Today’s New York Times uncovers the clandestine effort by the CIA and Arab governments to deliver military aid to rebel fighters in Syria through an airlift involving more than 160 flights of military-style cargo planes owned by Arab governments. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the story is a flat denial from the Jordanian airline that the Times says is shipping tons of Croatian weapons to Syrian rebels.
“This is all lies,” says Muhammad Jubour of Jordanian International Air Cargo. “We never did any such thing.” Unfortunately for the spokesman, the Times had specific air traffic data showing flights by the airline’s Ilyushin-76MF planes to and from Croatia. How did Jubour respond to that?
Jubour … claimed that his firm did not own any Ilyushin cargo planes. Asked why his employer’s Web site still displayed images of two Ilyushin-76MFs and text claiming they were part of the company fleet, Mr. Jubour had no immediate reply. That night the company’s Web site was taken down.
Oops. Not a smart move. The tricky thing about the Internet is it doesn’t forget very easily. It’s true that when you visit Jordanian International Air Cargo’s website you’re greeted with an “Under construction” sign.
But we did some digging on the Way Back Machine and were able to find a cached version of the website from Jan. 9, 2012. Under the website’s “Fleet” subsection we found something interesting: The Ilyushin-76MFs. Resurrected!
So why all the false denials and secrecy? For one thing, few countries want to admit to flooding weapons into a deadly civil war. For another, a source described as a “regional air traffic official” tells the Times that the Jordanian airline is actually a “front company for Jordan’s air force.” We hate to break it to the Jordanians, but it looks like their cover’s been blown.
FP’s Situation Report: Still no hard evidence to pin downing of jet on separatists; Three-star: military force and passion don’t mix; Israel targets Hamas tunnels, ops; Dunford on ambiguity on drawdown plans; and a bit more.Gordon Lubold with Nathaniel SobelGordon Lubold is a senior writer at FP and author of Situation Report with help by Nathaniel Sobel, director of research at the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace. Follow him @glubold and him @njsobe4. | Situation Report |
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |