Journalist Interrogated, Fired For Story Linking CIA And Syria Weapons Flights

Tyler Durden's picture

A months-long investigation which tracked and exposed a massive covert weapons shipment network to terror groups in Syria via diplomatic flights originating in the Caucuses and Eastern Europe under the watch of the CIA and other intelligence agencies has resulted in the interrogation and firing of the Bulgarian journalist who first broke the story. This comes as the original report is finally breaking into mainstream international coverage.

Investigative reporter Dilyana Gaytandzhieva authored a bombshell report for Trud Newspaper, based in Sofia, Bulgaria, which found that an Azerbaijan state airline company was regularly transporting tons of weaponry to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Turkey under diplomatic cover as part of the CIA covert program to supply anti-Assad fighters in Syria. Those weapons, Gaytandzhieva found, ended up in the hands of ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq and Syria.

While it's long been understood that the US-Gulf-NATO coalition arming rebels inside Syria facilitated the rapid rise of the Islamic State as the group had steady access to a "jihadi Wal-Mart" of weapons (in the words of one former spy and British diplomat), the Trud Newspaper report is the first to provide exhaustive documentation detailing the precise logistical chain of the weapons as they flowed from their country of origin to the battlefield in Syria and Iraq. Gaytandzhieva even traveled to Aleppo where she filmed and examined labeled weapons shipping containers held in underground jihadist storehouses.

The Bulgaria-based journalist obtained and published dozens of secret internal memos which were leaked to her by an anonymous source as part of the report. The leaked documents appear to be internal communications between the Bulgarian government and Azerbaijan's Embassy in Sofia detailing flight plans for Silk Way Airlines, which was essentially operating an "off the books" weapons transport service (not subject to inspections or tax under diplomatic cover) for the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), Saudi Arabia, Israel, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. Silk Way Airlines has been the subject of other recent investigations involving weapons supplies for the Saudi war on Yemen. In addition, the military monitoring site Balkan Insight has exposed similar weapons cargo flights in and out of neighboring Serbia.

Silk Way Airlines flight over Birmingham (UK). Image source: Flickr

But perhaps the more explosive finding involves private American companies contracting with the US government to help train and equip militants in Syria. An investigative series by Buzzfeed - the first of which was published in 2015 - named military contractor Purple Shovel LLC as the recipient of two no-bid contracts totaling more $50 million as part of the US train and equip program for Syria. Gaytandzhieva's report definitively links Purple Shovel and other private American military contractors to the Azerbaijan Silk Way Airlines shipments. One leaked memo includes a cargo manifest for multiple tons of anti-tank grenades purchased in Bulgaria by Purple Shovel which were ostensibly designated for the official consignee - the Ministry of Defense of Ajerbaijan - but which never made it to Ajerbaijan. The documents, however, reveal that the military cargo was offloaded at Turkey's Incirlik air base, which is one of the US and NATO's main command centers for covert operations in Syria.

Though Gaytandzhieva's report is months old and began through a series of smaller investigations, it gained little traction in Western or international press, even though it was promoted on social media and discussed among some of the world's foremost experts on Syria and the Middle East. However, on Sunday Qatar-based Al Jazeera featured the story while reporting the shocking news that Gaytandzhieva had been interrogated by Bulgarian authorities before being fired from her newspaper:

Gaytandzhieva said on Thursday in a tweet that she was fired from her job at Trud after she was interrogated by the Bulgarian national security which tried to find out her sources.


She said she first got suspicious of the weapons transferred to Syria when she found Bulgarian-made weapons at the hands "terrorists" in Aleppo while reporting on the Syrian war there.


She said that she then traced those weapons to its Bulgarian manufacturer only to find out that those weapons were legally exported to Saudi Arabia, which in turn supplied it to "terrorists" in Syria.

