Obama’s million dollar gift to Iran shortchanges terror victims

October 8, 2013

For years there has been a determined effort to help bankrupt terrorism by suing terrorist organizations.  Families of North American and European citizens who have been killed or injured by Hamas or other terror groups have used the legal strategy with some success, winning several judgments in the courts.

However, collecting on those judgments has been a difficult undertaking.  Victims’ lawyers have frequently argued that their clients should be compensated through the proceeds of seized Iranian property or rental income derived from that property.  When it comes to artwork and artifacts, these cases have come down to technical decisions over the precise ownership of the antiquities.

But with that background in mind, it is quite disheartening to see this latest bit of news, in which the U.S. State Department and Pres. Obama have simply given away a million dollar artifact to the president of Iran on his way home from his trip to the United Nations in New York.  That is $1 million that could have gone to the victims of Hezbollah or Hamas’s terrorism.

The 2700-year-old Persian griffin is on display at the headquarters of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization in Tehran on September 28, 2013, hours before being transferred to the National Museum of Iran. (IRNA/Mohammad-Mehdi Mo’azzen)

The second problem with this “gift” is how it skirts Obama’s self-proclaimed “toughest sanctions in history.”  Although the gift is mostly a symbolic gesture, how kindly would the Treasury Department look upon a gift like this if given to Iran by a private citizen?  Frankly, you could very well be prosecuted for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

In fact, one man recently was convicted for transferring $1 million to Iran.  Hossein Lahiji, a Texas urologist, faces up to 20 years hard time in a federal penitentiary for sending about the same amount of money as Pres. Obama has transferred to Hassan Rouhani through this unsolicited “gift.”  And Lahiji deserves it—but don’t you think Lahiji’s defense lawyers have just been handed a golden opportunity to get a reduced sentence because they can plausibly argue the president did the same thing?

Thirdly and lastly, why are we giving gifts at all to a state sponsor of terrorism like Iran?  Could you imagine the outcry if we gave a present to Sudan, Syria, or North Korea?


  1. The relic actually belongs to Iran, not the US. Unless you are advocating stealing the relic and selling it to satisfy those greedy self serving individuals that can put a price on human life. Also, remember when our navy shot down an Iranian civilian airliner baci I’m 1988? There is a $72 billion judgement against the US for that terrorist action, which killed 290 innocents including 66 children. We don’t see them advocating the kind of thievery you’re promoting.

    • Do drugs seized by police “belong” to the drug dealer? Is confiscation of those drugs considered “thievery”?

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