The Biden administration is facing questions from Congress about its decision to grant Iran’s foreign minister entry to America to attend United Nations meetings this week, with one lawmaker saying that all U.S. officials who approved the visit "should be fired."
Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is in New York City to attend U.N. meetings, and his presence in the country has sparked outrage among Republican lawmakers due to the diplomat’s ties to Hamas and Iran's support for its war against Israel. During his stay in the United States, Amir-Abdollahian has threatened to attack American positions in the Middle East and amplify the Islamic Republic’s military support to Hamas.
"It is unconscionable that the Biden administration would grant Mr. Amir-Abdollahian a visa to visit the United States, where he will no doubt confer with supporters and advocate against our interests and those of Israel and our other Middle East partners," Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) wrote in a letter sent Thursday to the State Department and White House. "The American people need to know why he received a visa and whether he intends to leave the country before American hostages are released."
Issa is asking for information related to Amir-Abdollahian’s visa approval as well as the names of every U.S. official who signed off on the decision, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. The lawmaker, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is trying to discern if the Biden administration granted Iran’s top diplomat a visa before or after Hamas’s Oct. 7 strike on Israel that killed around 1,400 Israelis and left scores of others, including Americans, hostage.
All Biden administration officials "who approved this visit should be fired," Issa told the Free Beacon.
Iran’s role in helping to plan, fund, and direct Hamas’s strike should have disqualified Amir-Abdollahian from receiving an American visa, particularly since Americans remain hostage in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, Issa wrote.
"Iran's rampant support for terrorism must incur a penalty among the community of civilized nations," the lawmaker said.
There is precedent for denying a U.S. visa to Iranian leaders and other terrorism supporters. In 2020, for instance, the United States barred then-Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif from entering the country due to his support for militant organizations across the Middle East.
American law also "bars those who support terrorism from entering the United States," according to Issa, who notes that "Amir-Abdollahian clearly falls into this category.
Issa also wants to know if Iran’s "attacks against American forces in the Middle East or Hamas's crimes [were] considered in the decision to grant Mr. Amir-Abdollahian a visa" and whether "the United States provide[d] assurances to Iran that Mr. Amir-Abdollahian would not be detained" while in New York City.
"After Hamas's October 7 attacks and subsequent attacks by other Iranian proxies, the Biden administration must stop treating Iran with the deference it has shown since coming into office," Issa wrote. "A course correction is long overdue."
During his time in America, Amir-Abdollahian has threatened the United States, saying there will be "uncontrollable consequences" for America’s ongoing support of Israel in its battle against Hamas terrorists. He also indicated Iran could enter the war directly and that America will "not be spared from this fire."
In a sit-down with NPR while in New York City, Amir-Abdollahian said that Iranian-backed militant groups across the region are prepared to escalate attacks on Israel.
"They have their finger on the trigger," the Iranian diplomat said. "You know, much more powerful and deeper than what you’ve witnessed. Therefore I believe that if this situation continues and women and children and civilians are still killed in Gaza and the West Bank anything will be possible."
Amir-Abdollahian and his delegation are residing at the Millennium Hilton in downtown New York City. Representatives for the hotel did not respond to Free Beacon requests for comment about its decision to host an official from a leading state-sponsor of terrorism.