Obama lied, it was a ransom payment: US held cash until Iran freed prisoners

And now “lawmakers are concerned the IRGC may have gained control of the cash once in Tehran.” If the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has the money, it will be going to fund jihad terrorism and other actions against the United States.


“U.S. Held Cash Until Iran Freed Prisoners,” by Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee, Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2016:

WASHINGTON—New details of the $400 million U.S. payment to Iran earlier this year depict a tightly scripted exchange specifically timed to the release of several American prisoners held in Iran.

The picture emerged from accounts of U.S. officials and others briefed on the operation: U.S. officials wouldn’t let Iranians take control of the money until a Swiss Air Force plane carrying three freed Americans departed from Tehran on Jan. 17. Once that happened, an Iranian cargo plane was allowed to bring the cash home from a Geneva airport that day.

President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials have said the payment didn’t amount to ransom, because the U.S. owed the money to Iran as part of a longstanding dispute linked to a failed arms deal from the 1970s. U.S. officials have said that the prisoner release and cash transfer took place through two separate diplomatic channels.

But the handling of the payment and its connection to the Americans’ release have raised questions among lawmakers and administration critics….

One of the Americans released in January as part of the prisoner exchange, a pastor named Saeed Abedini, said he and other American prisoners were kept waiting at Mehrabad airport from Jan. 16 to the morning of Jan. 17. He said in an interview that he was told by a senior Iranian intelligence official at the time that their departure was contingent upon the movements of a second airplane. Mr. Abedini said he has been asked to testify next month before the House Foreign Relations Committee.

State Department officials have rebutted Mr. Abedini’s comments, saying the delay in his plane’s departure wasn’t related to a second plane or the payment of the $400 million. They said the delay was solely tied to U.S. efforts to locate the wife and mother of another imprisoned American, the Washington Post’s former Tehran bureau chief, Jason Rezaian, and ensuring they were allowed to board the Swiss plane as well.

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Iran Air in 2011 for allegedly ferrying weapons and supplies for Tehran’s elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Treasury said in its designation that “IRGC officers occasionally take control over Iran Air flights carrying special IRGC-related cargo.”

Lawmakers are concerned the IRGC may have gained control of the cash once in Tehran. U.S. officials said they are not certain how Iran has used the $400 million that was returned.

The Treasury Department lifted sanctions on Iran Air on Jan. 16—the day before the cash and prisoner transfers— as part of the landmark nuclear agreement reached between Iran, the U.S. and other global powers. The U.S. has maintained sanctions on a second Iranian air carrier, Mahan Air, for its alleged role in facilitating arms shipments for the IRGC.

Obama administration officials have confirmed that they have paid the remaining $1.3 billion to Iran as part of the settlement reached in January on the failed arms deal. This marked the interest accrued over the past 37 years on the original $400 million paid by Iran, though administration officials have said it could have cost some $10 billion without the settlement….


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