The Biden administration and the Qatar government have reportedly blocked access to the $6 billion ransom payment to Iran for the return of American hostages. It took almost a week after the October 7 surprise attack by Hamas, but US officials said on Thursday, October 12, that the world’s number-one sponsor of terrorism would not be able to access the money, assuaging fears that the already controversial payment would simply be used to continue funding Hamas in its war against Israel.
Money Released to Iran for Hostages May Be Denied
Since Americans first learned the Biden administration had paid a ransom for the return of five unjustly convicted US citizens held in Iranian prison, the White House has come under severe criticism. Clearly, the pressure was growing for the Biden foreign policy team to put a stop on the $6 billion payment. In a report from one of Washington’s most prominent newspapers, Jeff Sein and Jacob Bogage explained:
“US officials and the Qatari government have agreed to stop Iran from accessing a $6 billion account for humanitarian assistance in light of Hamas’s attack on Israel, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told House Democrats on Thursday, according to two people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private remarks.”
If true, while National Security Council spokesman John Kirby was speaking at a White House press briefing telling reporters the party line – that not one dollar of the $6 billion now in a Qatari bank had been accessed by Iran – the US Treasury Department was working with the Qatari bank to keep a freeze on the funds. Nonetheless, Kirby told the assembled reporters, “All we’ve done is move the funds from South Korea where for technical reasons it wasn’t accessible to Qatar where it is more accessible. All that said, none of it has been accessed by Iran at all.” He continued to claim the money could only be used for humanitarian purposes. “Even if they had accessed it, it wouldn’t go to the regime. It would go to approved vendors that we approved to go buy food, medicine, and medical equipment, agricultural products and ship it into Iran directly to the benefit of the Iranian people,” Kirby explained, restating the White House talking points.
Biden’s Talking Points on Ransom for Iran Just Not Credible
The problem with that explanation is only the most ardent Biden flaks believe Iran can’t turn food, medicine, medical equipment, and agricultural products back into Iranian Rials. The other way Iran could use the humanitarian aid is to assist the Iranian people as intended and spend the money the regime might have earmarked for that assistance to their people to pay for a program of worldwide terror. Either way, critics believe the Biden administration was naïve to believe the $6 billion wouldn’t turn into support for Hezbollah in southern Lebanon or Hamas in Gaza. The world has had a front-row seat to the carnage the murderous Hamas terrorists have meted out with support from Iran.
A bipartisan letter to President Biden, led by Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and signed by 98 Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives, pleaded with the commander-in-chief:
“To prevent Iran from accessing tens of billions of dollars to further subsidize this terrorism, we are requesting that you take immediate action, including but not limited to`:
- Freezing the $6 billion provided in exchange for hostages, as well as the $10 billion in released funds based in Iraq…
- Fully enforcing sanctions on Iranian oil exports to China, which have been unenforced for months…
- Prevent Iran from accessing any further Special Drawing Rights from the International Monetary Fund, through which they have quick access to $6.7 billion…”
Many of the Democrats who signed the letter to the president are in contested districts, and they feel the pressure from their constituents who see through the nonsense spewed by administration mouthpieces. “Three sources familiar said Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told Democrats on Thursday in their whip meeting that the $6 billion was still frozen,” Anthony Adragna reported for Politico. This revelation was contrary to the White House story but welcome news.
Bipartisan Effort in the US Senate to Deny Iran Dollars
Similar initiatives to deny Iran access to funds are underway in the Senate. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), a presidential hopeful and a ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, is dedicated to denying Iran funding for terrorism. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) shared Scott’s perspective and said Wednesday, October 11: “As we work to hold anyone who supports terrorism accountable, the administration must freeze the $6 billion in Iranian assets.”
Denying Iran the money to support its sponsorship of terrorism will impede Tehran’s objective to fund Hezbollah’s aggression against Israel from Lebanon. Additionally, having reduced the flow of US dollars in the money spigot will help ensure Hamas, once Israel destroys the murderous ISIS-wannabe, never sees the light of day.