Amid tensions over Iran’s nuclear program and Tehran’s arming of Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the U.S. Navy announced on Tuesday that it will reward individuals for providing information that leads to the seizure of illicit cargos such as illegal weapons or narcotics in Middle Eastern waters for the first time.
The US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), headquartered in Bahrain and responsible for strategic waterways such as the Suez Canal and the Strait of Hormuz, stated that the rewards could be in cash or in the form of boats.
Here’s what the statement on its website said:
“NAVCENT could potentially reward a maximum $100,000 payout for information or non-lethal assistance that supports counterterrorism operations or leads US naval forces to successfully seize illicit cargo such as illegal weapons or narcotics.”
“Rewards can also be non-monetary and include items like boats, vehicles, food, or equipment,” it said.
U.S. Navy’s Mideast-based 5th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Timothy Hawkin told the Associated Press:
“Any destabilizing activity has our attention, Definitely we have seen in the last year skyrocketing success in seizing both illegal narcotics and illicit weapons. This represents another step in our effort to enhance regional maritime security.” Hawkin said.
The Associated Press reported that the 5th Fleet and allies confiscated 9,000 guns and $500 million worth of drugs last year, despite threatening 5th Fleet allies in the Red Sea, Houthi rebels have not yet launched an attack on the Navy.
The publication also added that naval forces are looking for information on “nefarious means of raising money to finance terrorism, including illegal smuggling of materials used to finance individuals or groups, unmanned aerial vehicles, recovered UAS devices or parts, weapon caches, explosives, or chemical weapons.”
Last week, Ali al-Qahom, a Houthi official, tweeted that the rebels are monitoring increased US activity in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, “Because of this, defense and confrontation options are open,” They and their diabolical projects have no place” in the region, he said.
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