The U.S. government has traced some of the $1.7 billion released to Iran by the Obama administration to Iranian-backed Hezbollah in the two years since the cash was transferred.
According to knowledgeable sources, Iran has used the funds to pay its main proxy, the Lebanon-based group Hezbollah, along with the Quds Force, Iran’s main foreign intelligence and covert action arm and element of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
The U.S. money supplied to Iran as part of an arms settlement dating back to the 1970s also has been traced to Iran’s backing of Houthi rebels seeking to take power in Yemen. Iran has been supporting the Yemen rebels as part of a bid to encircle and eventually take control of Saudi Arabia.
The intelligence tracing the American funds to Iranian-backed groups is likely to further fuel President Trump’s effort to undo the Iran nuclear deal, the Obama administration’s main foreign policy initiative codified in the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the Iran nuclear deal is called.
“The enormous financial windfall the Iranian regime received because of the deal — access to more than $100 billion, including $1.8 billion in cash — has not been used to better the lives of the Iranian people,” Trump said Jan. 12. “Instead, it has served as a slush fund for weapons, terror, and oppression, and to further line the pockets of corrupt regime leaders.”
The American money sent by the Obama administration was first flown to Switzerland aboard an unmarked chartered aircraft, and then converted into euros, Swiss francs and other currencies. An Iranian transport aircraft flew the cash to Iran in January and February 2016 in three shipments. The first aircraft arrived in Tehran on Jan. 16, 2016, with $400 million piled on wooden pallets. Two other aircraft shipments of cash were sent on Jan. 22, 2016, and Feb. 5, 2016, totaling $1.3 billion.
In all, Iran received $1.7 billion in U.S. cash that has been used to fund its covert terrorist support operations.
The first $400 million coincided with the release of four Americans held hostage by Iran, a move by Iran to make the money appear as if the Obama administration had paid a ransom to Tehran for the release of the Americans.
The Obama administration sought to justify the cash transfers to the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism by claiming the U.S. government was set to lose a legal arbitration case over arms purchases made by the government of the Shah of Iran, the predecessor government to the Islamist regime that took power in 1979. However, the primary motivation was President Obama’s effort to woo the Iranian regime and seek to change its backing for terrorism in the Middle East.