Abductions via Shannon

Village 26 February 2005

Exclusive: Village reveals the use of Shannon and Dublin airports by a plane used by the CIA to abduct suspects in its 'war on terror'. By Vincent Browne and Colin Murphy.

An American Boeing 737 aircraft (registration number N313P), used by the CIA to abduct terrorist suspects in various parts of the world, was routed through Shannon and Dublin on 14 occasions from 1 January 2003 to the end of 2004. This is according to the flight log of the aircraft obtained from Washington DC by Village.

The aircraft was used in connection with the abduction in Skopje, Macedonia, of Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, on 31 December 2003, and his transport to a US detention centre in Afghanistan on 23 January 2004.

The aircraft, which has been identified by Newsweek as part of a "top secret global charter servicing clandestine interrogation facilities used in the war on terror", passed through Ireland on the following dates and itineraries:

^ 11 January 2003: Washington, Shannon, Tallinn (Estonia)

^ 2 June 2003: Dubai, Dublin, Washington

^ 29 October 2003: Mitiga (Libya), Northolt (UK), Shannon, Washington

^ 15 December 2003: Baghdad, Shannon, Washington

^ 30 December 2003: Dubai, Shannon, Washington

^ 16 January 2004: Washington, Shannon, Larnaca (Cyprus), Sale (Morocco), Kabul, Palma (Majorca), Skopje (Macedonia), Baghdad, Kabul

^ 8 February 2004: Marka (Jordan), Larnaca (Cyprus), Shannon, Washington

^ 4 March 2004: Marka (Jordan), Shannon, Washington

^ 14 March 2004: Baghdad, Kabul, Larnaca (Cyprus), Shannon, Washington

^ 27 April 2004: Mitiga (Libya), Marka (Jordan), Shannon, Washington

^ 9 May 2004: Washington, Shannon, Marka (Jordan)

^ 10 May 2004: Marka (Jordan), Shannon, Washington

^ 13 June 2004: Washington, Shannon, Marka (Jordan)

^ 1 August 2004: Baghdad, Marka (Jordan), Shannon, Washington.

The aircraft log also shows it landing in Guantanamo, Cuba, the major US detention centre, on 23 September 2003, having traveled from Kabul to Szymany (Poland), Mihail Kogalniceanu (Romania), and Sale (Morocco).

Khaled el-Masri was released from captivity in Afghanistan three months after his abduction and dropped back to Macedonia. He claims to have been repeatedly punched and questioned about associates at his mosque in Germany while in detention. His claims of abduction are being investigated by a prosecutor in Munich.

According to Newsweek, US Federal Aviation Administration records show the aircraft was registered as being owned by Premier Executive Transport Services, a Massachusetts-based company that US intelligence sources acknowledge fits the profile of a suspected CIA front. It is now registered as being owned by Keeler and Tate Management, based in Reno, Nevada.

On the day that the registration for the aircraft was transferred from Premier Executive Transport Services, 29 November 2004, the registration of a Gulfstream V jet (number N8068V), also engaged in transporting detainees, was transferred from Premier Executive Transport Services to a company called Bayard Foreign Marketing.

Journalists in the Boston Globe, Washington Post and Chicago Tribune who have investigated these companies have not been able to contact any of the executives.

The flight path of the 747 Boeing aircraft, as detailed by the above schedule, shows it visiting Majorca on several occasions, during a time when Spain was part of the coalition of forces that invaded Iraq with the Americans. It also shows it visiting Jordan regularly, where al-Qaida detainees are held by the Americans. The Libya stop-over may suggest a deepening involvement by the former "terrorist" state with the US.

At the 9/11 Commission hearings in Washington on 24 March 2004, the following information was disclosed about CIA covert operations:

"Renditions: Under the presidential directives in the Clinton administration, Presidential Decision Directive 39 and PDD 62, the CIA had two main operational responsibilities for combating terrorism: rendition and disruption. We will first discuss the CIA's work with renditions. In other words, if a terrorist suspect is outside of the United States, the CIA helps to catch and send him to the United States or a third country...

"Director Tenet (George Tenet, then Director of the CIA) has publicly testified that 70 terrorists were rendered and brought to justice before 9/11".

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell told the Seanad last June that he would respond "immediately" to any information on such renditions passing through Ireland.

"It would cause me grave concern if I thought people were being smuggled through Irish territory in circumstances that amounted to unlawful detention in Irish law or in international law for that matter," he said.

In November, he told the Dáil he did not have "any information to indicate that military prisoners are being transported through Irish airports".

"The Garda Síochána would conduct a full investigation in any case in which a credible complaint of criminal activity – such as holding somebody in unlawful custody – is made, to include, where appropriate, an inspection of the aircraft in question," he said.

The US Department of State released a statement to Village last October saying the US "has not used Irish airports for the transit of enemy combatants to or from the detention center at Guantanamo or elsewhere" and that it would not do so "without first consulting with the Government of Ireland."