A claim in a news report that American weapons seized in Afghanistan have ended up in the hands of Palestinian groups operating in the Gaza Strip has taken on renewed significance after Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist group, launched an attack on Israel on Saturday.
According to a Newsweek report published in June, an Israeli commander said some of the US. small arms seized in Afghanistan have already been observed in the hands of Palestinian groups operating in the Gaza Strip.
The report began recirculating on social media, amid accusations that the Biden administration funded Hamas’s terrorist attack on Israel by releasing $6 billion in frozen funds to Iran, the main backer of Hamas.
Republican officials blasted the Biden administration for paying a $6 billion “ransom” to the Islamic regime on the anniversary of 9/11. https://t.co/4ZpOGRRTd9
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) September 13, 2023
The Biden administration pushed back against those accusations that the $6 billion unfrozen for Iran went to Sunday’s attack, saying it has not yet been released, is controlled by a Qatari bank, and only will be used for humanitarian purposes.
However, critics of the Biden administration argued that since money is fungible, it is still adding to Iran’s coffers and frees up the government to spend on other things, such as supporting terrorist groups like Hamas.
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview on Saturday:
The $6 billion has not been accessed completely by Iran yet, but the fact of the matter is if you have a credit on your account for $6 billion, typically, people count that as access available today, tomorrow, whenever, so you start reworking your spending budget.
And by doing so, you put yourself in a position to use that money even though you have not had access to it yet. So the $6 billion that they know they’re getting, they’re using already.
He also noted that Iran has already expressed it would use the money however it desired.
“That is clear. The way they want to is in funding terrorism against American allies,” he said.
The Israeli commander interviewed by Newsweek also said he was “very worried” that U.S. and Western-provided weapons to Ukraine could also end up in Hamas’ hands.
The Israeli commander, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the topic, said the diversion of weapons, such as the Javelin shoulder-fired anti-tank missile system, was being monitored from paramilitary forces operating on both sides of the Russia-Ukraine war.
The Israeli commander said pro-Russian formations were motivated to transfer captured U.S.-supplied weapons due to the close defense relationship between Moscow and Tehran, while pro-Ukrainian elements were largely motivated by money to smuggle arms. The commander said the primary route was via the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, and argued that the situation was “very dangerous” due to two primary concerns for Israel.
“One is that they can research capabilities, and then learn how to manufacture them. I’m talking especially about Iran,” the Israeli commander told Newsweek. “The other problem is that we are very worried that some of these capabilities are going to fall to Hezbollah and Hamas’ hands.”
Newsweek also reported that another source disclosed a specific event on August 20 where a Russian Il-76 transport aircraft allegedly dropped off cargo in Tehran worth an estimated $100 million, which included Western weapons such as U.S.-made Javelins and United Kingdom-made Next Generation Light Anti-armor weapons (NLAWs).
“The U.S. Government remains keenly aware of the risk of possible illicit diversion, and is proactively taking steps to mitigate this risk in close cooperation with the government of Ukraine,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson told the outlet.
“We are sending weapons to help Ukraine defend itself in an active conflict, and realistically must acknowledge that there is a risk these weapons could be captured if territory changes hands, as can happens in any war.”