Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (right) meets with Palestinian terrorist leaders in Damascus, May 4, 2023. Source: Twitter.
by Marziyeh Amirizadeh
My heart sank when I read of an impending deal to pay the evil Islamist Iranian regime several billion dollars (or more) in ransom to free Americans held hostage in Iran. Taking American and other hostages is not new for the Islamist regime. They keep doing it because it works. It’s profitable. And the West caves into their demands. This has to stop.
As an Iranian-born American citizen, I can raise my voice without consequence. I especially admire the brave Iranians who are raising their voices publicly against this deal, which millions of Iranians call #IranRansomDeal. In 2009, when President Obama betrayed the Iranian people’s best chance to take back their country from the Ayatollahs, I was in prison, arrested and sentenced to death by hanging, simply because of my faith in Jesus. What these brave Iranians are doing today is putting themselves in the crosshairs of the regime which will have no problem arresting and murdering protesters by the hundreds, or thousands, just as they did during the 2009 Green Revolution.
In 2009, when I was in prison facing death by hanging, I witnessed the horrible consequence of Obama’s betrayal. I witnessed how thousands were arrested, tortured, and murdered because of Obama’s retreat. Reports that anywhere from $6 billion to $23 billion will be paid in ransom to the Islamic regime in Iran today is not diplomacy, it’s appeasement.
With the new #IranRansomDeal, the Biden administration is repeating Obama’s same mistakes from 2009, treacherously sending billions of dollars to the criminal regime. Reports say that the money will be for specific (humanitarian) projects, and that there will be oversight. But that is beyond foolish. All money is fungible. The Iranian people know it. They know they will not be the beneficiaries of it, and that sending billions of dollars to the Islamist regime will only strengthen it, punishing the Iranian people who are starving for freedom.
Where Obama failed the Iranians once, Biden is making failure U.S. policy.
Would any police officer, anywhere in the world, finding a drunk driver on the side of the road who has run out of gas, go to the nearest gas station and bring back 5 gallons of gas to help the drunk driver get on his way? That’s ridiculous. The Biden plan to ransom American citizens held hostage embodies this ridiculousness, on steroids.
Iranians know what’s happening. The Biden administration has sought from day one to make a deal with Iran at any cost. Ransoming hostages is a way to circumvent sanctions that should be strengthened. All this is happening in parallel to the Biden administration still trying to make a deal. The #IranRansomDeal will release billions even without a deal.
As much as the Iranian people feel sold out, again, the Iranian regime is laughing all the way to the bank. They see a weak U.S. president and his policies, and know that taking hostages is just one form of extortion to achieve their goals. The Iranian people are calling the U.S. president “Ayatollah Biden,” shamefully complicit with their own evil Ayatollahs.
Iranian leaders joke about this publicly and shamelessly. In this video, former IRGC commander Hassan Abasi mocks America and says that they could get as much as money they want by taking more Americans hostage. He admits that hostage taking is a way to work around sanctions. He laughed, saying all they need to do every time is to take 10 to 20 Americans at sea, and demand $1 billion to release each one. Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, hostage taking is just a business to these criminals.
If baseball is America’s pastime, under the Ayatollahs, hostage taking and terrorism are theirs. Terror and hostage taking are the real Iranian currency, not the rial.
Americans could turn a blind eye and think, it’s just in Iran, it’s not our problem. But it is. Iran’s evil Islamist and expansionist intentions threaten the whole world. We see that in Ukraine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Israel, Turkey and more. Because hostage taking works, in addition to putting Iranian lives at risk, the #IranRansomDeal will also put many Americans at risk, vulnerable to being kidnapped anywhere in the world.