Al Jazeera is now belatedly highlighting the story in the midst of the current Qatari-Saudi diplomatic war which has resulted in a general airing of dirty laundry as each side continues to accuse the other of supporting terrorism. Regardless, Al Jazeera's coverage constitutes the first time this story has entered the mainstream. While we've reported the recent Trump decision to end the CIA covert program of regime change in Syria, it appears the apparatus for external weapons shipments to jihadists in Syria remains in place through the continuing Silk Way Airlines weapons pipeline. As Al Jazeera reports:

Speaking to Al Jazeera by phone on Sunday from Bulgaria, Gaytandzhieva said: "Saudi Arabia, UAE and the US must stop using the cover of Silk Way Airlines diplomatic flights to supply Eastern European weapons which end up in the hands of terrorists around the world. Diplomatic flights are exempt from checks and inspection."

Tracking weapons from Eastern Europe to Syrian al-Qaeda: December 2016 Bulgarian news broadcast by Dilyana Gaytandzhieva. Brief English commentary begins at 1:00 mark. The report investigates Bulgarian origin rockets and weaponry said to have been in possession of Nusra Front (AQ in Syria). Leaked documents would later confirm Bulgarian weapons shipped to Saudi Arabia as part of the covert Syria program.

Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) also carried out their own lengthy investigations which are consistent with Trud News journalist Gaytandzhieva's findings. Infographic source: Balkan Insight

The CIA program relied heavily on US ally Saudi Arabia to arm anti-Assad jihadists, and while it appears that the White House recently ended the CIA side of things, there's no evidence to suggest that Saudi Arabia or other participating allied countries ever ceased or even slowed their part of the operations. Also, given that both the CIA and Pentagon contract with private firms acting as middle men to get weapons to the Syrian battlefield, it is uncertain if all aspects of the CIA program have really been shut down. Historically, the CIA has sometimes farmed out legally questionable activities to private contractors for the sake of 'plausible deniability'. Furthermore, the Pentagon side of the program, which supplies Kurdish and Arab groups in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) appears to be ramping up of late.

Given the latest development of Trud Newspaper firing its own journalist and Bulgarian authorities attempting to locate her sources, it is entirely possible and likely that pressure is building for Trud to remove the story from its website. The new Al Jazeera story has brought fresh international attention to Gaytandzhieva's findings, which is sure to increase the controversy.


Below are excerpts from the original Trud report with images of select leaked documents. The original report contains dozens of downloadable leaked memos which were translated with contents summarized by Dilyana Gaytandzhieva.

Government docs leaked by hackers ("Anonymous Bulgaria") reveal weapons pipeline to terrorists in Syria:

According to these documents, Silk Way Airlines offered diplomatic flights to private companies and arms manufacturers from the US, Balkans, and Israel, as well as to the militaries of Saudi Arabia, UAE, and US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), and the military forces of Germany and Denmark in Afghanistan and of Sweden in Iraq. Diplomatic flights are exempt of checks, air bills, and taxes, meaning that Silk Way airplanes freely transported hundreds of tons of weapons to different locations around the world without regulation. They made technical landings with stays varying from a few hours to up to a day in intermediary locations without any logical reasons such as needing to refuel the planes.

U.S. sends $1 billion worth of weapons

Among the main customers of the “diplomatic flights for weapons” service provided by Silk Way Airlines are American companies, which supply weapons to the US army and US Special Operations Command. The common element in these cases is that they all supply non-US standard weapons; hence, the weapons are not used by the US forces.

According to the register of federal contracts, over the last 3 years American companies were awarded $1billion contracts it total under a special US government program for non-US standard weapon supplies. All of them used Silk Way Airlines for the transport of weapons. In some cases when Silk Way was short of aircrafts due to a busy schedule, Azerbaijan Air Force aircrafts transported the military cargo, although weapons never reached Azerbaijan.

The documents leaked from the Embassy include shocking examples of weapon transport. A case in point: on 12th May 2015 an aircraft of Azerbaijan Air Forces carried 7.9 tons of PG-7V and 10 tons of PG-9V the supposed destination via the route Burgas (Bulgaria)-Incirlik (Turkey)-Burgas-Nasosny (Azerbaijan). The consignor was the American company Purple Shovel, and the consignee – the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan. According to the documents, however, the military cargo was offloaded at Incirlik military base and never reached the consignee. The weapons were sold to Purple Shovel by Alguns, Bulgaria, and manufactured by Bulgaria’s VMZ military plant.

According to the federal contracts registry, in December of 2014 USSOCOM signed a $26.7 million contract with Purple Shovel. Bulgaria was indicated as the country of origin of the weapons.

US covert program sent Bulgarian weapons to Al Qaeda via private military contractor 

On 6 June 2015, a 41-year old American national Francis Norvello, an employee of Purple Shovel, was killed in a blast when a rocket-propelled grenade malfunctioned at a military range near the village of Anevo in Bulgaria. Two other Americans and two Bulgarians were also injured. The US Embassy to Bulgaria then released a statement announcing that the U.S. government contractors were working on a U.S. military program to train and equip moderate rebels in Syria. Which resulted in the U.S. Ambassador to Sofia to be immediately withdrawn from her post. They very same weapons as those supplied by Purple Shovel were not used by moderate rebels in Syria. In December of last year while reporting on the battle of Aleppo as a correspondent for Bulgarian media I found and filmed 9 underground warehoused full of heavy weapons with Bulgaria as their country of origin. They were used by Al Nusra Front (Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria designated as a terrorist organization by the UN).

Saudi Arabia – sponsor and arms distributor

Besides the USA, another country that has purchased huge quantities of Eastern-European weapons and exported them on Silk Way Airlines diplomatic flights is Saudi Arabia. In 2016 and 2017, there were 23 diplomatic flights carrying weapons from Bulgaria, Serbia and Azerbaijan to Jeddah and Riyadh. The consignees were VMZ military plant and Transmobile from Bulgaria, Yugoimport from Serbia, and CHIHAZ from Azerbaijan.

The Kingdom does not buy those weapons for itself, as the Saudi army used only western weapons and those weapons are not compatible with its military standard. Therefore, the weapons transported on diplomatic flights end up in the hands of the terrorist militants in Syria and Yemen that Saudi Arabia officially admits supporting.

Report links internationally transported weapons to ISIS

On 5 March 2016, an Azerbaijan Air Force aircraft carried 1700 pcs. RPG-7 (consignor: Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan) and 2500 pcs. PG-7VM (consignor: Transmobile Ltd., Bulgaria) for the Defense Ministry of Saudi Arabia. Diplomatic flights from Burgas Airport to Prince Sultan Airport on 18 and 28 February 2017 each carried a further 5080 psc. 40 mm PG-7V for RPG-7 and 24 978 psc. RGD-5. The weapons were exported by Transmobile, Bulgaria to the Ministry of Defense of Saudi Arabia. Such munitions and RPG-7 originating in Bulgaria can often be seen in videos filmed and posted by the Islamic State on their propaganda channels.

Weapons on Silk Way flight manifests appear on the Syrian battlefield months after arrival in Turkey and Saudi Arabia

The 41.2-ton cargo from Baku and Belgrade included: 7.62 mm cartridges, 12 pcs. sniper rifles, 25 pcs. M12 “Black Spear” caliber 12.7x108mm, 25 psc. RBG 40x46 mm/6M11, and 25 pcs. Coyote machine gun 12.7x108 mm with tripods. The same heavy machine gun appeared in videos and photos posted online by militant groups in Idlib and the province of Hama in Syria a few months later. The aircraft also carried: 1999 psc. M70B1 7.62x39 mm and 25 psc. M69A 82 mm. On 26 February 2016, a video featuring same M69A 82 mm weapons was posted on YouTube by a militant group calling itself Division 13 and fighting north of Aleppo.

