The US government has designated Iraqi airline Fly Baghdad as a supporter of “Iran’s malign agenda” and sanctioned the business’s assets along with its CEO, Basheer Abdulkadhim Alwan al-Shabbani. 

The Department of State said the airline had materially aided the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and Iran-aligned militia groups in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. 

The US Treasury explained the airline had allowed personnel and materials belonging to designated terror groups, including the IRGC-QF and “Hizballah”. 

“Fly Baghdad flights have delivered shipments of weapons to Damascus International Airport in Syria for transfer to members of the IRGC-QF and Iran-aligned militia groups on the ground in Syria, including the Syrian Arab Republican Guard, Lebanese Hizballah, KH, and the KH-affiliated Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas Brigade,” it explained.   

These entities in Iran, Syria and Lebanon have been designated as terror groups by the US government and are therefore proscribed from doing business with companies in the US (or other sanctioning powers). 

The latest designations have been made in response to the ongoing conflict in Gaza which threatens to spread across the Middle East region. Fly Baghdad is accused of shipping weapons, money, and personnel “in support of the Iranian proxies’ attacks on Israel.”

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Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence Brian Nelson said: “Iran and its proxies have sought to abuse regional economies and use seemingly legitimate businesses as cover for funding and facilitating their attacks. The United States will continue to disrupt Iran’s illicit activities aimed at undermining the stability of the region.”

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which manages US sanctions and forfeiture, said any assets belonging to Fly Baghdad or al-Shabbani within the US will be seized or blocked, and any transactions through the US financial system will be prohibited. 

Any financial institution or business found to engage with Fly Baghdad or its CEO “may expose themselves to sanctions or be subject to an enforcement action.”