More than a million rounds of ammunition, over 7,000 proximity fuses for rockets, and over 2,100 kg of rocket fuel were found on a fishing trawler camouflaged as a merchant’s vessel on December 1 by U.S. 5th fleet personnel frequently operating in the Middle East.
According to Attorney General Merrick Garland, the United States foiled a practical plan by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to transport weapons of war into the hands of a terrorist organization in Yemen. Those who violate our laws and jeopardize our national security will face swift and severe repercussions from the Justice Department.
On Friday, a forfeiture action filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) seeks to retain fuses, fuel, and more than a million rounds of ammunition confiscated from Iran in December.
An investigation into a “complex conspiracy” to “clandestinely export weapons to groups that pose significant dangers to U.S. national security” led to the forfeiture action on Friday, which means the U.S. will confiscate the guns.
The Navy maintains that it is against international law and UN resolutions to provide weapons to the Houthi insurgents in Yemen. Against the Yemeni government and an international coalition commanded by Saudi Arabia and supported by the United States and other Western powers, the Houthis have been fighting since 2015, with Iranian support.
Saudi Arabia has been blamed for contributing to one of the greatest humanitarian crises in the world by bombing civilian targets. According to the DOJ and the US military, the Houthis have threatened US interests by attacking civilian targets in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The Department of Justice said the December seizure exposed a broader Iranian weapons smuggling network involving sanctioned Iranian businesses, including those linked with the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
On December 1st, U.S. naval troops in the Middle East stopped a fishing trawler in the Gulf of Oman, transporting more than 50 tons of ammunition, fuses, and rocket fuels from Iran to Yemen. The Navy claimed it became suspicious of the flagless warship crossing the Arabian Sea. Troops boarded the ship to check its provenance and found over 50 tons of illegal weaponry.
The U.S. military is contemplating redirecting guns and munitions seized from Iranian smuggling boats to Ukraine, rapidly depleting its ammo supply fighting against Russia’s invasion.