Thursday, August 17, 2023

The mysteries of T7-WSS or that private jet in Zambia

It's official: Zambia has secured a prominent place among Egypt's most searched words for August and the year 2023 as a whole. Remarkably, this newfound attention has nothing to do with football, which is a departure from the usual context.

Typically, Zambia garners attention in Egyptian media when Egypt's national football team competes against Zambia's team in various African tournaments, or during official visits between the two countries' presidents—either Zambia's President visiting Cairo or their Egyptian counterpart journeying to Lusaka.

The events of the past 24 hours, however, have propelled Zambia into Egyptian headlines in an unexpected manner.

The sequence of events commenced with the landing of a private jet at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in a distant African country on a Sunday afternoon.

By late Tuesday, Al-Masry Al-Youm and Cairo 24 had reported that Zambian authorities had made a startling discovery aboard the private jet: approximately USD 5 million in cash and 127 kilograms of gold bars. The jet had originated from Cairo, Egypt, and six out of the ten individuals on board, all Egyptians, were detained for further investigation.

The news found its way to Sky News Arabia and other regional Gulf news websites but was subsequently removed from Al-Masry Al-Youm and Cairo 24.

Unfortunately pulling the news off the Egyptian websites made it as if something fishy was going on fueling speculations even without knowing the rest of the details.

Delving into Zambian media accounts, it was revealed that Zambia's Drugs Enforcement Commission (DEC) had issued a press statement and convened a press conference regarding the incident.

The first statement issued by  the DEC on the incident
The first statement issued by 
the DEC on the incident

Nason Banda, the Director General of the DEC, disclosed that a tip-off had set the wheels in motion. This tip-off pertained to the landing of a private jet, registered as "Global Express T7-WW," at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport on August 13, 2023, at precisely 19:00 hours Lukasa Local Time carrying “dangerous goods”.

Acting promptly upon this information, the DEC, in collaboration with several Zambian law enforcement agencies, initiated a search and seizure operation on the following day, August 14, 2023, at the very same airport.

In addition to the substantial USD 5,697,700 in cash, the Zambian authorities found 602 pieces of suspected gold, collectively weighing 127.2 kilograms.

The alleged gold bars 

Equipment designed for the measurement of gold was also among the seized items, alongside a collection of five pistols, seven pistol magazines, and 126 rounds of ammunition.

Curiously, another aircraft, identified as a Zambian airliner labelled "King Air B190," also played a role in this unfolding saga. The precise role of this additional aircraft remains shrouded in uncertainty.

Banda announced that ten individuals had been apprehended, encompassing six Egyptians, a Zambian, a Dutch national, a Spanish national, and a Latvian national. Curiously, the press conference shed light on the private jet's journey, indicating that it had flown directly from Cairo to Lusaka and was set to return, as per its confiscated manifesto.

This unfolding scenario has raised numerous questions, including who tipped off the DEC, the exact role of the detainees (particularly the six Egyptians), the duration of the jet's stay on the ground, and its ownership or rental arrangements. Furthermore, the jet's purpose in Cairo and its origin remain shrouded in mystery.

In Egypt, where economic challenges persist and gold prices defy international price trends by surging, images of the confiscated gold bars have circulated widely, sparking widespread interest and speculation.

The Mystery of T7-WSS

I spent many hours until Wednesday morning searching for any information related to the T7-WW, as mentioned in the official statement of the DEC, on Flight Radar 24 and similar websites, but I got no results at all.

The closest thing I got was "T7-WSS," which I thought to be wrong. It turned out that it was the correct private jet, and its relation to Egypt and its other stops is perplexing.

I owe it to Marwa Sawaf and Ahmed Bahaa on Twitter for sharing the correct spelling and route of "T7-WSS" and proving that it was the plane in question thanks to its route recorded on open real-time flight tracking services.

