a single Wahhabi school in Yemen, but today there are Wahhabi schools there. When he rose to power, the [sunni] Salafi school was not the official [religion of Yemen], but today it is... All the mosque preachers are [now] Wahhabi...

"'Ali 'Abdallah Saleh collaborates with the Taliban, [as evidenced by the fact that] most of the Al-Qaeda leaders who were incarcerated in Yemen have escaped from prison..."

"[Hussein Al-Houthi] is a Disciple of Khomeini"

Q: "Which of the following three figures - [Ayatollah Ali] Sistani, [religious leader of the Shi'ites in Iraq]; [Hizbullah Secretary-General] Hassan Nasrallah; and Muqtada Al-Sadr [of Iraq] - has the most influence among the Houthis [in Yemen]? Which of them do you consider the most [influential]?"

Al-'Imad: "I believe it is Hassan Nasrallah. Hussein Al-Houthi's philosophy is pure Shi'a, and politically he is close to Hassan Nasrallah."

Q: "The emotional bond that between Hassan Nasrallah and [iranian Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei and [his] regime - does it also exist between Hussein and 'Abd Al-Malik and Khamenei?"

Al-'Imad: "Absolutely. In every one of his tapes, Hussein says: 'I believe that the best interpreter of the Koran in our time was [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini, [founder of the Iranian regime], and that nobody even comes close to his level of Koranic knowledge.' That's what Hussein says... [He] also has also written a book called The Influence of the Philosophy of Imam Khomeini on Hussein Al-Houthi, an excellent and very interesting book.

"[Hussein Al-Houthi] is a disciple of Khomeini, and his relationship with Khomeini is similar to Nasrallah's relationship with Khamenei. [Moreover, Hussein Al-Houthi's] relationship with Khamenei is also similar to Nasrallah's relationship with Khamenei."

"Hussein Al-Houthi Says That We Must Emulate the Islamic Republic and... Learn From Iran"

"One of the issues that the Yemen government raises these days is [that of] of Hussein Al-Houthi's statements [in praise of] Iran. [Hussein's brother] 'Abd Al-Malik has not said the same things, but he cannot deny that his brother has. Ever since Hussein Al-Houthi came to Iran and studied Khomeini's books, he has been saying that these books are sacred. He openly declares that Khomeini was a saint.

"Hussein Al-Houthi says that we must emulate the Islamic Republic and we must learn from Iran. That is precisely why the Yemen government has been calling the Houthis 'Majous' [a Sunni derogatory term for Zoroastrians] and 'Iranians,' and telling them to go back to Esfahan..."

Q: "Is Hussein alive?"

Al-'Imad: "I don't know. The Yemen government says no, but his father, his brother, and all the Houthis say yes..."

http://www.memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP262709

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We knew that but but most of them are not converts there are a minority of twelvers in the other areas of yemen that migrated to the north in the last decade and joined the houthis. i would say 90% of the houthis are actualy twelvers from long time ago. A zaidi friend told me this . This is why the govt of yemen is fighting them cause they are not zaidis. I know its confusing but the picture will get better as time goes on.

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What's the Houthi population? The developments in Yemen are very interesting and reported in historic narrations - so is their eventual victory.

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Can you share please?

Sheikh Ali alKorani [ha] in his book Asr alThuhoor has a section on Yemen. http://www.alameli.net/books/index.php?id=2162

Summarising:

- Numerous narrations refer to the appearance of Al-Yamani as one of the signs before the reappearance

- Some hadith say he's from San'a, and some say he'll come from a village near sa'da which is in North Yemen

- His banner will be the purest of the banners before the Imam

- He'll come close to the time of sufyani and Khorasani

- One hadith says he's a descendent of Zayd ibn Ali

- One hadith says his name is Hasan or Hussain

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Thx for the article.

How helpful is material like this to the Houthis?

