Rendition aircraft

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"rendition flights" of the CIA, as reported by Rzeczpospolita [2]

Rendition aircraft are aircraft used by national governments to move prisoners internationally, a practice known as rendition, the illegal version of which is referred to as extraordinary rendition. The aircraft listed in this article have been identified in international news media as being used for prisoner transports.

The CIA neither confirms nor denies the existence or activities of the aircraft described in this article.[1]

N221SG[edit]

N221SG is a nondescript Learjet 35 with the tail number "N221SG", reported in the media to possibly be used as a US Department of Defense prisoner transport. The plane is registered to Path Corporation of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, identified as a CIA front company.[2][3][verification needed]

When the aircraft landed in Copenhagen, Denmark on March 7, 2005, the Danish opposition party Red-Green Alliance demanded an explanation of the plane's presence.[4][5]

The last flight originated in Istanbul, Turkey on March 7, 2005. Turkish media reported at the time that individuals of interest to the CIA captured by the country's security services were to be handed over to the American intelligence agency.[citation needed]

Photo of Learjet (N221SG)

N313P[edit]

Boeing 737-700 of PETS in Frankfurt, Germany on 11 January 2003.

N313P was a Boeing 737 that the Chicago Tribune reported on Tuesday, February 6, 2007, flew from Tashkent to Kabul, Afghanistan on September 21, 2003, and then to Szczytno-Szymany International Airport in Poland, landing at 9 p.m. "It stayed on the ground for 57 minutes before taking off for Baneasa Airport in Bucharest, Romania, an airport that, according to the Marty Report, 'bears all the characteristics of a detainee transfer or drop-off point,'" states author Tom Hundley on page 14 of the Tribune. The 737 then continued on to Rabat, Morocco, and Guantanamo Bay, the Marty Report said. In 2004 the plane was used to render LIFG leader Abdel Hakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima Bouchar to Libya.[6]

"The registered owners of both planes [Boeing 737, N313P, and Gulfstream V, N379P] appear to be CIA front companies. Previous attempts by the Tribune to contact the owners produced a trail of non-existent people at unlikely addresses, or law firms that did not want to discuss the nature of their interest in aviation. Both planes have been involved in rendition cases documented by the Tribune, other media and EU investigators," states the Chicago daily on page 14.[7]

The N313P registration for a Boeing 737 was subsequently cancelled, and it was reassigned to an experimental Van's Aircraft RV-7.

The 737 was re-registered as N4476S in ownership of Keeler&Tate Management a company located in Reno, Nevada. This photo of the aircraft was taken the day after the 2004 terrorist attack in Madrid.

N4476S[edit]

N4476S (manufacturer's construction number 33010/1037) is a plain white 737-7BC[8] Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) with the tail number "N4476S", owned by Keeler & Tate Management and is reported by news media to be used as a US Department of Defense prisoner transport.[9] It is also known as the "Guantánamo Bay Express".[citation needed] The aircraft was previously registered N313P, and owned by Premier Executive Transport Services.

N44982[edit]

The Gulfstream V executive jet with manufacturer serial number 581, changed registrations several times to avoid detection. Among the collection of former registrations are tail numbers N44982 N8068V, N379P, N581GA). The aircraft has been reported in several press sources as a U.S. Department of Defense prisoner transport, also known as "Guantánamo Bay Express". The craft has been reported to being used to transport suspected terrorists to undisclosed locations for either extraordinary rendition or into the CIA prison system. It has been the subject of criminal complaints[10] and parliamentary inquiries.[11]

According to an in-depth investigation into the worldwide network of detention and interrogation facilities employed in the War on Terror, by the British Guardian newspaper, (March 2005):[12]

Background[edit]

