Press Releases

Treasury Department Targets Those Involved in Iranian Scheme to Purchase Airplanes

(Archived Content)

Action Targets an Iraqi Airline, a Syrian Businessman, and his Emirati Company for
Providing Support to a Designated Iranian Airline
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today announced the designation of Iraq-based Al-Naser Airlines, Syrian businessman Issam Shammout, and his UAE-based Sky Blue Bird Aviation for providing support to Iran's Mahan Air.  These entities and this individual have been designated pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, a counter-terrorism authority.  Mahan Air was designated in October 2011 pursuant to E.O. 13224 for providing financial, material and technological support to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF).  The IRGC-QF was designated under E.O. 13224 in 2007 for its support to numerous terrorist groups. 
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) today also issued an order denying the export privileges of Al-Naser Airlines, Bahar Safwa General Trading, and Ali Abdullah Alhay for ongoing efforts to illegally export civilian aircraft to Mahan Air in violation of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).  The BIS order adds the parties to an existing Temporary Denial Order (TDO) against Mahan Air of Iran.  TDOs deny not only the right to export from the United States, but also the right to receive or participate in exports and reexports from the United States or in other transactions that are subject to the EAR.
These designations are the result of a U.S. Government-wide effort targeting Al-Naser's procurement of aircraft for Mahan Air.  The Department of the Treasury and the Department of Commerce's efforts have led to the disruption of financial relationships and the detention of separate aircraft intended for Mahan Air worth millions of dollars.
Today’s actions also demonstrate the United States’ ongoing commitment to enforce existing sanctions and to target support to designated terrorist entities.
“We will continue to actively counter Iranian sanctions evasion, whether in support of terrorist entities or other sanctioned parties, said Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam J. Szubin.  We will not hesitate to sanction those who help in these endeavors.
Al-Naser Airlines in early May 2015 transferred at least eight Airbus A340 and one Airbus A320 aircraft to Mahan Air in Iran. Al-Naser since at least late 2013 has worked as a cutout to procure the Airbus aircraft from unwitting European vendors, for which Mahan Air paid tens of millions of dollars each.
Issam Shammout and his company Sky Blue Bird Aviation help Mahan Air procure aircraft and parts.  Shammout is a Syrian businessman who is also the Chairman of Syria-based Cham Wings, which the Commerce Department listed on its Entity List in August 2011.
Given that Mahan Air’s property and interests in property within U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, the Treasury Department is also identifying the nine aircraft recently transferred from Al-Naser Airlines to Mahan Air as property in which Mahan Air has an interest.  Mahan Air works with the IRGC-QF to ferry operatives, weapons, and funds in support of the Asad regime on its flights to Syria, and also provides transportation services to Lebanese Hizballah, which has been separately designated as a terrorist group.
As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property under U.S. jurisdiction in which Al-Naser Airlines, Sky Blue Bird Aviation, or Issam Shammout have an interest are blocked, and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.  Today's identification of the nine aircraft in which Mahan Air has a blockable interest will make it easier for interested parties to keep track of this blocked property, and more difficult for Iran to use deceptive practices to try to evade sanctions.
Identifying Information
Name: Al-Naser Airlines
Address: Al-Karrada, Babil Region - District 929, St. 21, Home 46, Baghdad, Iraq
Address: P.O. Box 28360, Dubai, UAE
Address: P.O. Box 911399, Amman 11191, Jordan
Name: Issam Shammout
Name: Muhammad Isam Muhammad Anwar Nur Shammout
Date of birth: 26 August 1971
Passport number: Syrian Passport 006327129
Name: Sky Blue Bird Aviation
AKA: Sky Blue Bird FZE
AKA: Sky Blue Airlines
Address: P.O. Box 16111, Ras al Khaimah Trade Zone, UAE
Aircraft: A340-642, MSN 391, tail number EP-MMH, manufacture date 2002
Aircraft: A340-642, MSN 449, last known tail number YI-NAE, manufacture date 2002
Aircraft: A340-642, MSN 416, last known tail number YI-NAD, manufacture date 2002
Aircraft: A340-642, MSN 371, last known tail number YI-NAC, manufacture date 2001
Aircraft: A340-642, MSN 376, last known tail number YI-NAB, manufacture date 2002
Aircraft: A340-642, MSN 383, last known tail number YI-NAA, manufacture date 2002
Aircraft: A340-642, MSN 615, last known tail number G-VSSH, manufacture date 2004
Aircraft: A340-313X, MSN 164, last known tail number G-VAIR, manufacture date 1997
Aircraft: A321-131, MSN 550, last known tail number 2-WGLP, manufacture date 1995