International Intelligence Worries Over Iranian Flights to Caracas
August 18, 2010
(ChattahBox) – U.S. officials are worried about a flight running from Iran to Venezuela, which they believe may be transporting Iranian agents and weaponry in preparation of a potential strike to their nuclear facilities.
The strain has been growing on an international level for years, but even more so in the last eight months. It seems a conflict is inevitable between the U.S. and Iran, with a possible catalyst of Israel as relations remain sour.
But since 2007, a special slight has been running twice a month from Tehran to Damascus, Syria to Caracas, Venezuela. There are also occasional stops in Lebanon. It is impossible to book a place on the plane, which has made U.S. and international intelligence suspicious.
This suspicion has been further sparked by the lack of regulation; those coming through the flight are not sent through customs, but instead picked up by special forces and transported quietly away without record of who or what was on board.
“It says that something secretive or clandestine is going on that they don’t want the international community to know about,” Peter Brooks of the NSA told WTop.
There is some fear that Iran is moving people and weaponry into position through Latin America, with the (often vocal) support of the Venezuelan government, in order to strike against the U.S. and American interests in the case of an attack on their nuclear facilities by Israel or the U.S.
“Fundamentally, the thing that first and very solidly caught our attention at the Agency was the inauguration of direct air flight between the two capitals,” CIA Director Michael J. Hayden explains.
“Here was a conduit that people could travel from Iran into the Western Hemisphere, into Latin America in a way that would be very difficult for American intelligence services to detect and to understand. Right there at that very simple level, just the direct flight is something that we would be and should be concerned about.”
Right now, it is believed that the flights may be specifically transporting Hezbollah members, who have had a complicated, but cooperative, relationship with the Iranian government.
“It would be too much to say that Hezbollah is a puppet of the Iranian state, but one way of looking at this relationship is that the Iranian state might rely on Hezbollah as a strategic weapon — its weapon for global reach,” Hayden added.