The first media mention of N379P was six weeks after September 11, 2001, when, according to the Chicago Tribune, a Pakistani newspaper reported that a student at the University of Karachi and a citizen of Yemen, had been seen being forced onto the plane at Jinnah International Airport by Pakistani security officers on the morning of October 23, 2001. The Chicago Tribune reported on the aircraft again on February 6, 2007, stating that N379P departed Washington Dulles International Airport July 27, 2003, and flew to Frankfurt, Germany according to FAA records. The FAA then records the Gulfstream taking off from Tashkent, Uzbekistan on July 31, 2003, bound for Glasgow, Scotland, and then return to Dulles. The Tribune then states that Polish aviation records indicate that N379P landed at Szczytno-Szymany International Airport, a remote airfield at Szymany, Poland, at 2:58 a.m. on July 30, 2003, after a flight from Afghanistan. How the aircraft moved from Frankfurt to Tashkent remains unreported.[7] The Szymany airport is located southwest of the Stare Kiejkuty intelligence base in northern Poland.

The executive jet with the tail number N379P was again brought to public attention by Swedish TV4's documentary, Det brutna löftet ("The broken promise"), aired May 17, 2004. The documentary claimed that the expulsion of two men, Ahmed Agiza and Muhammad al-Zery - ordered by the Cabinet - to Egypt on December 18, 2001, was carried out by hooded U.S. agents. The plane booked by the Swedish Security Police (SÄPO) was cancelled when another plane arrived - N379P - a Gulfstream V executive jet supplied by the firm (Premier Executive Transport Services, Inc.) which works exclusively for the U.S. Defense Department.[13]

Agiza and al-Zery were arrested and brought to Bromma airport in Stockholm where Swedish police handed them over to hooded operatives. The two prisoners had their clothes cut from their bodies by scissors, without their hand- and footcuffs being loosened. The naked and chained prisoners were given suppository of unknown kind inserted into their anus, and diapers were put on them. They were forcibly dressed in dark overalls. Their hands and feet are chained to a specially designed harness. On the plane, both men are blindfolded and hooded. The plane took off at 21.49 and set course towards Egypt.[citation needed]

Later on, when the Gulfstream's log books came into a journalist's hands, the wider scope became clear:[14]

Registration History[edit]

Originally N581GA, it became N379P in 2000 when it was acquired by Premier Executive Transport Services. In December 2003, it became N8068V. On December 1, 2004, it was reregistered N44982, and ownership was transferred to Bayard Foreign Marketing, an apparent shell company registered in Portland, Oregon. Its registration was changed once more on January 20, 2006, as N126CH to XXXXX, 2930 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33137-4122. It was sold and reregistered to Wilmington Trust Company, 1100 N Market St, Wilmington, Delaware on August 18, 2006.[15] The Aircraft was reregistered to VH-CCC and is now owned by Crown Melbourne Ltd, Australia where it is now used as a 'high roller' transport for Crown Casino.

Disappearance from the FAA's online registry[edit]

In January 2006, N44982 was re-registered as N126CH under N126CH Inc.[16] Sometime in late 2006, the records for N44982 and N4476S seem to have disappeared from the FAA's registration database. In August 2006, the plane was again transferred to VH-CCC under Wilmington Trust Co Trustee.[17] It is now under the ownership of Crown Melbourne Limited, to transport high rollers to their casino in Melbourne, Australia.[18][19] As of 2014, N44982 is registered/reserved by a private person in New Jersey, USA.[20]

Appearance in Fiction[edit]

N379P appears in the episode "Hundrede dage" of the Danish TV series Borgen which focuses on the problems for the Danish prime-minister caused by the revelation of rendition flights landing at Thule.