It turned out that the DEC wrote the name of the number or the codename of the private jet wrong. I honestly do not know if it was a deliberate mistake by the DEC or an innocent typo. It is another layer in the mystery.

Now we know on Twitter that T7-WSS or T7WSS or GLEX was the private jet that arrived at Kenneth Kaunda Airport on Sunday coming from Egypt. Its previous stop was Amman, Jordan, before Cairo. The Bombardier Global Express jet was registered in San Marino.

T7-WSS in action "Jet
T7-WSS in action "Jet 

According to Chat-GPT, "BD-700-1A10" is the first model produced by Bombardier in the Global Express series.

Plane Finder says that the 19-year-old private jet Global Express-BD-700-1A10 was operated by Malta-based Hyperion Aviation. However, the private jet series number is not mentioned in Hyperion Aviation’s fleet.

Plane Finder's free service shows that GLEX or T7WSS left Amman, Jordan, at 20:09 and arrived in Cairo, Egypt, at 21:55 UTC on August 12, 2023.

The flight track of T7WSS from Amman to Cairo on 12 August 2023
The flight track of T7WSS from Amman to Cairo on 12 August 2023

The time is a bit messy on Plane Finder.

On Flight Radar 24, the T7WSS or GLEX actually arrived at Kenneth Kaunda Airport at 15:14:59 UTC, which was about 18:14:59 Lusaka local time. 

From Flight Radar 24's playback timeline feature
From Flight Radar 24's playback timeline feature

According to Flight Radar 24, the 19-year-old Bombardier Global Express XRS model number 500253 was privately owned, but its owner or operator is undisclosed.

There is a difference between Plane Finder and Flight Radar 24 about the model number, but the type of the jet and the age are correct.

That's how far I had gotten, and I went to sleep hoping to know more about that mysterious T7-WSS and its cargo on Wednesday.

I woke up and found that the fact-finding social media account "Matsda2sh" had done what the Egyptian mainstream media had failed to do, as usual.

Matsda2sh also brought the flight records of the T7WSS in the past two years through Flight Radar 24 and found that in 378 flights, Egypt's Cairo was the arrival and departure point in 125 flights alone. Dubai was the second arrival and departure point for the T7WSS with 26 flights.

In addition to Cairo and Dubai, T7WSS was used for flights to Tel Aviv, Doha, Munich, and interestingly, Libya's rival cities of Tripoli and Benghazi.

The Egyptian social media account also stated that according to the Eurocontrol database, the T7WSS was actually operated by Dubai-based Flying Group Middle East. Flying Group Middle East is a commercial office for Antwerp-based Dutch-owned Flying Group.

Now, checking several flight and plane tracking services online can lead to very interesting findings, such as finding out that the address and telephone number of Flying Group headquarters and commercial office in Malta are the same as those of the 2012-founded Hyperion Aviation in Malta.

Flying Group Malta contacts
Flying Group Malta contacts 

Hyperion Malt contact

This is quite interesting, despite the fact that it may be irrelevant to our issue. Back to the mysterious T7WSS, according to Flying Group's official website, the company has a Bombardier Global 5000 jet. That jet was built in 2005, so it is 18 years old, not 19 years old.

Now, if you think that we only found out about the T7WSS, then you are mistaken because this is just the tip of the iceberg.

A few hours after Matsda2sh's post about the interesting connection between the private jet and Egypt, the fact-finding social media account Saheeh Masr found another interesting connection.

Saheeh Masr found out that the private jet was used by Egyptian officials in their visits to Arab countries including Tunisia and Libya, according to the flight records, dates, and photographic evidence.

 The fact-finding page also contacted Flying Group's headquarters in Belgium and received the answer that the company was not responsible for that private jet, and they do not have a branch in Dubai. 

Flying Group Middle East contacts on the Flying Group's official website 

This is despite the fact that Flying Group has a commercial office in Dubai under the name "Flying Group Middle East" on its official website.

