Monday, March 1, 2010

Three Iran Air Force F-4 Phantoms brought down Rigi

File photo: IRIAF F-4E Phantom II strike fighters

More details have emerged concerning the Iranian Air Force's successful forced landing of a Kyrgyzstan Airlines B-737 carrying wanted terrorist leader Rigi. According to Fars News Agency there were actually three IRIAF F-4 Phantoms used in the operation:
Several Iranian F4 fighter jets stopped the plane carrying the ringleader of the Jundollah terrorist group, Abdolmalek Rigi, from escaping the country's airspace, a senior Iranian official said on Monday, explaining Rigi's last-ditch efforts to escape Iranian authorities last week.

"The plane carrying the terrorist aimed to soar and escape from the hands of the Army's fighter jets," Supreme Leader's Chief of Staff in Political and Religious Affairs Hojjatoleslam Qolamreza Safayee said. 

He said Rigi did not even think of being identified by the Iranian security forces after boarding on the Kyrgyz airliner because he was wearing make-up to disguise his face and was using a fake passport. 

"After the Boeing jet carrying Rigi entered Iran's airspace at 1:40 am local time, an F-4 fighter jet took off to escort the plane and ordered the Kyrgyz airliner to land in Iran's southern port city of Bandar Abbas, but the pilot refrained to do so, Safayee continued. 

But the plane eventually landed after it saw two more Iranian F4 fighter jets were escorting it.

Recap: Rigi's passenger plane (likely B-737, Kyrgyzstan Airlines QH 454, operated by Eastok Avia), enroute from Dubai (DXB / OMDB) to Bishkek-Manas, Kyrgyzstan (FRU / UAFM), with 113 passengers onboard, was forced to land at Bandar Abbas/TFB.9 (BND / OIKB) by three intercepting IRIAF F-4E Phantom II strike fighters (likely 91 TFS).

On a related note, Iran's deputy foreign minister officially apologized for intercepting a Kyrgyz passenger plane in Iranian airspace, Kyrgyzstan's foreign ministry said on Monday.

File photo: Kyrgyzstan Airlines B-737 aircraft

File photos: Babak, Maksimov Maxim @


Anonymous said...

Kyrgyzstan denies this :

Mark Pyruz said...


Here's the RIA Novosti report for Kyrgyzstan's foreign ministry statement regarding Iran's formal apology for the incident. There's no mention of a denial on the part of Kyrgyzstan's foreign ministry, implying a contradiction of the BBC report. The account of a previous AFP report out of Bishkek also contradicts the upshot of this BBC report.

Paul Iddon said...

great pic of the F-4's :)

Anonymous said...


Here is the denial of the Kyrgyzstan foreign ministry from their own website:

As for RIA Novosti’s coverage, while it is true that in their English-language section they reflect Iran’s apology, but not the denial of Rigi’s arrest on the Kyrgyz airliner, in their Persian language section they do cover that part of the news too! See:

The F4 story, although attractive, is likely to be false. Fars News is very unreliable and the de facto mouthpiece of the IRGC and security services. As such, it does not allow something as prosaic as facts to stand in the way of good propaganda. (It once reported that Neda Agha-Soltan was alive and living in Greece, and, more recently, that Mousavi escaped the February 11 rallies dressed as a woman!)

Another regime mouthpiece, Kayhan, had earlier claimed that it was a number F14s that had forced the airliner to land and had even published a very amateurish montage of an F14 next to an airliner!

When I watched a supposed Iranian security agent (suitably back-lit to protect his identity ans et the mood!) describe his version of events on Iran state TV, he made no mention of fighter escorts and merely said that the Kyrgyz airliner had been ordered to land in Bandar Abbas.

Mark Pyruz said...


It's a direct contradiction to Kyrgyzstan's statement dated four days ago:

"Iran forced one of its planes to land and arrested two of the passengers"

It also contradicts the previous officialstatement from Dubai:

"[Rigi] made a two-hour stop-over in Dubai as he arrived from Kabul en route to Kyrgyzstan"

Why the change of story out of Kyrgyzstan? I wonder if Ambassador Holbrooke's trip had anything to do with it? :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Pyruz

UAE did NOT say Rigi had spent two hours there. I have explained this in my comment in the next posting.

Anonymous said...

