Representative Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) brought attention to the victims of Iranian terror on Thursday in an article intended to raise awareness about the benefits Iran will receive from the nuclear deal reached in July, while the victims of its global terror campaign still await financial justice. Rep. Meehan explained that hundreds of Americans have been killed at the hands of Iran and that “[t]o date, American courts have awarded some $43.5 billion in damages to Iran’s victims and their families, all of which has gone unpaid.” Rep. Meehan introduced legislation last week, The Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act, designed to prevent the president from waiving or lifting sanctions as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action until Iran pays restitution to the victims.
As part of the final deal, the P5+1 global powers will grant Iran relief from sanctions put in place over its nuclear program, and Iran is expected to receive tens of billions of dollars. Meehan argues that part of the relief will go to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – the group inside of Iran directly responsible for the exporting of terrorism. The IRGC has “funded some of the world’s most violent Islamic terrorist groups and has left in its wake decades of bombings, hijackings, murders and kidnappings.”
The Wall Street Journal reported in June that “[t]he State Department said Iran’s support for terrorism was ‘undiminished’ in 2014, and the U.S. remains very concerned about the activities of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and its proxies in the Middle East.” The State Department also determined that Iran’s support for Syria will continue unabated because “Iran views Syria as a crucial causeway in its weapons supply route to [Hezbollah], its primary beneficiary, and as a key pillar in its 'resistance' front.” In light of the Iran deal, Hezbollah anticipates receiving even more funding from Iran. Matthew Levitt, a terror finance expert formerly at the Treasury Department, told Congress on Thursday, “A newly enriched Hezbollah would be more aggressive at home and abroad.”
Benjamin Weinthal and Emanuele Ottolenghi, fellows at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, reported Tuesday in Politico that Mahan Air continues to expand its European connections in the wake of the nuclear deal.
Even after the nuclear deal in Vienna lifted restrictions on the sale of passenger aircraft in Iran, Mahan Air remains sanctioned under U.S. law. Mahan Air is expanding its European destinations regardless, a sure sign that U.S. sanctions against it will be ignored. Europe should closely monitor Mahan aircraft landing at its airports, as there is no indication that the airline has changed its harmful practices.
Mahan Air has habitually used the same planes to transport passengers to and from Europe, to ferry weapons and military personnel around the region, and to carry nuclear and ballistic missile technology to the Islamic Republic. Its commercial planes are accessories to the Syrian regime’s war crimes, and help Hezbollah fight alongside Syria’s army while expanding its 100,000-strong rocket and missile arsenal for war against Israel. These arms shipments are a blatant violation of the arms embargo imposed by UN Security Council Resolution 1747, expanded by UN Security Council Resolution 1929 and retained under the nuclear deal for another five years. They also violate the spirit, if not the letter, of Europe’s ban on arms exports to Syria.
The UN embargo prohibits Iranian airlines from transporting arms as cargo. The airlines thus falsify flight manifests, lying about the nature of their cargo, and concealing flight records to Syria, all in contravention of international aviation standards. Expecting Iranian and Syrian civil aviation authorities to enforce such standards is absurd. It is up to European authorities to ensure compliance with international standards by ramping up inspections of Iranian aircraft and barring planes and airlines from European airspace that are found to be in violation.
Weinthal and Ottolenghi tracked Mahan flights from Iran to Syria several times in recent months. These planes sometimes subsequently traveled to Europe. As recently as May, the United States Treasury Department blacklisted Mahan’s newly acquired aircraft, noting that “Mahan Air works with the IRGC-QF [Iran’s external paramilitary force] to ferry operatives, weapons, and funds in support of the Assad regime on its flights to Syria, and also provides transportation services to Lebanese Hezbollah, which has been separately designated as a terrorist group.”
Despite the blacklisting, Mahan reportedly acquired new airplanes anyway. It was later reported that the United States had been informed of Iran’s effort to acquire the planes but did nothing to stop it. (TheTower.org)