-- The maritime arm of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps -- the same gang of thugs who took 15 British marines and sailors hostage in March 2007 -- has been doing this kind of "inspection" of merchant ships and combatants passing through the Strait of Hormuz for years, though they have become "much more aggressive" in the past 10 months. "On more than one occasion, U.S. warships have fired warning shots across the bows" of IRGC speedboats.
-- Throughout this most recent encounter, all three U.S. warships were consistently at least three miles within international waters. One of the IRGC craft displayed an Iranian flag, and as they closed at high speed toward the American vessels, one of the Iranian boats broadcast over the radio in English: "We are coming for you. You will explode in a few minutes."
-- The entire event took place over a half-hour time span, and the U.S. ships were at general quarters and "fully prepared to engage" throughout. At several points in the encounter, the IRGC boats took aggressive action and "maneuvered within 500 yards of our ships," and two of them dumped "floating objects" in front of the American vessels, forcing them to change course.
-- An unnamed U.S. intelligence agency was aware that the IRGC intended to confront this transit of American warships through the Strait of Hormuz and can verify that, "Tehran's claim that this was 'a case of mistaken identity' is simply bogus."
One of my sources suggested that Iran's motive for this confrontation on the eve of a major presidential trip to the Mideast was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's effort to remind everyone that he can cut off 25 percent of the world's oil whenever he wants.
If that is what the theocrats running Tehran believe, then it's time for the U.S. Navy to remind them what happened in the Gulf of Sidra in August 1981 -- when Moammar Gadhafi sent up Libyan fighters to challenge the 6th Fleet in international waters. Go ahead, Mahmoud, look it up on Google. It may be instructive.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.