Masked men boarded Afghan plane in Iran, reveals document
KABUL (Pajhwok): A leaked document shows an Iranian airline illegally flew masked passengers to Iraq on an Ariana Afghan Airlines plane.
A copy of the document obtained by Pajhwok Afghan News carries signatures of Daud Sharifi, the Ariana Afghan Airlines chief. The paper was sent to the National Security Council (NSC) and the Wolesi Jirga or lower house of parliament.
The document number 515, dated 10 July, 2015, states: “As you are aware, Ariana planes are a public asset and should be used for the protection of national interest and the interest of Ariana company.
“But, unfortunately, for private gains, Nasir Ahmad Hakimi, Mohammad Hanif and Omar Mastoor have signed a contract for the Airbus A310 with the Iranian company Taban Air, which is detrimental to the national interest and interests of Ariana company.”
The document adds: “(The Iranian firm) used the plane to carry suspected and masked passengers. (The step) has been criticised by the (Afghan) parliament and other government agencies. Until now more than $2.5 million in rent has not been paid to Ariana.”
In the end, the Ariana’s chief said: “In order to prevent the waste of national resources, we ask for guidance on the fate of the aforementioned individuals.”
Taban Air is an airline headquartered in the Ekbatan Complex in Tehran with its main operational base in Mashhad. It operates international, domestic and charter routes as a scheduled carrier.
Pajhwok Afghan News contacted Sharifi for comments, but he refused to speak and referred the issue to Omar Mastoor, administrative director of Airana Afghan Airlines.
But Mastoor, who had previously denied masked passengers were carried on the Ariana plane, said: “This is a fake document. No official document has been sent by Ariana to any department because the issues mentioned are groundless.”
He admitted the contract with the Iranian company had been signed by him and former Ariana Airlines chief Nasir Ahmad Hakimi in the presence of representatives from transport, finance and economy ministries. He had no information about the $2.5 million payable by the Iranian company.
Meanwhile, a source in the National Security Council, confirmed receiving the letter. We have received the letter. We contacted the Ariana Airlines and summoned the company’s authorities for details. The National Security Council will take decision after their explanations,” source added.
Wolesi Jirga secretary Abdul Rauf Inami also confirmed receiving the letter a week earlier. “After receiving this document, we summoned Ariana officials and sought further information, but the Ariana chief and other officials say the letter is fake.”
Inami said it had been decided to summon Ariana officials to a general session of the lower house, but it had to be postponed due to the summer break. “If the government takes the issue seriously, lawmakers will not go on vacations,” he said.
The document mentions the contractor as Taban Air, while in June, Qais Hassan, who heads the Wolesi Jirga transportation and communication commission, had said the Ariana plane had been rented by Mahan Air, a private airline based in Tehran and had been ferrying masked passengers from Iran to Iraq.
He had claimed at a press conference that Nasir Ahmad Hakimi, Ariana Airlines chief, had moved to the United States with his family after the issue surfaced. Hassan said Ariana company rented its plane against $10,000 per flight.
He had said renting aircraft was not illegal, but the Iranian company had obtained illegal benefits from the Ariana plane, which flew from Kabul to Mashhad and then to Baghdad and Najaf.
He said pilots of the Afghan plane were not allowed to examine passengers and other item on board. Hassan claimed the pilots noticed masked men on a flight in Mashhad to Iraq.
The Iranian Embassy in Kabul and Taban Air have so far not commented on the issue.
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