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.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
JOE BUDTZ's picture

This was a very important story.

So, here's what a journalist really gets for doing journalism.

No wonder the American corporate press reports almost nothing worth knowing.

Smedley's Butler's picture

Story of the year! Great work ZH!!!!

A few things not mentioned in the article:

most of these weapons are depleted uranium.

shipments do go through Charleston, Tampa, Jacksonville, etc

one of the main manufacturers is Du Pont

the birth rate/ cancer rate of the populations in the effected countries have decreased/increased (respectively) in great numbers

The depleted uranium used was spent in... Pakistan and Iran

The networks that allow the flow of information were ran by... Awan Brothers


Whatever networks you have, FB, twitter, church, family, friends, local watering holes... make this shit know!

Story of the year


hanekhw's picture

The same Muslim Brotherhood who were so much a part of the Obama Administration has imbedded itself in the intelligence services. Somewhere in this scandal is James Clapper.

veritas semper vinces's picture

The Muslim Brotherhood is the creation of MI6 ,in case you didn't know. So,they are part of CIA/MI6/Mossad,the three headed beast.

hanekhw's picture

Right. They've been around since the 1930s and were responsible for the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981

Ghost of Porky's picture

Dilyana should go get a letter from her psychiatrist stating that she is not depressed, has not had any suicidal thoughts, and is quite happy and has a lot to live for and does not own a nail gun.

newworldorder's picture

And a list of all her medications and proof that she is in good physical health, does not consume illegal drugs and at least one current complete physical and blood test.  And that might not be enough.

Gravatomic's picture

Oh snap, there are 6 ways to Sunday the CIA can get back at ya. Maybe she'll drown in a bowl of soup.

Gravatomic's picture

So, what the fuck, who is the US bombing in Raqqa? Just leveling it and pretending ISIS is fucking things up. How insidious. Though I'm not surprised.

Any other outlets reporting this? They've been rather quiet lately on the 'civil war' now Russia is kicking ass.

veritas semper vinces's picture

Killing civilians and destoying infrastructure.

MrBoompi's picture

I will have to say some of the smartest people I know think I'm crazy when I tell them, just like Al Qaeda before it, the US has, with the help of its ME allies, created, funded, trained, and equipped ISIS.  I can see the cognitive dissonance in their minds.  It's almost like trying to wake them from a sound sleep.  I often wonder just who they believe anymore?  Will they wait for CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS to admit they lied and perpetrated a CIA psyop on them?  

TRN's picture

Hey Washington Post, this is what Investigative Reporting looks like!

lakecity55's picture

Trump can order the official CIA to shut down, but they have their own, independent, for-profit companies to continue to pursue their agenda.

No POTUS has control over these guys, they have a different set of bosses!


Swampster's picture

Trump is Shabbos Goy/Orange JEWlius for the jew world order

I love your wife's picture

Silk Way Airlines?  Are you fucking kidding me?  i.e. Silk Road.  The fucking balls of the CIA, just dangling it in our faces.  Crazy.

pynky01's picture


fuckstar's picture

So is the DOJ, congress, the supreme court and the MSM. State government offices, the education system and the courts have been infiltrated and are overun. Get busy.

Swampster's picture

we must cut off the tentacles(and testicles) or the jew world order, wherever they may be!

Swampster's picture

ISIS =ISUS= IS US = ISrael and U.S.

fuckstar's picture

ISIS  =ISraeli Intelligence Service

Swampster's picture


Miss Expectations's picture

Purple Shovel LLC run by Benjamin Worrell.

WTF are these people up to?  Quick search reveals 16 companies with his name on them:

The US tried to send weapons to Syrian rebels through companies in Belarus and Bulgaria — and it ended in disaster

"The State Department has to license almost every deal involving US companies, and arms dealers say they are almost always prohibited from buying weapons from Belarus, because it is on that list."

Other equipment Purple Shovel was supposed to buy for the Syrian rebels included rocket-propelled grenades, which the company reportedly ended up buying from Bulgaria. 

SOCOM turned down the Bulgarian-made grenades after learning that they had been manufactured in 1984, making them dangerous and unreliable. 

But one of the grenades still ended up the hands of an American defense contractor training in Bulgaria who died when it exploded unexpectedly.



fuckstar's picture

Russia is for asylum seekers.

Babble_On2001's picture

This lady has some real balls. Don Lemon wishes he had some that big, but he can't count the ones bouncing against his chin!

