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US Issues Seventh Round of Sanctions Against Iran-Backed Houthis

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The US has issued the seventh round of sanctions aimed to strangle Iran’s Yemeni Houthi militia amidst its blockade of global trade in the Red Sea region.

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced on Monday that it is sanctioning a network under the control of Houthi financial facilitator Sa’id al-Jamal in a bid to strangle the terror group’s commercial power as it disrupts global shipping in the key trade route.

The latest round includes 10 individuals, entities, and vessels, including tanker captains, engaged in the illicit transport of oil and other commodities for Iran’s Houthi militia.

“The Houthis continue to leverage an expansive support network to facilitate their illicit activities, including hiding the origin of cargo, forging shipping documents, and providing services to sanctioned vessels,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson.

“As we demonstrated with our military strikes last week, the United States government is committed to disrupting and degrading the Houthis’ ability to engage in attacks against commercial shipping and naval vessels, as well as target those who seek to facilitate these activities.”

The OFAC designated Sa’id al-Jamal in 2021 for having supported the Houthis and its illegal trading network in order to fund Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force (IRGC-QF), which was designated by the US in 2007 for its support of terror groups.

The Houthis were re-designated by the US in January after three months of a blockade by the terror group saw US shipping targeted with a series of attacks. The blockade began in November after orders from Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, to blockade the trade route, targeting Israeli-linked ships in support of the Iran-backed Hamas war in Gaza.

In retaliation to the Houthi blockade, the US and UK have launched direct attacks on Houthi infrastructure in Yemen with the US leading a more than 20-nation coalition to battle Iran’s proxy armed with state-of-the-art missiles and drones. In February, the action led the Houthis to declare both the US and UK targets in its blockade which began against Israel.

The latest sanctions span multiple countries including India and China as the Houthis utilize a global network of money laundering operations which have also aided Iran’s largest proxy, Hezbollah, in Lebanon, in transporting sanctioned goods.

Among the companies sanctioned is Hong Kong-based Lainey Shipping Limited, for its role in carrying sanctioned cargo on behalf of Hezbollah-owned and OFAC-designated Concepto Screen SAL Off-Shore to Southeast Asia.

Among the individuals sanctioned is Ahmad al-Jamal who has managed millions of dollars worth of currency transfers to Yemen as part of massive money laundering operations for the Sa’id al-Jamal network.

In January, shortly after the US designated the Houthis a terror group, the UK and US issued joint sanctions against four senior Houthi officials following attacks on British and American merchant vessels and their civilian crews, among other rounds of sanctions since the blockade began. 

Dozens of civilian seamen have been taken hostage since the blockade began in November with little outcry from the international community and just two days ago, 11 UN workers were taken hostage in Yemen.