Four men have been charged in connection with the seizure by the US Navy of a vessel carrying Iranian weapons bound for Yemen’s Houthi rebels, an operation which left two Navy SEALs dead, AFP reports.

The four crew members were taken into custody during a January 11 operation in which elite US special operations personnel boarded a dhow off the coast of Somalia and seized missile components made in Iran, the Justice Department said in a statement.

The weaponry found aboard the boat “is allegedly consistent with the weaponry used by the Huthi rebel forces in recent attacks on merchant ships and US military ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden,” it said.

The four men — Muhammad Pahlawan, Mohammad Mazhar, Ghufran Ullah and Izhar Muhammad — made an initial appearance on Thursday before a magistrate judge in Richmond, Virginia.

Pahlawan is charged with unlawfully transporting a warhead and making false statements. The other three are charged with providing false information to US Coast Guard officers regarding the vessel’s crew and cargo. The Justice Department said all four men were carrying Pakistani identification papers.

Pahlawan faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of unlawfully transporting a warhead and all four face up to five years in prison if convicted of making false statements.

Opinion

In defamation’s name

In defamation’s name

It provides yet more proof that the undergirding logic of public authority in Pakistan is legal and extra-legal coercion rather than legitimised consent.

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