Details of Shannon Involvement in Renditions Published by The Rendition Project

A groundbreaking research project mapping the US government's programme of global rendition has just been launched. It is called The Rendition Project, and it contains a database of over 11,000 pieces of data on confirmed and suspected rendition flights and other flights from related carriers. Over 350 of these flights came through Shannon Airport.

The researchers behind the project are Dr Ruth Blakeley of the University of Kent and Dr Sam Raphael of Kingston University, London. The Rendition Flights database which they have compiled in collaboration with Reprieve represents the world's largest set of public flight data relating to aircraft suspected of involvement in the global network of renditions, secret detention and torture. It draws on testimony from detainees, Red Cross reports, courtroom evidence, flight records - including records provided by Shannonwatch - and invoices to document airports and carriers engaged in rendition operations. The data is graphically displayed with the data broken down into  ‘circuits of flights. These circuits are full trips made up of several different legs, including original journeys from the United States, so-called 'rest and relaxation' (R&R) stops in the Caribbean or the Canaries, refuelling stops such as those at Shannon, and the central rendition journeys themselves. A menu provides a range of ways for the information to be narrowed down - for example, circuits can be narrowed down to those involving particular individuals known to have been targets of rendition.

Although no detainees are known to have been aboard rendition aircraft while they were at Shannon, the Rendition Project data shows that the CIA was regularly allowed to refuel there during operations that involved some of the most notorious renditions of the post-September 11 years. The database contains information on 371 circuits by companies and aircraft linked to renditions that included Shannon. These are broken down by year as follows: 3 in 2001, 52 in 2002, 72 in 2003, 87 in 2004, 85 in 2005, 93 in 2006, 11 in 2007 and 2 in 2008.

Of these 371 circuits, 9 are classified as known rendition circuits, 3 are possible rendition circuits, 10 are suspicious and 33 are highly suspicious.

In addition, 28 flights linked to known or suspected rendition flights are documented as having passed through Dublin. These include 1 in 2002, 3 in 2004, 6 in 2005, 12 in 2006 and 6 in 2007. Only one of these is classified as suspicious.

The known rendition circuits involving Shannon are as follows:

N379P, July 2002: Rendition of Binyam Mohamed and two others from Pakistan to Morocco

On 21-22 July 2002, Binyam Mohamed was rendered, along with two unidentified detainees, from Pakistan to Morocco. They were flown in an unmarked Gulfstream V jet with registration N379P. This aircraft was operated by Premier Executive Transport Services, a CIA shell company, and was owned by Aerocontractors, a nominally independent company working exclusively for the CIA.

After off-loading Binyam in Rabat presumably alongside the two other detainees N379P flew back to Johnston County, via Shannon and Washington Dulles, arriving back in the evening of 23 July 2002.

N379P, September 2002: Rendition of Unidentified Detainee to Egypt/Morocco (via Diego Garcia), Hassan bin Attash from Afghanistan to Jordan, and Ramzi bin al-Shibh from Afghanistan to Morocco

Between 11-19 September 2002, CIA renditions aircraft N379P completed a global circuit involving stops in several key destinations, including Diego Garcia, Egypt, Morocco, Afghanistan and Jordan. Along the way, the aircraft undertook multiple renditions, transferring detainees between several destinations. Specifically, it is likely to have rendered Ramzi bin al-Shibh from Afghanistan to continued CIA detention in Morocco, and Hassan bin Attash from Afghanistan to proxy detention in Jordan. This circuit is also likely to have involved the rendition of a detainee from Southeast Asia to Egypt, via Diego Garcia.

N379P left Jordan in the evening of 17 September, flying to Rabat, Morocco (GMME), probably with bin al-Shibh on board. Having completed all of its renditions, the aircraft then flew to Shannon on 18 September, and then back to Johnston County via Washington on 19 September, landing in the early evening.

N85VM, February, 2003: Rendition of Abu Omar, Italy to Egypt (via Germany)

On 17 February 2003, Abu Omar (Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr) was rendered from Italy, where he had been kidnapped from the streets of Milan in a joint CIA-Italian operation, to Germany. The operation was undertaken onboard a US military aircraft, which flew Omar from the US airbase at Aviano to the US airbase at Ramstein. From Ramstein, Omar was transferred onto a private Gulfstream IV aircraft, with registration number N85VM, which was under contract with the CIA to perform rendition operations. He was flown from Germany to Egypt, where he was held and tortured for a total of four years. During this time he was repeatedly beaten, electrocuted and raped.

