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06 December, 2021
 
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Cyprus brings FBI to check mystery plane

FBI experts beat UN inspectors to Cyprus to examine aircraft suspected of violating embargos on Libya

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FBI experts were in Cyprus heading to Paphos airport on Tuesday morning to inspect a mystery plane stored in a private hangar, following a UN report calling on inspections to be carried on the possibly-modified plane believed to have violated embargos in war-torn Libya.

Local media this week said agents from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation came to Cyprus to examine an aircraft suspected of violating UN Security Council resolutions on the transfer of military equipment to Libya.

Previous reports said experts from the United Nations were scheduled to arrive in the Republic of Cyprus in November to open a sealed hangar at Paphos International Airport and inspect the aircraft which is thought to be a T-Bird.

The FBI experts will join state pyrotechnicians in the private hangar to unseal the aircraft and determine whether it has or had any military equipment or capabilities to transport weapons

But the Cypriot foreign ministry was also said to be in talks with UN officials on the matter, with Philenews reporting on Tuesday that FBI agents have come to the island in collaboration with the United Nations.

Police spokesperson Christos Andreou said on Tuesday that an agreement has been reached for American experts to share findings with UN officials.

The FBI experts will join police officers and state pyrotechnicians in a private hangar at PFO, where the plane has been stored since July 2019 - and sealed since August 2021, in order to unseal the aircraft and determine whether there is or was any military equipment or capabilities to transport weapons.

Previous reports said the plane, which was registered with Serbian authorities as a non-commercial aircraft, traveled to Jordan in June 2019. Despite having filed a flight plan to Libya, reports said Annan ordered parts to be removed and the plane ended up flying to Larnaca on or around July 22. It was then flown to Paphos where it was stored in a private hangar. 

Trump ally accused of violating UN resolutions

But UN experts believe the plane might be linked to an alleged $80 million scheme by US security contractor Erik Prince to supply weapons to a Libyan militia commander in violation of a decade-long arms embargo.

Prince, a prominent supporter of former president Donald Trump, was the former head of the security contractor Blackwater Worldwide, accused of violating a UN arms embargo on Libya by sending weapons to a militia commander who was attempting to overthrow the internationally backed government.

In April 2019, there were mixed signals from the United States after Trump phoned Libyan warlord Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar “as a favour” to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who had just visited Washington.

Europe and other countries including Gulf states have been divided over a push by Haftar's forces to seize Tripoli, where the UN-backed Government of National Accord is based.

Additional reports said modified planes were thought to have taken part in armed conflict in the war-torn country.

TAGS
Cyprus  |  Paphos  |  PFO  |  Libya  |  Erik Prince  |  UN embargo  |  T-Bird  |  modified plane  |  FBI  |  warlord  |  Haftar

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