The tools the Iranian regime uses to address foreign policy issues are multifaceted, depending on the nature of the issue at hand and the opportunities strategized. Regionally, the Iranian regime has deployed brutal militias and terror groups, comprised mainly of criminals wanted by both Western and Arab governments. Abduction business
Meanwhile, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a key pillar of the Iranian regime, has found a very profitable tool when negotiating and bargaining with Western countries. This tool involves abducting and imprisoning Iranian dual nationals and foreigners, using them for ransom or political leverage; though Tehran will, of course, never admit to this.
However, Hassan Abbasi, a former IRGC official and head of the Center for Borderless Security Doctrinal Analysis, has somewhat naively admitted to this criminal behavior. He said this month: “I don’t know how to solve economic issues without a relationship with the West. Do you want to solve the issue? Every naval force or a ship passes, take 10 or 20 American soldiers every month. Take $1 billion for each one. If you take $1 billion every week, it will add up to $51 billion per year. That’s how it is done.”
Iranian dual nationals who reside in the West but return to Iran are potentially lucrative hostages. They can easily be abducted and charged with fabricated crimes before being sentenced or flogged. But this is not limited to dual nationals — even Westerners who travel to Iran can be subjected to this travesty of justice. Following their trials, and in most cases before the court ruling against them is enforced, the Iranian regime allows these individuals to leave the country in exchange for a hefty “bail” deposit that is equivalent to a ransom payment.
Anyone wishing to research this won’t have to look hard to find dozens of such cases. According to a 2017 Reuters article, the IRGC had arrested at least 30 dual nationals in the preceding two years alone, mostly on spying charges.
One well-known detainee is Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian citizen sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on charges of “threatening to topple the government” in 2016, shortly after being arrested during a visit to her family in Tehran to celebrate Nowruz (Iranian New Year) with her then-22-month-old daughter.
Iran Briefing | News Press Focus on Human Rights Violation by IRGC, Iran Human Rights