On Monday, President Trump formally blamed Iran for the presumed death of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson. The agent disappeared in Iran more than a decade ago. It has now been confirmed that he was kidnapped by Iranian government agents.
President Trump sanctions Iranians
President Trump publicly identified two Iranian intelligence officers suspected of carrying out the abduction of FBI Agent Robert Levinson more than a decade ago. The President imposed sanctions against the men, in what is seen as another escalation of tensions between the US and Iran. Trump has been tough on Iran throughout his term in the White House and many believe this will complicate any efforts made by Joe Biden to change course if he takes office in January.
Besides calling out two high-ranking intelligence officers by name, U.S. officials also said the Iranian regime sanctioned the plot that led to Levinson’s abduction and lied for years about its involvement in his disappearance. “The abduction of Mr. Levinson in Iran is an outrageous example of the Iranian regime’s willingness to commit unjust acts,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
The Iranian intelligence officers, Mohammad Baseri and Ahmad Khazai, are alleged to have been involved in Levinson’s abduction and probable death. Under the sanctions, any property or assets they hold in the United States would be frozen. Though it’s unlikely they have bank accounts in the U.S., the sanctions could also limit their movements or financial dealings outside of Iran.
The ayatollah of Iran is once again threatening terrorist attacks on Americans.
Tell me again why @JoeBiden number one foreign policy objective is get back into bed with him?
And give him billions of dollars? https://t.co/ElLUVSXE8W
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 16, 2020
Iran threatens revenge
In a statement, the Levinson family thanked Trump administration officials and called Monday’s announcement just one step in a long road toward achieving justice for him, but it is an important one. “Robert Levinson will never come home to his family alive because of the cruel, cynical and inhumane actions of the Iranian authorities. Because of these men and others like them, our wonderful husband, father and grandfather died alone, thousands of miles from everyone he loved.”
Monday’s sanctions are the latest aggressive Trump administration action against Iran since the president withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal two years ago, a signature foreign policy achievement of President Barack Obama. Since then, the Trump administration has steadily ramped up pressure on Iran, re-imposing numerous sanctions and taking other actions, including killing the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in a drone strike at the airport in Baghdad this year.