U.S. Conducted Cyberattack Against Iranian Military Ship, Official Says

The United States recently carried out a cyberattack against an Iranian military vessel that the Pentagon says was gathering intelligence on merchant ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and relaying that information to Houthi fighters, a U.S. military official said on Thursday.

The cyberattack happened as part of the Biden administration’s retaliation on Feb. 2 to a drone attack last month by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq that killed three American soldiers at a remote outpost in Jordan and injured dozens of others, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss operational matters.

U.S. analysts had suspected for weeks that the ship, the MV Behshad, was operating near the African port of Djibouti, which lies across a strait from Yemen, to spy on nearby ships and pass that information to Iran-backed Houthi rebels. The Houthis, who control northern Yemen, have been firing missiles and drones at vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Iranian officials have denied the allegations. The Houthis have said that their attacks are in solidarity with Palestinians under Israeli attack in Gaza.

The cyberattack was intended to disrupt the Iranian ship’s ability to share that information with the Houthis, according to the U.S. military, who did not elaborate on the clandestine mission.

Sabrina Singh, a Pentagon spokeswoman, declined on Thursday to comment on the matter.

The New York Times previously reported that the United States had conducted a cyberattack against Iranian targets as part of the response to avenge the deaths of the three soldiers in Jordan. That response also included retaliatory strikes against Iranian forces and the militias they support in seven sites in Syria and Iraq. NBC News first reported new details about the cyberattack on Thursday.