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Crew Members Charged With Transporting Iranian Weapons To Appear In US Court

Crew Members Charged With Transporting Iranian Weapons To Appear In US Court
MI News Network February 28, 2024

Four crew members on an unflagged vessel that the US officials say was loaded with Iran-made missile components are scheduled to appear on Tuesday in a federal courtroom located in Virginia, where the prosecutors will argue if they will be held without a bond while they await their trials.

On the night of 11 January, the US Central Command Navy forces, including its Navy SEALs with the US Coast Guard Maritime Safety members and the Security Team, had boarded the vessel off the coast of Somalia in the Arabian Sea. Two of the Navy SEALs drowned in the operation.

The US officials have said that Christopher J. Chambers, their Navy Special Warfare Operator 1st Class, had reportedly slipped into the gap created by the enormous waves between the SEALs’ combatant craft and the vessel. As Chambers fell, Nathan Gage Ingram, the Navy’s Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class, jumped to save him, per some US officials familiar with the matter. Efforts to rescue them were unfruitful.

Per an FBI agent’s affidavit, US soldiers discovered and confiscated Iran-made conventional weapons during a search. These weapons included warheads, propulsion, guidance components, components for medium-range ballistics, and anti-ship cruise missiles. Per the agent, the items he discovered match the weapons that Houthi troops have used in previous strikes on US military and merchant vessels in the area.

The four carried identity cards from Pakistan. Muhammad Pahlawan is accused of trying to transport components of a sophisticated missile, including a warhead, aware that it would be used against navy and commercial vessels in the Red Sea as well as adjacent areas by the Houthis. Additionally, he has been charged with giving the US Coast Guard personnel misleading information when they were boarding the ship.

Pahlawan’s codefendants —Ghufran Ullah, Izhar Muhammad, and Mohammad Mazhar — were charged with giving untrue information. The attorneys for the four men have refused to comment.

Another ten crew members were also detained following federal material witness law. It permits the courts to issue warrants for the arrest and detention of an individual if their testimony is material in criminal proceedings and if it might become impracticable to secure the presence of the individual by subpoena.

The FBI affidavit also states that the crew members were in touch multiple times by a satellite phone with one of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard members.

Reference: Alarabiya