U.S. & Britain Sanction Iranian & Houthi Leaders

On Feb. 27, 2024, the United States and Britain sanctioned the deputy commander of the Qods Force, the external operations branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and a member of the Houthi rebel group in Yemen. The U.S. Treasury also designated the owner and operator of a ship that transported goods sold to support the Houthis and the Qods Force. Additionally, the British Foreign Office sanctioned three Qods Force units, an Iran-based financier, and the Houthi undersecretary of the interior and commander of security forces.  

For years, Iran has armed, funded and trained the Houthis, a Zaydi Shiite movement that has been fighting Yemen’s Sunni majority government since 2004. Tehran has also provided intelligence that has enabled the group to target dozens of commercial ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November 2023. 

“As the Houthis persistently threaten the security of peaceful international commerce, the United States and the United Kingdom will continue to disrupt the funding streams that enable these destabilizing activities,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson. British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said that Houthi attacks were “unacceptable, illegal and a threat to innocent lives and freedom of navigation.” The following are statements from the U.S. Treasury and the British Foreign Office.


Treasury Department

 Today, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), in coordination with the United Kingdom, is taking action against the Deputy Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), Mohammad Reza Falahzadeh, as well as a Houthi group member. OFAC is also designating the owner and operator of a vessel used to ship Iranian commodities that were sold to support both the Houthis and the IRGC-QF. The revenue generated through these illicit networks enables the Houthis’ militant efforts, including numerous terrorist attacks in the region using advanced unmanned aerial vehicles and missiles. Today’s action follows the recent U.S. Department of State designation of Ansarallah (commonly known as the Houthis) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist as a result of their ongoing and unprecedented attacks on international maritime commerce in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

“Today’s action underscores our resolve to target efforts by the IRGC-QF and the Houthis to evade U.S. sanctions and fund further attacks in the region,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “As the Houthis persistently threaten the security of peaceful international commerce, the United States and the United Kingdom will continue to disrupt the funding streams that enable these destabilizing activities.”

Today’s action is being taken pursuant to the counterterrorism authority Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended, which targets terrorist groups, their supporters, and those who aid acts of terrorism.  The IRGC-QF was designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 on October 25, 2007, for providing support to multiple terrorist groups.


The IRGC-QF has provided the Houthis with an increasingly sophisticated arsenal of weapons and the training to deploy these weapons against commercial shipping and civilian infrastructure in the region. Iranian military officials have also provided intelligence support to target vessels transiting the region, providing key support to enable the Houthis’ maritime attacks against international shipping. Since mid-November 2023, the Houthis have attempted dozens of strikes targeting vessels in the region.

Mohammad Reza Falahzadeh serves as the current IRGC-QF deputy commander, having replaced U.S.-designated IRGC-QF official Mohammad Hejazi following Hejazi’s death in April 2021. Falahzadeh served as an IRGC-QF officer in Syria during the Syrian Civil War, during which he participated in the Battle of Aleppo, which caused immense destruction and civilian casualties. Falahzadeh also previously served as chief of Karbala Roads and Urban Development, a subsidiary of U.S.-designated Khatam al-Anbia Construction Headquarters, the construction conglomerate of the IRGC, which manages projects worth tens of billions of dollars.

Mohammad Reza Falahzadeh is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having acted for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the IRGC-QF.

The IRGC-QF and the Houthis engage in the sale of Iranian commodities to foreign buyers to generate revenue to fund Houthi operations. Much of this activity is directed through the network of Iran-based, IRGC-QF-backed Houthi financial facilitator Sa’id al-Jamal, whom OFAC designated on June 10, 2021 for his support to the IRGC-QF.

The ARTURA (IMO: 9150365), which is owned and operated by Hong Kong-based Cap Tees Shipping Co., Limited, has transported Iranian commodities for the network of Sa’id al-Jamal. The ARTURA conducted ship-to-ship transfers to receive Iranian commodities before transferring the commodities to the MEHLE, a tanker sanctioned on January 12, 2024 for its role selling Iranian commodities for Sa’id al-Jamal. The ARTURA has obfuscated its identity by using the name of a different vessel, SANAN II, to complete some of its shipments.

