Houthi gunmen kidnapped a US citizen from an English language school in the Yemeni capital Sana’a yesterday, hours after the leader of the rebels Abdul-Malik Badreddin Al-Houthi delivered a harsh speech in which he attacked the United States and accused it of being behind the Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s decision to move the central bank from Sana’a to the temporary capital Aden.
Witnesses in Sana’a told Asharq Al-Awsat that more than 15 armed men reportedly belonging to the Houthi militia security apparatus seized the school called “Exceed Language” on Algeria Street and came out with Peter Willems, the director of the institute, who was handcuffed. He was forced into their car and taken to an unknown location as bewildered colleagues and students looked on.
According to eyewitnesses, police stopped cars on the streets of Sana’a as part of a campaign to hunt down the militants involved in the abduction. According to witnesses, the kidnapping of the US citizen could not have been carried out by an ordinary armed group, but rather by a professional security apparatus, indicating that the security apparatus of the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh which is managed by Houthi militias was responsible.
After militias loyal to Saleh and the Houthis took control of Sana’a in September 2014, most foreign nationals and citizens have left Sana’a and most governorates of Yemen after Arab and foreign embassies were closed as a result of being seized and looted.