Biden Admin Sends Iran Condolences After Mass Murderer President Killed in Helicopter Crash

Raisi (Mark Segar/Reuters), Biden (Leah Millis/Reuters)
May 20, 2024

The Biden administration on Monday sent "official condolences" to the Iranian regime following a weekend helicopter crash that claimed the lives of its hardline president and foreign minister.

"The United States expresses its official condolences for the death of Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, foreign minister [Hossein] Amir-Abdollahian, and other members of their delegation in a helicopter crash in northwest Iran," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement. "As Iran selects a new president, we reaffirm our support for the Iranian people and their struggle for human rights and fundamental freedoms."

Raisi, a longtime hardliner who was close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, was known for leading chants of "death to America" during public events in Iran. In February, during a rally in which onlookers burned American and Israeli flags, he slammed the U.S. for supporting "the Zionist regime's crimes against humanity in Gaza."

"I say to the enemies; you want to hear the word of the people? These are the great people of Iran," Raisi was quoted as saying, as the crowd chanted "death to America" and "death to Israel."

Raisi—who is known as "the Butcher of Tehran"—was one of the main architects of a 1988 massacre in Iran that killed around 5,000 regime opponents. Raisi at the time served on the hardline government’s "death committee" that issued death sentences to scores of political opponents.

Raisi was sanctioned by the U.S. government in 2019 for his role in committing mass human rights abuses "over three decades."

A State Department spokesman, speaking only on background, said U.S. policy toward Iran remains unchanged in light of Raisi and Amir-Abdollahian’s deaths. Khamenei remains Iran’s leading political figure and is certain to continue directing the Islamic Republic’s domestic and foreign policy as Raisi and Amir-Abdollahian are replaced.

"Our approach remains unchanged. The United States will continue to support the people of Iran and defend their human rights," the official said. "We will continue to confront the Iranian regime’s support for terrorism, proliferation of dangerous weapons, and advancement of its nuclear program in ways that have no credible civilian purpose."