June 16, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10670

Yemen's Houthi Ansar Allah Movement Promotes Summer Camp Program For Children; Pro-Islamic State (ISIS) Media Outlet Warns Yemenis Against Shi'ite Recruitment Of Children

June 16, 2023
Yemen | Special Dispatch No. 10670

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On April 29, Yemen's Iran-backed Ansar Allah Movement (the Houthis) launched a summer camp program for children and teens in Sanaa and other Northern governorates. According to Yemeni opposition websites, the program, titled "Science And Jihad," aims at radicalizing children by training them in the use of weapons. Reports further noted that nearly half a million children are expected to join the program.[1]

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Children holding Houthi flags during a recent camp program (Source: Saba' News Agency, April 28, 2023)

Houthi summer camps first emerged in 1990. However, this year's promotion campaign follows major new changes to educational curricula in primary and secondary schools in areas under Houthi control.

Posters advertising Houthi-sponsored children's summer camps, posted on the group's official Telegram channel

This year's promotional campaign received growing publicity from Houthi officials, including the group's leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, who urged parents to send their children to these camps and stressed that his government will provide full support to ensure the success of the program.[2]

Posters shared on Houthi-linked Telegram channels advertised the summer camps as educational and cultural programs, posting images of young boys and girls reading Quran.

Pro-ISIS Outlet Launches Anti-Houthi Poster Campaign

In response, Mithani, a pro-Islamic State (ISIS) media outlet, released several posters in recent weeks warning Sunni Yemenis not to send their kids to Houthi camps.[3]

The ongoing poster campaign, titled "The Apostate Summer Course," emphasizes the ideological differences between Sunnis and Shi'ites from an ISIS perspective, which deems the Shi'ites non-Muslim, thereby legitimizing attacks on them.

Notably, as part of its self-declared Caliphate in Iraq and Syria, ISIS routinely recruited children for military purposes, sending children as young as four years old to training camps.[4]

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An image from an ISIS video showing children in military uniform.

Posters Highlight Ideological Differences Between Sunnis, Shi'ites

On June 5, 2023, Mithani, a pro-ISIS media outlet which often produces content related to events in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, released its first poster, titled: "The disbelief of Rafadha [derogatory term for Shi'ites] and their contradiction of monotheism."[5]

The text on the poster cited a Salafi cleric denouncing Shi'ites as "sorcerers" and their clerics as "evil," claiming that they worship the family of Prophet Muhammad.

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'Shi'ites Makes Pilgrimage To Shrines'

Another poster released by Mithani on June 11 claimed that the Houthis, like all Shi'ites, make pilgrimage to shrines where their Imams are buried, arguing that pilgrimage should only made to the Kaaba in Mecca.[6]

'Shi'ites Are Not Monotheists'

The outlet released on June 13 a poster that argued that Shi'ites such as the Houthis, are "not monotheists" since they pray to their 12th Imams for help, whom they "glorify" by using words or adjectives that may only be used to describe Allah. Hence, it argued, Shi'ites are apostates. The poster featured images of Houthi leaders.[7]

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'Sunnis Beware'

On June 14, Mithan released a poster titled "Beware, Sunni People," which featured an image showing children enrolled in Houthi camps.[8] The text on the poster read:

"Oh Sunnis, beware, beware of leaving your children in these courses, because they are filled with false ideology which they teach to your children and imbed in their minds. An innocent child has no knowledge of that, because at such an age he is so receptive [to information] and to storing it. When he grows up, he will become purely Rafidi [Shi'ite]."

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'Fathers Should Be Role Model'

Another poster released on June 14 also warned parents not to be a reason for their own child's deviance. The text on the poster featured excerpts from an archival editorial from ISIS's official weekly Al-Naba, which urged fathers to act as role model for their children and teach them sound religious values.[9]

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[1], May 24, 2023, last accessed on June 15, 2023.

[2], April 28, 2023, last accessed on June 15, 2023.

[3] Telegram, June 5, 2023.

[5] Telegram, June 5, 2023.

[6] Telegram, June 11, 2023.

[7] Telegram, June 13, 2023.

[8] Telegram, June 14, 2023.

[9] Telegram, June 14, 2023.

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