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Yemen. They have also been referred to as a "powerful clan," and by the title Ash-Shabab al-Muminin (Arabic: الشباب المؤمن, translated as Believing Youth or Youthful Believers). The group takes its name from Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, their former commander, who was reportedly killed by Yemeni army forces in September 2004. Several other commanders, including, Ali al-Qatwani, Abu Haider, Abbas Aidah and Yousuf al-Madani (a son-inlaw of Hussein al-Houthi) have also been killed by Yemeni forces. The Houthi brothers' father Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi is said to be the spiritual leader of the group.
Membership of the group had between 1,000 and 3,000 fighters as of 2005 and between 2,000 and 10,000 fighters as of 2009. In the Yemen Post it has been claimed, however, that they had over 100,000 fighters.
The Houthis have asserted that their actions are for the defense of their community from the government and discrimination, though the Yemeni government has in turn accused them of wishing to bring it down and institute Shia religious law (Houthis have told people they are “praying in the wrong way” by raising their arms, as is the custom among Sunnis in Yemen), destabilise the government and "stirring anti-American sentiment".
The Yemeni government has also accused the Houthis of having ties to external backers, especially the Iranian government (as Iran is a Shia-majority country). In turn, the Houthis have countered with allegations that the Yemeni government is being backed by virulently anti-Shia external backers including al-Qaeda and the government of Saudi Arabia.