If Americans were so keen on meeting Rigi in Bishkek, why didn't they simply fly him out of Kabul to Bishkek on one of their military flights, in complete secrecy?

According to Tehran claims, Rigi was in Afghanistan and taken to an airbase in Kandahar very shortly before his arrest.

So, why the circuitous route back to Pakistan, then to UAE en route to Bishkek, when the route from Aghanistan is much nearer and more secure?

If, as Tehran claims, no less a person than Ambassador Holbrook was coming to meet Rigi, could the Americans not find him a seat on a military cargo plane flying Kabul or Kandahar to Bishkek?!

Mark Pyruz said...

Anon, I must admit I find this amusing.

Either the Iranians were involved in a daring operation, involving VEVAK and the IRIAF,


The Iranians have engaged in a near masterpiece of international intrigue and deception.

I mean, the IDs, travel docs, the persons in Dubai, the jet fighter scramble, the plane forced to land, the plane stormed by security, the men removed, the airport official in Bishbek, the men shuttled to captivity, the earlier explanation out of Kyrgyzstan... Elaborate to the extreme.

I know conspiracy is in the blood of Iranians. That said, I'm usually inclined to accept the more straightforward explanation.

Which is to say that both explanations are possible. Again, bottom line: a dangerous terrorist is in custody. And that's a good thing.

Anonymous said...


The second scenario is the likelier one, but there is nothing “masterful” about this attempted deception, since the whole story is unravelling.

Kemjika said...

Anonymous, 1st of all, the reason why The US wouldn't fly Rigi out of Kabul straight to Kyrgzstan is because Rigi is not a proven assett yet.Iran can probably hurt the baluch region more than the US can protect Rigi. Rigi is also iranian! Iran seems to be generally nationalistic to say the least,so he can probably only use nationalism so far.Also, he is based out of pakistan. pakistan definitely doesnt more co-operation between Iran and India either. ;)
Jundollah,pejak,MKO, etc. are becoming proxy forces for ISrael and the US it seems. Offcourse intercepted the flight to kyrgstan. didn't you see the video? there was very little motive for Iran to lie about the whole scenario in which this incident happened.

Anonymous said...

There are several very interesting points about this incident, but first and foremost a lot of people are so busy with their blind hatered for the Islamic Republic that they are missing the big picture:
It really does not matter whether Pakistani agents arrested Rigi and gave him to Iran from the border or that they gave Iran the intelligence regarding his flight.
Even if Pakistanis were directly involved (which I seriously suspect that they were)this mainly shows one thing:
Iran has stronger connections in this region than USA. Just as so embaressing it was that Ahmad Chelebi turned away from USA and started to cooperate with Iranians, it is similarly embaressing for the USA that Pakistan has decided to cooperate with Iran rather than taking the side of USA and its proxies!
People speak as if the Pakistanis being directly involved would make it any less of a victory for Iran!!
Having said all these let's come to some other interesting points regarding this incident:
1) It is very stupid of Rigi to have taken a flight knowing that it would pass through Iranian airspace. It was horriblly stupid of him. Of course that is if the story of the Iran forcing his aeroplane down is indeed correct. Also again I think even if this is the case in all likelihood (but of course no one can say it for sure), Pakistanis must have let the Iranians know about the flight and the fact that Rigi was on board. I am sure CIA is trying to find who has planned this flight route, it shouldnt be so difficult to find out who has helped Iranians.
2)If Pakistanis were the ones who arrested him and gave him to Iranians from the border (and in my opinion this is a bit unlikely, I don't think that Pakistanis would be able to do this under the nose of Americans and CIA operatives in their country) then why would Iranians make such a charade about filming his arrest from the Aeroplane? After all since Pakistanis very clearly have expressed their direct involvement in the arrest of Rigi, they wouldnt hesitate at all in saying that they had arrested him on their own soil and had extradited him to Iran from a border crossing!
3)3 F-4's forcing a "civilian airliner" to land in Bandar Abbas is neither a source of pride to IRIAF nor a source of pride to the Iranian RADAR coverage:
Even an ancient ME-262 is good enough to force a civilian airliner to land! And since civilian airliners don't try to "sneak into" other countries' air space using the pores and holes in their RADAR coverage, it is not a source of pride for Iran's RADAR coverage to have detected and tracked the airliner!!