Yesterday, Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels launched a suicide attack on a Saudi Arabian frigate off Yemen’s coast. Two crew-members were killed, and three were injured. The Houthis, who are Shia, have been fighting against Saudi Arabia (which has a Sunni government) since 2015.
The attack was surprising in that it’s rare for the Houthis to launch suicide attacks (unlike some of their other Jihadist counterparts) — and even more surprising in that it may have been intended for an American target.
As Fox News exclusively reported:
The Iranian-backed suicide attack targeting a Saudi frigate off the coast of Yemen on Monday may have been meant for an American warship, two defense officials told Fox News.
The incident in question occurred in the southern Red Sea and was carried out by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. Two Saudi sailors were killed and three were wounded. At first the ship was thought to have been struck by a missile. But based on new analysis of a video showing the attack, American intelligence officials now believe this was in fact a suicide bomber whose small boat rammed the side of the Saudi vessel.
In the audio heard on the video, a voice narrating the attack shouts in Arabic, “Death to America, Death to Israel, Death to the Jews.” U.S. defense analysts believe those behind the attack either thought the bomber was striking an American warship or that this was a “dress rehearsal” similar to the attack on the USS Cole, according to one official.
This latest incident came a day after President Trump spoke by phone with the Saudi King to discuss setting up safe zones for refugees in Syria and Yemen. Senior U.S. defense officials who spoke with Fox News say they’re concerned by this latest incident, but are confident American warships can defend themselves. The United States has supported a Saudi-led air campaign against the Houthi rebels in Yemen since 2015.
The Houthi flag reads “God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam,” which is a spin of Iran’s “death to America and death to Israel.” For that reason, the “death to America, Israel, and the Jews” chant alone isn’t proof that they were hoping to attack an American target — but it is an odd thing to say while attacking a Saudi one.
[Note: This post was written by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]