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 |
John Reed is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He comes to FP after editing Military.com’s publication Defense Tech and working as the associate editor of DoDBuzz. Between 2007 and 2010, he covered major trends in military aviation and the defense industry around the world for Defense News and Inside the Air Force. Before moving to Washington in August 2007, Reed worked in corporate sales and business development for a Swedish IT firm, The Meltwater Group in Mountain View CA, and Philadelphia, PA. Prior to that, he worked as a reporter at the Tracy Press and the Scotts Valley Press-Banner newspapers in California. His first story as a professional reporter involved chasing escaped emus around California’s central valley with Mexican cowboys armed with lassos and local police armed with shotguns. Luckily for the giant birds, the cowboys caught them first and the emus were ok. A New England native, Reed graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a dual degree in international affairs and history.| The Complex |