Yemeni sniper makes $8 a day ‘shooting Houthis with my own Kalashnikov’

by WorldTribune Staff, January 26, 2017

In the region that includes Taiz, Yemen, most families own a Kalashnikov rifle, but they are used primarily to fire off during celebrations such as weddings.

When the Yemeni conflict spilled into the region in 2015, a Taiz shopkeeper named “Ahmed” took his Kalashnikov, and a pair of binoculars for sighting, and started “shooting Houthis.”

Ahmed said he learned how to shoot as a boy in the mountains overlooking his home. /Middle East Eye

“I joined the resistance to liberate my province from the Houthis, who came from Saada to spread Shia thoughts in my province,” Ahmed told Middle East Eye. “I would be a coward if I do not fight the Houthi rebels. Fighting the Houthis is jihad and Sunnis have to fight for their religion.”

Ahmed was reluctant at first to kill the advancing Houthis, who are financed by Iran. He said he became emboldened after watching a fellow, more experienced sniper work.

“The first time, I hesitated to fire,” he said, “but my colleague encouraged me to do it. So I did and I felt I was doing something great to liberate my city from invaders. Since then I have been working as a sniper.”

Ahmed said his Kalashnikov was one of the better models and more adaptable than other weapons for sniping. He uses binoculars to sight his targets.

“I inherited this rifle from my father,” he said, “and I have used it since I was a child. It’s the best one for me and I wouldn’t be able to do what I do with another one. There are American rifles with sights, which are the best, but the resistance does not have enough for all the fighters. Those are given to the new snipers as it is makes it easier for them.”

Ahmed is paid the equivalent of $8 per day and keeps half of to cover his daily living expenses while the rest goes home to his family. He stressed that he did not join the resistance for the money.

“I shoot the Houthis with my own Kalashnikov, which cost more than $1,600. I am not in dire need of money. I joined the battle to liberate my province from invaders who want to spread Shi’ite thoughts in Taiz.”

The Iran-backed Houthis, who also have their own snipers, have laid siege to Taiz city with snipers and landmines, shooting anyone who tries to enter from the main roads, according to Middle East Eye.

“I do not want to be a sniper, but the Houthis forced me to do it,” Ahmed said. “I only want to return to my house for the sake of my two daughters.”