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U.S. Acknowledges Cash Payment to Iran Was ‘Leverage’ in Prisoner Release

Story Via: Wall Street Journal


State Department confirms U.S. refused to allow Iran to take $400 million cash payment until plane carrying freed Americans left Tehran

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration said for the first time on Thursday that its $400 million cash payment to Iran in January was used as “leverage” to gain the release of American prisoners, fueling criticism that the exchange amounted to a U.S. payment of ransom.

State Department spokesman John Kirby confirmed that the U.S. refused to allow Iran to take possession of the cash until a plane carrying the freed Americans had taken off from Tehran.

“If you’re asking me was there a connection in that regard, at the end game, I’m not going to deny that,” Mr. Kirby said at a State Department press briefing.

“We took advantage of leverage that we felt we could have to make sure that they got out safely and efficiently,” he added.

Mr. Kirby was responding to questions about a report in The Wall Street Journal disclosing that an Iranian cargo plane was not permitted by the U.S. to leave Geneva with $400 million in euros, Swiss francs and other currencies until the Americans had left Tehran.

The exchange took place on Jan. 17.

Administration officials, including President Barack Obama, have said the cash payment was not ransom because the $400 million was money the U.S. already owed to Iran over a failed arms deal from more than three decades ago.

U.S. officials also have said that the prisoner release and the arms-deal settlement took place through two separate diplomatic channels, and denied that the two were linked.

Read more at WSJ

“Gaza World Vision director diverted millions to Hamas’s military wing”

Story Via: Washington Post


The Gaza head of the U.S.-based humanitarian aid organization World Vision funneled as much as $7 million a year over the past 10 years to Hamas’s terror activities, Israel’s domestic security agency said Thursday.

The Shin Bet said the aid group’s Gaza director, Mohammed el-Halabi, is an active figure in Hamas’s military wing. He was indicted by Israeli authorities Thursday, accused of diverting some 60 percent of World Vision’s annual budget for Gaza to Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that rules the coastal enclave. He was charged with transferring money and working with a terror group.

Hamas is viewed as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union. Israel has fought three wars with Hamas since 2009.

Read the full story at Washington Post

Ahead of elections, Fatah brags of killing 11,000 Israelis

Story via: The Times of Israel

abbas incitementIn a Facebook post Tuesday, the Palestinian Fatah group listed a number of its achievements. At the top: the killing of 11,000 Israelis.

In its boast, Fatah also notes other achievements, such as losing 170,000 “martyrs,” being the first to carry out attacks in the First Intifada, which began in 1987, as well as in the second that launched in the fall of 2000. It also takes credit for leading the Palestinian campaign against Israel in the UN.

Fatah, led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, is widely seen as the more moderate of the two main Palestinian factions. Hamas, the Islamist terror group which rules Gaza, is Fatah’s main competitor.

Read the full story: The Times of Israel

U.S. Sent Cash to Iran as Americans Were Freed

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 8.41.43 PMStory via: The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.

Read the full story at: WSJ