2,000 guns on fishing boat: Australia navy’s find was heading to Somalia

March 8, 2016 | By Garrett Montgomery More

About 2,000 guns seized on a fishing boat by Australia might have been from an Iranian militant group. American and Australian officials said they discovered over 2,000 weapons including 100 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and mortar tubes that were hidden under nets on a fishing boat heading for Somalia.

2,000 guns on fishing boat Australia

About 2,000 guns were found on a fishing boat, according to the Australia Navy and American officials. On Monday, Australia announced that a team on board of the iconic HMAS Darwin (FFG 04), an Adelaide-class guided missile frigate of the Royal Australian Navy, seized a small fishing boat approximately 330km off the coast of Oman that was traveling to Somalia.

The weapons were discovered aboard the boat on February 27, but the find was only revealed on Monday by Australia’s Vice Admiral David Johnston. The tiny vessel contained more than 2,000 pieces of weaponry including 1,989 AK-47 assault rifles and 100 rocket-propelled grenades.

The stateless (the boat did not have an identification flag) ship was also transporting 49 PKM general purpose machine guns, 39 PKM spare barrels, and 20 60mm mortar tubes. Mr. Johnston is also the Chief of Joint Operations for the multi-nation patrol operation called Combined Maritime Forces, established in 2002, which routinely patrols about four million square kilometers of international waters lying between the Middle East and the Eastern Africa region. Johnston said:

“Darwin’s successful boarding and subsequent seizure of the weapons concealed under fishing nets highlights the need to remain vigilant in the region. Australia worked as part of the multinational Combined Maritime Forces to discover and seize these illegal weapons.”

In another statement issued by the sailors from Australia’s HMAS Darwin, it was revealed that the boat’s crew was composed of 18 men, who tried to hide the weapons under nets. The 18 people of various nationalities were interviewed and were allowed to depart after the weapons were seized. What’s the reason for the prompt release?

The task force does not have the authority to detain traffickers in international waters. In an interview with CNN, Lt. Ian McConnaughey with the U.S. Navy revealed that the crew confessed that the weapons were sent from Iran and were likely intended for Houthi rebels in Yemen.

UN sanctions authorize the interception of weapons heading for Somalia where the jihadist terrorist group Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, which has links to Al-Qaeda, has between 7,000 to 9,000 militants active.

The more than 2,000 guns seized on the tiny fishing boat by the Australian Navy will be transferred to U.S. custody for further analysis and disposal, according to McConnaughey.

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