N596GA/N977GA[edit]

Another Gulfstream V, N596GA, manufacturers serial number 596, has also been mentioned in print as a possible transport for the CIA program of extraordinary rendition. Author Dave Willis wrote in Air Forces Monthly in May 2008 that this airframe, ordered in 1999 by the United States Air Force as a C-37A, serial 99-0405, was rolled out as N596GA but only briefly took up its military serial before reverting to the civil registration, issued on September 20, 2001, nine days after the 9-11 attacks. It was registered to National Aircraft Leasing of Greenville, New Castle County in Delaware, "and is believed to have been used by the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation Systems (JPATS), managed by the U.S. Marshals Service. JPATS is responsible for moving prisoners and non-US citizen criminals around and has its own fleet of aircraft, as well as frequently leasing others. N596GA is also said to have been used in the CIA's programme of extraordinary rendition against terrorist subjects."[21]

The author also mentions N379P, of Premiere Executive Transport Services, (later N8068V and N44982), and its alleged use in rendition missions.

As of at least June 24, 2011, this Gulfstream V, c/n 596, flies as N977GA, registered to the United States Department of Justice. On the aforementioned date, this aircraft was dispatched to California to retrieve fugitive New England crime boss "Jimmy" Bulger and his girlfriend Catherine Greig, transporting them to Boston's Logan International Airport.

On October 5, 2012, together with a privately owned Dassault Falcon 900 (N331MC), the two planes[22] carried terror suspects Abu Hamza, Babar Ahmad, Syed Ahsan, Khaled Al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdul Bary to the United States to face trial after losing their last-ditch attempt to stay in Britain.

N85VM/N227SV[edit]

N85VM is a white Gulfstream IV jet aircraft with the tail number "N85VM", reported in the media as possibly being used as a US Department of Defense or CIA prisoner transport.[23] The plane, owned by one of the partners of the Boston Red Sox, was seen in Cairo on February 18, 2003, wearing the team's logos.[24][25] Because of the timing of the aircraft's arrival and departure, it was linked by the media as possibly the aircraft used to render Abu Omar, who had been captured in Italy and taken to Cairo where he was imprisoned by the Egyptians[24]

Between June, 2002 and January 2005, the aircraft made 51 trips to Guantánamo Bay, as well as 82 visits to Dulles International Airport and Andrews Air Force Base. It also visited U.S. air bases at Ramstein and Rhein-Main in Germany, Afghanistan, Morocco, Dubai, Jordan, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic.[24]

The aircraft was subsequently re-registered N227SV, with ownership being Assembly Point Aviation, which offers the aircraft for charter.[24]

N987SA[edit]

On September 24, 2007, Gulfstream II, N987SA , c/n 172, crashed in the Yucatan, Mexico, carrying 6 tons of cocaine.[26][27] At the time of the crash, the business jet was registered to Donna Blue Aircraft Inc, which had acquired it using money from the trust of the company Powell Aircraft. The two flight crew and only occupants were Omar Alfredo "el Piolo" Jácome del Valle and Edic Muñoz Sanchez.[28]

The same aircraft, while registered under tail number N987SA to Air Rutter International, a California-based air-charter service, had been involved in extraordinary rendition to Guantanamo Bay. Logs show that the aircraft flew to Guantanamo Bay from Washington, D.C. twice and from Oxford, Connecticut once. It is likely that the purpose of these flights was to ferry CIA and Pentagon interrogators to Guantanamo to question detainees.

Subsequently, the aircraft changed hands multiple times in quick succession. On August 30, 2006, it was sold to Donna Blue Aircraft, owned by two Brazilians. On September 16, not even three weeks later, it was sold on to two Americans, Clyde O'Connor and Greg Smith references below. Over the next two days, money from the Americans trust company Powell Aircraft Title was used to acquire the aircraft for the drug trafficker Pedro Antonio "The Architect" Bermúdez Suaza.[28]

