Yemen: Seized Iranian ship carried varied weapons

AP News
Posted: Feb 06, 2013 4:01 PM

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A ship seized by Yemeni authorities last month carried a wide variety of Iranian-made weapons, Yemen's Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

They included material for bombs and suicide belts, explosives, Katyusha rockets, surface-to-air missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and large amounts of ammunition.

In a statement, the ministry detailed contents of the Iranian ship seized in Yemen's territorial waters in mid-January. It described contents as "large, diverse and dangerous" weapons that also included night vision binoculars and goggles, remote devices, circuits, wires and rifle silencers.

Yemen state TV showed Interior Minister Abdel-Qader Kahtan and top military officials inspecting the ship, named Jihan 1, docked at Aden port in southern Yemen.

In Washington, U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, "this is obviously extremely troubling." She added, "we commend the Yemenis on their interdiction's success."

The Yemeni news agency reported that Yemen's coast guard intercepted the ship in an operation coordinated with the U.S. Navy. It said that the vessel's eight crew members were Yemenis.

Yemen has recently witnessed several cases of illegal arms shipments through its porous shores on the Red and Arabian seas.

Yemen is home to an active branch of al-Qaida, which staged several failed or foiled attacks on U.S. territory over the past several years. Washington considers al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula as the terror group's most dangerous branch.

Yemen's government, backed by the U.S., has carried out a wide offensive against al-Qaida strongholds in the south, driving militants out of cities and towns. The militants retaliated with a series of assassinations of top military and security officials in addition to deadly suicide attacks in the capital and in the south.

At the same time, U.S. drone strikes have killed scores of suspected al-Qaida militants.