As a Christian, I am particularly concerned. I not only came to faith in Jesus in Iran, but I suffered as a result. I learned many things there that most Christians would never think about, much less be able to understand. In Matthew 5, many Christians interpret Jesus‘ words about turning the other cheek as a call to not confronting evil. However, that is the opposite of reality, and how he lived his life. Turning the other cheek does not mean walking away from confrontation. Specifically in the face of the evil of Iran, we must not only not turn the other cheek and walk away, but specifically and proactively counter, resist and eliminate the evil that persecutes Christians and Jews, that threatens a nuclear holocaust against Israel and others, that turns women into the property of men, and uses hostage taking and terror to inflict its evil on the rest of the world.
Of course, I feel sympathy for the hostages and their families. I know what Iran’s most notorious prison is like. I experienced the torture and lies. There is no justice. It is painful for the prisoners and their families. I do not diminish any of that. But releasing billions to the Ayatollahs will put many more lives at risk, in Iran and around the world. The #IranRansomDeal will empower the evil Iranian regime to take more hostages whenever they want more money. The blood of thousands of people will be on the hands of those behind this deal.
And as much as I have sympathy for the hostages and their families, anyone should know better. Iran is not a land for tourism. It is the land of terrorism, torture, execution, and hostage taking. Anyone who goes there knows they are putting themselves at risk. They should not reasonably expect to be ransomed as part of a deal that will put thousands more at risk.
Having “lived” on death row in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, I can say with clarity that as horrible as that was, if I were in prison now and the U.S. government wanted to swap me at the cost of risking even the life of one innocent person, I would rather stay the rest of my life in prison.
It’s especially horrible that this deal is happening just before the first anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s murder on Sept. 16, 2022. This is an insult to Iranians who paid a huge price fighting for their freedom. The #IranRansomDeal is an unwelcome present a year after Mahsa’s Amini’s murder, a year after thousands of Iranians have been arrested, tortured, and murdered just for expressing their desire for freedom. It mocks all the brave Iranians who fought and still are fighting for their freedom. The #IranRansomDeal is spitting in the face of all Iranians who are fighting against this brutal regime.
Everyone knows that providing billions to the evil Islamist regime it will not be used for humanitarian purposes but for killing more Iranians, funding global terrorism, sending more missiles to kill Ukrainians, and helping the regime to expand its nuclear abilities. Only a fool could believe that the Ayatollahs will use this money for humanitarian purposes. Iran’s Islamic regime is evil, and only seeks death and destruction. Let’s not empower the evil, but stand together to cut off the evil at the head.
I have witnessed countless injustices in Iran: torture, human rights violations, religious persecution, and rampant misogyny. My captors said all I had to do to be released was renounce my faith. Some of my friends in prison called me crazy for risking my life and my freedom by not doing so. I learned several things from this.
First, under no circumstances should anyone ever bow down to these savage people who hijacked Iran’s freedom, or force tens of millions of Iranians to live under the heel of an extremist intolerant Islam. True freedom existed when I was behind bars, because no one could take away my faith. I wanted them to see that I was free even though my body was in prison. I learned that we must always stand firm against these evil people. And I learned that even if I wanted to make a deal, the evil Islamist regime can never be trusted.
Now, I see the U.S. government leading and funding a retreat rather than being a true leader among all countries, abdicating the responsibility to stand with persecuted Iranians and Christians in specific, or protecting human rights. The Biden administration has made the U.S. look weak in the eyes of the world for its misguided and naïve policies vis a vis Iran. The evil of Iran must be defeated, not enabled.
May God save America and all Americans from the incompetent policies that keep Iran further from being free, and putting Iranians, Americans, and millions of others worldwide at greater risk. The #IranRansomDeal must be stopped.
Marziyeh Amirizadeh is an Iranian American who immigrated to the U.S. after being sentenced to death in Iran for the crime of converting to Christianity. She endured months of mental and physical hardships and intense interrogation. She is author of two books (the latest, “A Love Journey with God”), public speaker, and activist for religious freedom. She has shared her inspiring story throughout the United States and around the world, to bring awareness about the ongoing human rights violations and persecution of women and religious minorities in Iran.