Did the cash America sent to Iran pay for the missiles used to target a U.S. Navy ship this month?
That's the question Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., wants Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to answer.
Last week, the destroyer USS Mason was targeted by missiles at least twice while in international waters off the coast of Yemen. The attack came from a part of the country controlled by Houthi rebels, who are supported by Iran.
In response, the U.S. destroyed three coastal radar sites that could have been used to target the ships.
Ayotte, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is asking the intelligence community if it's possible that the $1.7 billion sent to Iran by the Obama administration this year could have funded those attacks.
"I am concerned that Iran may have provided the missiles that were fired at the USS Mason or that the $1.7 billion cash ransom payment this administration has provided to Iran is being used directly or indirectly to facilitate or fund attacks against U.S. Navy vessels," Ayotte wrote in the letter sent Friday.
Specifically, Ayotte is asking for information on what type of support Iran provides the Houthis, if any financial support was given since the $1.7 billion cash transfer, and if the flow of weapons from Iran to the Houthi rebels has increased.
She also asked if the attack was conducted with Chinese or Iranian-supplied missiles, if Iran and Hezbollah are providing training to the Houthis to conduct this type of attack at sea and how many Iranian personnel are on the ground in Yemen to advise and assist the Houthi rebels.
Gen. Joseph Votel, leader of U.S. Central Command, said this week that the technology used to target the ships is associated with Iran.
"I do think Iran is playing a role in this. They have a relationship with the Houthis," Votel said at a forum sponsored by the Center for American Progress. "I do suspect there is a role in that."