N85VM left Cairo in the early hours of 18 February and flew to Shannon, landing just before 6am. It then stayed on the ground until the afternoon, at which point it returned to Washington, and then to its home base of Columbia County Airport (K1B1), landing just after midnight on 19 February 2003.

N85VM, August 2003: Rendition of Hambali and Lillie, Thailand to Afghanistan (via Sri Lanka)

On 13 August 2003, Riduan Isamuddin (Hambali) and Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep (Lillie) were rendered from Thailand to CIA detention in Afghanistan. Both detainees were captured in Bangkok two days before, in a joint operation between the Thai security forces and the CIA. Their fate and whereabouts between that date and their appearance in Guantnamo Bay in September 2006 over three years later is still unclear. However, analysis of flight data by The Rendition Project has revealed that it is likely that the two detainees were rendered from Thailand to CIA detention in Afghanistan soon after their capture. Indeed, the Gulfstream IV jet with registration N85VM, operated by Richmor Aviation and known to be a key renditions aircraft, flew between Thailand and Afghanistan on 13 August 2003. After leaving Kabul it flew to Dubai (OMDB) and then Shannon, landing around lunchtime of 15 August. From Shannon, it returned to Washington and then Schenectady, landing in the evening of 15 August 2003.

N313P, January 2004: Multiple renditions of Binyam Mohamed (Morocco to Afghanistan) and Khaled el-Masri (Macedonia to Afghanistan)

On 22 January 2004, Binyam Mohamed was rendered for a second time, after being detained and tortured in Morocco for 18 months. He was flown in an unmarked 737 Boeing Business Jet, with registration N313P, to Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was held in a secret CIA prison called The Dark Prison.

Two days later, on 24 January 2004, Khaled el-Masri was rendered on the same aircraft from Skopje, Macedonia to Kabul, via Baghdad, where he was held for four months before the CIA realised that they had made a mistake and rendered him back to Europe.

In addition to these two known renditions, there is evidence to suggest that the full circuit included the rendition of three Algerian detainees from Afghanistan to Algeria, and one or more detainees from Afghanistan to secret detention in Romania.

N313P left its home base of Kinston Regional Airport (KISO) late in the evening of 15 January 2004, flying to Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD). It then left Washington just after midnight on 16 January, flying to Shannon. It stayed overnight in Shannon before flying on to Larnaca, Cyprus (LCLK) on 17 January, where it waited for four days.

N379P, January 2004: Rendition of Khaled al-Maqtari and others, Iraq to Afghanistan

On 22 January 2004, Khaled al-Maqtari was rendered from Iraq, where he had been tortured for over a week by US forces in Abu Ghraib prison, to Afghanistan, where he was held for several months in the 'Dark Prison', before being moved again to another CIA black site. The rendition operation was conducted using the CIA-owned Gulfstream V jet with tail number N379P (which by that time had been re-registered with tail number N8068V), and al-Maqtari has testified that there was at least one other detainee moved alongside him.

N379P (now registered as N8068V) left Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD) in the afternoon of 20 January 2004, having just completed a round trip from the US to Frankfurt, Germany. It flew to Shannon, landing in the evening and refuelling for just over an hour before flying to Larnaca, Cyprus (LCLK). The next day, N379P flew from Larnaca to Baghdad (ORBI), where it picked up Khaled al-Maqtari and at least one other detainee.

N313P, March 2004: Multiple renditions of Belhadj and Bouchar (Thailand to Libya, via Diego Garcia) and Rahmatullah and Ali (Iraq to Afghanistan)

Between 6-14 March 2004, CIA renditions aircraft N313P completed a global circuit involving stops in several key destinations, including Libya, Thailand, Diego Garcia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Along the way, the aircraft undertook multiple renditions, transferring detainees between several destinations. Specifically, it rendered Abdel Hakim Belhadj and Fatima Bouchar from Thailand to Libya (via a stopover in Diego Garcia), before almost certainly rendering two further detainees Yunus Rahmatullah and Amanatullah Ali from Iraq to Afghanistan.

After unloading Rahmatullah and Ali in Kabul, it then stayed on the tarmac until 13 March, when it returned to Europe, flying to Larnaca, Cyprus (LCLK) where it stayed overnight. In the morning of 14 March, the aircraft departed Cyprus, and flew to Shannon. It then left Shannon in the afternoon, heading back to Washington and then Kinston, arriving just before midnight on 14 March 2004.