The aircraft departed Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport in Florida, USA, on September 18 for Cancun, Mexico, then flew on to Colombia to pick up the load of cocaine from the FARC rebel group before returning to Mexico. Bribes paid to local civil aviation officials in Cancun were supposed to allow the aircraft and its cargo to avoid customs on arrival, but only minutes from landing, Bermúdez personally phoned co-pilot Muñoz and demanded the crew divert to Manzanillo, over 1500 km to the west, on Mexico's Pacific coast. The flight had been tracked by the Mexican Air Force since it entered Mexican airspace and a heavy military presence was waiting for them on the ground at Cancun. When the Gulfstream deviated from its approach to Cancun, Mexican Air Force aircraft which had been shadowing it moved in to intercept. Trapped, the Gulfstream crew put their aircraft into orbit over the town of Tixkobob near Mérida in northwestern Yucatan for almost two hours before finally crash-landing in the jungle. Soldiers reached the crash site the next day, recovered 132 bags containing a total of 6.3 tons of cocaine from the wreckage and arrested the crew, who were injured and unable to flee.[29][30]

A week later, the head of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) in Cancun was found shot dead after being kidnapped from a soccer match. He had refused the cocaine-carrying Gulfstream permission to land at Cancun.[26][31]

N900SA[edit]

A McDonnell Douglas DC-9-15 aircraft with the former tail number N900SA (c/n 45775) was involved in drug smuggling and was caught with 5.5 tons of cocaine onboard after landing in Mexico on April 10, 2006. On April 13, 2006, the aircraft was deregistered and sold to an unknown customer in Venezuela. In December 2006, Mexican Newspaper Reforma reported the previously seized aircraft was being operated by the Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) to transport prisoners with extradition charges to the USA under Daniel Cabeza de Vaca and was based in Mexico City [32][33] as XC-LJZ.[34]

Boeing Jeppesen International Trip Planning[edit]

On October 23, 2006, the New Yorker claimed that Jeppesen International Trip Planning, a subsidiary of Boeing, handled the logistical planning for the CIA's extraordinary rendition flights. The allegation is based on information from an ex-employee who quoted Bob Overby, managing director of the company as saying "We do all of the extraordinary rendition flights—you know, the torture flights. Let's face it, some of these flights end up that way." The article went on to suggest that this may make Jeppesen a potential defendant in a lawsuit by Khaled El-Masri.[35]

Investigations concerning CIA flights[edit]

Apart from investigations concerning the extraordinary rendition program (see in particular the European Parliament February 2007 report, which concluded that the CIA had operated 1,245 flights on European territory[36]), several European countries have opened specific investigations concerning CIA flights.

Shannon Airport, Ireland[edit]

The government of the Republic of Ireland has come under internal and external pressure to inspect aircraft at Shannon Airport to investigate whether or not they contain extraordinary rendition captives.[37][38]

July 2005 opening of investigations in France[edit]

The French attorney general of Bobigny opened up an instruction in order "to verify the presence in Le Bourget Airport, on July 20, 2005, of the plane numbered N50BH." This instruction was opened following a complaint deposed in December 2005 by the Ligue des droits de l'homme (LDH) NGO ("Human Rights League") and the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) NGO on charges of "arbitrary detention", "crime of torture" and "non-respect of the rights of war prisoners". It has as objective to determine if the plane was used to transport CIA prisoners to Guantanamo Bay detainment camp and if the French authorities had knowledge of this stop. However, the lawyer defending the LDH declared that he was surprised that the instruction was only opened on January 20, 2006, and that no verifications had been done before. On December 2, 2005, conservative newspaper Le Figaro had revealed the existence of two CIA planes that had landed in France, suspected of transporting CIA prisoners. But the instruction concerned only N50BH, which was a Gulfstream III, which would have landed at Le Bourget on July 20, 2005, coming from Oslo, Norway. The other suspected aircraft would have landed in Brest on March 31, 2002. It is investigated by the Canadian authorities, as it would have been flying from St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada, via Keflavík in Iceland before going to Turkey.[39]

November 2005 opening of investigations in Spain[edit]

In November 2005, Spanish newspaper El País reported that CIA planes had landed in the Canary Islands and in Palma de Mallorca. An attorney opened up an investigation concerning these landings which, according to Madrid, were made without official knowledge, thus being a breach of national sovereignty.[40][41][42]

