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Yemen busts US-Israeli spy network that undermined country's institutions


By Maryam Qarehgozlou

The Yemeni military announced on Monday that it had dismantled an American-Israeli espionage network operating within the Arab country, delivering a significant blow to attempts aimed at undermining the Yemeni government institutions.

According to the Yemeni military’s statement, the spies had “proven” and “direct” connections to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Israeli spy agency Mossad.

The statement added that the network was “the main espionage arm” of the US and Israel, equipped with “advanced technologies and devices” to conduct its clandestine activities across various state institutions. Some members had been collaborating with the CIA since the 1980s and 1990s.

The spies obtained “highly sensitive” information about Yemen’s military, security, economic, agricultural, health, and educational sectors. They misused their roles at the US embassy in Sana’a to conduct their subversive activities.

“After the US embassy left Sana’a in 2015, the spies pivoted to carry out their espionage under various pretexts in different fields, including agriculture and economy, using secret communication devices and managed by US officers,” the statement revealed.

Since 2015, the spies continued operating under the guise of international organizations, including various United Nations bodies. The statement also highlighted that the network’s members had visited the US several times to attend training workshops and meetings with American officials.

This announcement follows the arrest of a group of 18 spies, known as Force 400, by Yemeni security authorities in the west of the country nearly a month ago.

How the US-Israeli spies operated

Major General Abdul Hakim Hashem Al-Khaiwani, head of Yemen’s Security and Intelligence Service, stated in a televised address that the US-Israeli-led espionage network had recruited officials within the Yemeni government to influence decision-makers and infiltrate state agencies. 

Al-Khaiwani added that some of the network’s operations had resulted in the “spread of diseases” in Yemen, further damaging its already strained health system due to years of Western sanctions.

The network also promoted “moral corruption” to undermine Yemen’s education system.

According to Yemeni security agencies, the network executed American schemes to target the agricultural sector by producing and spreading agricultural pests, aiming to undermine local production and destroy the economy.

The network recruited spies within the Ministry of Agriculture to sabotage agricultural research institutions and seed multiplication centers. It also recruited economists and owners of oil and commercial companies, linking them to American and Israeli spy services.

“US-Israeli espionage network has attracted many individuals and organized visits for them to the US to influence and recruit them,” the statement said.

The network influenced decision-makers, penetrated state authorities, and helped pass decisions and laws detrimental to Yemen.

Unnamed sources quoted by Al-Mayadeen claimed that American and Israeli spies attempted to kill some network members before their arrest to prevent information leaks.

Sabotaging pro-Gaza operations

Al-Khaiwani noted that the network provided intelligence to the US and Israeli militaries to aid in targeting Yemeni infrastructure used to attack Israeli and US-linked ships in regional waters.

The Yemeni military has recently escalated attacks on shipping in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean, demanding an end to Israel’s actions in Gaza, which have resulted in over 37,100 Palestinian deaths since October last year.

In response, the US and UK deployed ships to the Red Sea to protect Israeli vessels and initiated a bombing campaign targeting Yemeni forces.

Despite this, Yemeni forces announced last month that they would continue their military operations, expanding them to the Mediterranean Sea to lock Israel out of key waterways and impact its economy.

Who are these spies?

The Yemeni Security Forces released employment records of the network members linked to US spy services and embassy documents.

Amer Abdul Majeed Al-Aghbari was recruited by the CIA in 1987. He worked on projects to destroy soil, promote American products, reduce agricultural production, spread toxic pesticides, and transmit animal diseases. He also influenced the National Dialogue Conference in Yemen.

Abdelkader Ali Al-Saqqaf, recruited in 1994, collected data on Yemen’s political and judicial situation, supplying sensitive information about security and military operations to the CIA.

Shaif Hefdhallah Al-Hamdani, a CIA recruit since 1997, shared information on ballistic missile launch sites, drone operations, and military and economic targets. He also transmitted the Central Bank’s code to fugitive authorities in Aden.

Abdelmaeen Hussein Ali Azzan had worked with the CIA and Mossad since 2006, providing information on Yemeni military manufacturing and strategic capabilities. He contacted Mossad through the US embassy’s economic attaché and worked for the CIA shell company LAPIS until 2018.

Hesham Ahmed Ali Al-Wazir passed information to the CIA since 2009, monitoring activities aimed at dismantling national armament under USAID projects and providing political, economic, and military information to the Americans.

Mohamed Salah Al-Kharashi was hired by the FBI in 2011 and provided a database and maps of camps, weapon depots, security centers, hospitals, roads, and routes.

Other spies transmitted information that contributed to the American siege policy against Yemen and managed informant cells conducting espionage activities.

Western complicity in the war on Yemen

The US and its allies fully backed Saudi Arabia after it launched a brutal and no-holds-barred war against Yemen in March 2015, sending advanced weaponry to the Kingdom.

This war killed over 150,000 people, mostly civilians, and created one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters, the effects of which are still visible and vivid.

Western governments extended political and logistical support to Riyadh in their unsuccessful bid to restore power to Yemen’s former Saudi-installed government led by Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

“Today’s achievement sends a message to the Americans and Israelis that Yemen is steadfast and determined in its victory for the causes of its nation, foremost of which is the Palestinian cause,” Yemeni Major General Jalal Ali bin Al-Rowaishan said, as quoted by Almasirah.

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