[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 19 December, 2003, 17:58 GMT
US 'seizes al-Qaeda drugs ship'
A boat containing drugs possibly linked to al-Qaeda has been seized in the Gulf, the US military says.

US Central Command reports that the wooden dhow was intercepted near the Strait of Hormuz by the destroyer USS Decatur.

Twelve people on board were detained after it was found to be carrying almost two tons of hashish valued at up to $10m, a Centcom statement said.

There were "clear ties" between the shipment and al-Qaeda, it added.

BBC Pentagon correspondent Nick Childs says the finding is potentially significant - the clear implication is that this was a smuggling operation designed to help finance the al-Qaeda network.

The US military says that smuggling routes in this region are known to be used by al-Qaeda.

'No documentation'

The destroyer was conducting "expanded maritime interception operations" when the 40-foot dhow was intercepted on Monday about 1100 local time (0700GMT).

This is a vital part of winning the global war on terror
US Navy Rear Admiral Jim Stavridis
A team from the warship is said to have boarded the vessel and discovered 54 70-pound (31.8 kg) bags of hashish.

The boarding team also discovered that the vessel did not have proper documentation either of its nationality or cargo, Centcom said.

Of the 12 people detained, four are believed to have links to al-Qaeda.

US officials said the fate of the vessel and its crew would be decided after further investigation by legal authorities.

"This capture is indicative of the need for continuing maritime patrol of the Gulf in order to stop the movement of terrorists, drugs and weapons," Rear Admiral Jim Stavridis of the US Navy said.

"This is a vital part of winning the global war on terror."

The BBC's Nick Childs
"The US military said a search discovered two tons of narcotics"

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific