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KAHLILI: Putting an end to Iran Air terror flights

Sanctions need real teeth to make mullahs pay attention

- The Washington Times - Friday, October 14, 2011

Despite global sanctions, Iran continues to export terrorism worldwide while importing nuclear weapons technology in a quest to impose Islam on the world. The United States and its Western allies must step up the pressure against Tehran.

Part of the export of terrorism turned up Tuesday when U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced federal authorities had foiled an Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States and bomb the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington.

U.S. authorities concerned about Iran's terrorist activities have taken new action to limit the illicit activities of the Islamic regime in Tehran, but it's not enough.

In conjunction with U.S. sanctions, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) suspended the sale of Iran Air tickets through its Billing and Settlement Plan system, which serves as the central point through which data and funds flow between travel agents and airlines worldwide.

According to one official at IATA, the suspension went into effect last week and was a direct response to U.S. sanctions against illegal activities conducted by the Iranian government through Iran Air. Within the framework of these sanctions, travel agencies must refuse the sale of Iran Air passenger tickets.

While sanctions are exerting some pressure on the Islamic regime in Iran, they have failed to stop it from illicit activities of money laundering, transferring of arms and explosives in support of its terror network worldwide and, most important, its pursuit of a nuclear bomb program.

The United States, in collaboration with our allies in the European Union, must exert much more pressure against Iran. These actions could include the closure of all offices of Iran Air, Iranian shipping lines and bank offices in Europe.

In addition, an oil embargo would drastically affect the Iranian economy, forcing its leaders to change their behavior or face the wrath of their own people, who for decades have paid dearly to gain freedom from their radical rulers. We have to realize once and for all that a regime change in Tehran would go a long way in securing peace and stability not only in the region, but in the world.

Iran repeatedly has violated international laws, one of which strictly prohibits the use of passenger flights for security or military purposes. According to the opposition group Green Experts of Iran, the Iranian government on at least three recent occasions has smuggled large sums of money out of the country using Iran Air passenger flights.

One such money-laundering case involved transferring millions of euros to the Iranian Embassy in Germany, intended for expanding intelligence operations as well as funding Iranian-supported Islamic centers across Europe, such as the Islamic centers in Hamburg, Germany, and Vienna, Austria, and one Sudanese Islamic center based in Europe.

The second case involved transferring large sums of U.S. dollars to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, through Iran Air flights. Portions of these funds were moved later to the Philippines, and the final destination is unclear at this time.

The third case of the Iranian government's money-laundering scheme via Iran Air is connected to Iranian-Pakistani joint nuclear activity. For this purpose, hundreds of millions of dollars in cash has been paid to the Pakistani government to purchase necessary components as well as the expertise of Pakistani nuclear scientists.

As I have reported on several occasions, known because of my experience as a CIA agent inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran, Iranian intelligence agents occupy every office and entity in connection with the Islamic government in Iran. These include consulates and embassies, Iran Air and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines offices, Iranian banks abroad, Islamic and cultural centers, mosques and every extension of the Iranian government in businesses throughout the world.

Not only money is smuggled to support Iranian intelligence activities. As I have reported to the CIA, arms and explosives are smuggled using Iran Air flights. In one such case, the explosives smuggled by Iran Air were transferred from the airport via an Iranian consulate convoy, which has diplomatic immunity. These actions have resulted in many assassinations and acts of terrorism worldwide.

Iran Air flights are also used to transport terrorists. These flights, though commercial, often show as being fully booked many months in advance so that no regular passengers can fly. These mystery flights are used routinely to transfer funds and arms to Syria and carry known terrorists back to Iran.

Iranian Quds Forces and Hezbollah use the same Iran Air mystery flights to transfer members to Venezuela to strengthen their terror network in Latin America. These terror cells, in collaboration with drug cartels, get into Mexico, from which they enter the United States.

Mohammad Hussein Babai, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, recently revealed that the Iranian terror cells, in coordination with Hezbollah, have infiltrated into the heart of Europe and America. Their mission, Mr. Babai said, is to help create an Islam-dominated world.

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for an ex-CIA spy who is a fellow with EMPact America and the author of "A Time to Betray," about his double life in Iran's Revolutionary Guards (Threshold Editions, Simon & Schuster, 2010).

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