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The Mysterious Airplane Cargo and its Ultimate Destination
Oil Industry Spare Parts, LOL
In some ways, the story of the Russian built IL-76 cargo plane and its "real" cargo should not be a stunning surprise since it loaded up in North Korea. The itinerary of the aircraft is mysterious and encompasses worldwide travel in just a few days.
It all began on Dec 9th in Nasosaya, Azerbaijan, fairly close to Iran. The aircraft, with a Russian crew, flew to United Arab Emirates then onto Bankok, Thailand on Dec 10. The aircraft was mostly empty all this time. Taking off from Thailand, the aircraft now flew to North Korea and landed, loading up with oil field equipment. It then flew back to Thailand to refuel but this is where the Thai authorities became suspicious and detained the aircraft. The packing list on the boxes indicated they contained Geothermal rigs, spare parts. The plane never flew again, but had planned to fly to Sri Lanka, then to United Arab Emirates, then all the way to Kiev, Ukraine ( a major area where weapons industry exist). The final destination was Tehran, Iran.
Thai authorities found the "spare parts" to be: shoulder launched surface to air missiles, parts for surface to air missiles and electronic systems to control weapons.
The question about who planned the aircraft's flight remains an example how arms smugglers hide their tracks. The plane is registered to a company in Georgia, Air West. This company leased the aircraft to SP Trading. SP Trading is registered in New Zealand, but there is nothing in NZ about it. SP Tradingleased the plane to a Hong Kong firm, owned by another HK firm which is based in the British Virgin Islands. The cargo found was created by this company. However, the plane itself is owned by Overseas Cargo FZEin Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Its owner is a woman, Svetlana Zykova, a Russian.
One can see how the Russian flight crew may know nothing about the cargo actually loaded in NK. The crew was simply hired to fly the aircraft to NK and follow its flight course. Smuggling arms is incredibly complicated.