Photo Credit: US Department of Justice / public domain
On Feb. 9, 2020, U.S. authorities seized three type “358” surface-to-air missiles.

The US has seized hundreds of Iranian missiles and more than a million barrels of “petroleum products” in what the US government said was its “largest-ever forfeiture of fuel and weapons shipments from Iran,” according to an announcement Tuesday by the US Justice Department.

US Navy Central Command (NAVCENT) seized the weapons from two flagless vessels in the Arabian Sea on Nov. 25, 2019, and Feb. 9, 2020, respectively.

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The weapons included 171 guided anti-tank missiles, eight surface-to-air missiles, land attack cruise missile components, anti-ship cruise missile components, thermal weapons optics and other components for missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles.

On Feb. 9, 2020, U.S. authorities seized 150 “Dehlavieh” anti-tank guided missiles and other weaponry.

The cache also included 1.1 million barrels of “Iranian petroleum products,” seized from four foreign-flagged tankers in or around the Arabian Sea while en route to Venezuela.

The seizure took place during routine marine security operations, the DOJ said.

“Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated foreign terrorist organization, orchestrated the arms shipments, which were destined for Houthi militants in Yemen,” according to the DOJ.

“The net proceeds of [the] sale, $26,681,397.67 before interest, may be directed, in whole or in part, to the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund now that the case has concluded,” the DOJ said.

The seizures “strike a resounding blow to the Government of Iran and to the criminal networks supporting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to use all available tools to combat the threats posed by terrorist organizations and all those who seek to harm the United States and its allies.”

The two cases, said US Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia, “demonstrate that not only can we disrupt the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ ability to finance its operations through petroleum sales, but we can also thwart its ability to use the proceeds of such sales to arm its terrorist proxies and export terrorism abroad. Given our expertise and special statutory authority, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia is uniquely positioned to support its law enforcement partners in such terrorism cases. We are deeply committed to this mission.”

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Ray Villanueva called it “another significant victory for HSI in its ongoing efforts to thwart the nefarious criminal activities of the Iranian regime and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”

The director of the criminal investigative arm of the Defense Department’s Office of the Inspector General added that the “illegal transfer” of the weapons “poses a significant and immediate threat” to the national security of the United States.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.