The Canadian-Iranian blogger “Winston,” who writes at The Spirit of Man website, draws my attention to this important story. About three weeks ago, the news broke in the Iranian press of an embezzlement scandal. Three billion dollars went missing from an Iranian bank, the largest single instance of embezzlement in a regime where graft is commonplace. Now, Mahmoud Reza Khavari, the managing director of Bank Melli, has reportedly fled to Canada. The Washington Post provides further context regarding the scope of the embezzlement, those involved, and how they link into other Iranian political scandals.
What the Washington Post does not mention is that Bank Melli has been involved in the transfer of funds to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah through the Qods Force, as well as Iran’s nuclear program. Bank Melli was among the Iranian financial institutions which the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned in 2007.
President Obama’s counter-terrorism record has been mixed. Certainly, the president deserves credit for killing Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, and other top al-Qaeda leaders. However, Obama’s moral equivalency, his refusal to recognize the theological basis of terrorism and his willingness to accommodate terror-sponsoring regimes threaten to seize defeat from the jaws of victory.
In contrast, the stories out of Canada have been almost uniformly positive: Canada has demonstrated moral clarity. It has proven its willingness to lead from the front on foreign policy issues such as the UN’s periodic anti-Semitism orgy in Durban, and Ottawa refuses to tolerate Iranian and Palestinian incitement.
Khavari’s flight provides a potential windfall for Western intelligence analysts. Given his position, Khavari likely knows the ins-and-outs of Iranian terror finance. His testimony can provide smoking guns with regard to Qods Force head Qasem Suleimani and other senior Iranian officials. Canadian authorities should take their war on terrorism to the next level, and recognize that diplomatic posturing is not enough. They should use any pretext possible to detain Khavari, and offer him a stark choice: Reveal what he knows or be returned to an Islamic Republic which will be sure to kill him. Canada should not allow itself to become a safe haven for terror financiers.
Obama, for his part, should not repeat the mistakes of Clinton after Khobar: Obama should not let his hope for diplomacy translate into a willingness to turn a blind eye toward damning evidence of Iranian culpability in the murder of Iranians.