Home Argentina community Iranian aboard jet stranded in Argentina is captain of Al-Quds Force, Paraguay says

Iranian aboard jet stranded in Argentina is captain of Al-Quds Force, Paraguay says

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One of the men aboard a plane grounded near Buenos Aires is a member of Iran’s Quds Force, the Paraguayan intelligence chief said on Friday, despite claims by Argentina that no evidence links the case with the elite branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Intelligence chief Esteban Aquino told AFP that Captain Gholamreza Ghasemi not only shared the name of a member of the Force – an expeditionary arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards which carries out kidnappings and assassinations in outside of Iran – but it’s actually the same man.

Argentine Security Minister Anibal Fernandez responded on Friday that while the Paraguayan official “has the right to say whatever he wants…I’m not going to talk about conjecture.”

“We follow due process. And according to official documentation, there is no specific relationship with terrorist organizations, according to all databases,” Fernandez told AM750 radio.

The Boeing 747 cargo plane, believed to be carrying auto parts loaded in Mexico, has been held at an Argentinian airport since Wednesday last week, its 14 Venezuelan and five Iranian crew members barred from leaving the country pending investigations.

Argentinian authorities have seized the passports of crew members of the plane, which is operated by Venezuelan state-owned Emtrasur, a subsidiary of Conviasa, which is subject to US sanctions.

A Venezuelan-owned Boeing 747 taxis down the runway after landing at Ambrosio Taravella Airport in Cordoba, Argentina, Monday, June 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Sebastian Borsero)

Iran said the plane was sold by Iranian Mahan Air to a Venezuelan company last year. Mahan Air is accused by the United States of links with the Revolutionary Guards.

On Monday, Argentinian officials raised suspicions of a link between the theft and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and their elite Al-Quds force.

Law enforcement officers searched the hotel where the crew members were staying on Tuesday under the orders of Federal Judge Federico Villena, who is investigating the crew. Argentinian authorities say they found no irregularities in the crew.

On Wednesday, Israel’s Channel 13 said in an unsourced report that the detained Iranians were planning to carry out attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets in Argentina and had traveled to the South American nation to scout for targets. The report says they were members of the Quds Force.

Iran has vowed to avenge the killing of an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officer last month, accusing Israel of responsibility for the assassination.

In recent days, Jerusalem has called on citizens to leave Turkey immediately, saying it has heard intelligence indicating Iranian attempts to attack and abduct Israeli tourists there.

In this September 22, 2014 file photo, members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards march during an annual military parade at the Ayatollah Khomeini mausoleum outside Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

The Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires said Thursday it was “concerned” about the Latin American activities of two Iranian airlines and welcomed Argentina’s grounding of the plane.

“The State of Israel is particularly concerned about the activities of Iranian airlines Mahan Air and Qeshm Fars Air in Latin America,” the embassy said in a statement.

He added that the companies were “engaged in arms trafficking and the transfer of people and equipment operating for the Quds Force, under United States sanctions for their involvement in terrorist activities”.

The statement from the Israeli Embassy expressed “recognition of the rapid, efficient and firm action of the Argentine security forces who identified in real time the potential threat” posed by the plane.

The top US diplomat in Argentina also commented on the case.

“We follow with great interest the judicial and police investigations into the crew and the plane and thank the investigative efforts of the Argentine authorities to clarify the situation,” said US Ambassador Marc Stanley in a statement shared with the media. local.

Police officers at the Plaza Central Hotel during a raid, where the crew of a Venezuelan-owned Boeing 747 is staying, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, June 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)

Widening the international reverberations in the case, Venezuela harshly criticized Uruguay on Thursday evening for not allowing the plane to land in Montevideo to refuel.

Uruguayan Interior Minister Luis Alberto Heber said the country had responded to a “formal warning from the Paraguayan intelligence services”.

The plane’s crew sought to fly to Montevideo on June 8 but had to return to Buenos Aires after Uruguayan authorities refused entry into its airspace, according to a report from Argentina’s transport ministry. It was then that the plane was immobilized by the Argentine authorities.

Uruguay’s “regrettable action” could have “caused tragedy, human lives and damage to both nations,” Venezuela said in a statement, adding that it “demands an explanation of this terrible event from the part of the Uruguayan government”.

Interpol has issued arrest warrants for former Iranian leaders suspected of involvement in the suicide bombing of the main Jewish community office building in Buenos Aires in 1994, which killed 85 people and injured others. hundreds.

In this July 18, 1994 file photo, firefighters and rescue workers search through the rubble of the community center of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association, after a car bomb shook the building in downtown Buenos Aires, in Argentina. (AP Photo/Alejandro Pagni, File)

Two years earlier, a bomb attack on the Israeli embassy in Argentina left 29 dead and 200 injured.

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