White House considers redesignating Houthis as terror group two years after lifting designation

If the group is redesignated, it would be a crime to knowingly provide "material support or resources" to it.

Published: December 20, 2023 10:25am

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the White House is reviewing whether to redesignate the Houthis in Yemen as a State Department Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization more than two years after delisting the group as such. 

"We’re actually conducting a review right now on whether that’s the right course forward. We’ve talked about that. No decision is made right now," Kirby said Tuesday at a White House press conference.  

The Houthis, also known as Ansar Allah, were designated as a terrorist group the day before former President Donald Trump left the Oval Office, and the Biden White House delisted them the following month. 

Kirby said he does not "have a timeline" for when a final decision would be made on redesignating the Houthis as a terror group but said, "We are reviewing that, that designation as we speak."

If the group is redesignated, it would be a crime to knowingly provide "material support or resources" to the Houthis and representatives and members of the group would not be admitted to the U.S. if they are not citizens. Additionally, any U.S. financial institution that has control over Houthi funds would maintain control over the money and report it to the Treasury Department, among other things.

The potential relisting comes as Houthi militants have been targeting Red Sea ships consistently since Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists invaded Israel and killed about 1,200 people.

Several companies, including oil giant BP, said it would pause all shipments in the Red Sea due to the attacks. 

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