Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Exclusive: Tehran Intimidates Regional States through its Proxies

Exclusive: Tehran Intimidates Regional States through its Proxies

Saturday, 25 November, 2017 - 08:30
Houthi insurgents react while riding on the back of a truck as they attend a tribal gathering in Yemen's capital Sana'a, August 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

Terrorist militias in the world, especially those supported by Iran, have consistently carried out kidnappings of unarmed “citizens and foreigners”, in order to obtain ransom for their release.


Abductions are one of the worst terrorist acts carried out by Iran or its terrorist proxies around the world. They have several objectives: to draw attention to the kidnapping itself, to carry out major schemes behind the scenes, to rearrange Tehran’s bargaining in the region, to overcome damages of economic sanctions imposed on it, and to help those militias finance their operations.


According to several international reports, Iranian-sponsored terrorist groups have taken hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom following the kidnappings of foreign tourists, journalists and politicians, women belonging to “ethnic groups” and others working in relief and humanitarian organizations, and who have been rescuing people in disaster or armed conflict zones.


According to David Cohen, deputy director of counterterrorism at the US Treasury Department, ransom money earned by terrorist groups (Al-Qaeda and ISIS) between 2012 and 2014 amounted to around $120 million, of which $20 million was obtained by “Al-Qaeda” in Yemen alone.


Estimates of international sources also said that Lebanon’s “Hezbollah” was able to get about $300 million in exchange for the release of kidnapped individuals in the past years, and used the funds to support its members and arm them for the purpose of engaging in regional wars in several countries, including Syria and Yemen.


In Yemen, organizations reported that Houthi militias abducted around 2,304 civilians from the streets and from their homes, including 987 politicians and opponents to the rebels, while Qatar attempted to exploit the kidnapping propaganda to transfer $500 million to the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, which are supported by Iran, under the pretext of the release of Qatari fishermen kidnapped in Iraq. The Iraqi government, however, prevented the transfer of funds to the militia.


In comments to Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, Dr. Mohammed Askar, Yemeni Minister of Human Rights, said that Houthi militias “are a terrorist group that has taken over the capabilities of the state and has carried out internationally dubious and illegal acts.”


“The group has no legal or political legitimacy and might have resorted to the kidnapping of legal persons and opponents under Iranian orders, in order to intimidate civil society,” he added.


Houthi militias, according to the minister, use the kidnapped leaders and opponents as a pressure card to achieve political goals and certain interests, criticizing the international community for remaining silent.

Editor Picks