The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the United Kingdom have imposed sanctions on four leading members of Ansarallah, also known as the Houthis, in response to their attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, including taking civilian crews hostage.
The sanctioned individuals are known to have supported the attacks that threaten international trade routes and global security.
Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson, said the attacks on commercial vessels and their civilian crews disrupt international supply chains and undermine global security, stability, and prosperity. “Today’s joint action with the United Kingdom demonstrates our collective action to leverage all authorities to stop these attacks,” said Nelson.
The latest sanctions follow earlier sanctions issued by OFAC in the past month targeting the Iranian-linked financial network that helps to fund the Houthi attacks.
The Houthi forces have also already been designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) by the U.S. Department of State, effective from February 16, 2024. The OFAC sanctions announced today are a precursor to this designation, serving to further promote accountability for the group’s recent terrorist attacks.
The four individuals facing sanctions are Mohamed Al-Atifi, the de facto Houthi Minister of Defense; Muhammad Fadl Abd al-Nabi, the alleged Commander of the Houthis’ maritime forces; Muhammad Ali al-Qadiri, the so-called Houthi Coastal Defense Forces Chief and Director of the Houthi Naval College; and Muhammad Ahmad al-Talibi, who is referred to as the Director of Procurement for the Houthi forces.
These individuals have been implicated in the series of attacks on merchant vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since October, including the hijacking of the merchant vessel Galaxy Leader in November. They have also reportedly made public threats to continue such attacks and disrupt international maritime traffic.
According to Pentagon officials, Houthi attacks have led to more than 14 shipping companies ceasing operations in the Red Sea. Since mid-November, the Iran-backed group has launched nearly three dozen attacks on commercial vessels using a a variety of weapons including anti-ship ballistic missiles, land-attack cruise missiles, uncrewed surface vessels and unmanned surface vehicles.
The sanctions block all property and interests of the designated persons within the United States or under the control of U.S. persons. Furthermore, non-U.S. financial institutions and other entities that engage in certain transactions or activities with the sanctioned individuals may be subject to sanctions or enforcement actions.
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