Germany[edit]

Business daily Handelsblatt reported November 24, 2005, that the CIA still uses an American military base in Germany to transport terrorism suspects without informing the German government. The Berliner Zeitung reported the following day there was documentation of 85 takeoffs and landings by planes with a "high probability" of being operated by the CIA, at Ramstein, the Rhein-Main Air Base and others. The newspaper cited experts and "plane-spotters" who observed the planes as responsible for the tally.[43]

2007 Investigations in Portugal[edit]

Portugal opened up an investigation concerning CIA flights in February 2007, on the basics of declarations by Socialist MEP Ana Gomes and by Rui Costa Pinto, journalist of Visão review. The Portuguese general prosecutor, Cândida Almeida, head of the Central Investigation and Penal Action Department (DCIAP), announced the opening of investigations on February 5, 2007. They will be centered on the issue of "torture or inhuman and cruel treatment," and instigated by allegations of "illegal activities and serious human rights violations" made by MEP Ana Gomes to the attorney general, Pinto Monteiro, on January 26, 2007.[44]

One of the most critic voice against the scarce collaboration provided by the Portuguese government to the European Parliament Commission which investigated CIA flights, Ana Gomes declared that, although she had no doubt that permission of these illegal flights were frequent during Durão Barroso (2002–2004) and Santana Lopes (2004–2005)' governments, "during the [Socialist] government of José Sócrates [2005-2011], 24 flights which passed through Portuguese territory" are registered.[45] Active in the TDIP commission, Ana Gomes complained about the Portuguese state's reluctance to provide information, leading her to tensions with the Foreign minister, Luís Amado, member of the same party. Ana Gomes declared herself satisfied with the opening of the investigations, but underlined that she had always claimed that a parliamentary inquiry would be necessary.[44]

On the other hand, journalist Rui Costa Pinto was heard by the DCIAP, as he had written an article, refused by Visão, about flights passing by Lajes Field, a Portuguese airbase used by the US Air Force, in the Azores.[44]

