News & Politics

State Department Warns Travelers That Iran Is Looking to Capture Americans

Thirty-seven years of soft-pedaling the gangster nature of the Iranian state may be changing as the State Department has finally warned Americans not to travel to Iran due to the eagerness of the mullahs to capture Americans.

You don’t think the $400 million ransom payment has anything to do with Iran’s desire to take more Americans hostage, do you?

Washington Free Beacon:

The latest travel advisory, which emphasizes Iran’s desire to capture U.S. citizens, comes on the heels of a growing scandal over the Obama administration’s decision to pay Iran $400 million in cash on the same day that it freed several U.S. hostages.

The payment has been cast by lawmakers and others as a ransom payment and prompted concern among U.S. officials that Iran is making arresting Americans a priority.

The travel warning is meant to “highlight the risk of arrest and detention of U.S. citizens, particularly dual national Iranian-Americans,” according to a State Department announcement on Monday. “Foreigners, in particular dual nationals of Iran and Western countries including the United States, continue to be detained or prevented from leaving Iran.”

“U.S. citizens traveling to Iran should very carefully weigh the risks of travel and consider postponing their travel,” the warning adds. “U.S. citizens residing in Iran should closely follow media reports, monitor local conditions, and evaluate the risks of remaining in the country.”

Iran continues to imprison Americans, particularly those holding dual Iranian citizenship, according to the State Department.

“Iranian authorities have detained and harassed U.S. citizens, particularly those of Iranian origin,” the travel warning states. “Former Muslims who have converted to other religions, religious activists, and persons who encourage Muslims to convert are subject to arrest and prosecution.”

The Obama administration expressed particular concern about commercial airlines doing business with Iran. This warning comes as American companies such as Boeing continue to pursue million-dollar business deals with the Islamic Republic.

“The U.S. government is concerned about the risks to civil aircraft operating into, out of, within, or over Iran due to hazards from military activity associated with the conflicts in Iraq and Syria,” the warning states. “The FAA has advised U.S. civil aviation to exercise caution when flying into, out of, within, or over the airspace over Iran.”

The warning emphasizes that “the U.S. government’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in Iran in the event of an emergency is extremely limited.”

Dollar signs must be dancing in front of the eyes of Iranian authorities thinking of all those western businessmen who will be flocking to the Islamic Republic looking to develop business relationships now that the sanctions have been lifted. A target-rich environment if you’re an Iranian bent on taking hostages to be sold back to their home country.

This will be Obama’s major foreign policy legacy: an opening to Iran so one-sided and so dangerous that the government has been forced to advise Americans not to travel to that country.

The White House continues to say that the cash payment to Iran wasn’t ransom. Forgive them their delusions because they’re the only people on the planet who think that. This is especially true since there was apparently no need to send cash. The administration says that they couldn’t send a wire transfer because of the lack of communication between the U.S. and Iran banking systems. But PJ Media’s Claudia Rosett, writing in the New York Sun, discovered that the remaining $1.3 billion of the settlement was almost certain wired to the Iranian accounts.

And curiously, there were 13 separate payments of $99,999,999.99 from the State Department Judgement Fund set up to pay claims against the government by foreign entities, totaling $1.3 billion less 13 cents.

Treasury has provided no answers to my queries about whether these specific payments were for the Iran settlement. Nor why these transfers comprised 13 payments, each of which was a cent under $100,000,000. Nor whether the $10 million related to the same matter.

The Judgment Fund database contains over the past year no other payouts pertaining to State that come anywhere near the scale of $1.3 billion of the announced with Iran. And it contains no details on what the State Department might have done with the $1.3 billion.

It does say, as a general matter, that “Defendant Agency Name is the same as the Responsible Agency Name.” It leaves open the question of whether it was State rather than Treasury that determined by what route and in what form the funds would reach their final destination.

State has refused to disclose even such basic information as the date on which Iran took receipt of the $1.3 billion. As recently as August 4, a State spokesman told the press: “I don’t have a date of when that took place.”

Nor has the administration answered whether the $1.3 billion was transferred to Iran via the banking system, or, like the $400 million, in cash. According to the Judgment Fund web site, the “preferred method” for payments is “by electronic fund transfer,” approved by the relevant government agency, to the party receiving the award.

But, the Weekly Standard noted last week, President Obama recently defended his $400 million cash shipment to Iran on the grounds that “We don’t have a banking relationship with Iran… We could not wire the money.”

Waiting for the media to dive into this story to get to the bottom of all these mysteries.

The State Department must have specific intelligence that led to them to issue this warning. That may mean a change in attitude in Tehran that specifically targets Americans. And while I’m a believer in coincidences, the proximity of this warning to the ransom payment advances the notion that Iran is looking to take advantage of a president who will do anything to please them in order to maintain the existence of the nuclear agreement.