Four Men Charged in Lethal Navy SEAL Incident

Scales of justice
Updated Published

The U.S. Justice Department has initiated legal proceedings against four foreign individuals implicated in the shipment of Iranian-produced arms to Houthi insurgents, a mission that resulted in the loss of two Navy SEALs the previous month.

The announcement detailed that these four individuals, all in possession of Pakistani IDs, are accused of illegally transporting a stockpile of conventional weapons. This cache was discovered aboard an unflagged dhow in the Arabian Sea, near Somalia. In addition to the accused, ten others have been apprehended as material witnesses in this case, which was revealed at the U.S. District Court in Richmond.

The accused are named Muhammad Pahlawan, Mohammad Mazhar, Ghufran Ullah, and Izhar Muhammad. They are charged with ferrying armaments that align with those utilized by Houthi forces and deceiving the U.S. Coast Guard when their vessel was boarded on January 11.

The operation, which led to their capture, saw the tragic deaths of two Navy SEALs. These SEALs were part of a team from the U.S. Central Command Navy, operating from the USS Lewis B. Puller sea base. The demise of one SEAL was caused by a wave knocking him off a boarding ladder, with the second SEAL perishing in an attempt to rescue him.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco reflected on the incident, stating, “Two Navy SEALs tragically lost their lives in the operation that thwarted the defendants charged today from allegedly smuggling Iranian-made weapons that the Houthis could have used to target American forces and threaten freedom of navigation and a vital artery for commerce.”

Court documents reveal that U.S. forces intercepted the dhow in the Arabian Sea and confiscated suspected Iranian-made advanced conventional armaments. An initial examination suggested the seized items included essential parts for medium-range ballistic missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles, such as a warhead, along with propulsion and guidance systems.

U.S. authorities have identified the weapons found on the dhow as being similar to those employed by Houthi rebels in recent assaults on commercial and U.S. naval vessels near Yemen.

Pahlawan faces allegations of knowingly transporting a warhead and misleading U.S. Coast Guard officials during the vessel's inspection. The other three individuals are accused of providing incorrect details about the crew and cargo. Pahlawan could receive a maximum sentence of 25 years if convicted, while the others could face up to five years in prison.