As Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro visited Iran over the weekend, a Venezuelan-owned cargo plane was detained by Argentine authorities at Ezeiza Airport in Buenos Aires for alleged ties with Iran’s IRGC Quds Force, the London-based opposition website Iran International reported on Sunday morning.
“The government detained in Ezeiza [Airport in Buenos Aires] a Venezuelan plane sanctioned by the United States and withheld the passport of five Iranian crew members,” Aníbal Fernández, Argentina’s security minister, tweeted on Saturday. Fernández’s tweet followed a leak from a local news website about the incident.
The Emtrasur Cargo Boeing 747 was previously operated by Iran’s Mahan Airlines and has been sanctioned by the US since 2008 for its links to Iran’s Quds Force. Emtrasur Cargo Airline is a branch of Venezeula’s state carrier Conviasa.
According to the report, Argentine authorities received intelligence about the Venezuelan Boeing 747, which flew from Mexico to Argentina on June 6 carrying automotive parts. Although the shipment was genuine and there was no illegal cargo aboard the plane, authorities found five Iranians and at least a dozen Venezuelans on the flight, with the Iranians not appearing on the passenger list. The authorities seized the Iranians’ passports and all the plane’s passengers are now reportedly in a hotel until the investigation is complete.
The five Iranians are not on Interpol’s terror list but have been linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
B’Chadrei Chareidim reported that the Jewish kehilla in Argentina is concerned and community representatives have demanded that the authorities provide information about the detained Iranians’ identities.
In 1994, the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) building, the center of the Jewish community in Buenos Aires, was bombed, killing 85 people. Iran and Hezbollah were later identified as being responsible for the attack. Two years earlier, the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires was bombed, killing 29 people, in a terror act also believed to have been perpetrated by Iran and Hezbollah.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)