I note that the source is memri, no friends of Muslims. Shia people may find this news to be *nice*. But Sunnis will think that the Houthi threat is *real* and that Iran really has designs on the Arabian peninsula.

This type of story reminds me of press stories leading up to the 2003 war, which said that Saddam's Rep Guard were a force to be scared of. May have made some Arabs happy, but in reality the purpose of such stories was to justify the shock and awe genocide campaign.

Stories such as the one above, will justify, in evil minds, the use of any and all measures to crush the Houthis.

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How helpful is material like this to the Houthis?

I note that the source is memri, no friends of Muslims. Shia people may find this news to be *nice*. But Sunnis will think that the Houthi threat is *real* and that Iran really has designs on the Arabian peninsula.

This type of story reminds me of press stories leading up to the 2003 war, which said that Saddam's Rep Guard were a force to be scared of. May have made some Arabs happy, but in reality the purpose of such stories was to justify the shock and awe genocide campaign.

Stories such as the one above, will justify, in evil minds, the use of any and all measures to crush the Houthis.

I understand what the purpose of the article on memri is. Everything on MEMRI is meant to shape public opinion in ways that would help the zionist cancer. The Americans are already helping the Saudi filth to exterminate these people anyway. Regardless of what the belief of the people of there are, I think Iran should aid them with everything they have.

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Can you share please?

Thanks,

...As per the post which followed yours. If you understand arabic you should read this book (if you haven't already), which is also available in Farsi and Urdu, as it is potentially quite essential awareness as some scholars seem to be hinting in a measured way nowadays.

How helpful is material like this to the Houthis?

I note that the source is memri, no friends of Muslims. Shia people may find this news to be *nice*. But Sunnis will think that the Houthi threat is *real* and that Iran really has designs on the Arabian peninsula.

News like this is very much a double-edged sword. It may be positive for Shi'ah but it can also be used for propaganda purposed and serve the real pretext for suppression and war. Yes it was reported by Memri but according to the article it was acquired from an Iranian website, perhaps someone can check:

"On September 28, 2009, the Iranian website ayandenews.com, which is affiliated with former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezai, published an interview with cleric 'Issam Al-'Imad, who is a disciple of Hussein Al-Houthi, leader of the Houthi rebels in Yemen."

- One hadith says his name is Hasan or Hussain

Many people have postulated that this could be Sayyied Nasrallah, assuming this era would indeed be 'asr al-dhuhor'. But this implies his leadership of the Yemini revolt, which the narrations indicate occur in Yemen and this doesn't seem to tie up. In other words, is it politically realistic that a prominent Lebanese figure overtly lead a revolt in Yemen? On the other hand, if we consider that 1) the leader of the Houthi's was (still is?) Sheikh Hussain Badreddin al-Houthi and 2) he is in fact a Twelver Shia but of Zaidi decent - the scenario is practical.

Of course the official line of the Yemini government is that he was killed in the 2004 conflict, but according to the interview this is interestingly not the belief of the relatives of Hussain al-Houthi and the Houthis in general. In other words he is alive and if true then he is in hiding; it's said he once studied in Qom, after his conversion.

This is all theoretical of course; one can’t help but reflect on the Yemen issue and see it through the lens of Sheikh Kurani’s thought provoking and well referenced book.

Edited by MajiC

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I read through some of the articles and the site is quite harsh about some of our people, other than that its based in Dubai. So this might as well be a site with an agenda.

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Sheikh Ali alKorani [ha] in his book Asr alThuhoor has a section on Yemen. http://www.alameli.net/books/index.php?id=2162

Summarising:

- Numerous narrations refer to the appearance of Al-Yamani as one of the signs before the reappearance

- Some hadith say he's from San'a, and some say he'll come from a village near sa'da which is in North Yemen

- His banner will be the purest of the banners before the Imam

- He'll come close to the time of sufyani and Khorasani

- One hadith says he's a descendent of Zayd ibn Ali

- One hadith says his name is Hasan or Hussain

many thanks for the link.

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