US targets network financing Iran-backed Houthi attacks on shipping vessels

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The U.S. is imposing sanctions on one individual and three money exchange houses in Yemen and Turkey accused of “facilitating the flow of Iranian financial assistance to Houthi forces and their destabilizing activities.”

“Today’s action underscores our resolve to restrict the illicit flow of funds to the Houthis, who continue to conduct dangerous attacks on international shipping and risk further destabilizing the region,” Brian E. Nelson, under secretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a press release. 

“The United States, along with our allies and partners, will continue to target the key facilitation networks that enable the destabilizing activities of the Houthis and their backers in Iran.” 

The Treasury Department says Nabil Al-Hadha has facilitated the transfer of millions of dollars to Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis at the direction of Sa’id al-Jamal, who had previously been sanctioned for his affiliation with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF). 

IRAN-BACKED HOUTHIS ATTACK ANOTHER CONTAINER SHIP TRANSITING RED SEA

A large blue colored ship off having its freight offloaded

Giant gantry cranes and an off-loading freighter in the Haifa container port in Israel. (Planet One Images/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images / Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) said one of its container ships was attacked while transiting the Red Sea. 

SHIPPING GIANT TO RESUME RED SEA VOYAGES WITH OPERATION PROSPERITY GUARDIAN IN PLACE

The Swiss-based company said its container ship MSC United VIII was attacked around 12:25 UTC while en route from King Abdullah Port, Saudi Arabia, to Karachi, Pakistan. 

Houthi militia claimed to have fired missiles at the vessel without saying it was struck.

the red sea

A map of the Red Sea (Google Maps / Google Maps)

Attacks on vessels traveling the Red Sea have skyrocketed following Israel’s offensive against Hamas in response to the militant group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel that left 1,200 dead and hundreds of others injured. 

Major shipping companies, including Denmark-based giant Maersk, have been avoiding the Red Sea and sending ships around Africa and the Cape of Good Hope, adding costs and delays. 

Tanker Traffic Drops Sharply Through Crucial Red Sea Strait

An MSC Mediterranean Shipping Co. SA container ship sails southbound through the Great Bitter Lake in Ismailia, Egypt, Dec. 21, 2023.  (Stringer/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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“The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behavior,” the U.S. Department of Treasury said in its release. “The Houthis’ continued attacks against international shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden have sharply curtailed the free flow of commerce through the region and represent a clear violation of international law.”

Fox Business’ Bradford Betz, Greg Wehner and Reuters contributed to this report. 

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