This is the secret airline that's reportedly flooding Syria with weapons

Today's New York Times uncovers the clandestine effort by the CIA and Arab governments to deliver military aid to rebel fighters in Syria through an airlift involving more than 160 flights of military-style cargo planes owned by Arab governments. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the story is a flat denial from the Jordanian airline that the Times says is shipping tons of Croatian weapons to Syrian rebels.

"This is all lies," says Muhammad Jubour of Jordanian International Air Cargo. "We never did any such thing." Unfortunately for the spokesman, the Times had specific air traffic data showing flights by the airline's Ilyushin-76MF planes to and from Croatia. How did Jubour respond to that?

Jubour ... claimed that his firm did not own any Ilyushin cargo planes. Asked why his employer's Web site still displayed images of two Ilyushin-76MFs and text claiming they were part of the company fleet, Mr. Jubour had no immediate reply. That night the company's Web site was taken down.

Oops. Not a smart move. The tricky thing about the Internet is it doesn't forget very easily. It's true that when you visit Jordanian International Air Cargo's website you're greeted with an "Under construction" sign.


But we did some digging on the Way Back Machine and were able to find a cached version of the website from Jan. 9, 2012. Under the website's "Fleet" subsection we found something interesting: The Ilyushin-76MFs. Resurrected!   

So why all the false denials and secrecy? For one thing, few countries want to admit to flooding weapons into a deadly civil war. For another, a source described as a "regional air traffic official" tells the Times that the Jordanian airline is actually a "front company for Jordan's air force." We hate to break it to the Jordanians, but it looks like their cover's been blown.


The 2013 Gelber Prize winner: Chrystia Freeland's 'Plutocrats'

Last month, we posted interviews with the authors of the books nominated for the 2013 Gelber Prize, a literary award for the year's best non-fiction book in English on foreign affairs sponsored by the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto in cooperation with Foreign Policy. The panel of five jurors -- William Thorsell, Gaynor Lilian Johnson, Walter Russell Meade, Margaret Wente, and FP's own Dan Drezner -- reviewed books on topics as varied as nuclear politics, the rise of the Soviet Union, and the legacy of the British empire.

Today, Patricia Rubin, president of the Lionel Gelber Prize Board, announced that the 2013 Gelber Prize will go to Chrystia Freeland for her book Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else. Thorsell, the jury chair, explained the decision, saying, "Plutocrats took the prize for its immediacy and authority about the future -- the world that we must comprehend and hope to manage in radically new circumstances." Here's the full jury's citation:

In Plutocrats, Chrystia Freeland describes the evolution of a new global elite of unprecedented economic, social and political power. This mobile, denaturalized community affects the lives of billions as its wealth and values distance it from even the wealthiest of societies.  Freeland explores consequent issues of equity and accountability with fluency and intimacy, capturing the human dimension of a powerful and disturbing phenomenon.

You can hear Freeland's Gelber Prize interview, conducted by Rob Steiner, former Wall Street Journal correspondent and director of fellowships in international journalism at the Munk School, here.