N982RK, May 2004: Rendition of Khaled el-Masri, Afghanistan to Albania

On 28 May 2004, Khaled el-Masri was rendered from Afghanistan, where he had been held for four months in a secret CIA prison outside Kabul known as the 'Salt Pit', to Albania, where he was handed over to Albanian security forces who put him on a passenger flight to Germany. The rendition from Afghanistan to Albania was undertaken onboard a Gulfstream III jet with registration number N982RK. This aircraft had been contracted by the CIA for particular rendition flights, under its prime contract with DynCorp/Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), and was operated by Richmor Aviation, an operating company at the heart of the CIA's rendition programme. Less than two weeks later, it was back in Afghanistan, and involved in the aborted rendition of Laid Saidi (who had been held in the same prison as el-Masri) to Tunisa.

N982RK left its home base of Columbia County Airport (K1B1) in the evening of 25 May 2004, flying to Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD), where it stopped overnight. Late in the morning of 26 May, it then flew cross-Atlantic, landing in Shannon in the early evening. The aircraft stayed on the ground in Shannon for less than an hour while it refuelled, before flying to Larnaca, Cyprus (LCLK), landing at 22:55 GMT.

N85VM, September/October 2004: Rendition of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Morocco to Romania

On 1 October 2004, Ramzi bin al-Shibh was rendered between Morocco, where he had been held in secret detention since being transferred from Guantnamo Bay in March 2004, to Romania, where he continued to be held in secret detention. He was transferred on board the Gulfstream IV jet with registration number N85VM. This aircraft was operated by Richmor Aviation, a private charter company which was hired by broker SportsFlight Airways, on behalf of another broker, Capital Aviation. In turn, Capital Aviation was under contract with DynCorp  to provide aircraft for the CIA’s rendition programme.

After leaving Romania N85VM flew to Prague (LKPR) and then Shannon, landing in the afternoon of 2 October. After 50 minutes on the ground, it then flew to Washington and then back to Schenectady, landing in the early hours of 3 October 2004.

The three possible renditions circuits involving Shannon are

  • the possible rendition of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri Dubai to Afghanistan in November 2013. The aircraft involved, N85VM left Columbia County General Airport (K1B1), around lunchtime on 6 November 2002, flying to Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD). It left Dulles in the morning of 8 November 2002 and flew to Shannon. After landing at Shannon, the aircraft flew onto Dubai (OMDB), where it almost certainly picked up al-Nashiri, who had been in Emirati detention since his capture.
  • the possible rendition of Gouled Hassan Dourad, Djibouti to Afghanistan, Morocco or Guantanamo Bay in March 2004. The aircraft involved N379P left its home base of Johnston County Airport (KJNX) in the afternoon of 6 March 2004, flying to Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD). It stopped there for around three hours, then flew cross-Atlantic to Shannon, landing just after midnight on 7 March 2004. An hour later, it had left Shannon, flying direct to Djibouti, where Dourad is likely to have been loaded on board. It then left Djibouti in the evening of 8 March and flew direct to Kabul, Afghanistan (OAKB). There the aircraft disappears from records. However, 48 hours later it is in Morocco, leaving Rabat (GMME) and flying to Guantnamo Bay (MUGM). If Dourad was picked up in Djibouti - a likley prospect given the dates - he may have been transferred to Afghanistan or Morocco, or kept onboard all the way to Guantanamo.
  • the possible rendition of High-Value Detainees, Romania to Lithuania in October 2005. This involved aircraft N308AB landing at Shannon on 6 October 2005.

Getting at the evidence to link airports and authorities to renditions circuits is not an easy task. Indeed the Rendition Project researchers note the lengths US authorities went to in attempts to hide rendition flights. They even identify many of the dummy flight plans that were given to air traffic authorities, and then never flown. Instead, the planes flew to entirely different airfields - often in different countries altogether - typically with a detainee on board.

The Rendition Flights Database provides concrete evidence regarding the involvement of 16 US-registered civilian aircraft in the rendition of detainees. These are listed here. They also identify numerous companies that have owned, operated and supported the aircraft linked to the renditions programme, or have acted as brokers that sourced the operating companies to supply the aircraft for the CIA. They say that although there is much that remains unknown or unclear about corporate involvement in rendition and secret detention, The Rendition Project will be continuing its work on this throughout 2013.

The Rendition Project website is intended to serve as a research tool that not only collates all the publicly available data about the programme, but can be updated as further information comes to light. Shannonwatch will continue to collaborate with the researchers to ensure that any new information that comes to light about Shannon will be added.

References

Sam Raphael (2013), Rendition Flights Database, available online: http://www.therenditionproject.org.uk/global-rendition/the-flights/index.html, accessed 26 May 2013.

Ruth Blakeley and Sam Raphael (2013), Rendition Circuits, avilable online: http://www.therenditionproject.org.uk/global-rendition/the-flights/rendition-circuits/index.html, accessed 26 May 2013.

Share this