The United States seized a Venezuelan-owned cargo jet with ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) grounded in Argentina, after its arrival two years ago prompted an investigation into possible terrorism ties, Biden administration officials said on Monday.

The Boeing 747 plane was sold to Venezuela state airline Emtrasur by Iran’s Mahan Air – a transaction that the Justice Department believes violated the U.S. sanctions. Mahan Air is blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury for alleged arms trafficking.

“Mahan Air, known to ferry weapons and fighters for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah, violated our export restrictions by selling this airplane to a Venezuelan cargo airline,” stated Matthew Axelrod, the U.S. assistant secretary of export enforcement. “Now, it’s property of the United States government.”

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Yvan Gil on Monday called the seizure “shameless robbery.”

“The disgraceful theft is added to the list of criminal aggressions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Venezuela, free and sovereign, will give a forceful, direct and proportional response to this attack.”

Argentinian court’s decision to hand over the plane follows the change in Argentinian government and President Javier Milei’s pledge to forge close ties with the U.S. and Israel.

The crew of 19 Venezuelans and Iranians included a pilot believed to be a high-ranking IRGC member. The five Iranian men on board claimed they were training Venezuelans to fly the jet.

Venezuela is viewed complicit in facilitating Iranian and Hezbollah agents’ operations in the region.

Iranian officials are accused of the 1992 Buenos Aires Israeli embassy bombing

that killed 30 and wounded 242 people. Tehran is also blamed for the 1994 bombing at a Jewish community center in Argentina’s capital that killed 86 and wounded over 300 people.

Argentina home to Latin America’s biggest Jewish population of approximately 180,500 people.

Source » i24news