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U.S. links al Qaeda to Persian Gulf drug boat

From Barbara Starr and Paul Courson

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The Pentagon says a drug smuggling boat has terror ties. CNN's Barbara Starr reports.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Navy has intercepted a small vessel loaded with drugs in the Persian Gulf and seized 12 crew members, four of whom have "clear ties" to the al Qaeda terrorist group, Pentagon officials said Friday.

The boarding took place Monday just inside the Strait of Hormuz by a team from the USS Decatur, a guided missile destroyer on patrol in the Persian Gulf.

Found on board the 40-foot dhow, officials said, were 54 bags of hashish weighing 70 pounds each. The drugs would have a street value of between $8 million and $10 million, officials said.

No shots were fired during the boarding and seizure of the crew and the contraband, they said.

U.S. military officials would not describe the evidence leading them to conclude the links to al Qaeda. A written statement said only: "An initial investigation uncovered clear ties between the smuggling operation and al Qaeda."

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