Emtrasur case: the Iranian pilot “is not a namesake”, confirms Paraguay
ASUNCION, PARAGUAY – June 19, 2022 – Paraguay’s Intelligence Chief Esteban Aquino confirmed on Friday June 17, 2022 that Iranian pilot Gholamreza Ghasemi detained in Argentina was not a namesake but the real member of the Quds Forces*, a division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps specializing in military intelligence operations. (*The Quds Force, is defined by the editors of Encyclopaedia Brittanica as “the elite underground wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), responsible primarily for its overseas operations. Organized shortly after the Iranian Revolution (1978-1979), its activities focused on organizing, supporting and sometimes directing local forces abroad in ways favorable to the interests of the IRGC and the Iranian clerical establishment. )
A former Mahan Air Boeing 747-300 was seized at Ezeiza Airport in Buenos Aires for suspicious maneuvers now held by Emtrasur in Venezuela, pending investigations into the plane and the crew of Iranian and Venezuelan nationals.
The remarks of the Paraguayan official would contradict the declarations of the Argentine Minister of Security, Aníbal Fernández, who affirmed that the identity of the pilot had not been established with all the accuracy.
Aquino explained that Gholamreza Ghasemi “was here (in Paraguay)” and that his presence in this country was “still open and under investigation”.
“I can tell you that from what has been confirmed to us by allied agencies, this is a person related to the Quds, without a doubt. It’s not similar, it’s not namesake or anything. It’s the person and it’s worrying,” Aquino said in a radio interview.
“The important thing is that you have to say which side to take, we know that there are countries which receive, finance and sponsor terrorism, so we cannot be so naive and mix things up, and not making corresponding alerts when people who have been linked to this terror regime in transporting technology, weapons, etc. [the country],” he added.
Aquino also stressed that the Paraguayan intelligence secretary had “done his job” and that countries in the region had been alerted to the pilot’s background.
Minister Fernández admitted that “following the [aircraft’s] entry, information was received through various channels from foreign organizations that warned [us] on the membership of part of the crew in companies linked to the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards”, but did not confirm the identity of the captain on the grounds that it could be a namesake.
Meanwhile, law enforcement authorities in Argentina have removed the plane’s black box in their search for evidence of wrongdoing by the crew, including the alleged turning off of the transponder, the device that allows air traffic controllers to track planes.
Several media coverages reported the transponder issue, but aviation authorities denied the claims citing that the plane can be tracked on “flightradar 24” all the way and that if a plane were to disappear from the screen, all protocols would be enabled.
Boeing personnel have also been involved in the ongoing investigation, we learned from unofficial sources as the matter is shrouded in secrecy.
Five Iranians and 14 Venezuelans were on board the Emtrasur plane. They are all now housed in a hotel near the airport, their passports withheld, and therefore unable to leave the country.