Daily TIP

New report reveals U.S. sent Iran two more planeloads of cash; lawmakers concerned payments will fuel terrorism, instability

Posted by Tip Staff - September 07, 2016


 

The U.S. sent Iran two previously unknown planeloads of cash, totaling $1.3 billion, in late January and early February, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday night, causing lawmakers to worry that the cash will be used to finance terrorism and destabilize the Middle East. The administration had already admitted to have paid $1.7 billion to Iran, including an initial $400 million cash payment flown in on a plane, but had refused to discuss the logistics of how it paid the remaining $1.3 billion. Many experts and lawmakers criticized this initial shipment as a ransom payment, as it was contingent upon the release of American hostages from Iranian detention. The administration denies the charge of ransom, claiming instead that the money was used as “leverage” to free the detained Americans.
“U.S. lawmakers have voiced concern that Iran’s military units, particularly the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, would use the cash to finance military allies in the Middle East, including the Assad regime in Syria, Houthi militias in Yemen, and the Lebanese militia, Hezbollah,” Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee of the Journal wrote. Iran analyst Saeed Ghasseminejad wrote in June that Iran’s 2016-17 budget called for the $1.7 billion to be designated for Iran’s military forces. Furthermore, Iran’s military budget increased 90% from the previous year, with the American money payments earmarked for defense spending by approval of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. In other words, U.S. government money was converted into non-U.S. currencies by European central banks, loaded into unmarked Iranian cargo planes with links to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and then disbursed to the Iranian military.
The planes that flew the original $400 million in cash from Geneva, Switzerland to Tehran—and presumably the balance of the $1.3 billion, if the money “flowed in the same manner,” as the Journal reported—belong to Iran Air, which was designated as a terrorist entity by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2011 for being used by the IRGC and Iran’s Ministry of Defense to transport military-related equipment, including rockets and missiles. “The IRGC is also known to disguise and manifest such shipments as medicine and generic spare parts,” the Treasury asserted. The IRGC has in some instances taken control of commercial Iran Air flights, loading its own cargo and discouraging Iran Air pilots from inspecting them. U.S. officials have not indicated that such activity has stopped. The administration used a technicality to drop sanctions on the airline as part of the nuclear deal, stating that it was sanctioned under an executive order relating to weapons of mass destruction, not terrorism.

 

At a time when American politics have become “increasingly polarized,” support for Israel remains “a rare and welcome bastion of bipartisanship,” Josh Block, CEO and president of The Israel Project, wrote in an op-ed published last week in The Sun Sentinel. The Israel Project publishes The Tower.
Block observed that “bills and resolutions demonstrating that support – from annual foreign assistance to supplementary support for critical life-saving systems like the Iron Dome missile defense system – regularly pass both houses of Congress by huge margins. Presidents of both parties have demonstrated support for the special relationship between the United States and Israel.” American presidents have, in fact, expressed their support for Israel for decades, and for a Jewish homeland for centuries, Block added.The reason that elected leaders in the U.S. back Israel, Block explained, is because “it is good policy and good politics, reflecting American interests and values, bolstered by nearly universal support. As poll after poll demonstrates, their constituents – Americans of all backgrounds, all religions, and all walks of life – support Israel.”
Block was responding to an earlier op-ed by Alexander Soros, who argued that because a recent poll showed that most Floridian Jews did not cite Israel as one of their top priorities in choosing a presidential candidate, it made no sense for Democratic contenders to “veer right” on Israel to attract their votes. Block responded that the reason Israel isn’t a top priority for most Floridian Jews during presidential elections is because “there is so little variance in positions on Israel by the major parties.”
The premise of Soros’ argument is “simply silly,” Block continued, asking which Israeli policies would require Americans to reject liberal values in order to maintain their support of Israel.
Is it Israel’s guarantee of equal rights to LGBT communities? No, that can’t be it. How about Israel’s free press, which is notoriously critical of its own government and raucous democracy? Does Israel’s independent judicial system, which is unmatched in the Middle East, and which ensures that within the Jewish state the rule of law remains paramount raise red flags for liberals? Do progressives take issue with equal rights for women, freedom of worship for all religious groups or the fact that Israel’s parliament is open to all, as evidenced by its 17 Arab members? Could it be the fact Israel has set up field hospitals on its borders to treat wounded Syrian refugees bombed and gassed by their Arab brothers? It seems unlikely.

“There is absolutely no discord between liberal values and support for Israel,” Block pointed out. “There is, however, an effort to foment such discord, and that is what is truly dangerous.”
A trove of secret documents leaked last month from the Open Society Foundation (OSF) — a network founded and led by George Soros, Alexander’s father — detailed the organization’s extensive efforts to “fund hateful Palestinian and radical anti-Zionist Israeli groups as part of a broad strategy to fight Israel’s ‘racism’ and ‘influence Congress, reporters and government officials,'” Block wrote. The campaign is “remarkable” in its scope and efforts “to cover its tracks,” Block added.
Block noted that the elder Soros also previously expressed his antipathy towards the Jewish state, saying in an interview, “I don’t deny the Jews their right to a national existence – but I don’t want to be part of it.”
“Jewish voters in Florida – and voters of all backgrounds around the country – don’t base their votes on a candidate’s position on Israel,” Block agreed. “But that’s not because support for Israel isn’t important. It’s because support for Israel is fundamentally important to both Democrats and Republicans. Dark money efforts to undermine it, such as those undertaken by this Soros-funded and Soros-directed effort, are the real threat to our democracy.” (via TheTower.org)

 
Rescue teams searching for trapped workers at a collapsed Tel Aviv parking garage are the first to use Res-Q-Cell, a new Israeli-made lifesaving cellular search and rescue system. Res-Q-Cell, known locally as Aluma, was designed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and can detect survivors in disaster areas, using accurate three-dimensional geo-location of cellular devices in order to rescue survivors as quickly as possible. The innovative technology, unveiled in June, can detect faint mobile phone signals underground and help rescue workers find people trapped under debris in wreckage sites. The lifesaving system can be installed on platforms including commercial vehicles, armored vehicles, tactical aerostats, UAVs and helicopters. It is operated from a laptop computer, supports worldwide cellular networks (GSM, UMTS, LTE) and can work even if cellular networks collapse. A spokesperson at IAI said that Res-Q-Cell is being sold internationally but refrained from naming the countries interested in this technology. The Res-Q-Cell system helped search-and-rescue teams locate one of the people trapped under the rubble in Tel Aviv’s September 5 garage collapse, the IDF reported. “Res-Q-Cell is a unique system designed to work in the most challenging environments,” said Eyal Danan, IAI’s vice president of Airborne Systems and Radars Division at ELTA Systems. “Res-Q-Cell is field proven and we believe that the combined state-of-the-art technologies we use in this system will enable rescue teams to operate immediately.” (via Israel21c)

 
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