When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Enjoy unlimited access to quality journalism.

Limited time offer

Get your 30-day free trial!
InterNations
Geopolitics

How The Covert Plane Diverted To Buenos Aires Revealed Iran-Venezuela Links

Were it not for the weather spoiling its flight plans, a Venezuelan plane with suspected ties to Iran's Revolutionary Guards would have traveled through Argentina undisturbed.

A plane

A Venezuelan-Iranian flight suspected of links with terrorism was disturbed by bad weather.

Héctor Gambini

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES - Let's not forget: Argentina may not have a reliable intelligence agency, but does at times have an impenetrable fog. Thanks to that fog, weeks ago (in early June), a Venezuelan-Iranian flight had to change course and land in Córdoba, a city in the north of the country, waiting for visibility to return at the capital's airport.

This unforeseen fuel use led it two days later to try and head for Montevideo, Uruguay, instead of La Paz, Bolivia, its original destination, as it no longer had enough fuel to reach Bolivia.


But Uruguay wouldn't let the plane in, suspecting links with terrorist activities, forcing it to return to Buenos Aires (on June 8) — with the dregs of its fuel. It was only at this stage that the judiciary was moved to act. So thanks to our thick fog, Argentina has been hosting a plane-load of suspicious people for over a month.

Grounded in Buenos Aires

The Argentine government hastily insisted the crew were to be presumed innocent, uttering one piece of nonsense and two false assertions. It said crew members could enter and leave the country unhindered as there was no Interpol red notice out on them, that this was a training flight with Iranians teaching the Venezuelans to run a Boeing plane and that the name of the Iranian pilot initially linked to an airline (Mahan) used by Hezbollah terrorists was a pseudonym.

None of it stood. Firstly, for obvious reasons, intelligence or espionage missions will not send people with a Red Notice over them — in case they are stopped at the first airport they land in!

The alarms were raised, and Argentina switched them off.

Ten days after the plane and its crew were grounded in Buenos Aires, Turkish security forces held five Iranians suspected of planning to kidnap an Israeli diplomat in Istanbul. Four were detained and charged with espionage activities, and one was released under guard. None of them was the subject of a Red Notice, but no Turkish official came out to excuse their conduct in any case.

A month before, the same Turkish intelligence had conveyed its suspicions about the plane to Brazil, which duly informed Argentine intelligence of this. The United States, Israel and Paraguay did the same. A month after its arrival, the evidence seems overwhelming: the alarms were raised, and Argentina switched them off.

Secondly: Neither Iran nor Venezuela sustained the flight training hypothesis intelligence chief Agustín Rossi proposed without any basis in evidence, but rather as a matter of "personal assessment." Rossi was perhaps not so much stating information as providing an argument for the crew's lawyers, who have close ties with leftist currents of the ruling party loyal to the vice-president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

The detained flight crew are being represented by a partner of Javier Raidan, a friend of the former minister of justice Julián Álvarez (who was in the Cámpora or youth movement of Kirchner loyalists) and lawyer of the owner of the flat in Puerto Madero where Alberto Fernández lived before he became president.

Thirdly: The pilot's name was no pseudonym, and he is precisely the man the U.S. suspects of flying terrorists between Tehran and Damascus.

\u200bPilot Ghasemi Gholamreza and co-pilot Mohammad Khosraviragh.

Pilot Ghasemi Gholamreza and co-pilot Mohammad Khosraviragh.

Clarín

Close ties between Iran and Venezuela

The mystery: Who told (the Security Minister) Aníbal Fernández about a pseudonym, and why did he announce this so fast? A lot of the contrary evidence has come out of Paraguay, which opened its own investigations into the "ghost plane."

Paraguay's president said on Friday (July 1) that one Venezuelan crew member had undergone face surgery in Cuba to change his appearance. Now, why would you do that when you are taking flight classes from Iranians under international surveillance? Again, strangely, this was a civilian cargo flight, but half the Venezuelans on board had military training.

Sources following this case believe the presence of Iranians and Venezuelans on the plane is not fortuitous, given the increasingly close ties between the two countries. Just on July 5, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro put on display Iranian combat drones assembled in Venezuela.

Half the Venezuelans on board had military training.

Crew members are being kept in the Canning Hotel, where they've had to buy winter clothing (clearly they weren't planning on staying during Argentina's cold months), with a chance first-hand to check how much clothes cost now. They are also receiving visits from their respective embassy people.

What the fog could not conceal

The Iranians apparently barely leave their rooms, though the Venezuelans have been strolling in the Canning shopping mall where the hotel is. The delay seems to have affected them more. One of them is a woman who receives daily calls from her younger daughter asking her when she'll be coming home to Venezuela.

It is hard to say whether or not the judiciary will be able to pin a specific offense on the crew, as happened with the Iranians in Turkey. Their hotel reservations are renewed every three days, suggesting they half-expect to leave soon.

Will they leave before July 18, the anniversary of the 1994 bomb attack on the AMIA, a Jewish community center when 85 people were killed? Or after this landmark date in the history of terrorism in Argentina? Their departure would do nothing to dispel deep-set suspicions on why they came here, regardless of any evidence. Nor can it assuage an unnerving sense that instead of backing investigations into a delicate affair possibly relating to international terrorism, the government has sought to cover up what the fog could not conceal.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

Three-Parent Families Emerging From Legal Limbo In Argentina

Multi-parent families or triple parenting are not yet enshrined in the law in Argentina, a continental pioneer of innovative social rights, but so far and in spite of legal challenges, court rulings have recognized the reality of children with "three parents."

Mara Resio

BUENOS AIRES — A woman writes to her children before dying, unwilling to keep a painful secret any longer. On reading her letter, the children realize that the father who had raised them, wasn't their biological father.

Before such situations, Argentina's judiciary usually determines a state of "triple filiation," meaning that a person can have two mothers and a father or two fathers and a mother.

There are 25 such multi-parent families, found in and around Buenos Aires, as well as several provinces including Santa Fe, Tucumán and Córdoba. Each one is quite different.

The first two cases were from 2015, just before a reform to the Civil and Commercial Code went into effect. The adults in question did not take legal action to be recognized as multi-parent families, but the civil courts of the capital and the Buenos Aires province took decisions to resolve their situations.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
InterNations
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