U.S. Treasury Dept. Exposes Iranian “Lethal Aid”
March 28, 2012
The U.S. Department of the Treasury has taken steps to disrupt efforts by Iranian entities to export lethal aid to the Levant and Africa.
In a March 27 press release, the Treasury Department said it had designated the Iranian cargo airline Yas Air, Behineh Trading, three Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps–Qods Force (IRGC-QF) officials, and Nigerian shipping agent Ali Abbas Usman Jega for acting on behalf of or providing support to the IRGC-QF, a designated terrorist entity.
“Today’s action again exposes Iran’s malign influence in the Middle East, Africa and beyond. As the Iranian regime exports its lethal aid and expertise to foment violence in Syria and Africa, Treasury will continue to expose the officials and companies involved and work to hold them accountable for the suffering they cause,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen.
According to the Treasury Department, the airline, the trading company and the IRGC-QF officials were involved in shipments of weapons to the Levant and Africa.
Based in Tehran, Yas Air is an Iranian cargo airline that acts for the IRGC-QF to transport illicit cargo — including weapons — to Iran’s clients in the Levant. According to the Treasury Department, Yas Air has moved IRGC-QF personnel and weapons under the cover of humanitarian aid. In March 2011, IRGC-QF officials oversaw and authorized actions taken by Yas Air that involved a series of Yas Air flights carrying weapons destined for Syria and worked with Hezbollah and Syrian officials to ensure passage of this illicit cargo.
A Turkish inspection of one of the Yas Air flights bound for Syria, which listed “auto spare parts” on its cargo manifest, found weapons including Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles, machine guns, nearly 8,000 rounds of ammunition, and an assortment of mortar shells.
Behineh Trading, the shipping company, and the Nigerian agent were involved in a weapons shipment seized in Nigeria in late October 2010. This weapons shipment, hidden among construction materials, contained grenades, rockets, mortars and ammunition. The shipment, orchestrated by the IRGC-QF and intended for the Gambia, was “part of a larger pattern of Iranian lethal aid shipments to clients in Africa and around the world,” according to the Treasury Department.
These actions demonstrate “Iran’s determination to evade international sanctions and export violence and instability throughout the Middle East and beyond,” the department said.