Iran-backed Houthis ‘hold secret terror meetings with al-Qaeda chiefs to plot horrific wave of suicide attacks on West’

Iran-backed Houthis ‘hold secret terror meetings with al-Qaeda chiefs to plot horrific wave of suicide attacks on West’

THE Iran-sponsored Houthi rebels allegedly held secret terror meetings with al-Qaeda to plot a wave of “suicide attacks” against the West, sources revealed.

The Yemen-based militia reportedly tried to “persuade” their Islamist terrorist allies to join their fight in the Red Sea to help inflict further pain on their “mutual enemies”.

GettyThe Houthis have been conducting lethal talks with al-Qaeda in recent days, sources allege[/caption]

EPAThe Houthis mantra is ‘Death to America, Death to Israel… victory to Islam’[/caption]

According to Yemeni sources, the meetings were held in both Yemen’s capital Sanaa as well as Hodeidah, the Houthi Red Sea port stronghold.

Clerics loyal to the Houthis met with al-Qaeda chiefs in an apparent bid to convince them to carry out their “legitimate duty” to confront western “aggression”, Sky News Arabia reported.

The terror talks came after Yemeni government officials accused the militia group of carrying out recent assassinations in the city of Aden alongside members of al-Qaeda.

For over two years, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – which the US classes as the terror group’s most dangerous branch – has been clashing with government forces as its renewed insurgency inside Yemen grows.

The terror group, previously led by Osama Bin Laden and responsible for the 9/11 attacks, appears to now be taking advantage of the escalating crisis in Yemen and across the Red Sea to launch further attacks.

It follows months of indiscriminate maritime assaults by the Houthis, who control most of Yemen, on commercial vessels as well as US and UK navy warships in the Red Sea.

The rebels state their intention is to avenge Israel’s offensive in Gaza against Hamas, but they are targeting ships with little or no link to Israel – turning one of the world’s biggest shipping lanes into an active warzone.

Around 12 percent of all global trade normally passes through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, the now-under-attack 20 mile-wide stretch of Red Sea also known as the “Gate of Tears”.

In a fresh round of Houthi assaults on Wednesday evening, two cargo ships sailing close to the Gulf of Aden came under attack from anti-ship ballistic missiles and the US Navy was forced to intervene.

It appeared to be a direct response to US and UK forces once again targeting Houthi military bases across Yemen in a nighttime blitz on Monday.

Four RAF Typhoon jets unleashed laser-guided bombs to blast eight sites, while US warships, submarine-launched Tomahawk missiles and fighter jets took out missile storage sites and launches.

It provoked a furious response from the trigger-happy rebels who vowed the attacks “would not go unpunished”.

It came just hours after Rishi Sunak and Joe Biden warned the Iranian-backed militants they would strike Yemen again “if needed” after a meticulously planned operation earlier this month.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron said the strikes sent the “clearest possible message”.

He said: “Since we last took action 10 days ago, there have been over 12 attacks on shipping by the Houthis in the Red Sea. These attacks are illegal, they are unacceptable.

“What we have done again is send the clearest possible message that we will continue to degrade their ability to carry out these attacks while sending the clearest possible message that we back our words and our warnings with action.”

It marked another dramatic escalation in the crisis that since November has been threatening to ignite an all-out war across the region, which has become a powder keg due to Israel’s ongoing war with Hamas.

The exploding tensions have led to discussions for Britain’s biggest warship to be deployed to the Red Sea to help spearhead strikes on Houthi targets.

Calls are growing for the £3.5billion aircraft carriers, the HMS Queen Elizabeth and its sister HMS Prince of Wales, to enter the crisis and help protect Britain and its allies interests.

On Monday, two US Navy Seals were confirmed as dead after a 10-day search for the pair after they went missing during a mission to seize Iranian arms.

Last week, Washington reclassified the Houthis as a terrorist organisation as they ramped up diplomatic and financial pressure on the militia group.

It followed US intelligence claiming that the Houthis were attempting to acquire more weapons to intensify their Red Sea attacks.

The intel revealed the rebels have been carefully curating their plan of attack – pinpointing when the strikes would be ramped up and how they would gather the necessary weapons.

There are concerns the militants will receive even more lethal weapons from Tehran – their long-term partner and backer – in the weeks to come.

RAF Typhoon jets blasted eight Houthi targets in the Red Sea this week

An explosion inside Yemen from the joint US and UK attacks on January 11

Who are the Houthis?

THE Houthi rebels are terrorising vessels and warships in the Red Sea – but who are they?

The Shia militant group, which now controls most of Yemen, spent over a decade being largely ignored by the world.

However, since the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza war they sprung from relative obscurity to holding roughly £1trillion of world trade hostage – turning one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes into an active warzone.

Their warped slogan is “Death to America, Death to Israel, curse the Jews and victory to Islam”.

Why are they attacking ships?

The rebel group has been launching relentless drone and missile attacks on any ships – including warships – they deem to be connected with Israel in solidarity with their ally Hamas.

The sea assaults have threatened to ignite a full-blown war in the Middle East as ripples from Israel’s war in Gaza are felt across the region – with Iran suspected of stoking the chaos.

However, there have been frequent attacks on commercial vessels with little or no link to Israel – forcing global sea traffic to halt operations in the region and sending shipping prices soaring.

Houthi attacks in the Red Sea increased 50 per cent between November and December.

The rebel group’s leaders have previously pledged the attacks will continue until Israel stops its devastating offensive inside Gaza – despite recent US and UK strikes on their military strongholds.

EPAA boat carrying Houthi fighters sails close to Hodeidah, Yemen[/caption]

EPAThe Houthis have been waging war in the Red Sea[/caption]

More than 60 targets in Yemen were struck in a joint US and UK operation earlier this month

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