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Rep. Michael Waltz: US needs to make Iran worry about its stability after president’s death

Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., joined ‘America’s Newsroom’ to discuss the latest on the NY v. Trump trial in Manhattan and his reaction to the abrupt death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. 

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JERUSALEM – The late President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, was a known quantity to the U.S. government because of his massacres of Iranian citizens.

The Trump administration sanctioned Raisi for his role in carrying out the massacre of 5,000 Iranian political prisoners in 1988 and for his role in the clerical regime’s slaughter of 1,500 Iranian demonstrators in 2019.

Raisi boasted about his role on a death panel in the late 1980s, when he served as a judge who issued summary execution sentences to dissidents. Raisi termed the mass murders as “one of the proud achievements” of the Islamic Republic of Iran.


Iran's president speaking

President Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a press conference in Tehran, Iran, on Monday, Aug. 29, 2022. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Alireza Nader, a Washington, D.C., expert on Iran’s regime, told Fox News Digital that “Raisi was one of the most evil men serving one of the most brutal regimes in existence today. The people of Iran will never forget his crimes. His death will present major challenges for the succession to Khamenei.”

Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei is the epicenter of power in the Islamic Republic and handpicked Raisi as his candidate in what was widely reported as a “sham” election in 2021. Western-style democratic elections are non-existent in Iran.

Raisi earned the moniker the “Butcher of Tehran” for his brutal crackdowns on Iranian demonstrators, including people who participated in the 2022 “Women, Life, Freedom” movement to secure justice for the regime’s murder of the young Iranian Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini. 

Side by side of Raisi and protests

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi earned his moniker “Butcher of Tehran” for his crackdowns on Iranian demonstrators, including those who protested after the death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody. (AP Photo/Middle East Images/AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

The regime’s morality police arrested and tortured Amini for failing to properly cover her hair, as required by the Islamic nation’s strict dress code. 

“In many ways, Raisi was his clone,” said Nader about the mirror images of Raisi and Khamenei. “The regime will replace him with yet another Khamenei loyalist. Nevertheless, Raisi’s death is a big blow for the despised and vulnerable regime, “Nader added.

Iranian Vice President Mohammad Mokhber has succeeded Raisi as president until new elections are codified as mandated by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s constitution. The election is slated to take place after 50 days of a caretaker government. The U.S. and European Union have sanctioned Mokhber. 


Mohammad Mokhber

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei confirmed the appointment of Vice President Mohammad Mokhber as interim president following the death of former President Ebrahim Raisi. (Getty Images)

According to the U.S. Treasury department’s 2021 sanction announcement targeting Mokhber, he oversaw the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order, or EIKO, “which has systematically violated the rights of dissidents by confiscating land and property from opponents of the regime, including political opponents, religious minorities, and exiled Iranians.”. The European Union also had sanctioned Mokhber for a time with others over concerns then about Iran’s nuclear program.

Raisi’s tenure was marked by three defining features: his expansion of Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program; the missile and drone attack on Israel; and his bloody purge of activists associated with the “Women, Life, Freedom” movement.

Iran experts told Fox News Digital that President Biden’s dovish posture toward Raisi and Khamenei emboldened Iran’s regime to attack Israel.

Raisi IRGC Salami

The late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, right, speaks during a military parade marking Iran’s Army Day anniversary near the Imam Khomeini shrine in the south of Tehran on April 18, 2023. Raisi said, we will destroy Haifa and Tel Aviv if Israel takes ”the slightest action” against Iran. (Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

In March, Fox News Digital reported that Biden defied opponents of Iran’s regime and waived sanctions on Iran’s cash-starved economy. The Biden administration said the sanctions’ relief cannot be used to finance Iran’s growing military, nuclear and drone industries. However, Raisi fired back at the U.S. last year, saying that the money will be used “wherever we need it.”

Biden faced criticism after releasing as much as $10 billion into the coffers of the Islamic Republic. In January, an Iranian regime-sponsored proxy terrorist attack killed three U.S. soldiers in Jordan. 

The Biden administration insisted that Iran’s regime cannot use the funds for its growing military offensive arsenal. Critics argue that the $10 billion is fungible money and the financial allocation allows Iran to revise its budget to expand its military apparatus.


A huge mural of Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei sits next to a smaller one of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, right. seen on Motahari Street on March 8, 2020 in Tehran, Iran. The message on the wall reads, “The power and influence and dignity of America in the world is on the fall and extermination” and on top of the building, another slogan reads “We are standing till the end.” (Photo by Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images)

When quizzed on the financial relief given to Iran and how the regime used it last month on “Fox News Sunday” with Shannon Bream, White House national security communications adviser John Kirby stated, “It’s not even sanctions relief but the additional funds that have been made available to Iran due to [the] sanctions relief program that the Trump administration put in place can only be used for humanitarian goods. It doesn’t go to the regime.”


Protests in Germany over Iran

People who followed the call of the German-Iranian Society in Berlin demonstrate in front of the Iranian Embassy against the so-called “moral police” in their home country, in Berlin on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (Wolfgang Kumm/dpa via AP)

The German-Iranian dissident, Kazem Moussavi, who is the spokesman for the Iran Green Party in exile, told Fox News Digital, that “Raisi was one of the main criminals in the history Iran.”  Mousavi urged German President Frank-Walter Steinmeir and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock to not express their condolences to Iran’s regime regarding the death of Raisi and the other Iranian officials aboard the crashed helicopter.

Fox News Digital reported that Steinemeir sent a congratulatory letter to Iran’s regime in 2019 to honor the nation’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The Biden administration has faced intense criticism for providing massive packages of billions of dollars in economic sanctions relief to Raisi’s regime.

Iranian Americans protested Raisi’s appearance at the U.N. The former president is loathed by most Iranians in the diaspora and by large swathes of the population in the Islamic Republic, according to analysts. 


President of Iran Ebrahim Raisi

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Because the policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran are determined by the country’s fiery anti-American leader, Khamenei, the next president will continue the legacy of Raisi as a kind of Act 2 of the regime’s ongoing jingoistic policies toward the West and Israel.

The U.S. State Department, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, has classified Iran’s regime as the world’s worst state-sponsor of international terrorism.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Benjamin Weinthal reports on Israel, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Europe. You can follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenWeinthal, and email him at [email protected]

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