Miss Expectations's picture


Purple Shovel's arms contract is at the core of one of America's top international priorities: thwarting ISIS, the extremist group that has seized large regions of Syria and Iraq, beheaded many of its captives, and helped fuel the ongoing exodus of refugees from Syria. Last year, President Barack Obama gave a primetime televised speech from the White House, calling on Congress to approve his $500 million program to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels. The program was to recruit moderate Syrians, vet them to ensure they weren't infiltrators sent by ISIS or other groups, train them overtly using the U.S. military, and arm them. In December, Congress appropriated the funds.

haruspicio's picture

America's top international priority is not "thwarting ISIS". THe US funds, supports, protects and nurtures ISIS.

Stef1304's picture

The lady should have gotten a Price for her work for her oustanding work.
instead she gets fired ?
WTF !?!

ps - ask yourself how deep/far the corruption on the principle of a press/society runs...  

robert30062's picture

For sure it's Boyko Borissov and his SIC (Security Insurance Company, mafia front) buddies like Rumen Nikolov. Borrisov is one of the major organized crime bosses in Europe and he is the Prime Minister of Bulgaria! He and his buddies are running the shipments and going through Azerbaijan to get around the inspections and throw off the trail to the source/purchaser, which in this case is the Saudis, the CIA, and the Israelis. 

robert30062's picture

For sure it's Boyko Borissov and his SIC (Security Insurance Company, mafia front) buddies like Rumen Nikolov. Borrisov is one of the major organized crime bosses in Europe and he is the Prime Minister of Bulgaria! He and his buddies are running the shipments and going through Azerbaijan to get around the inspections and throw off the trail to thhe source/purchaser, which in this case is the Saudis, the CIA, and the Israelis. 

rex-lacrymarum's picture

Boyko even looks like a night club bouncer. 

HoyeruNew's picture

thats exactly what he is, a ex boduguard to the communist president.

NeedtoSecede's picture

For some reason, my Upvote button is not working today, but I would be giving +1000 to several commenters here today.


Very important, REAL journalism being exhibited by this brave woman!  I hope she lives to see her work have an impact, but I am afraid she will be "silenced". And I am not holding my breath waiting for our corrupt media to pick this story up and run with it....


God Speed Dilyana Gaytandzhieva!

Dlearman's picture

Obama traded weapons with ISIS in exchange for 100 virgin goats.  

HoyeruNew's picture

????? ?????, ?? ???????, ?? ??? ??????? ? ??????????

what an idiot, she thought she had freedom and democracy

cwsuisse's picture

Bulgaria is part of the EU which highlights in which precarious situation Europe is after admitting countries such as Bulgaria to EU membership. If Serbia, Ukraine and Georgia or maybe Turkey will have also been admitted Europe will have been successfully "balcanized" and its population will have been successfully pauperized thanks to relentless efforts of Angela Merkel to destroy western Europe. 

zero_wedge's picture

This should be top story.

haruspicio's picture

But the West MSM propaganda machine will print nothing that exposes the lies of the Pentagon and CIA.

redmudhooch's picture

This is theft. This is no different from the govt. breaking into your house and stealig all your money.

The CIA creates/arms the ISIS boogerman that they then need trillions to fight and kill.

Its theft, -20 trillion so far..


AntiMatter's picture

Mossad officer leading ISIS as mosque Imam arrested in Libya

Libyan authorities arrested a leader and mosque preacher of the ISIS terrorist group who later confessed to be a Mossad officer.

According to the Libyan authorities, preacher Abu Hafs’ real name is Benjamin Efraim, an Israeli national operating in one of Mossad’s special units which conduct espionage operations in Arab and Islamic countries.

Moving and Grooving's picture

You still here? BritBob needs a new roommate - you can both rant at each other all day.

gdpetti's picture

That's classic Mossad.. do the Arab dress... they've been count along with Brits, Americans, Turks etc as 'advisors' to our mercs/terrorists.... freedom fighters along the same vein as those other SJWs we've enjoyed here at home... which is the new front in this 'global revolution meme'... all fake all the time here in Purgatory.

There was always a report on the infamous CIA's black helicopters pulling some of their ISIS team away to safety as the net around Mosul? closed in... .where to take the war next? House of Saud is rife... the EU is the same... Turkey is always ready for another turn of that wheel, though they should secure the op's personnel before pushing the go button next time.

haruspicio's picture

Is there any evil that the CIA will not undertake?

dunce's picture

Popular uprising my butt, popular with the CIA and obama.

fiddy pence haff pound's picture

stupid journalists.

You're supposed to be stenographers for the powerful.

You don't even have to leave the office.

Investigations? Arms dumps?


When does she get out of git*mo?