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Argentina, Paraguay probe grounded 747 for terrorism ties

Argentina, Paraguay probe grounded 747 for terrorism ties

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Authorities in Argentina and Paraguay are trying to shine light on the jumbo-jet sized mystery surrounding a cargo plane with Iranian and Venezuelan crew that has been grounded outside Buenos Aires more than two weeks.

Prosecutors in the two South American countries have launched investigations to figure out whether the crew members — 14 Venezuelans and five Iranians — have any ties to international terrorism or other illicit activity.

Cecilia Incardona, the prosecutor leading the case in Argentina, is focusing her inquiries on the Iranian pilot, Gholamreza Ghasemi, and his possible ties to international terrorism.

The FBI said in a report to Argentine federal judge Federico Villena, who is in charge of the case, that Ghasemi is CEO of Qeshm Fars Air, which the U.S. Treasury Department says provides material support to the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and Iranian airline Mahan Air, according to a document issued by Incardona’s office this week.

During the preliminary investigation into the plane, “numerous traces have emerged that make it necessary to move forward with the investigation” of Ghasemi, the rest of the plane’s crew and its cargo, Incardona said in the document.

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Incardona went on to say the “irregular circumstances” surrounding the plane created the need to investigate “if the true objective of the airplane’s arrival in our country was exclusively to transport auto parts” or whether it was really “preparation to provide goods or money that could be used for terrorist activity, its financing or organization.”

The plane is operated by Venezuela’s state-owned Emtrasur line, a subsidiary of Conviasa, which is under U.S. sanctions.

Before it was sold to Emtrasur a year ago, the plane was…

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