The Yemeni government revealed yesterday [Oct. 8] new details about the Iranian spy cells discovered in Yemen, following a previous announcement that the cells had been dismantled weeks ago.
The announcement came in conjunction with accusations made against Iran of interfering in the internal affairs of the country. President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi had said that Iran is providing money and weapons to the Shiite Houthi group in the north and factions from the secessionist Southern Mobility Movement (SMM) in the south, and that it is seeking to foil the current political settlement by sending assistance to certain Yemeni forces.
On its official website 26Sep.net, the Yemeni Ministry of Defense said that elements of the Iranian spy cells — of which there are six — in Yemen have been previously arrested in Sanaa, Aden and other governorates, adding that the cells include Iranian and Syrian nationals.
The Yemeni authorities announced almost two months ago the discovery of two Iranian spy cells that include members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
The Yemeni Ministry of Defense confirmed yesterday [Oct. 9] that “the Iranian detainees entered Yemen posing as investors and obtained a license from the authorities to build a factory. Later, they began to import equipment and machinery to Yemen through the port of Aden. Upon the inspection of a container, it was revealed that the equipment was not for civilian purposes related to the licensed factory, but for military purposes of a hostile nature that target Yemen’s security and stability.”
Citing “informed sources,” the website said that the equipment “can be re-assembled to make a variety of missiles and weapons. Therefore, the Yemeni security services arrested the Iranians and initiated an investigation.”
In this context, Al-Hayat learned from government sources that these Iranian spy cells contain scores of members, and that a security investigation team specialized in espionage is in charge of investigating these cells.
[The sources added that] “the investigation results have revealed serious intelligence that affects Yemeni national security and shows Iran’s involvement in supporting armed groups with the aim of undermining stability [in the country].”
The sources said that that “the information gathered by the Yemeni security apparatuses about the activity of the Iranian cells has shown the presence of an Iranian plan aimed at threatening the security of countries neighboring Yemen, expanding Iranian influence in the region, and targeting international strategic interests in Yemen.”
The sources added that the issue “will be soon referred to the Yemeni judiciary, which will prosecute these cell members in public hearings.” They pointed out that Sanaa has yet to appoint a new ambassador to Tehran, which was scheduled to happen months ago, due to the extreme tension between the two countries following the discovery of the spy cells. [Tensions were further elevated] as a result of President Hadi’s accusations that Iran is supporting armed groups and attempting to foil the current political process sponsored by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the United Nations.
In other news, tribal militants kidnapped nine truck drivers — four Yemenis and five Syrians — on the coastal road between the southern governorates of Lahj and Aden, demanding the release of relatives detained by authorities.
Tribal sources said that militants from the Al-Subayha tribe ambushed a number of trucks and took their drivers to an unknown destination. The sources added that [the kidnappers] are demanding the release of SMM leader Bajash al-Aghbari, a local official in Aden called Yasser al-Uzaybi Aziba and others who were arrested after clashes with the police in a dispute over [the ownership of] farmland.
The Yemeni authorities have confirmed the kidnapping, saying it is “related to a criminal case.” The authorities added that contacts with tribal elders are underway to release the kidnapped in the coming hours.