Interestingly, the aircraft that carried the same type of weapons landed in Diyarbakir (Turkey), 235 km away from the border with Syria. Another type of weapon, RBG 40 mm/6M11, which was from the same flight and supposedly destined for Congo too, appeared in a video of the Islamic Brigade of Al Safwa in Northern Aleppo.

After Turkey, the aircraft landed in Saudi Arabia and remained there for a day. Afterwards it landed in Congo and Burkina Faso. A week later, there was an attempted military coup in Burkina Faso.

Full report and downloadable copies of leaked documents are also available here.

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AntiMatter's picture
Behind the Sudden Death of a $1 Billion Secret C.I.A. War in Syria

".....including in 2015 when rebels using tank-destroying missiles, supplied by the C.I.A. and also Saudi Arabia, routed government forces in northern Syria."

Mike Masr's picture

So the real guilty party with regards to civilian deaths in Syria is not assad, it's the US and CIA!!!

nevertheless's picture

Well, the "US" is actually run by Zionists, which are anything but representative of the US people. 

Max Cynical's picture

Any chemical weapons in those shipments?

Zwelgje's picture

Oh dear, you really believe those accusations? 

TeaClipper's picture

You dont have to believe bozo. Read the fucking documents.

VW Nerd's picture

Looks like the majority of the shipments are flown right over Syria, Iraq and Iran.  These countries should at least spare their dignity and declare a no fly zone in their airspace for any flights in or out of the UAE,Saudi Arabia, Quatar & Yemen.  Maybe down a couple SW jets just to make the point.

JohninMK's picture

Better still, use the RuAF fighters based there to force one to land.

Then with maximum press publicity unload the consignment.

otschelnik's picture

Azeri's??  Interesting.  On Russian designed IL-76's produced in Uzbekistan.

highwaytoserfdom's picture

Mr.  Jones  the Joan River story should get the eyes,  and stories like this should be the prize. 

Lex_Luthor's picture

No better way to confess than this!

nevertheless's picture

And behind the CIA, State Dept, Pentagon, is the Zionist machine that run the show. 



Everybodys All American's picture

Anyone who thinks that the CIA has not been infiltrated by rogue foreign elemets of the globalists new world order and backed by muslim brotherhood specifically to overthrow this country is out of their mind.

Kina's picture

I dare say if Russia Iran found ways to bring down these cargo planes on a regular basis they might stop....and find something else.


There are actually no terrorists just CIA, Mossad and Saudis militias.

So those heads you see being cut off, please thank your local CIA agent.

Omega_Man's picture

fucking bastard Mericans and Saudis... evil fuckers.

LawsofPhysics's picture

The truth is always treason in an empire of lies...

same as it ever was!!!!!

Omega_Man's picture

this is justification for the nuking of Merica 

Village-idiot's picture

Most US citizens are actually decent people. They are just as pissed off about this as you are.

They voted Trump into office to try to get this under control. I don't think he can do it; it's just too big and it's too late.

If he can just break up the pedo-rings it'll be a huge achievement.

markar's picture

If he breaks up the pedo rings, and that's a big" if", it all falls apart. It's the primary control mechanism of the deep state

Colonel's picture

LefTARDS helping terrorists, a match made in hell.

Boxed Merlot's picture

...helping terrorists...

Purple Shovel? Can't be a real terrorist until one's "shovel-ready" I suppose.

southpaw47's picture

Strange or not so strange bedfellows?

SantaClaws's picture

Kudos to investigative reporter Dilyana Gaytandzhieva!  It's amazing to read that there still exist serious investigative reporters who, at great personal risk, make such amazingly valuable contributions.  For once we see a jounalist who is interrogated adversarily by her country's intelligence service after writing hard-hitting reports, instead of journalists being trained by their countries' intelligence services to disseminate falsehoods and other deceptions.

Sebastianbelle's picture

Leave it to a woman to get all the details. What a great job she did! Too bad the War Dogs and Daddy Bush CIA running the show.

Kina's picture

There are actually no terrorists just CIA, Mossad and Saudis militias.