Thanks to the internet age and OSINT (Open-Source Intelligence), we have websites like Flight Radar 24, Plane Finder, and their friends to help us pinpoint where as well as when any identified flying object flies from and to our skies.

The Mystery of the Fake Gold Ingot

In another twist in the mystery of T7WSS, Zambian authorities announced that the gold ingots found in the plane were not pure gold ingots. It turned out that the ingots were coated with a layer of gold, rather than being pure gold ingots.

These ingots were actually comprised of a combination of various metals, with copper accounting for around 61% of the composition, followed by zinc at 38%. Additionally, trace amounts of tin and nickel were present in the mixture.

It is not known if the suspects detained in the plane knew about this or not, but it is worth noting that devices used to measure gold were also found.

The Mystery of King Air B190

No one seems to have paid attention to the other aircraft involved in this mystery saga, the King Air B190. It is officially owned and operated by Zambian private jet operator "King Air". According to Zambian media, the co-owner of King Air is a Zambian official.

The King Air B190 is a Beechcraft 1900 plane. It is possible that the suspects or detainees were transferring the money and the gold ingots (which turned out not to be gold) to it.

An anonymous reaction from Cairo

On Wednesday midday, we received the first semi-reaction from Cairo.

An anonymous "well-placed" source told Egypt's official news agency MENA that "the controversial plane that left Cairo Airport in the past few hours for Zambia is a private aircraft that made a transit stop at Cairo Airport and was inspected."

The source added that "coordination is underway between the Egyptian and Zambian authorities to establish the facts and circumstances of the incident."

This unofficial statement implicates Cairo International Airport (CAI) in the issue because the authorities in Zambia are not only talking about gold that turned out to be copper but also about USD 5 million and weapons. This statement proves that CAI failed to find USD 5 million and those weapons.

The statement did not explain other facts, including where the plane came from and who the six Egyptians on board are.

The question now is why the Egyptian ministries rent this private jet if we already have many presidential aeroplanes since the days of Mubarak, especially since we are facing an economic crisis and the government is following austerity measures.

I am writing this on Wednesday/early Thursday, and we have not heard or read any statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Immigration and Egyptians Abroad regarding the status of those six Egyptians who are being detained pending investigation in Lusaka.


  1. Excellent blog, many thanks for the tenacious digging.
    We are glued to this matter here in Zambia so its good to understand the view from Egypt.
    A few updates for you, the 6 Egyptians detained have procured the services of a very prominent Zambian lawyer so there are questions there. The other foreigners have not got representation so far.
    The King Air in question is a Zambian registered aircraft, 9J-YVZ. This is owned by a local charter, Zambian Skyways. The pilot of this particular aircraft is well known on the local circuit so this is very surprising indeed.
    A well known local fraudster that has previous run ins with gold scams in particular was detained yesterday and in no time at all a very prominent lawyer (that has been representing ex-government politicians in corruption cases) released a statement calling for the release of said individual.
    As you can imagine, this case has gripped the country.

  2. This is the list of the detained;
    4. MOUNIR

    1. Does anyone know the name of the Dutchman involved?

    2. Must be the one with Gouda in it.

  3. we hav'thing to say about this issue

  4. we don't have anything to say about this issue

  5. Great reporting, have you seen this news that it's connected to south Africa Shady businessman (fraudster)

  6. Apparently our guys from the system went to buy gold. It was moved from the King Air to the T7WSS. When the jewelers found it fake, the Egyptians refused to handover the money and a quarrel occurred.
    The seller of the gold after being informed by his man on the plane reported to the Zambian authorities. He tried to escape through DRC border but was caught.

    So yes the money is Egyptian - being used to buy illicit gold. The deal went sour and the seller a Zambian (Kasande) who is a convicted criminal in South Africa in 2017, reported to DEC Zambia and tried to flee but was also arrested.

  7. This story is far from over there are too many lose events that are not knitting together with some of the current narrative

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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