A video surfaced online Wednesday of an official Iranian political strategist suggesting that Iran should take Americans hostage because their lucrative ransoms would make up for sanctions on the country.
“Do you want to solve the sanctions problem? Our naval forces should take 10 or 20 Americans as hostage every month. For each one of them, we should get $1 billion. If we get $1 billion per week, and the year has around 50 weeks. That’s at least $50 billion,” the IRGC officer Hassan Abbasi said.
The widely shared video shows Abbasi, who also heads the IRGC-affiliated think-tank Andishkadeh Yaghin, giving a speech on January 17 reportedly in a mosque in the Iranian city of Nowshahr.
In the video, the strategist makes an example of Jason Rezaian, the Iranian-American journalist who served as the Tehran bureau chief for The Washington Post. He spent a year and a half between trial and Evin Prison until he was released in 2016.
The Obama administration denied any link between the payment, which it said was a settlement to end a dispute over a failed arms deal, and the prisoner exchange at the time.
Abbasi also said that the Iranian government received $3 million from Qatar in blood money for the killing of Qassem Soleimani, in what could be a reference to Doha’s role in housing the base from which the drones used in the attacks were launched.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani went to Iran to offer condolences on the killing of the former commander of the IRGC, Qassem Soleimani.