Iran drone video of American carrier appears ‘years old’: US Navy

The video did not specify what vessels are on the footage. (AFP/File)
Updated 29 April 2019

Iran drone video of American carrier appears ‘years old’: US Navy

  • Iranian news agency did not reveal when was the video shot or the vessels that appeared on it
  • The drone report was released three weeks after US declared IRGC a terrorist organization

WASHINGTON: Footage of an American aircraft carrier in the Gulf which Iran claimed it shot with a drone in the Gulf appears to be “several years old,” the US Navy has said.
The video was shot by a military drone, Iran’s Tasnim news agency claimed on Sunday in a report on its website, and published some of the imagery from the surveillance flight.
“The footage the Iranians recently released... appears to be several years old, and of the last deployment to the Arabian Gulf by the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69),” Lt. Chloe Morgan, US Naval Forces Central Command spokesperson, told AFP in an email.
The video, which could not be independently verified, showed a light blue drone of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards taking off from a desert base near the sea, followed by imagery purportedly from its cameras of an escort ship and then an aircraft carrier with planes parked on the deck.
Tasnim did not identify the vessels or say when the drone footage was shot, but in the video, the number “69” is seen clearly on the aircraft carrier.
The report comes during nearly three weeks after Washington formally declared the Guards a “foreign terrorist organization” and added it to a blacklist.
Iran retaliated swiftly by branding US troops “terrorists.”
The Guards are an ideological military force, operating in parallel to Iran’s regular army.
Its naval arm is tasked with Gulf security, including the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a global shipping route routinely crossed by US forces.

Revealed: How Iran smuggles weapons to the Houthis

Updated 8 min 35 sec ago

Revealed: How Iran smuggles weapons to the Houthis

  • Captured gang tells of route to Yemen through base in Somalia

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: A captured gang of arms smugglers has revealed how Iran supplies weapons to Houthi militias in Yemen through a base in Somalia.

The Houthis exploit poverty in Yemen to recruit fishermen as weapons smugglers, and send fighters to Iran for military training under cover of “humanitarian” flights from Yemen to Oman, the gang said.

The four smugglers have been interrogated since May, when they were arrested with a cache of weapons in Bab Al-Mandab, the strategic strait joining the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.

In video footage broadcast on Yemeni TV, gang leader Alwan Fotaini, a fisherman from Hodeidah, admits he was recruited by the Houthis in 2015. His recruiter, a smuggler called Ahmed Halas, told him he and other fishermen would be based in the Somali coastal city of Berbera, from where they would transport weapons and fuel to the Houthis. 

In late 2015, Fotaini traveled to Sanaa and met a Houthi smuggler called Ibrahim Hassam Halwan, known as Abu Khalel, who would be his contact in Iran. 

This is a complex network that requires constant monitoring, hence the focus on maritime security.

Dr. Theodore Karasik, Security analyst

Pretending to be relatives of wounded fighters, Fotaini, Abu Khalel, and another smuggler called Najeeb Suleiman boarded a humanitarian flight to Oman, and then flew to Iran. They were taken to the port city of Bandar Abbas, where they received training on using GPS, camouflage, steering vessels and maintaining engines.

“We stayed in Bandar Abbas for a month as they were preparing an arms shipment that we would be transporting to Yemen,” Fotaini said.

On Fotaini’s first smuggling mission, his job was to act as a decoy for another boat carrying Iranian weapons to the Houthis. “The plan was for us to call the other boat to change course if anyone intercepted our boat,” he said.

He was then sent to Mahra in Yemen to await new arms shipments. The Houthis sent him data for a location at sea, where he and other smugglers met Abu Khalel with a boat laden with weapons from Iran, which were delivered to the Houthis.

Security analyst Dr. Theodore Karasik said long-standing trade ties between Yemen and Somalia made arms smuggling difficult to stop. “This is a complex network that requires constant monitoring, hence the focus on maritime security,” Karasik, a senior adviser to Gulf State Analytics in Washington, DC, told Arab News.

“The smuggling routes are along traditional lines of communication that intermix with other maritime commerce. The temptation to look the other way is sometimes strong, so sharp attention is required to break these chains.”