A New York Democrat said despite the difficulty in blocking another country’s diplomat from coming into the U.S., anyone who participated in the 1979 hostage taking in Iran needs to be stopped.
“Let me just say for Ted Cruz and Eliot Engel to agree on something, it’s got to be right,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) quipped to CNN.
“Look, this fellow, by being an interpreter for the group that took American hostages, was certainly complicit in their capture,” he said of Hamid Aboutalebi, who was a member of Muslim Students Following the Imam’s Line when the group took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. “And I just think it’s a terrible insult to the United States at a time when Iran is talking with us, purportedly is doing that in good faith, Iran continues to make mischief and wreak havoc in other places of the world. They are negative in Syria, they are a major funder of Hezbollah, a terrorist organization. They continue to do that with impunity. And now this, which is a real slap in the face.”
“The Iranians should withdraw their nomination and should send somebody else, because this — all of us that were alive at the time remember that hostage crisis, and that is not something I think we can just turn a blind eye toward.”
Engel said it’s “obvious” the ayatollah is pulling the strings on these provocations as Iran’s new president tries to project a facade of moderation.
“It’s just very, very troubling. It’s a slap in the face to Americans. And it ought to be withdrawn. And, you know, it’s very difficult for us to block a diplomat from coming in. But if it’s proven that he was part and parcel of it, I would urge our authorities to deny him entry into the country,” he said.
“…So it’s as if the Iranians are thumbing their nose at us and saying, well, we’re going to negotiate with you but we’re not going to change any of our bad behavior while we’re negotiating. It seems to me if you’re really serious in having negotiations that are fruitful, you’d stop some of the outrageous behavior. And sending this diplomat to New York as their representative to the U.N. is just another indication that the Iranians think they can get away with anything. And that, I think, is an ominous sign to their seriousness in these nuclear talks.”