A Malaysian agency that serves as a sales agent for Iran’s Mahan Air was sanctioned by the United States Treasury Department for its support for Iranian terror, Reuters reported Monday. Mahan Air, which is officially a commercial airline, itself was sanctioned in 2011 by the U.S. Treasury Department for “providing financial, material and technological support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF). ”
The Treasury announcement sanctioning Malaysia-based Mahan Travel and Tourism Sdn Bhd charged that it was “key to enabling Mahan Air’s international operations, especially in regards to conducting financial transactions on behalf of the airline.”
“Mahan Air is the airline of choice for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, facilitating its support to terrorism across the Middle East. Mahan’s regular flights to Syria are used to prop up the Assad regime and deliver weapons, foreign fighters, and Iranian operatives who sow violence and unrest across the region,” Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin said on Monday. “The United States government has been very clear about the deadly role played by Mahan Air. Our action against an independent company providing General Sales Agent services to Mahan makes clear to all in the aviation industry that they urgently need to sever all ties and distance themselves immediately from this airline. Companies that continue to service Mahan aircraft, or facilitate Mahan flights in and out of airports in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, are on notice that they do so at great financial risk.”
In a Congressional testimony last year, Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, described Mahan Air as “IRGC’s main conduit to carry weapons and personnel to Syria. The ongoing airlifts – which have surged since the summer of 2015 – provide key weapons and provisions to Syria’s embattled president, Bashar al-Assad, and Iran’s proxy terror group in Lebanon, Hezbollah.”
Ottolenghi also described a number of schemes Mahan undertook to evade the sanctions.
In his recommendations as to how the U.S. could fight Mahan and other airlines that were aiding Iran’s military across the Middle East, Ottolenghi said that the U.S. investigate “all companies that provide material support to designated aviation companies,” including in the area of financial services, and “dissuade them from providing material support to Mahan.”
In November 2016, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon charged that Iran was using Mahan Air to smuggle missile technology to Hezbollah.
[Photo: ERIC SALARD / Flickr]