A Bulgaria based journalist recently blew the lid on arms transfers from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to various militant organizations in the Middle East using different front companies and diplomatic cover to conceal their senders and recipients. This investigation by Dilyana Gaytandzhiev says Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the US and several other countries with vested interests have used a state-owned airline in Azerbaijan, Silk Way Airlines, to deliver huge caches of arms and ammunition the wind up in the hands of ISIS, Kurdish militias and militants in Africa.

The report says at least 350 diplomatic flights using the aforementioned Azerbaijani airline carried out arms transfers to conflict areas worldwide for the last three years. It claims that Saudi Arabia had bought large amounts of weapons from countries in Eastern Europe and transported those using diplomatic flights. In the last two years there were twenty-three flights ferrying weapons from Bulgaria, Azerbaijan and Serbia to Riyadh and Jeddah. These weapons were not meant for the Saudi armed forces as they only use Western made weapons and these old Soviet era military hardware would not comply with their military standard. So these weapons ended up among terrorist groups in Yemen and Syria that Saudi Arabia has often supported.

Referring to leaked documents that describe the flight plans and arms cargo of the diplomatic flights the report describes one aircraft transporting mortars and anti-tank explosives like the SPG-9 and GP-25 which were later found by the Iraqi army a month ago in an ISIS safe-house in Mosul. A year ago the American news website Buzzfeed published a report describing how minor US military contractors were provided big contracts by the US armed forces to equip Syrian rebel forces using Eastern European arms and ammunition. Riyadh has publicly spoken about its support for Syrian rebels fighting to depose President Bashar Al Assad’s regime. Gaytandzhiev first got suspicious of the arms transfers to Syria when she found made in Bulgaria weapons in the company of “terrorists” in Aleppo while she reported on the war there.

A joint reporting by the New York Times and Al Jazeera exposed a joint CIA-Saudi operation to supply Syrian rebel forces by transporting the weapons through Jordan. However many of those weapons were stolen by Jordanian intelligence officers. A few of those stolen weapons were used to shoot dead two US service members and three others at a police training building in Amman last year. Washington has always relied on Riyadh to covertly finance weapons transfers to militants globally, from the Sandinistas in Nicaragua to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1970s and 1980s to present day Syrian and Iraqi militants.