This morning, Saudi-owned TV news network Al-Arabiya reported that Iran had seized a US cargo ship traveling through the Strait of Hormuz and detained 34 Americans found onboard. Said the report, “Iran has fired at a US cargo ship and has directed it to Bandar Abbas port on the southern coast of Iran… Up to 34 American sailors are believed to be onboard the ship.”

However, the report was immediately contradicted by US officials at the Pentagon. According to Reuters, a Pentagon spokesperson said that the ship in question, the MV Maersk Tigris, bore a flag representing the Republic of the Marshall Islands and that no US citizens were onboard the vessel. Iranian officials have yet to comment on the incident. Politico pointed out the fact that the Marshall Islands vessel is being monitored by US maritime patrol aircraft and that US officials have dispatched the destroyer USS Farragut to the nearest possible location to the incident. A Pentagon official told The Boston Herald that the US has “certain obligations” to protect ships from the Marshall Islands, but that it is not yet known how those obligations might relate to this still-developing story.

A 2003 BBC profile on Al-Arabiya noted that, “Al-Arabiya was launched… with an investment of $300m by the Saudi-controlled pan-Arab satellite TV pioneer MBC, Lebanon’s Hariri Group, and other investors from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Gulf states. It was set up as an all-news channel to compete directly with Qatar-based al-Jazeera TV.”

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been tempestuous lately, as Sunni superpower Saudi Arabia and Shia-majority Iran have been locking horns in what has been referred to as a proxy war in neighboring Yemen, with Saudi Arabia intervening directly and Iran allegedly funding a local uprising of Houthi rebels.

Though Saudi Arabia is a US ally, former US Senator Bob Graham (R-FL) and current US Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) recently told‘s Joshua Cook in two different exclusive interviews that there are 28 classified pages from the 9/11 report that contain evidence potentially implicating a US ally, implied to be Saudi Arabia, in funding the 9/11 attacks. Saudi Arabia recently denied allegations that it participated in funding the 9/11 attacks in response to a recently-filed lawsuit by 9/11 victims’ families.

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