An Islamic extremist group reportedly stormed the U.S. Embassy in Yemen on Wednesday, taking hostages and seizing equipment.
Bloomberg News first reported on Tuesday that Iran-backed Houthi extremists had taken “at least 25 Yemenis working for the U.S.” into custody over the span of a few weeks, including “Yemenis working for the U.S. embassy and USAID.”
The Free Beacon reported on Thursday that, according to a media watchdog that translates foreign media, local media said that the Houthis had seized equipment from the compound:
A group of Houthi rebels reportedly stormed the U.S. compound on Wednesday seeking “large quantities of equipment and materials,” according to regional reports translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute. The raid comes just five days after the Houthis kidnapped Yemeni nationals who work for the U.S. embassy. “The alleged raid comes after the Houthis kidnapped three Yemeni nationals affiliated with the U.S. Embassy from one of the employee’s private residences in Sana’a on November 5,” according to MEMRI. At least 22 other Yemenis were kidnapped by the Houthis in recent weeks, “most of whom worked on the security staff guarding the embassy grounds,” according to MEMRI.
A State Department spokesperson said that the “majority” of hostages have been released, but that some embassy staff “continue to be detained without explanation.”
“We call on the Houthis to immediately vacate it and return all seized property,” the spokesman said. “The U.S. government will continue its diplomatic efforts to secure the release of our staff and the vacating of our compound, including through our international partners.”
The Trump administration designated the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under the leadership of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The Biden administration quickly reversed the terrorist designation after taking over earlier this year.
“Biden’s administration is moving to revoke the designation of Yemen’s Houthis as a terrorist group, citing the need to mitigate one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters,” The Associated Press reported on February 5. “A State Department official confirmed the move Friday after members of Congress were notified of the administration’s plans. The official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the removal changed nothing about the Biden administration’s views of the Houthis, who have targeted civilians and kidnapped Americans.”
The Houthis “have received training and military equipment from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC),” the Counter Terrorism Project reported. “According to the Saudi ambassador to the United States, the ‘first thing the Houthis did when they entered and occupied Sanaa was to free Iranian Revolutionary Guards operatives and Hezbollah operatives from the jails.’ The Iranian ship Jihan I was seized allegedly en route to Yemen in 2013 with arms meant for the Houthis.”
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This report has been updated to included additional information.