Unmasking Sahara Thunder
Meet the MODAFL Front Hiding Behind an Iranian Trading Company Identity
February 2024

Sahara Thunder might seem like a legitimate Iranian import-export trading company, whose areas of expertise include procurement and project management in the fields of oil, gas, refineries, petrochemicals, construction, electronics and communication.


A close look into their website (which is sloppily-designed with poorly-delivered content) and the exclusive documents exposed here by WikIran for the first time, reveal the truth: Sahara Thunder is nothing but a front company, not only covering the malicious and sanction-bypassing activities of the Iranian Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), but is also fully owned and controlled by it.

MODAFL supervises Iran's weapons proliferation, including the missile and UAV programs, and it is sanctioned by the US, the UK, Australia and the European Union for its malign activities. Only recently, a list of MODAFL-affiliated companies that were sanctioned for assisting, and providing financial support and other services to the IRGC-QF, has been exposed.

The authentic documents in the database uncover Sahara Thunder's undeniable ties to MODAFL, as well as their financial infrastructure, fleet of vessels, oil sales operations and key figures. Here are a few examples.

First, a letter sent to the CEO of Sahara Thunder by the administration of Bank Saderat (Iranian Export Bank), classifies the company as a "state owned entity", which is "part of the MODAFL cooperative (of companies)":


In the following document, MODAFL admits to be the owner of the tanker M/T Chem (IMO: 9240914), through its ownership over Sahara Thunder:


Another interesting document that was found among Sahara Thunder's emails reveals once again the company's ties to MODAFL; this is a letter sent from the Petrochemical Commercial Company International (PCCI), a MODAFL-owned petrochemical exporter, to Hojatollah Ghoreishi, MODAFL's Deputy Defense Minister for Supply, Research and Industry Affairs, who has been designated by U.S. authorities since January of 2023 for acting on behalf of MODAFL For more information, and the connection between PCCI and PCC, see WikIran's exclusive PCC database here.


The Supply, Research and Industry Affairs Section of MODAFL is the leading function in Iran's military research and development efforts, and is the main entity in charge of Iran's UAV deals with Russia. Ghoreishi, who leads the department, was only recently appointed as deputy to the Minister, and is deeply involved in Russian procurement of Iranian weapons.

It is noteworthy that the Supply, Research and Industry Affairs Section of MODAFL is mentioned more than once in Sahara Thunder's annual financial statements that were found among the confidential documents, as can be seen below in the marked line (Vadja/ ودجا is the common acronym for MODAFL)


In addition, the database contains proof that highlight Sahara Thunder's role in weapon deals conducted between Iran and Russia, including Iranian UAV manufacturing in Russia, later used against Ukrainian civilians.

Sahara Thunder, headquartered in Tehran, is run by three prominent managers: CEO Hussein Bakhshaish, Head of the Board of Directors Kazem Mirzei Kondori and Head of the Commercial Department Hamid- Reza Hosseini-Javad.

Mirzaei Kondori was appointed as Head of the Board of Directors in January of 2023, and served in the past as the company’s CEO. In addition, he is also listed as a board member of Naserin Vahid, an IRGC front company, designated since 2010 by the European Union, the UK, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Australia and Japan, due to its ties to the Iranian proliferation activities and development of nuclear weapons.

Another spot-on Sahara Thunder’s board of directors is reserved for a representative of a company named Etemad Tejarat Mithaq, a company that is affiliated with MODAFL itself, according to publications in the Iranian media.

Sahara Thunder is yet another Iranian front used by the malicious regime to hide its crimes and bypass international sanctions. WikIran calls on the international community to designate it as a terrorist entity and isolate it in order to disrupt MODAFL's oil exports, which are eventually used to fund its military expansion plans.