Yemen's Houthi rebels claim to have broken up US-Israeli spy network

The rebels said the network had been operating for decades and included employees of the American embassy

Houthi fighters patrol outside the complex of the UN offices in Sanaa, Yemen, on June 10. EPA
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Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed to have arrested members of an “American-Israeli spy network”, days after they detained at least 11 UN employees along with aid organisation workers.

The network had been operating for decades and included employees of the US embassy in Yemen who “exploited their job titles to carry out espionage and subversion activities”, Houthi security agencies said on Monday.

The US closed its embassy in Sanaa and withdrew its American staff in 2015, months after the Houthi rebels seized the Yemeni capital.

The rebel group said the network members “continued to implement the same subversive agenda under the cover of international organisations, raising slogans of humanitarian work to cover up the reality of their espionage and subversion activities”.

Maj Gen Abdulhakim Al Khayewani, head of the Houthis’ intelligence agency, announced the arrests on Monday.

The Houthis, who are aligned with Iran, have held about 20 Yemeni employees of the US embassy for the past three years.

The security agencies' statement claimed that members of the spy network were recruited and trained by the CIA, which provided them with “special technologies, devices and equipment”.

It said that the network collected information about Yemen's security, military, economy and politics, as well as health, education, agriculture, culture and society, and reported it to US and Israeli intelligence officers.

It added that for decades, the spy network had been able to infiltrate state authorities and pass decisions and laws that served American-Israeli interests and agendas.

Houthi Al Masirah TV posted videos on its Telegram channel allegedly showing the confessions of some of those arrested.

The statement came days after 11 Yemeni employees of UN agencies were detained by the Houthis.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Friday that the two women and nine men arrested worked for five different agencies and the UN's envoy to Yemen.

“We are very concerned about these developments, and we’re actively seeking clarification from the Houthi de facto authorities regarding the circumstances of these detentions and most importantly, to ensure immediate access to those UN personnel,” he said.

He added the UN was “pursuing all available channels to secure the safe and unconditional release of all of them as rapidly as possible”.

Houthi rebels, who control large parts of northern and western Yemen, have attacked shipping in the Red Sea in what they say are acts of solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, drawing air strikes from the US and Britain.

Updated: June 11, 2024, 8:46 AM