Venezuela cancels Iran-Syria flights?

I’ve been blogging about these flights for a couple of years – now apparently the flights have ceased:

Fox News has the report,
EXCLUSIVE: Venezuela Cancels Round-Trip ‘Terror Flight’ to Syria and Iran

Venezuelan airline’s “mystery” flight that shuttled among the capitals of three of the world’s most terror-friendly nations — Venezuela, Syria and Iran — has abruptly canceled its regularly scheduled departures amid accusations that it was used primarily to transport spies, terrorists and lethal cargo among the pariah counties.

“I am sorry, but we are no longer flying to Tehran and I do not know when the flights will resume. It was a flight that left Caracas on Tuesdays, but it no longer does,” Jenny Gil Romero, who handles international departures for Conviasa, the national airline that operates the flight, said in a message to FOX News.

Messages to the airline seeking further information went unanswered.

Romero’s comments came in response to FOXNews.com’s efforts to buy tickets on the regularly scheduled, 48-hour round trip from Caracas to Damascus to Tehran, then back again.

Intelligence analysts with both the CIA and Israel said that, despite the listing of the flight as a regular commercial route and a code share with Iran air — Flight IR744 is also Flight VO3744 — there was no way that anyone could buy a ticket and travel without being vetted by the Venezuelan or Iranian government. And without passport controls, flight manifests and other documents, it meant some of the world’s most dangerous men could travel without fear of being uncovered.

This is what the flights are about:

For the past three years, every other Tuesday, Flight VO3744 would roll out to a secluded loading platform at Simon Bolivar Airport in Caracas. Shrouded from public view and unencumbered by the normal exit procedures, a select passenger list would board the flight.

Over the next 48 hours, according to Western intelligence agencies, Venezuelan opposition figures and a former Iran-based spy for the CIA, the flight would carry illicit, lethal cargoes — such as explosives and possibly radioactive materials — and provide safe passage to terrorists, spies, weapons experts, senior Iranian intelligence operatives and members of both Hezbollah and Hamas.

Reza Kahlili, the pseudonym for an Iranian who the CIA has confirmed once spied for the United States as a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, told FoxNews.com these “special flights” have been “instrumental in creating an Iranian dominated worldwide terror network that now reaches the United States.” He said the flights were used to expand Iran’s efforts to create a base of operations in the Western Hemisphere.

Peter Brookes, a former Defense Department analyst and CIA employee now with the Heritage Foundation, said there was a steady stream of elite Al Quds officers from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard who were transported to Venezuela aboard the flight and took up positions in the Latin American country’s intelligence service.

“We can’t say for sure what is going on, but it is clandestine and secretive,” he said.

Intelligence agencies are known to suspect the flight may be part of Iran’s program to build nuclear weapons. Venezuela has large deposits of uranium, and — while raw uranium transport is unlikely by plane — an Internet page in Caracas used by airline employees stated that the flights carried “radioactive materials.” The page was quickly shut down after the allegation was made, according to El Pais, a newspaper in Madrid, Spain.

Experts and Venezuelan opposition figures also say the influx of Iranians, as well as Hezbollah and Hamas operatives, into Venezuela on the flight was to prepare for a retaliatory strike against the U.S. if there was an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

With so much at stake, does anyone expect the flights to have permanently ceased?

Anyone waiting for the State Department to add Venezuela to its list of states sponsoring terrorism, please stand in line.

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Please note there will be no podcast today since I have laryngitis

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