US sanctions a network running illicit cargo trade with Iran-backed Houthis

The U.S. Department of State hit a network of individuals, companies, and vessels with sanctions on Monday for facilitating the illicit sale of commodities that support Iran-backed Houthis.

The sanctions target shipping companies, financial facilitators, vessel captains and owners, and a firm involved in forging shipping documents, according to a statement from the department.

It also identified two vessels as blocked property.

The statement singled out Said al-Jamal, a Houthi financial facilitator, who it accused of using a vast network to hide the origin of cargo, forge shipping documents, and service sanctioned vessels.

The Houthis control the most populous parts of Yemen and have attacked merchant ships since November in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. The militants have sunk one ship, seized a different vessel and killed three crew members in a yet another attack.

Their campaign has disrupted global shipping by forcing vessels to avoid the nearby Suez Canal and reroute trade around Africa. The action also has stoked fears that the Israel-Hamas war could spread and destabilise the wider Middle East.

The United States and Britain have carried out strikes against Houthi targets in response to the attacks.

CENTCOM on Sunday said its forces also destroyed an uncrewed aerial system over the Gulf of Aden as well as two land attack cruise missiles and one missile launcher in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.