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Friday May 24, 2024

Family of Pakistani COO on Israel-linked ship seized by Iran seeks help

The members of the family said they were shocked after learning that Iran has seized the ship

By Murtaza Ali Shah
April 15, 2024
This image grab taken from a video shows an IRGC helicopter hovering over a container ship named MSC Aries. — Geo News Live/File
This image grab taken from a video shows an IRGC helicopter hovering over a container ship named MSC Aries. — Geo News Live/File

LONDON: The Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Israel-linked container ship seized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is a Pakistani national whose family has asked the government of Pakistan for help.

Family sources told Geo and The News that there are two Pakistanis who were on the ship seized by the Iranian armed forces; one of them is Muhammad Adnan Aziz, the COO of the Portugal-flagged MSC Aries. His family lives in Karachi and Azad Kashmir and some of his relatives live in London who shared their worries with this correspondent.

They confirmed that Muhammad Adnan Aziz, along with another Pakistani, stand kidnapped at this point. “This morning, we approached the Foreign Office seeking help for the safe return of Muhammad Adnan Aziz as soon as possible. The FO has assured us of all help. We understand that the matter has been taken up with the Iranian authorities already.”

The members of the family said they were shocked after learning that Iran has seized the ship near the Strait of Hormuz amid rising tensions across the region after a deadly Israeli attack on Iran’s consulate in Syria. They clarified that Muhammad Adnan Aziz had nothing to do with the ownership of the ship or the regional issues. “He was just doing his job as a professional and was seized. We want his release and return,” shared the members of the family.

The ship was commandeered by the IRGC, the elite force that lost seven members, including two generals, in the Syria strike. “The ship has now been guided towards the territorial waters of our country,” state-run IRNA reported.

The vessel -- identified as the Portugal-flagged MSC Aries -- had departed from a port in the United Arab Emirates en route to India. It is associated with the London-based Zodiac Maritime, a part of the Zodiac Group run by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer and his family.

White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the ship’s crew comprised Indian, Filipino, Pakistani, Russian and Estonian nationals and pushed back against the vessel’s seizure.

Zodiac Maritime said in a statement that MSC, an Italian-Swiss shipping group, was responsible for all vessel activities. MSC confirmed there were 25 crew members on board the ship, adding in a statement that it is “working closely with the relevant authorities to ensure their wellbeing, and safe return of the vessel”. The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) had said a vessel was seized by “regional authorities” 50 nautical miles (92 kms) northeast of the UAE’s Fujairah in a waterway vital to world trade.