An undated photo showing the Mahan Airlines Boeing 747 operating for Venezuela

Israel Says Crewman Of Grounded Aircraft In Argentina Is IRGC Member

Friday, 06/17/2022

The Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires says one of the Iranian crew of the grounded Venezuelan cargo plane in Argentina was a member of the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force.

The embassy released a statement on Thursday, saying that the Boeing 747 registered as a Venezuelan cargo plane was used by the Iranian company Mahan Air and transported “a group of Iranian officials, including a senior executive of the airline Qeshm Fars Air.” It was referring to Gholamreza Ghasemi, who apparently was the pilot and is a member of the IRGC and a former board member of Fars Air Qeshm accused of transporting weapons for Hezbollah during the civil war in Syria. 

“The State of Israel is particularly concerned about the activity of the Iranian airlines Mahan Air and Qeshm Fars Air in Latin America, companies dedicated to arms trafficking and the transfer of people and equipment that operate for the Quds Force,” the statement read. 

The embassy referred to an assassination attempt on Israeli citizens in the city of Bogotá by “criminals who worked for the Quds Force in Colombia,” adding that such events revealed that IRGC’s Quds force tries to consolidate its influence in South America. 

Argentina said on June 15 no member of IRGC Quds Force was among the crew, and Ghasemi just shared a name with a Quds Force member. 

Ghasemi is also reportedly a relative of current Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, whose appointment by President Ebrahim Raisi triggered condemnation from Argentina given his suspected role in the 1994 AMIA bombing that killed 85 people and injured over 300.

Iran has denied that the Boeing 747 belongs to Iran’s Mahan Airlines, sanctioned by the US in 2008 for links to the Quds (Qods) Force.

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