Last month, leaders from Boeing reportedly traveled to Tehran to meet and sign a deal with a type former member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and current CEO of Aseman Airlines, Hussein Alaei. He previously threatened to blow up U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region. The meeting with Boeing raises new questions about the U.S. aerospace company’s continued efforts to ink a multi-billion dollar deals with the Iranian regime.
Boeing is moving forward with a $3 billion dollar deal to sell new planes to Aseman despite fierce opposition on Capitol Hill and direct evidence Iran has used commercial aircraft to ferry weapons and fighters across the region.
Photographs were taken at the meeting, showing a Boeing representative shaking hands with Alaei, who has been identified by Congress as a “prominent and longtime member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” which is responsible for killing and wounding scores of U.S. troops. The Boeing representative was not named in reports from the Iranian-controlled press or in the information provided by U.S. foreign policy insiders.
Alaei was a commander of the IRGC Navy until 1990. He joined the IRGC shortly after the Iranian revolution and quickly rose through the ranks, according to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Part of his duties included overseeing the harassment of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf and efforts by the IRGC Navy to plant mines in international waters.
“We have drawn up plans whereby we will utilize all our military capability to destroy the U.S. fleet and solve the Persian Gulf issue once and forever,” Alaei was quoted as saying in 1987. “The Americans are here to fight us.”
The Boeing deal is currently under review by the Trump administration, which will have the final say on whether Boeing is granted licenses to sell the new planes to Iran. The aerospace company has lobbied Congress aggressively to back the deal and was a key supporter of the Obama administration’s efforts to forge the landmark nuclear deal with Iran, which provided Tehran with billions in economic relief and cash windfalls.
“According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, an aerospace sale of this magnitude creates or sustains approximately 18,000 jobs in the United States,” Boeing said in a statement carried in Iran’s state-controlled media. “Boeing continues to follow the lead of the U.S. government with regards to working with Iran’s airlines, and any and all contracts with Iran’s airlines are contingent upon U.S. government approval.”
Senior sources on Capitol Hill are working to stop the deal from moving forward, arguing that the meeting with Alaei crosses a line.
“If Boeing is trying to convince us they are doing their due diligence, they’re not doing a very good job,” said one senior congressional source familiar with the matter. “These photos of Boeing executives smiling and glad-handing with a prominent member of the [IRGC] are truly sickening. No self-respecting American should shake Hossein Alaei’s hands. They have American blood on them.”
Two U.S. lawmakers, Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Peter Roskam, recently petitioned President Trump to shut down these sales, citing Alaei’s role in the IRGC and Iran’s use of commercial planes to facilitate terrorism.
“Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, has systematically used commercial aircraft for illicit military purposes, including to transport troops, weapons, and cash to rogue regimes and terrorist groups around the world,” the lawmakers wrote. “The possibility that U.S.-manufactured aircraft could be used as tools of terror is absolutely unacceptable and should not be condoned by the U.S. government.”
The company now risks legal issues regarding primary sanctions still in place, if they move forward without Congressional approval of the deal.
Feature picture: Courtesy of Boeing