350 diplomatic flights carry weapons for terrorists
By Dilyana Gaytandzhieva
At least 350 diplomatic Silk Way Airlines (an Azerbaijani state-run company) flights transported weapons for war conflicts across the world over the last 3 years. The state aircrafts of Azerbaijan carried on-board tens of tons of heavy weapons and ammunition headed to terrorists under the cover of diplomatic flights. Documents implicating Silk Way Airlines in arms supplies were sent to me by an anonymous twitter account – Anonymous Bulgaria.
The leaked files include correspondence between the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Azerbaijan to Bulgaria with attached documents for weapons deals and diplomatic clearance for overflight and/or landing in Bulgaria and many other European countries, USA, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey, to name a few.
According to these documents, Silk Way Airlines offered diplomatic flights to private companies and arms manufacturers from the US, Balkans, and Israel, as well as to the militaries of Saudi Arabia, UAE, and US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), and the military forces of Germany and Denmark in Afghanistan and of Sweden in Iraq. Diplomatic flights are exempt of checks, air bills, and taxes, meaning that Silk Way airplanes freely transported hundreds of tons of weapons to different locations around the world without regulation. They made technical landings with stays varying from a few hours to up to a day in intermediary locations without any logical reasons such as needing to refuel the planes.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations, operators, transporting dangerous goods forbidden for transportation by air by civil aircrafts, must apply for exemption for transportation of dangerous goods by air.
According to the documents, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry has sent instructions to its embassies in Bulgaria and many other European countries to request diplomatic clearance for Silk Way Airlines flights. The embassies sent diplomatic notes to the Foreign Ministry of the relevant country to request such exemption. The Foreign Ministry sent back a note signed by the local civil aviation authorities giving exemption for the transportation of dangerous goods.
The requests for diplomatic clearance included information about the type and quantity of the dangerous goods – heavy weapons and ammunition. However, the responsible authorities of many countries (Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Turkey, Germany, UK, Greece, etc.) have turned a blind eye and allowed diplomatic flights for the transport of tons of weapons, carried out by civil aircrafts for military needs. Under IATA regulations, the transport of military cargo by civil aircrafts is not allowed. To get around this legality, Silk Way Airlines applied for diplomatic exemption through local agencies.
U.S. sends $1 billion worth of weapons
Among the main customers of the “diplomatic flights for weapons” service provided by Silk Way Airlines are American companies, which supply weapons to the US army and US Special Operations Command. The common element in these cases is that they all supply non-US standard weapons; hence, the weapons are not used by the US forces.
According to the register of federal contracts, over the last 3 years American companies were awarded $1 billion contracts in total under a special US government program for non-US standard weapon supplies. All of them used Silk Way Airlines for the transport of weapons. In some cases when Silk Way was short of aircrafts due to a busy schedule, Azerbaijan Air Force aircrafts transported the military cargo, although the weapons never reached Azerbaijan.
The documents leaked from the Embassy include shocking examples of weapon transport. A case in point: on 12th May 2015 an aircraft of Azerbaijan Air Forces carried 7,9 tons of PG-7V and 10 tons of PG-9V to the supposed destination via the route Burgas (Bulgaria)-Incirlik (Turkey)-Burgas-Nasosny (Azerbaijan). The consignor was the American company Purple Shovel, and the consignee – the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan. According to the documents, however, the military cargo was offloaded at Incirlik military base and never reached the consignee. The weapons were sold to Purple Shovel by Alguns, Bulgaria, and manufactured by Bulgaria’s VMZ military plant.
According to the federal contracts registry, in December of 2014 USSOCOM signed a $26.7 million contract with Purple Shovel. Bulgaria was indicated as the country of origin of the weapons.
Continue reading at: http://dilyana.bg/350-diplomatic-flights-carry-weapons-for-terrorists/