Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi (d.
2004) was a Zaidi Shiite religious leader in Yemen.
al-Houthi began the Shiite rebellion in northern Yemen
known as the Sa'dah conflict, which began in
Nearly all Yemenis are Muslims, and
the population is split between the the Zaidi sect of
Shi'a Islam or to the Shafa'i sect of Sunni Islam. The
Shia (Shiites) form approximately 30 percent of the
Yemeni people, while the majority of Yemenis are Sunni,
and form 70 percent of the total population. The Shia
Zaidi sect are found in the north and northwest, and the
Shafa'i school of Sunni Muslims are found in the south
and southeast. There also are a few thousand Ismaili
Muslims, mostly in the north.
The Zaidi Shia sect of Islam began
about 1,000 years ago. Yemen has not had an imam since
the Zaidi Imam Hamid al-Din was overthrown as ruler in
1962. The coup that ended the Yemeni Imamate began a
six-year civil war that also involved Egypt and Saudi
Arabia, who each backed a rival faction. The clashes with
Sheik al-Houthi's followers centered in the Marran
mountains of the Saddah area, which isabout 100 miles
north of the Yemeni capital of Sana'a, and is close to
the border with Saudi Arabia. The Saddah area is the main
center of the Zaidi Shia sect.
Sheik Hussein al-Houthi who was a
former member of the Yemen parliament for the
pro-monarchy al-Haqq (Truth) Islamic party, later led a
religious and political movement known as Shabab
al-Moumineen (Believing Youth). Al-Houthi's followers
in the Shabab beleived that Yemen's government was too
closely allied with the United States, to the detriment
of the Islamic faith.
In June of 2004, the Yemeni government
offered a reward for al-Houthi's capture and launched a
military operation aimed at ending his rebellion. After
several months of battles between Yemeni troops and the
rebels, the Yemeni forces killed Sheikh al-Houthi and
some of his inner circle.
The Zaidi militants, known as Houthis,
take their name in honor of their fallen leader, Sheik