As much as $37 million of the Obama administration’s $1.7 billion cash ransom to Iran could go to funding terrorism, according to new research.
Iran reportedly spent 3.4 percent of its budget on defense, 65 percent of which went directly to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Iranian paramilitary force responsible for supporting terrorism across the Middle East. This means that 2.2 percent of Iran’s total annual budget goes to the IRGC. Should Iran apply these same spending figures when it incorporates the ransom payment to its budget, $37.4 million would go to the IRGC and its terrorist proxies, according to research from the American Action Forum.
“The nature of the cash transfers to Iran is an important question, but it is also worth considering the payment itself,” wrote Rachel Hoff, AAF’s director of defense analysis, in a post on the AAF website Wednesday. “Paying ransoms in exchange for Americans held abroad is one bad policy—indirectly funding terrorism is another.”
The White House insists that the cash payment was not a ransom, and was only used as “leverage” to ensure U.S. hostages were released. President Obama claimed that the payment was part of a settlement regarding an Iranian deposit into a trust fund before the Islamic Revolution. That said, the timing of the payment and release of the hostages is hardly coincidental.
“The timing of this, despite administration protests to the contrary, suggests that this was a ransom payment,” Jonathan Schanzer, an expert on terrorism finance and vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in August when the payment was discovered.
The Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported on the alleged ransom in January. At that time, the payment was widely considered a prisoner swap. The payment was not revealed until several months later in August.
Iranian officials unequivocally consider the payment a ransom for the hostages, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian.
“This money was returned for the freedom of the U.S. spy [Jason Rezaian] and it was not related to the [nuclear] negotiations,” said Iranian Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the head of Iran’s paramilitary Basij force, in January.
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