Iranian Lawmaker Applauds Shooting Down Ukrainian Commercial Flight

People gather for a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the Ukraine plane crash, at the gate of Amri Kabir University that some of the victims of the crash were former students of, in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020. Iran on Saturday, Jan. 11, acknowledged that its armed …
AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi

Iranian lawmaker and cleric Hassan Rorouzi applauded his nation’s military on Sunday for shooting down a Ukrainian commercial flight in January, killing 176 civilians. Iran had initially claimed it was “obvious” that its military had not shot down the plane.

“The Iranian military did well by downing the passenger plane,” Norouzi said in an interview with the Iranian newspaper Hamdeli, according to the U.S.-funded Radio Farda. Norouzi, a member of the Iranian parliament’s powerful Legal and Judicial Commission, claimed that the military was right to blow up the plane because it had “come under America’s control.”

The lawmaker claimed that the Ukrainian International Airlines (UIA) plane – which its owners insisted had no known technical deficiencies that would cause it to crash – had made a flight to Israel “the week before the incident and appeared to have been tampered with and manipulated, there.”

“Given the fact that other countries were controlling the plane, our military forces did their job well,” Norouzi contended, providing no evidence for the claim that allegedly hostile foreign forces were in control of the plane. The lawmaker also did not explain in any detail what he believed “America” was going to do with the plane once under its control, though he did say that it had identified “special targets in Iran,” suggesting a potential act of terrorism.

UIA Flight 752 took off out of Tehran on January 8, 2020, just as the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, began a barrage of ballistic missile launches on Iraqi military bases. Tehran claimed the rockets were retribution against Washington – the Iraqi bases were housing American troops – for an airstrike against Major General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the IRGC’s Quds Force, in Iraq. The Quds Force is the IRGC wing responsible for international acts of terrorism; Soleimani had pioneered the increased use of roadside bombs to dismember American troops during his tenure at the head of the group. At the time of his death, President Donald Trump said that Soleimani had been planning imminent attacks on Americans in Iraq.

The Ukrainian passenger jet exploded shortly after taking off in Tehran. Initially, Iranian officials insisted that mechanical error on the plane caused it to crash, a claim President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed doubt towards.

“[W]hat is obvious to us and we can say for sure is that no missile has hit the plane,” Civil Aviation Organization of Iran chief Ali Abedzadeh told reporters at a press conference after the crash. Iranian officials began bulldozing the crash site, destroying all evidence, almost immediately after the incident.

Three days after the crash, and after mounting evidence surfaced that a missile shot the plane out of the sky, the IRGC admitted that it had shot the plane down with anti-aircraft missiles. The Iranian regime immediately applauded the IRGC for its “heartwarming” and “highly praiseworthy” admission of guilt and blamed the “criminal U.S.” for inducing the IRGC into killing the nearly 200 civilians.

Iranian officials outside of the IRGC refused to allow the terrorist organization to take responsibility. Iran Guardian Council chairman Ahmad Jannati speculated later in January that the United States had hacked the IRGC’s anti-aircraft missile system to shoot the plane down and embarrass Iran. Other officials claimed that Washington had hacked into the IRGC’s communication system, making it impossible for the commercial plane to confirm that it was not a threat.

“The root of all sorrows goes back to America,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in the aftermath of the crash.

Iran has yet to return the black boxes to Ukraine, the government where the plane’s owners reside. Tehran spent months refusing to give the black boxes to any government allied with the United States. On March 11, Iranian officials finally agreed to send the black boxes to Ukraine and Canada, the flight’s ultimate destination, but walked back that promise two days later, blaming the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.

Iran is currently facing one of the worst outbreaks of Chinese coronavirus in the world after lying about its infection rate for weeks. The Iranian Islamic regime currently claims 60,500 cases of Chinese coronavirus nationwide and 3,739 deaths. Yet observers, including some in the Iranian government, have noted that regional death and infection tolls for multiple Iranian provinces add up to a larger number than the federal government total. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (IRGC), the country’s largest dissident organization, has kept its own death count using informants in the country and has confirmed nearly 20,000 deaths as of Monday.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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