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The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been covertly converting commercial ships into launch platforms for missiles, drones, and commando raids, Israel disclosed on May 22. Displaying pictures of six such “floating terror bases,” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told the Herzliya Conference that their aim was to spread Iran’s ability to inflict clandestine maritime mayhem beyond the Gulf, where it has been behind several attacks on Israeli-linked ships since 2021.

“It is working to expand its activity to the Indian Ocean, too, and later to the Red Sea and to the Mediterranean Sea as well,” said Gallant, a retired Israeli navy admiral. Five of the six ships he showed were named in the slide: Shahid Siyavashi, Shahid Rudaki, Makran, Shahid Bagheri, and Shahid Mahadavi. The latter has already carried out long-range sailing, the slide said. One of the repurposed ships was recently spotted sailing toward the Gulf of Aden, Gallant said without elaborating.

Expert Analysis

“The release of this intelligence is well-timed, given Saudi Arabia’s warming of ties with Iran and the readmission of Tehran’s Syrian vassal, Bashar al-Assad, to the Arab League. Gulf Arab states should be in no doubt as to the continued threat posed by Iran at sea. And Egypt should not be allowed to turn a blind eye to the passage of Iran’s Trojan Horse ships through the Suez Canal.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“It’s no surprise that Tehran is looking to extend the range of various unmanned aerial threat systems so that its rockets, drones, and missiles can be launched from containers or vessels at sea and away from Iranian territory. This helps feed the fiction that Iran intends to keep its 2,000-kilometer range cap on ballistic missiles while increasing the severity of the threat and aiding in deniability.” — Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD Senior Fellow

Iran Seizes Second Tanker Within Week,” FDD Flash Brief

U.S. Sends Submarine to Middle East to Counter Iranian Threats to Maritime Trade,” FDD Flash Brief

To Stop Iran’s Proxy Terrorists, Stop Iran,” by Bradley Bowman, Joe Truzman, and Ryan Brobst

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