On December 27, Iranian media published Hamas Co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar’s remarks, praising Qassem Soleimani, the former chief of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Quds Force. In an interview with Iran’s state-controlled Arabic language al-Alam, al-Zahar admitted that in 2006, Qassem Soleimani delivered at least $22 million in cash to him and to his assistants.
Qassem Soleimani, as the mastermind of Tehran’s terrorist activities in the Middle East and across the globe, was killed in a U.S. drone attack near the Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2019. Soleimani’s death was an irreparable blow to the ayatollahs’ terror machine and significantly decreased Tehran’s atrocities in the Middle East despite IRGC commanders’ vows for a ‘harsh revenge.’
“My first meeting with ‘martyr’ Qassem Soleimani was after I became the Palestinian Foreign Minister in 2006. I visited several countries, including Iran. I met with my Iranian counterpart and a few other officials. Prior to my return, I also met with Mr. Qassem Soleimani,” said Mahmoud al-Zahar in his interview with al-Alam.
This has been making a lot of noise among #Iran’s netizens.
Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahder said in a recent interview that in 2006 Qassem Soleimani gave them $22 million in cash.
This is how the regime spends the Iranian people’s money.pic.twitter.com/nBWXnQbSuj
— Heshmat Alavi (@HeshmatAlavi) December 29, 2020
“The meeting with President Mahmoud [Ahmadi] Nejad was positive. I had some requests from him, and he referred me to Mr. Qassem Soleimani. In a meeting, I told [Soleimani] that our critical problem is paying our employees’ paychecks, support, and aid that we must provide,” he added.
Later, he explained how the former IRGC-QF commander immediately granted the country’s national reserves to fund a radical ally of the government. “A decision was quickly made because I had to leave the next day. I saw $22 million in cash in several suitcases at the airport. We had agreed on more, but since we were a nine-man delegation, we could not carry more due to flight instructions. There were 40 kilograms of money in each suitcase,” al-Zahar elaborated.
This is while the government frequently grumbles about U.S. sanctions and economic pressure, claiming they have paralyzed the country’s ability to purchase food and medication. However, in reality, any transaction and financial contract with Iran is merely deposited into IRGC commanders’ pockets, funneling extremist militias and funding proxy and sectarian conflicts in the region.
In the 2016 Davos session, former Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged to CNBC that some of the money Iran received in sanctions relief would go to groups considered terrorists. “I think that some of it will end up in the hands of the IRGC or other entities, some of which are labeled terrorists,” he said in the interview in Davos on January 21, 2016.
Also, Lebanese Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah bluntly acknowledged that the Iranian government bears all Hezbollah members’ stipends and expenditures. “We are openly saying and being transparent and honest that all Hezbollah’s budget, salaries, funds, food, drink, weapons, missiles, and everything come from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Nasrallah said in a speech aired by Hezbollah-run TV in July 2016.
In this respect, while the theocratic state has shamefully taken Iranians’ lives and health hostage for political and economic interests and delayed in procuring credible Covid-19 vaccines, the international community must keep up pressure on the ayatollahs until they stop squandering the country’s resources on terrorism and warmongering.
On December 7, a COVAX spokesperson declared that U.S. sanctions do not prohibit Tehran from purchasing vaccines and necessities to counter the health crisis. Governments must push Iranian officials to procure required doses of coronavirus vaccines immediately. This pressure would spare Iranians’ lives and health and decrease the ayatollahs’ and IRGC’s abilities to jeopardize peace and security in the region and across the globe.