Approximately 150 CIA flights which have flown through Portugal have been identified.[46] 94 percent of the Guantanamo captives are reported to have been carried on planes that landed in Portugal.[47][48]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rendition FOIA request Glomar 
  2. ^ N221SG FAA registration record
  3. ^ Indymedia UK
  4. ^ "New CIA torture flights row", The Copenhagen Post, March 11, 2005
  5. ^ (Danish) Secret Flight Lands in Denmark TV2 Nyhederne October 29, 2005
  6. ^ Ian Cobain (8 April 2012). "Special report: Rendition ordeal that raises new questions about secret trials". The Guardian. 
  7. ^ a b Hundley, Tom, "Remote Polish airstrip holds clues to secret CIA flights", Chicago Tribune, Tuesday, February 6, 2007, Volume 160, Number 37, page 1, 14.
  8. ^ Airliner serial number database
  9. ^ Grey, Stephen, "Details of US 'torture by proxy flights' emerge", The Times, archived by NotInOurName.net
  10. ^ "Criminal Complaint", Statewatch
  11. ^ "Parliamentary Debates (Official Report - Unrevised)", Irish Government Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, December 20, 2005
  12. ^ "One Huge US Jail", The Guardian, March 19, 2005
  13. ^ Washington Post report
  14. ^ Not In Our Name.net
  15. ^ FAA registration record
  16. ^ "Aircraft Registration Database Lookup". airframes.org. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  17. ^ "Aircraft Registration Database Lookup". airframes.org. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  18. ^ "Photo search: VH-CCC". www.airliners.net. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  19. ^ "Instrument number CASA 08/09". Civil Aviation Safety Authority (Australia). www.casa.gov.au. January 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  20. ^ "FAA REGISTRY N-Number Inquiry Results". 
  21. ^ Willis, Dave, "Distinguished Airlift", Air Forces Monthly, May 2008, Stamford, Lincs, UK, page 79.
  22. ^ [1] Gulfstream N977GA at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk
  23. ^ Edes, Gordon, "CIA uses jet, Red Sox partner confirms", The Boston Globe, March 21, 2005
  24. ^ a b c d Crewdson, John, "Jet's Travels Cloaked in Mystery", Chicago Tribune, March 20, 2005, archived at CommonDreams.org
  25. ^ Airshow photos
  26. ^ a b Cancún: Investigan PGR en el aeropuerto
  27. ^ LiveLeak.com - Huge Cocaine Haul As Plane Crashes In Jungle
  28. ^ a b Diario La Estrella | 05/25/2009 | Colombiano ‘compra’ a policías en México y crea narcoimperio
  29. ^ News, "Mexican Aircraft Force Down Drug Running Gulfstream II", Air Forces Monthly, Stamford, Lincs, UK, Number 236, November 2007, page 14.
  30. ^ La Crónica de Hoy | La PGR detiene a dos tripulantes del narcoavión
  31. ^ Cancún Informa 新聞, ラジオ,テレビ: Identifican a uno de los verdugos de Soladana
  32. ^ Y estrenan avión... decomisado Abel Barajas. Reforma. Mexico City: Dec 24, 2006. pg. 1
  33. ^ Utilizan avión incautado Palabra. Saltillo, Mexico: Apr 11, 2007. pg. 16
  34. ^ http://www.edinavtn.co.uk/assets/files/PDFs/DC9.pdf
  35. ^ Mayer, Jane. The C.I.A.'s Travel Agent. The New Yorker. 2006-10-23.
  36. ^ "EU endorses damning report on CIA". BBC. February 14, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-14. 
  37. ^ Grey, Stephen (November 14, 2004). "US 'torture flights' stopped at Shannon". London: The Times. Retrieved 2005-09-08. 
  38. ^ "Investigations into CIA 'torture flights'". The Village. November 25, 2005. Retrieved 2006-09-07. [dead link]
  39. ^ "La France enquête sur les avions de la CIA" (in French). Le Figaro. February 2, 2006. 
  40. ^ "El Gobierno canario pide explicaciones sobre vuelos de la CIA en Tenerife". El Pais. November 16, 2005. 
  41. ^ "La Fiscalía de Canarias investigará las escalas de vuelos de la CIA en Tenerife y Gran Canaria". El Mundo. November 18, 2005. 
  42. ^ "Un supuesto avión de la CIA aterriza en la base portuguesa de Azores". Canarias 7. November 28, 2005. 
  43. ^ "CIA Uses German Bases to Transport Terrorists, Paper Says: Europe: Deutsche Welle: 25.11.2005". Retrieved 2005-12-18. 
  44. ^ a b c "Portugal: Renditions: Judicial investigation into CIA flights begins", Statewatch News Online, February 5–6, 2007 (available here)
  45. ^ Portugal/CIA.- La Fiscalía General abre una investigación sobre los supuestos vuelos ilegales de la CIA en Portugal, Europa Press, February 5, 2007 (Spanish)
  46. ^ Details about CIA flights requested to Portuguese government by MEP Ana Gomes. See "Portugal: Evidence of illegal CIA rendition flights surfacing", Statewatch, October 2006 available here (including documents)
  47. ^ "Guantanamo Bay, Capital da Má Onda…" (in Portuguese). Jornal de Peniche. 2008-02-08. Retrieved 2010-10-06.  mirror
  48. ^ "The Journey of Death -- Over 700 prisoners illegally rendered to Guantanamo Bay with the help of Portugal.". Reprieve. 2008-01-28. Retrieved 2008-07-29. Reprieve can now conclusively show that Portuguese territory and airspace has been used to transfer over 700 prisoners to torture and illegal imprisonment in Guantanamo Bay.  mirror

N987SA references[edit]

External links[edit]