An Asia Times report claims that the pilot of an Iranian jet “made a dangerous move so the F-15’s could not see the underbelly of the jet,” which may have been equipped with spy cameras.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Iranian officials cried foul over the weekend, claiming passengers on a Mahan Air flight were injured in an incident with USAF fighter jets.
The Iranian airline, however, has a dubious record and is banned by several countries for its involvement in terrorism.
American military officials said an F-15 intercepted the Mahan Air flight on Friday from a safe distance, but Iran claimed the pilot had to take emergency action that resulted in several passenger injuries.
Iranian news agencies originally claimed an Israeli jet was involved but later changed their story.
“A closer look at the airline in question suggests a nefarious Iranian purpose,” the Asia Times reported Sunday.
Earlier this year Mahan Air flew supplies to Venezuela and took Venezuelan government gold back to to Tehran.
“Given its past behavior, it is likely that Iranian spies and commandos are also going to Venezuela on Mahan planes,” the Times said.
Despite a 55-mile no-fly zone around the al-Tanf US army base in Syrian that that pilots of Mahan Air flight 1152 would have known about, published radar tracks show the jet clearly flew right over al-Tanf on the flight from Tehran to Beirut.
“So why would the airliner choose to conduct a flyover? The answer is revealed, to a degree, by the strange maneuver of the jet. The pilot did not want the F-15’s to see something. The F-15’s approached the Mahan jet from behind and rapidly overtook it,” the report said.
“The Mahan flight captain, wanting to avoid a “visual inspection” made a dangerous move so the F-15’s could not see the underbelly of the jet,” it continued, adding that the plane may have been equipped with high-resolution spy cameras that would have been on the underside of the aircraft.
Meanwhile, Iranian parliament member Nasser Mousavi Laregani told the Fars news agency the incident represented a “criminal act of the U.S.” that “will not go unanswered.”
In 2011, the U.S. banned Mahan Air and imposed sanctions on it, noting the “infiltration of Iran’s commercial sector to facilitate its support for terrorism.” France, Italy and Germany have also banned Mahan Air, which has been referred to as a “terror airline” and most recently was found to be helping spread coronavirus in the Middle East.
The Iranian aircraft was either not flying in the predetermined corridor for international flights or it deviated from its route, Radio Farda reported, adding that the flight number and the airliner’s name were not registered according to protocols.
Some Iranian Twitter users confirmed that the “Mahan Air flight was in a totally unidentified corridor and refused to respond to incoming radio messages.” Syrian and Jordanian aviation officials also indicated the Iranian aircraft appeared to have gone “astray” before it was intercepted, Radio Farda said.