U.S. Navy Intercepts Iranian Vessel Carrying 2,000 AK-47s Bound for Yemen
The U.S. Navy intercepted an Iranian fishing vessel in the Gulf of Oman carrying 2,000 AK-47 “assault rifles” bound for Yemen on Friday, the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command announced Tuesday.
A team from the USS Chinook, a patrol coastal ship, boarded the Iranian vessel, which was sailing in the Gulf of Oman on a route historically used to traffic weapons from Iran to Yemen’s Houthis, a jihadist organization that the Biden administration delisted as terrorists.
“The USS Chinook was supported by the cyclone-class patrol ship USS Monsoon and the guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans,” the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command detailed.
“This shipment is part of a continued pattern of destabilizing activity from Iran,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, and Combined Maritime Forces.
“These threats have our attention. We remain vigilant in detecting any maritime activity that threatens freedom or compromises regional security,” Cooper added.
The Iranian vessel was crewed by Yemenis and had a total of 2,116 AK-47 rifles on board, the U.S. Navy noted. The Navy seized the rifles. The crew and vessel are set to be repatriated.
The sale of weapons, directly or indirectly, to the Houthis is prohibited under U.N. Security Council Resolution 2216 and international law.
This is the second time in the past two months that the U.S. Navy has intercepted Iranian fishing vessels attempting to smuggle lethal aid to Yemen in the Gulf of Oman.
On December 1, U.S. Naval forces seized over “50 tons of ammunition rounds, fuses, and propellants for rockets” that were on their way to Yemen.
On November 8, a U.S. Naval ship and a U.S. Coast Guard ship “intercepted more than 70 tons of ammonium perchlorate, a powerful oxidizer commonly used to make rocket and missile fuel, as well as 100 tons of urea fertilizer,” according to the U.S. Navy.
Since 2015 the Iranian regime has backed the Shiite Houthis, who have been engaged in a civil war with the legitimate government of Yemen, which is backed by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Gulf states. Since then, the Houthis have been documented to routinely launch terrorist attacks against Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations.