Senior Iranian Political Figure Suggests Ransoming U.S. Hostages for Income

Hassan Abbasi in Fifth anniversary of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan
Wikimedia Commons

A senior Iranian political strategist linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hassan Abbasi, suggested taking Americans hostage and demanding ransoms to make up for losses caused by U.S. economic sanctions in a video surfacing Thursday.

In a video that surfaced online Wednesday, Abbasi, who is the head of the IRGC-affiliated think tank Andishkadeh Yaghin, makes the arguments during a speech on January 17 in a mosque in the Iranian city of Nowshahr.

The IRGC is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.

“Do you want to solve the sanctions problem? Our naval forces should take 10 or 20 Americans as hostage every month,” he explained. “For each one of them, we should get $1 billion. If we get $1 billion per week, and the year has around 50 weeks. That’s at least $50 billion.”

He used the example of Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American journalist who formerly worked as the Tehran bureau chief for the Washington Post. He was arrested in 2015 for espionage, but was released 18 months later on the same day the U.S. delivered $1.7 billion in frozen accounts to Iran. The Obama administration denied any connection between the money and the release.

“Look how the IRGC generates income for its budget. We grab a spy, Jason Rezailan. America begs to get him back, but we say no, you have to pay for him,” he said. “Then the government receives $1.7 billion in exchange for that spy. By catching a single spy, the IRGC earns the money that the government is supposed to allocate for it.”

Abbasi also cites the potential for “redemption” money, claiming the Qatari government sent the Iranian regime $3 billion for the recent death of its terror chief Qassem Soleimani, assassinated by a U.S. drone strike launched from a military base in Doha. Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani went on to offer Iran his condolences on Soleimani’s killing, despite being a supposed ally of the United States.

“When the IRGC martyr Qassem Soleimani was hit, our government received $3 billion from Qatar as redemption money because the planes that killed him were from Qatar,” he declared. “Be honest, was a similar income generated by the nuclear deal? The IRGC creates dams, roads, highways, and brings security to Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, and elsewhere.”

Abbasi was reportedly arrested last year for criticizing Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi, claiming he had set up a news website aimed at promoting himself and slandering other Iranian officials.

In August, Abassi also made the bold prediction that America’s global influence will collapse within 15 years, after which “the global operating system will be an Islamic one.”

“The government of the elderly will be set aside and a young, revolutionary government will be in charge,” he explained at the time. “Islamic Iran is now so strong that if anyone hits us, it would be impossible for them to escape and they must receive a response for their action.”

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