US Sanctions Iraqi Airline Fly Baghdad Over Alleged Arms Shipments

By Ivan PetrenkoJan 24, 2024 00:27 AMNews
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US Sanctions Iraqi Airline Fly Baghdad
US Sanctions Iraqi Airline Fly Baghdad. Source: unsplash

The US Department of the Treasury has imposed sanctions on Iraqi airline Fly Baghdad, accusing it of transporting weapons and personnel for Iran-backed militias in the Middle East. The airline, however, refutes these claims, insisting that the allegations lack concrete evidence.

Allegations of Militia Support

According to a report by Aerotime, the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has accused Fly Baghdad of aiding the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps–Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and Kata'ib Hezbollah (KH). The US agency alleges the airline facilitated the transport of war materials, including fighters, cash, and arms, to militias in Syria and Iraq. Notably, Fly Baghdad is said to have conducted a flight carrying Iraqi fighters to assist in Iranian proxy attacks against Israel. The cargo reportedly comprised both Iranian and US-made weaponry, as well as bags of US currency.

The US Treasury issued a statement detailing Fly Baghdad's involvement in shipping weapons to Damascus International Airport for distribution to various Iran-aligned militia groups in Syria. This includes the Syrian Arab Republican Guard and Lebanese Hizballah.

CEO and Airline Assets Targeted

The sanctions have targeted not only Fly Baghdad but also its CEO, Basheer Abdulkadhim Alwan al-Shabbani. As a result, all assets belonging to the airline are now blocked, and US-based entities are prohibited from conducting business with it. Brian E. Nelson, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, emphasized the US commitment to disrupting Iran's illicit activities destabilizing the region.

Fly Baghdad's Response and Safety Concerns

In response, Fly Baghdad has criticized the sanctions as unfounded, arguing that they are based on inaccurate information. The airline also plans to seek legal redress and compensation for damages caused by these sanctions.

Furthermore, the airline has faced recent bans from European airspace due to safety concerns, joining other airlines like Iraqi Airways and Iran Air on the European Union Aviation Safety Agency's Air Safety List.

Cryptocurrency Misuse Allegations

Adding to the controversy, a Bankless Times report links Fly Baghdad to cryptocurrency wallets allegedly used in funding terrorist activities. These wallets have reportedly received over $130 million in cryptocurrency.

Impacted Fleet

The sanctions have specifically designated two of Fly Baghdad's Boeing 737 aircraft as blocked property. These planes, with registrations YI-BAN and YI-BAF, are integral to the airline's operations, which include a fleet of nine Boeing 737s and two Bombardier CRJ aircraft.

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