- The Washington Times - Friday, September 10, 2004

SAN’A, Yemen — The Yemeni army yesterday killed an anti-U.S. Muslim cleric who styled himself as a “prince of believers” and led a nearly three-month-long bloody rebellion against authorities from the mountainous north of the country.

The defense and interior ministries said the death of Hussein Badr Eddin al-Houthi has brought the deadly rebellion to an end and that all military operations in the vast Saada province near the border with Saudi Arabia have ended.

A defense ministry source said al-Houthi had been hiding out with supporters in a cave in Jarf Salman, a village in the rugged mountains of Maran, and was killed during the culmination of three days of intense fighting.

Some of the rebel cleric’s supporters were also killed while hundreds of others surrendered, the ministries said.

Jarf Salman had been under siege since late August as the army closed in on al-Houthi, a cleric from the Zaidi Muslim sect.

The source said al-Houthi’s top aide, Abdullah Ayedh al-Razami, and his supporters were still being pursued in the towns of Nashoor and Al-Shafiya on the border with Saudi Arabia.

Some 2,000 soldiers have been involved in the battles, and the conflict has killed more than 600 soldiers and rebels, the Associated Press reported.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh has ordered the formation of a ministerial committee to evaluate losses and compensate citizens.

The government, which had offered a $55,000 reward for information leading to al-Houthi’s capture, accused him of sedition, attacking government buildings and security forces, forming an illegal armed group and inciting people not to pay taxes.

Al-Houthi told Agence France-Presse in July that the conflict was a result of his anti-U.S. stand and accused Mr. Saleh of seeking “to please the United States at the expense of his own people.”

“I am working for the propagation of the Koran and the fight against the United States and Israel,” he said, rejecting government claims that he was linked to foreign forces.

Al-Houthi headed the Faithful Youth organization, an offshoot of the Islamist opposition movement Al-Haq formed in 1992. He served as a member of parliament from 1993 to 1997.

Since the September 11 attacks in the United States, Yemen has launched a crackdown against al Qaeda sympathizers among the country’s Sunni Muslim majority, but the Zaidi minority has been relatively calm.

Yemen is the ancestral home of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and has seen a series of major attacks claimed by the militant network, including the 2002 bombing of the USS Cole off the southern port of Aden that killed 17 Americans.

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