Iran's bombIran gearing up for a post-attack retaliatory campaign in Western Hemisphere

Published 19 August 2010

In February 2007, Iran Air launched flight 744 — a bimonthly flight that originates in Tehran and flies directly to Caracas with periodic stops in Beirut and Damascus; passengers cannot book a seat on the flight because it has never been opened to the public; U.S. intelligence services have been worried for a while now that the flight is used for two purposes: first, for smuggling nuclear weapons-related materials into Iran, and, second — in cooperation with Venezuela — for setting up a network of Iranian operatives to retaliate against U.S. targets and Jewish communities in the Western Hemisphere in the event of a U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities

Iran Air jetliner in flight // Source:

Iran Air 744 is a bimonthly flight that originates in Tehran and flies directly to Caracas with periodic stops in Beirut and Damascus. The maiden flight was 2 February 2007. The existence of the flight was a significant concern for U.S. intelligence officials, but now a broader concern is who and what are aboard the flights.

If you [a member of the public] tried to book yourself a seat on this flight and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a week before, a month before, six months before — you’ll never find a place to sit there,” says Offer Baruch, a former Israeli Shin Bet agent. Baruch, now vice president of operations for International Shield, a security firm in Texas, says the plane is reserved for Iranian agents, including “Hezbollah, the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) and other intelligence personnel.”’s J. J. Green writes that current and former U.S. intelligence official fear the flight is a shadowy way to move people and weapons to locations in Latin America that can be used as staging points for retaliatory attacks against the United States or its interests in the event Iranian nuclear sites are struck by U.S. or Israeli military forces.

My understanding is that this flight not only goes from Caracas to Damascus to Tehran perhaps twice a month, but it also occasionally makes stops in Lebanon as well, and the passengers on that flight are not processed through normal Venezuelan immigrations or customs. They are processed separately when they come into the country,” says Peter Brookes, senior fellow for National Security Affairs at the Heritage Foundation.

The 16-hour flight typically leaves Tehran and stops at Damascus International Airport (DAM), which is Syria’s busiest. In 2009 almost 4.5 million passengers used the airport. After a 90-minute layover, the flight continues the remaining fourteen hours to Venezuela’s Caracas Maiquetía International Airport (CCS). Upon arrival, the plane is met by special Venezuelan forces and sequestered from other arrivals.

It says that something secretive or clandestine is going on that they don’t want the international community to know about,” says Brookes, a former deputy assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs and CIA employee. “The fact that there is a flight is of course of interest, but the fact that not anybody can gain access to this flight or buy a ticket for that flight is of particular curiosity and should be of concern to the United States.”

Green writes