Yemeni Rebels Hold Jew Over Smuggling Out Old Sefer Torah 

SANAA, Yemen (AP) -
Jewish Yemenite immigrants seen seen arriving at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv on June 20, 2012. Photo by Moshe Shai/FLASH90  *** Local Caption *** עולים מתימן עולים מ תימן
Jewish Yemenite immigrants seen seen arriving at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv in 2012. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Yemeni security officials say a member of the country’s Jewish minority has been detained over allegations he helped smuggle an 800-year-old sefer Torah to Israel.

The officials say Yahia Youssef Yaish is being interrogated by the intelligence service run by Shiite Houthis rebels, who control Sana’a, the country’s capital.

The officials also said on Tuesday that three airport employees have also been detained over the same allegations. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

In Israel, Avi Mayer, the spokesman for the Jewish Agency, confirmed the sefer Torah was smuggled out of Yemen with a group of 19 Yemeni Jews who left for Israel last month.

Yemeni intellectuals issued a statement demanding the release of Yaish and describing the allegations against him as “fabricated.”