April 23rd, 2024

4 charged in transporting suspected Iranian-made weapons. Two SEALs died in intercepting the ship

By The Associated Press on February 22, 2024.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Four foreign nationals were charged Thursday with transporting suspected Iranian-made weapons on a vessel intercepted by U.S. naval forces in the Arabian Sea last month. Two Navy SEALs died during the mission.

U.S. officials said that Navy Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Christopher J. Chambers was boarding the boat on Jan. 11 and slipped into the gap created by high waves between the vessel and the SEALs’ combatant craft. As Chambers fell, Navy Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nathan Gage Ingram jumped in to try to save him, according to U.S. officials familiar with what happened.

The criminal complaint unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Richmond alleges that the four defendants were transporting suspected Iranian-made missile components for the type of weapons used by Houthi rebel forces in recent attacks.

“The flow of missiles and other advanced weaponry from Iran to Houthi rebel forces in Yemen threatens the people and interests of America and our partners in the region,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a news release.

“Two Navy SEALs tragically lost their lives in the operation that thwarted the defendants charged today from allegedly smuggling Iranian-made weapons that the Houthis could have used to target American forces and threaten freedom of navigation and a vital artery for commerce,” Monaco said,

Muhammad Pahlawan is charged with attempting to smuggle advanced missile components, including a warhead he is accused of knowing would be used by the Houthi rebels against commercial and naval vessels in the Red Sea and surrounding waters. He is also charged with providing false information to U.S. Coast Guard officers during the boarding of the vessel.

Pahlawan’s co-defendants – Mohammad Mazhar, Ghufran Ullah and Izhar Muhammad – were also charged with providing false information.

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