On 21 May, the US Treasury Department added two entities and one individual to its Specially Designated Nationals (“SDN”) list as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (“SDGTs”) for having helped Iran-based Mahan Air procure aircraft and related parts. The aircraft that were purchased under these arrangements also have been placed on the SDN List.
The three new designees are Iraq-based Al-Naser Airlines, Syrian national Issam Shammout, and Shammout’s UAE-based aviation company Sky Blue Bird Aviation. Al-Naser is alleged to have acquired several Airbus aircraft from European vendors for the purpose of reselling them to Mahan Air. Shammout and Sky Blue Bird are alleged to have helped Mahan Air purchase other types of aircraft and aircraft parts. Mahan Air was previously designated as an SDGT on 12 October 2011 for providing transportation, funds transfer and travel services to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force.
Concurrently, the US Commerce Department imposed a temporary denial order on Al-Naser Airlines, Bahar Safwa General Trading, and Ali Abdullah Alhay. As a result, they are barred from exporting or receiving exports from the United States. Bahar Safwa General Trading, based in the UAE, is suspected of acting as a front company for Mahan Air. Alhay is a minority owner of Al-Naser Airlines and is alleged to have signed Al Naser’s letters of intent to purchase aircraft on behalf of Mahan Air. Cham Wings, another company controlled by Shammout, has been on the Commerce Department’s Entity List since August 2011.