Four men were charged Thursday in federal court in relation to an incident that led to the death of two Navy SEALs in the Arabian Sea in January, according to the Department of Justice(DOJ).

Muhammad Pahlawan, Mohammad Mazhar, Ghufran Ullah and Izhar Muhammad were charged in federal court in connection with the Jan. 11 incident in which Navy Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Christopher J. Chambers and Navy Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nathan Gage Ingram were swept overboard while seizing Iranian-made weapons in the Arabian Sea, according to a DOJ release. Ingram and Chambers were declared dead by the United States Navy on Jan. 22.

 

Chambers and Gage were involved in a mission to seize components for ballistic missiles from a dhow, a cargo ship commonly used in the Middle East, that sailed from an Iranian port, according to court documents. The SEALs operated from USS Lewis B. Puller, an expeditionary support ship based in the region with the United States Coast Guard’s Maritime Safety and Security Team (MSST).

“During a search of the dhow, the Boarding Team ultimately located and seized what is believed to be Iranian-made advanced conventional weaponry,” FBI Special Agent Patrick Francisco said in a DOJ court filing. “Preliminary analysis of the advanced conventional weaponry indicates that it includes critical components for medium range ballistic missiles (‘MRBM’) and anti-ship cruise missiles (‘ASCM’), to include a warhead, and propulsion and guidance components.”

Francisco said that Pahlawan, Mazhar, Ullah and Muhammed all made false statements when questioned by the MSST. All four men were charged with making false statements to federal law enforcement agents, while Pahlawan, as captain of the dhow, also was charged with transporting explosives.

“Navy forces discovered this suspected Iranian advanced conventional weaponry packaged without markings, labels, or identification in compartments near the front of the dhow,” Francisco said in the filing.

“Much or all of the weaponry was concealed inside tubing or among buoys,” Francisco added.

Harold Hutchison on February 22, 2024

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