Snitches get riches.
The Navy’s 5th Fleet, based in the Middle East, is launching a program to offer rewards of up to $100,000 or the equivalent in vehicles, boats or food to people who rat out plans to attack Americans or smuggle drugs and weapons, the Associated Press reported Monday.
The offer of lucrative payouts for intelligence in the Persian Gulf and other strategic waterways could ramp up the pressure on the delivery of weapons to Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in war-torn Yemen.
The 5th Fleet announcement never directly mentioned Iran, but the Houthis have threatened an allied task force organized in the Red Sea, although there have been no attacks carried out by the Iranian-supported militias on the Navy since then, the report said.
“Any destabilizing activity has our attention,” Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins, a 5th Fleet spokesman, told The Associated Press. “Definitely we have seen in the last year skyrocketing success in seizing both illegal narcotics and illicit weapons. This represents another step in our effort to enhance regional maritime security.”
The 5th Fleet said it and its partners have seized $500 million in drugs in 2021 — more than in the previous four years combined. It has also intercepted 9,000 weapons in the same period.
The incentives for squealing, which will take effect Tuesday through the Department of Defense Rewards Program, grew out of similar operations begun on the battlefields in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks by Al Qaeda terrorists.
Now that ground fighting has mostly come to a halt in the region, the 5th Fleet decided to retool the program for use in Middle East waterways.
Hawkins said a hotline would be manned by speakers fluent in Arabic, Farsi and English, while the Navy would take tips online in Dari and Pashto.
One of the main destinations for weapons smuggling is Yemen, where the government was forced to flee in 2014 after Houthis seized the capital Sana’a.
Beginning in March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition armed with US weapons and intelligence have fought on the side of Yemen’s exiled government, but the constant warfare has created a humanitarian crisis in the Arab nation and lead to widespread famine.
Iran has been sending rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, missiles and other arms to the Houthis, although the country denies any involvement.
Hawkins said the Navy hopes to disrupt those shipments via the tipline
“That’s what we’re after,” he said. “That’s not in the interest of regional stability and security.”
With Post wires