Iran seized ‘1,000s of valuable docs’ from detained US sailors, Revolutionary Guard general claims

A riverine patrol boat from Costal Riverine Squadron 2 escorts the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) while in the Arabia Gulf in this November 15, 2014 handout photo, provided by the U.S. Navy, January 12, 2016. © Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class LaTunya Howard / U.S. Navy
Iran has managed to seize “thousands” of valuable US military documents when its navy intercepted and detained a group of US sailors in an embarrassing trespassing incident in January, the Revolutionary Guard commander said.

The humiliating January 12 incident took place when Iranian navy intercepted two American ships off Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf. The US vessels, that according to the Pentagon were on their way from Kuwait to the US naval base in Bahrain, experienced mechanical problems and drifted into Iranian waters where the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) detained everyone onboard.

Footage of nine men and one woman in Iranian custody made world headlines, forcing US Secretary of State John Kerry to use his diplomatic channels to secure the release of US servicemen just hours later. The incident, however, increased the confrontation level between the two navies in the region.

On Sunday, adding fuel to the fire, Commander of the IRGC, Second Naval Zone General Ali Razmjou told reporters that “thousands” of valuable documents were seized from the US sailors at the time of their brief detention.

“We seized thousands of pages of valuable intelligence from the US marines during their detention,” said General Razmjou in the Bushehr province on Sunday, FARS reports

The General did not disclose the type of information or content of the intercepted files, but Razmjou’s claim seems to support the US Navy report in June that found that some US seamen captured by the Iranians might have shared sensitive information with their captors that included information on the capabilities of their vessels.

“It is clear that some, if not all, crew members provided at least some information to interrogators beyond name, rank, service number and date of birth,” the report said. 

While interactions between Iranian and US ships are common, American officials have raised growing alarm recently about the risk of an escalation at sea between the two states. Yet at the same time, Washington keeps on provoking the Islamic Republic by flying or sailing in close proximity to Iran’s borders.

While Tehran maintains that the US and its allies violate the country’s sovereignty, US continues to insist that Iran is harassing its warships in the region. According to reports, there have been more than 30 close encounters with Iranian vessels by American ships so far this year.

Last Wednesday, Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy General Alireza Tangsiri said that Iran’s navy intercepted and detained a number of ships over the past year.

“The IRGC Navy has detained American and British trespassers twice and the Canadians and Australians once in the Persian Gulf,” Tangsiri told reporters.

In relevant remarks made by Tangsiri in July, the general said that US warships and their allies have been warned to stay out Iran’s territorial waters.

“We have a strong presence in the quintuple regions of the South and our independent bases in the Sea of Oman, in such a way that foreign vessels never dare to approach regions 12 miles away from our territorial waters and if they do, they will be treated like what we did to the Americans (on January 12),” Tangsiri said in July.