Paraguay's intelligence chief has confirmed that one of the crew aboard a Venezuelan cargo plane grounded in Argentina has ties to Iran's Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force.
Head of the Paraguayan National Intelligence Secretariat Esteban Aquino told the country’s Spanish language digital newspaper ABC Digital Friday that despite claims by Argentina that no evidence links the case to the Quds (Qods) Force -- Tehran’s extraterritorial intelligence and secret ops outfit listed as a terrorist organization by the United States -- Captain Gholamreza Ghasemi did not merely share a name with a member of the group but is in fact the same man.
Reiterating the claim, Argentine Minister of Security Anibal Fernandez responded Friday that while the Paraguayan official "has his right to say whatever he wants... I'm not going to talk about conjecture... according to the official documentation, there is no specific relationship with terrorist organizations, according to all the databases."
The Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires also released a statement on Thursday, saying that the Boeing 747 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,” accused of transporting weapons for Hezbollah during the civil war in Syria.
Iran has denied that the Boeing 747 belongs to Mahan Airlines, sanctioned by the US in 2008 for links to the Quds (Qods) Force.
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.