The Justice Department may possess key information about Iranians in Argentina, but the administration is suspiciously ignoring requests for it, even under treaty obligations.
WASHINGTON – After Iranians with direct links to the country’s most prominent designated terrorist organization were detained in Argentina early last month, the Biden administration has refused to provide key Argentinian law enforcement officials information confirming links to terrorist activities.
The Biden administration’s apparent stalling is prompting U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) to ask for an explanation for the delay and whether the failure to confirm terrorist linkages with a major non-NATO U.S. ally could be because of the president’s continued, desperate, and deeply misguided pursuit of an Iran nuclear deal.
Ernst is leading a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding a rationale for the Justice Department’s “uncharactistic delay and lack of responsiveness” to formal requests by the Argentinian judiciary for information key to their investigation into the Iranian suspects. Ernst states that the delay “suggests a prioritization of other parts of this administration’s agenda, such as negotiations over a new Iranian nuclear deal.”
“If it turns out that President Biden’s Justice Department is purposely delaying and ignoring the requests of the Argentine judiciary to carry out their investigation—even in the face of treaty obligations—all to prioritize the administration’s desperate and misguided pursuit of a new Iran nuclear deal, it would be a disgrace and completely unacceptable. We need assurances right away that vital information will be promptly provided, along with a full explanation for the delay,” said Senator Ernst.
On June 6, a plane under the ownership of Emtrasur Cargo with a crew that included five Iranians, with at least one member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), landed in Argentina. Upon inspection, Argentine federal police discovered the plane’s cargo contained intelligence technologies and related military hardware, providing credible suspicion for malign activities related to cyber and intelligence operations.
In addition, the pilot of this aircraft, Gholamreza Ghasmei, is the CEO of Qeshm Fars Air, an Iranian airline sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Treasury. The IRGC, a designated foreign terrorist organization, uses Fars Air to smuggle weapons, leading to questions of Ghasmei’s potential involvement in the delivery of lethal materials supporting efforts of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard-Qods Force. As a result, the government of Argentina detained the plane by court order and is currently retaining the passports of the passengers and crew.
The Argentine judiciary, through standard process which is called the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) program, requested information from the Justice Department on the potential involvement of the plane and its crew in support of international terrorism.
Ernst is joined on the letter to Attorney General Garland by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.).
To read the senators’ full letter, click HERE.