Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi / Flash 90
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

The Biden Administration has given its final approval to a deal that will allow a $6 billion transfer of funds to Qatar – and then to Iran – in exchange for the release of five Americans being held hostage by the Islamic Republic.

The money, currently being held in South Korean banks, is to be transferred initially to Qatar and then to Iran.


In addition, the Biden Administration agreed to free five Iranian citizens as well. A spokesperson for the Iranian mission identified the prisoners for whom Tehran seeks freedom in a statement to the Associated Press.

Two of the sought-after Iranians were convicted and sentenced on terror-related charges; three others were charged in espionage, violation of sanctions and failing to register as a foreign agent on Iran’s behalf while lobbying US lawmakers on nuclear policy.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Congress the money would provide “limited benefit” to Iran, maintaining it can be used only for humanitarian trade.

“Allowing these funds to be transferred from restricted Iranian accounts held in the [Republic of Korea] to accounts in Qatar for humanitarian trade is necessary to facilitate the release of these US citizens,” Blinken said in his letter to Congress.

Congressional lawmakers were informed about the agreement on Monday, the 22nd anniversary of the deadly Al Qaeda terror attack on America that took the lives of nearly 3,000 people.

The five hostages are 51-year-old Siamak Namazi, 58-year-old Emad Shargi, 67-year-old Morad Tahbaz (who is also a British citizen) and two others who remain unnamed.

House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) warned in a statement, “the administration’s decision to waive sanctions to facilitate the transfer of $6 billion in funds for Iran, the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism, creates a direct incentive for America’s adversaries to conduct future hostage-taking.”

McCaul added that the timing of the announcement was “particularly egregious,” as it took place on the same week as the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attack . . . and Mahsa Amini’s murder by Iran’s so-called ‘morality police.’”

Numerous GOP senators and members of Congress lined up behind McCaul with similar statements, with several calling the deal “shameful.”

One senator accused President Joe Biden of paying a “ransom to the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism.”


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.