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US Lawmakers Slam Biden’s Hostage Ransom Deal With Iran On 9/11

Tuesday, 09/12/2023

Criticism is raining down on the White House after its release of $6 billion into Iran’s coffers on 9/11 in addition to freeing the regime's men caught in the US. 

After months of secrecy surrounding the Biden administration’s clandestine agreement with the regime in Tehran, new information was disclosed on Monday, a very disturbing timing for Americans marking the anniversary of the 9/11 and for Iranians readying for the anniversary of the Women, Life, Freedom protests. 

The US Congress was informed on September 11 that Washington had cleared the way for the release of five American citizens detained in Iran by issuing a blanket waiver for international banks to transfer $6 billion in frozen Iranian money from South Korea to Qatar without fear of US sanctions. In return, five Iranians held in the US will also be released, four charged with sanctions violations and a fifth, acting as an unregistered foreign agent of Iran.

Both Washington and Tehran since announcing the prisoner release deal in August were hinting that the deal and the unblocking of the funds were separate issues, but the waiver document released Monday clearly links the two as one agreement, rendering the whole scheme a ransom payment. It also raises serious questions as to how the administration has skirted legislation that requires approval of Congress before taking such action. The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act was passed in 2015, and gave Congress the right to review all agreements with Tehran.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) calls it “shameful” that President Joe Biden first used 9/11 as an excuse to flee Afghanistan and “now he desecrates this day by paying ransom to the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism.” 

Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) seconded the reprimand, saying that “on the 22nd anniversary of 9/11, the biggest terrorist attack on US soil, President Biden is waiving sanctions and allowing the transfer of $6 billion in frozen funds for a ransom payment to Iran, the world’s biggest terrorist sponsor." 

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) decried Biden for keeping the Congress and the American people in the dark about the deal. “Today’s news confirms there has already been a side deal including a $6 billion ransom and the release of Iranian operatives,” he said, adding: “The Biden administration must keep their deal secret because if they disclosed it, the law requires them to come to Congress and defend it, and this appeasement is utterly indefensible.”

Representative Cory Mills (R-FL) vehemently opposed the decision that will “ultimately fund terrorist activities” against Americans and their allies. “This is Obama 2.0 and the same policy failures that resulted in Iran’s advancements in nuclear weapon technology, uranium enrichment, and billions to Iran in the failed JCPOA,” referring to the 2016 deal Obama made sending $400 million in cash to Iran in exchange for four American prisoners. 

“The Biden regime in the matter of days has embarrassed us...releasing $6B to a terroristic regime who’s politically aligned to China while ignoring the 9/11 anniversary sites on what is the worst terrorist attack in US history,” he added.

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID) reiterated that this deal “creates dangerous incentives to capture Americans abroad, provides Iran a cash windfall as it continues to attack US troops and sell drones to Russia.” He pointed out that striking such a deal “is tone deaf on the anniversary of Mahsa Amini death," which sparked the boldest challenge against the regime that shaped the Women, Life, Freedom movement. 

Iranian political commentator Reza Taghizadeh described the deal as a slap in the face of Iranians who have revolted against the regime and a betrayal to the blood of 600 people killed during the regime’s crackdown on protests since September and the death of Mahsa Amini. 

The five Iranians' identities were revealed Monday by Al-Monitor citing the Islamic Republic’s mission to the United Nations, Kambiz Attar Kashani, Mehrdad Moein-Ansari, Reza Sarhangpour Kafrani, Amin Hasanzadeh, and Kaveh Afrasiabi. 

Kashani is an engineer who in February was sentenced to 30 months in prison for allegedly sending electronic equipment and technology to the Iranian government, including the Central Bank of Iran, using front companies in the United Arab Emirates. Moein-Ansari is a resident of the United Arab Emirates and Germany and was sentenced in September 2021 to five years in prison for his role in a scheme to obtain sensitive dual-use items that could have been used for nuclear weapons, missile guidance and development, and other military purposes. 

Sarhangpour Kafrani, aka Reza Sarhang, is a Canada-based Iranian charged in July 2021 with illegally exporting laboratory equipment to Iran. Hasanzadeh is a US permanent resident living in Michigan, who was indicted in December 2020. Federal prosecutors accused Hasanzadeh, an engineer, of stealing confidential information from his employer and sending it to his brother in Iran, who had ties to the Islamic Republic’s military. 

Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi was a Boston-based political scientist and author, arrested by the FBI in January 2021 on charges of working as an unregistered agent of the Iranian government, and was charged in with violating the law that requires individuals acting as foreign agents in the United States to register with the US government. 

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