Cap Tees Shipping Co., Limited is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, Sa’id al-Jamal. The ARTURA is being identified as property in which Cap Tees Shipping Co., Limited. has an interest.

Today, OFAC is also designating Ibrahim al-Nashiri, a Houthi group member who has supported the Houthis’ militant efforts.   

Ibrahim al-Nashiri is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having acted for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Ansarallah. 


As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the designated persons described above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, individually or in the aggregate, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. 

In addition, financial institutions and other persons that engage in certain transactions or activities with the sanctioned entities and individuals may expose themselves to sanctions or be subject to an enforcement action. The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any designated person, or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person. 

The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from OFAC’s ability to designate and add persons to the SDN List, but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behavior. For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897 here. For detailed information on the process to submit a request for removal from an OFAC sanctions list, please click here.



British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Today the UK and US have announced a number of sanctions against those that support, enable or deliver work of the Houthis, the Iran-backed proxy group in Yemen responsible for widespread attacks against commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

The UK will today sanction 2 individuals and 3 organisations for their role in providing financial or military support to the Houthis, in order to expose and disrupt their efforts to undermine regional stability across the Middle East. The UK will also sanction a Houthi security minister for threatening the peace, security and stability of Yemen by supporting attacks against shipping in the Red Sea.

Today’s announcement follows the commitment laid out by the Prime Minister on the 23 January to cut off the Houthis financial resources. It is the second tranche of recent sanctions targeted at the Houthis or those that enable their activity and follows additional pre-existing sanctions against 11 Houthi individuals and 2 entities.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron said:

The attacks by the Iran-backed Houthis are unacceptable, illegal and a threat to innocent lives and freedom of navigation.

As I have made clear to the Iranian Foreign Minister, the regime bears responsibility for these attacks due to the extensive military support it has provided to the Houthis.

All those who seek to undermine regional stability should know that the UK, alongside our allies, will not hesitate to act.

Over recent weeks, the Houthis have continued to carry out a number of dangerous attacks against commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

Iran has supported the Houthis to carry out these attacks, by providing intelligence, missiles and drones.

The individuals and entities that are subject to UK travel bans and/or asset freezes today including:

  • Mohammad Reza Fallahzadeh: Deputy Commander of the IRGC Quds Force, also designated by the US today
  • Sa’id al-Jamal: Iran-based financier who heads a network of front companies and vessels that generate revenue for the Houthis. Previously designated by the US
  • IRGC Quds Force Unit 190: in charge of transferring and smuggling weapons to organisations, groups and states that are allied with Iran
  • IRGC Quds Force Unit 6000: in charge of operations on the Arabian Peninsula and has personnel on the ground in Yemen supporting Houthi military activity
  • IRGC Quds Force Unit 340: in charge of research and development and providing training and technical support to groups backed by Iran
  • Ali Hussein Badr Al Din Al-Houthi: Undersecretary of the Interior and Commander of the security / police forces

The IRGC Quds Force is the branch of the IRGC responsible for foreign operations and has provided extensive support to the Houthis, Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran aligned militia groups based in Iraq, in recent years.

To date, the UK has more than 400 sanctions designations in place on Iranian individuals and entities, including those that seek to use malign influence regionally and internationally.

A majority of today’s designations sit under the UK’s new Iran sanctions regime, which came into effect in December 2023 and provides new powers to hold Iran and those who undertake its hostile activity to account.

In addition to this, one designation also sits under the Yemen sanctions regime. Introduced as autonomous regulations in the UK in 2020, it enables the UK to hold individuals or entities to account where they threaten peace, security or stability in Yemen.

Last month, the UK and US sanctioned key Houthi figures to disrupt their ability to carry out attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea, acts which undermine the peace, stability and security of Yemen. This was the first set of UK sanctions against the Houthis since the attacks in the Red Sea began in November.