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(August 15, 2023 / JNS) Saleh Mirhashemi Baltaghi, Majid Kazemi, Saeed Yaqoubi Kordafli, Sayed Mohammad Hosseini, Mohsen Shekari, Majid Reza Rahnavard and Mohammad Mehdi Karami.

They are writers, bloggers, doctors, athletes, rappers, poets and artists. They are seven of the dozens of courageous Iranians who have been hanged in public. Why? For the crime of what the Iranian regime calls moharebe—waging war against God.

The real reason was their participation in the mass protests that followed the murder of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini by the Iranian regime’s “morality police.”

There are many more dissidents on death row. There are also the 536 protesters killed by regime forces and the more than 20,000 dissidents who have been arrested, raped and tortured in the notorious Evin prison.

It is criminal that the names of these freedom fighters remain largely unknown.

Why has President Joe Biden never mentioned their names? Last year, protests raged in all of Iran’s 33 provinces. The White House had the opportunity to back a “velvet revolution” in Iran. Why was there deafening silence from the Biden administration?

Now, the White House is empowering Iran’s tyrants with $6 billion in exchange for the release of American hostages.

I feel the anguish of the hostages. I sympathize with the families of Siamak Namazi, Emad Sharghi, Morad Tahbaz and two unidentified prisoners. But I could not be more profoundly disappointed that the U.S. is willing to pay ransom money to an evil regime.

It will only encourage more hostage-taking. It will put every American at risk wherever there are Iran-backed terrorist groups, which are nearly ubiquitous in the Middle East, Europe, Latin America and parts of the U.S.

Moreover, according to the Iranian Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) of 2015, any agreement with Iran must go before Congress. INARA explicitly states that the president cannot waive statutory sanctions on Iran without giving Congress 30 days to review and possibly reject such a move. Thus, the administration’s verbal agreement with Iran is a direct violation of U.S. law.

The $6 billion will never go towards alleviating Iranian poverty and misery. They will be used to entrench the power of the Iranian regime, support its vast terrorist infrastructure and further its nuclear designs.

A great deal of the money will go to training and armed terror groups like the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the Basij, the Al Quds Force, Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Lions’ Den, the Mujahadeen Movement and more.

As for Iran’s nuclear program, the 2015 nuclear deal capped enrichment of uranium at 3.67%. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran possesses over 120 kilograms of uranium enriched to 60%. In February, traces of uranium enriched to 83.7% were found near the Fordow nuclear facility. This is a mere 6.3% away from the 90% necessary for a nuclear bomb. It is estimated that Iran is 12 days to two weeks away from nuclear breakout.

Moreover, due a Mossad-launched drone attack on a missile facility in Isfahan in January, we know Iran has been a primary supplier of drones to Russia. Russia uses these drones in its brutal war against Ukraine.

Iran has also been steadily upgrading its missile arsenal. Recently, the regime unveiled the Khoramshahr 4 ballistic missile, which has a range of 2,000 km (1,243 miles) and can carry a 1,500 kilogram (3,300 pound) warhead.

In addition, Iran has a new hypersonic missile, the “Fatah.” The regime boasts that it can reach Tel Aviv “in 400 seconds.” According to IRGC Aerospace Force Commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh, it can “penetrate all air defense missile systems and detonate them.”

In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “There are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they are worth dying for. And I submit to you that if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”

Iran’s persecuted dissidents are now living King’s words. Rather than reward the Iranian regime with billions of dollars for kidnapping Americans, we should be isolating the regime and throwing the full weight of American support behind these amazingly courageous Iranian protesters. They have put their lives on the line to escape the suffocating chokehold of a brutal, repressive regime.

At the very least, we should know their names.

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About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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