A Shia’ insurgent group in the province of Sa’da in northern Yemen, it traces it’s origins to Badr al-Din al-Huthi, and is known as al-Huthis, the Huthi group, or al-Shabab al-Mu’amin (The Faithful Youth).
The founding: Despite the actual appearance of the group in 2004 due to the breakout of its first battles with the Yemeni government, some sources trace its actual roots back to the ’80’s of last century.
In 1986, Itihad al-Shabab (Union of the Youth) was formed in order to educate youth of the al-Zaydiyya sect under control of Salah Ahmad Falita, and Majid al-Din al-Mu’idi and Badr al-Din al-Huthi were amongst its teachers.
As a result of the Yemeni unification that occurred in May of 1990, and the opening of the public square to numerous parties, the Union (of the Youth) transformed from educational activities to political planning via the Hazb al-Haq (Law Party) that represented the al-Zaydiyya sect.
al-Shabab al-Mu’amin Assembly: The (al-Shabab al-Mu’amin Assembly) was founded during 1992 by Muhammad Badr al-Din al-Huthi and some of his comrades as a forum for cultural activities, before undergoing dissension and discord (amongst the members).
In 1997, under the leadership of Husayn Badr al-Din al-Huthi, the assembly transformed from cultural publications to a political movement carrying the name Tundhim al-Shabab al-Mu’amin (The Organization of the Faithful Youth). By this point, Falita and al-Mu’idi had left the the organization and accused it of violating the al-Zaydiyya discipline.
By 2002, the organization had taken the slogan, “God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curses on the Zionists, Victory for Islam,” that they recited after every prayer.
Some sources indicate that the authorities’ ban on reciting the slogan was one of the most important reasons for the initial breakout of clashes between the group and the Yemeni government.
Leadership of the Group: During the first clashes with the Yemeni forces in 2004, Husayn al-Huthi, who had served as a representative in the Yemeni parliament after (wins) in the 1993 and 1997 elections, took charge of the leadership of the movement before being killed in the same year. Afterwards, his son, Shaykh Badr al-Din al-Huthi, took over command of the movement.
Soon thereafter, leadership of the movement was taken over by ‘Abd-al-Malik al-Huthi, son of Badr al-Din al-Huthi, while (‘Abd-al-Malik)’s other brother sought political asylum in Germany.
Ideological Leaning: Some sources describe the movement as of the Shi’a Ithna al-‘Ashariyya (Twelvers) branch, however, the al-Huthis deny this and assure that they haven’t turned away from al-Zaydiyya branch (of Shi’a Islam) despite their decision to join with the Ithna al-‘Ashariyya branch in some of their methods of celebrating Eid al-Ghadeer and the remembrance of ‘Ashura.
The Movement’s Goals: The al-Huthi group sees the current situation they live in as poisoned by restricted freedoms, the threat to religious doctrine, and the marginalization of the al-Zaydiyya branch’s scholars.
It seeks official approval for the party to issue civil and political publications, as well as founding a school accredited in all the various fields of knowledge, that includes the right of followers of the al-Zaydiyya branch to study the branch in (Islamic) law colleges.
However, Yemeni authorities emphasize that the al-Huthis seek to form a religious court and return (the country) to an al-Zaydiyya emirate.
Clashes with the Government: The al-Huthi group has rushed into a number of clashes with the Yemeni government since the crisis broke out in 2004.
The first wave of clashes broke out on 19 June 2004, and ended with the killing of the insurgency’s leader, Husayn Badr al-Din al-Huthi on 8 September 2004, according to an announcement by the Yemeni government.
Likewise, the second wave of clashes erupted on 19 March 2005 under the leadership of Badr al-Din al-Huthi (Husayn al-Huthi’s son), and lasted for around three weeks after Yemeni forces intervened.
At the end of 2005, renewed clashes broke out again between the al-Huthi group and the Yemeni government.
Note: For some basic information regarding the two Shi’a branches mentioned in this article, the Ithna al-‘Ashariyya and al-Zaydiyya, follow these links: