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Yemen's Abd-al-Malik al-Houthi
03 Oct 2014
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Spiritual, military and political leader of the Houthi movement
Sayyid Abd-al-Malik Badr-al-Din al-Houthi is the leader of Yemen's Houthi movement and its political wing, Ansarallah.
The Houthis are a prominent Zaidi Shia family from Sa'dah, northwestern Yemen, that claim descent from the Prophet Muhammad.
Abd-al-Malik's father, Badr-al-Din, was a cleric and scholar who advocated the preservation of the Zaidi heritage in the face of growing Wahhabi influence in Yemen.
His brother Hussein Badr-al-Din established the Believing Youth movement in the 1990s to promote a Zaidi revival. Increasing confrontations with the government of President Abdullah Salih culminated in 2004 in the first of six wars, in which Hussein was killed. His body was only returned to the family for burial by President Abd-Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in 2013.
Assuming leadership
After Hussein 's death, the elderly Badr-al-Din (who died in 2010) was for a while the movement's leader and spiritual guide. But by the time of the fourth war, in 2007, Abd-al-Malik (sometimes called Abu Jibril) was being referred to in press reports as "field commander" and the leader responsible for negotiations with government mediators.
During the 2009 war, government officials said more than once that he had been killed or seriously wounded but he soon appeared in a video clip to refute the claims.
Although he appears to hold no official position or title, he is widely accepted as the spiritual, military and political leader of the Houthi movement and Ansarallah (Supporters of God).
Rare public appearances
According to his Facebook page Abd-al-Malik was born in 1979 (although in an interview with a Yemeni news website in 2008 he was said to be 27 years old).
The page adds that he spent his childhood in the Sa'dah region and his personal interests are "humanitarian issues and human rights all over the world".
He is secretive over his whereabouts and rarely seen in public or in known locations, except when photographed receiving distinguished guests - such as UN or foreign diplomats - in Sa'dah. There is no record of him ever having left the Sa'dah region.
He rarely gives media interviews and when he does they appear to have been mostly conducted through a medium such as telephone or email rather than face-to-face.
But after a flurry of such interviews between 2008 and 2010, he now seems to prefer using Houthi media outlets, such as the Ansarallah website or the Al-Masirah satellite TV channel.
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