Likewise in the US. 

There is no Antifa, it is just CIA, Sons of Soros paid militia organising and instigating sedition.

Deep State is trying for an American Spring

Herdee's picture

So-called diplomatic flights are also used by the CIA for their dumping of cocaine and heroin.

Stan522's picture

It's clear.... the president does not run the United States of America.... The CIA does.....

JimJinNJ's picture

which president??  I think obama knew of this and approved it.  so did hillary.  Bengazi station was involved and that's why the guys were left to their unfortunate end. 

Sebastianbelle's picture

We live in a Post Truth era....

In a time of Universal Deceit and Lies telling the truth becomes a Revolutionary Act.


Omega_Man's picture

this like this make me feel ok with Antifacists to create chaos in USA and destroy it from within.... couldn't happen to a better shithole filled with evil assholes in DC


Meltdown USA... you can't happen fast enough... donate to commies to attack the CIA 

Village-idiot's picture

  Antifa is not fighting the Elites in Washington DC; Antifa is controlled by the Elites (whether Antifa knows it or not)

Emergency Ward's picture

If an American Dilyana tried to do an expose on Antifa at the WaPo, she would be fired.

DEMIZEN's picture

robbed  and shot in a dark DC alley

Village-idiot's picture

New story on US network news tonight:

"Russians caught shipping arms to the Middle East via Bulgaria."

0valueleft's picture

I was wondering why the import of Bulgarian Arsenal SLR 100 series rifles has been dwindling the last few years in this country. The receivers needed to make these weapons were obviously all spoken for by the see-eyeA. Of course those receivers will have a third hole stamped in them because fucking jihads should only have the best, something our goverment just cant trust us with.


Brazen Heist's picture

Bulgaria has become a CIA haven.

Eastern Europe needs to kick out the empire from its territory. Replacing one old empire (USSR) with a new one (USSA), which is even more culturally incompatible than the former, is not what is in the best interests of Bulgraia. The corrupt leaders wouldn't know. 

The US empire is now running a USSR in reverse motion over Eastern Europe, and these morons can't seem able to not fall for the trick.

el buitre's picture

When the nations of the world refuse to ship real stuff for Treasury Bill electrons, the Empire of Exceptionalstan will fold like a cheap suit.  Coming soon to a theatre near you.

tooldog's picture

The corrupt leaders know exactly what is going on... and are getting very wealthy from it


shovelhead's picture

Uh huh.

They were all for a Russian gasline into Austria until suddenly they were against it.

Then came the US airbase and missiles. The old gold or lead question probably came up.

Friedrich not Salma's picture


Here's a link with the story, photos and doc images.

 Edit:same link menioned at end of original article. D'oh.


The Count's picture

Gee. What a surprise that 3 letter agencies are involved in illegal weapons deals and transport.

Village-idiot's picture

I'm shocked. SHOCKED I tell you!

CRM114's picture

Somebody give her a good job, please.

Pats on the back don't put food on the table.

Arnold's picture

Bannon is looking for people.

BGO's picture

Another big fat egg in Barry Obango's cap.

Brazen Heist's picture

The best part of the whole thing is that the swampy Anglo Wahhabi Zionist empire and its many lackeys, with all their money, all their weapons, all their training and all their brainwashing, still lost the war in Syria to a small Russian contingent, a very well trained Iranian contingent and a brave Syrian people fighting for their nation from the grips of these vultures.

veritas semper vinces's picture

Yes,brother.Amen for that!

The Whore of Babylon is approaching her shelf life.

PS: Babylon is approximately same land area as Eretz Israel ,the one between the two rivers(Nile and Euphrates) as symbolized by the two blue strips on their flag. With the star of Remphan in the center,the 666 sign.

See how all this was coming together?Only to be interrupted by the coalition of courage and resistance :Russia,Syria,Iran and Hezbollah.

Syria is the place were the Empire dies and truth is revealed.