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Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
The abduction of Ruhollah Zam is not the first time that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), under the direction of the mullahs’ regime, has captured and kidnapped one of its opponents, who has taken refuge in a European country. Zam, a political refugee journalist in France, was abducted and dragged to Iraq following a conspiracy before being sent to Iran. France condemned these actions in the strongest terms possible. This year, the Iranian regime lured another dissident out of Sweden before having him abducted from Turkey.
Forty years of hostage-taking
More than forty-one years have passed since the mullahs came to power in Iran. Iranian President Rouhani once rightly acknowledged that we have been in constant conflict with the international community for forty years. This regime has not spent a moment of its rule without taking hostages.
The Velayat-e-Faqih regime, based on religious beliefs dating back to the Middle Ages, was unable to create economic prosperity and jobs to meet the economic and cultural needs of the forces liberated from the anti-monarchist uprising. Its economic prosperity required a relatively democratic atmosphere, which was incompatible with the nature of Velayat-e-Faqih. So from its inception, the regime relied on terrorism and belligerent policies abroad. They established a religious dictatorship, basing its survival on repression at home, plus regional and international bullying.
Capturing the U.S. embassy and taking hostages to get out of the crisis
Hostage-taking has always been one of the essential tools of the Iranian regime to advance its political goals. The first hostage-taking began in the chaotic events following the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1978. Demonstrations were held outside of the U.S. Embassy throughout the fall of 1978. In November 1979, 63 members of the U.S. embassy were taken hostage. Three more U.S. staff members were seized at the Iranian Foreign Ministry. Over the next year, this political impasse continued. Even though Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini could get out of this political impasse by releasing the hostages, even though the Islamic Republic was not yet in power, he fueled anti-American sentiment.
Yet, this use of hostages was not to be a one-time occurrence. Although the regime did take power and continue to drive the Iranian people’s anti-American views, it was clear that hostages were a way to get people to bargain with this dictatorship. The regime’s leaders took full advantage of it.
And this hostage-taking continues:
Examples of hostage-taking by the Iranian regime abound. French nationals in Lebanon were held hostage by the Lebanese Hezbollah to free regime terrorists imprisoned in France. Dual nationals are frequently targeted, such as French-Iranian researcher Fariba Adelkhah or Swedish-Iranian citizen Jalali, to force the release of individuals throughout France and Europe. The regime sees hostages as a commodity to be used as necessary to achieve their aims.
For the first time in history, a working diplomat was arrested and imprisoned in Belgium to deliver a package of explosive bombs to the perpetrators of a thwarted terrorist attack. This diplomat was the mastermind of the attack on the large gathering of the Iranian opposition in 2018, in which opposition leader Maryam Rajavi was the primary target. This terrorist diplomat wanted to create a more significant catastrophe for Bataklan. His actions were sanctioned by the highest levels of the regime leadership. The integrity of the Iranian regime’s diplomatic apparatus is actively used as part of its terrorism efforts and is highly suspect.
The well-known terrorist, Anis Naghash, a Lebanese mercenary of the Mullahs’ regime who spent ten years in French prisons for murder and assassination, reveals a corner of the Revolutionary Guards extortion through hostage-taking tools:
“… I was in a French prison, and they were operating in Beirut. Four French hostages were taken in Lebanon… One day a person from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs came to me… I said, ‘What do you want?’ He said, ‘I do not know now whether our hostages are alive or dead.’ I said, ‘Yes, but with a few conditions. The first section is that one million dollars must be returned to Iran. He said. ‘OK, what next?’ Then I told him to expel Massoud Rajavi from France.” (Regime TV, Ofogh Network, Jahan Ara Program – February 11, 2017)
Hassan Abbasi, a former commander of the Revolutionary Guards, recently said: “(Do you know) how the IRGC is making money? The IRGC hostage a spy (Jason Rezaian). (America)… said, ‘In God’s name send him back to us,’ (we said no, pay for him). The government will take $ 1.7 billion to hand over this spy. Therefore, by taking a spy, they get one billion and two billion that the government wants to give to the IRGC.” (-Asr Iran Government Website – January 23, 2020)
The hostage-taking output of the appeasement policy
Undoubtedly, the hostage-taking of Nazanin Zaghari, a British citizen, proves well that the Iranian regime has never paid the price for its hostage-taking. So continue to make a profit! But it continues at no cost. The Iranian regime is making good use of the favorable environment created by European countries’ appeasement policy for hostage-taking. As long as Europe succumbs to the Iranian regime’s dirty trade, it will continue to take hostages and blackmail. Hostage-taking is the output of the policy of appeasement.
Europe can get out of this mess only by not giving in to this dirty business but put the IRGC and the Ministry of Intelligence on the terrorist list, as proposed by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British Parliament.
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