Iranian lawmaker and cleric Hassan Rorouzi applauded his nation’s military on Sunday for shooting down a Ukrainian commercial flight in January, killing 176 civilians. Iran had initially claimed it was “obvious” that its military had not shot down the plane.
“The Iranian military did well by downing the passenger plane,” Norouzi said in an interview with the Iranian newspaper Hamdeli, according to the U.S.-funded Radio Farda. Norouzi, a member of the Iranian parliament’s powerful Legal and Judicial Commission, claimed that the military was right to blow up the plane because it had “come under America’s control.”
The lawmaker claimed that the Ukrainian International Airlines (UIA) plane – which its owners insisted had no known technical deficiencies that would cause it to crash – had made a flight to Israel “the week before the incident and appeared to have been tampered with and manipulated, there.”
“Given the fact that other countries were controlling the plane, our military forces did their job well,” Norouzi contended, providing no evidence for the claim that allegedly hostile foreign forces were in control of the plane. The lawmaker also did not explain in any detail what he believed “America” was going to do with the plane once under its control, though he did say that it had identified “special targets in Iran,” suggesting a potential act of terrorism.
UIA Flight 752 took off out of Tehran on January 8, 2020, just as the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, began a barrage of ballistic missile launches on Iraqi military bases. Tehran claimed the rockets were retribution against Washington – the Iraqi bases were housing American troops – for an airstrike against Major General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the IRGC’s Quds Force, in Iraq. The Quds Force is the IRGC wing responsible for international acts of terrorism; Soleimani had pioneered the increased use of roadside bombs to dismember American troops during his tenure at the head of the group. At the time of his death, President Donald Trump said that Soleimani had been planning imminent attacks on Americans in Iraq.
The Ukrainian passenger jet exploded shortly after taking off in Tehran. Initially, Iranian officials insisted that mechanical error on the plane caused it to crash, a claim President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed doubt towards.
Iranian officials outside of the IRGC refused to allow the terrorist organization to take responsibility. Iran Guardian Council chairman Ahmad Jannati speculated later in January that the United States had hacked the IRGC’s anti-aircraft missile system to shoot the plane down and embarrass Iran. Other officials claimed that Washington had hacked into the IRGC’s communication system, making it impossible for the commercial plane to confirm that it was not a threat.
“The root of all sorrows goes back to America,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in the aftermath of the crash.