US anti-piracy task force to intercept Iran’s Hamas arms ship

The USS San Antonio amphibian warship, heading the Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 patrolling the Gulf of Aden for pirates, has been assigned with hunting down the Iranian cargo vessel carrying 60 tons of rockets and other arms for smuggling into Gaza.
This is revealed by debkafile‘s exclusive military sources. CTF 151 is a new American force, announced in Washington Saturday Jan. 17, for fighting the Somali pirates plaguing the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Red Sea, under the command of Rear Adm. Terry McKnight. These are the very waterways plied by Iranian arms smugglers for Hamas, often in conjunction with Somali pirates and Sinai Bedouin militias.
Massed on the San Antonio‘s decks now cruising in the Gulf of Aden is a helicopter detachment, a “surgical team” for dealing with small speedboats trying to hem the ship in and boarding teams with their own small boats and helicopters. US marine and coast guard units make up the interception force.
Israel’s foreign minister Tzipi Livni flew to Brussels Wednesday, Jan. 21, to discuss adding the European Union to the understanding she signed with the US last Friday for ending the flow of smuggled Iranian weapons to Gaza. Washington and Jerusalem hope to bring European governments aboard this understanding, capitalizing on the momentum generated by Israel’s unilateral ceasefire and the support shown by six European leaders when they visited Egypt’s Sharm el Sheik and Jerusalem Sunday Jan. 18.
Egypt and Israel are negotiating Cairo’s end of the operation for stifling the influx of smuggled arms to Gaza. Livni is after undertakings by as many European governments as possible to allow their anti-piracy patrols with the CTF 151 to double for missions to intercept Iranian arms smuggling vessels. Our sources in Brussels report that she cannot count on getting all them all to join because some EU members willing to combat piracy may hold back from attack Iranian shipping.

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