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Copyright 1993 The Jerusalem Report
The Jerusalem Report

April 8, 1993

HEADLINE: Iran Demands Huge Payment For The Release Of Ron Arad

Ron Arad, the Israeli airman shot down over South Lebanon in 1986, has recently been transferred by his captors from Lebanon to Iran. And, according to new information received in the United States, the government of Hashemi Rafsanjani is demanding hundreds of millions of dollars from Israel for his release.

Shortly before the Shah was toppled in 1979, it is understood, he had signed a deal with Israel for the joint Israeli-Iranian development of a surface-to-surface missile. When the revolutionary Muslim government of Ayatollah Khomeini took over, the project was scrapped. But the Shah had already paid a rumored $400 million. That money has been in Israel ever since and the Iranians now reportedly want it back, in exchange for Arad.

Arad, navigator of a Phantom fighter-bomber, was shot down over Sidon on October 16, 1986, and the last firm information on his well-being and whereabouts was received in 1988. Until recently, it is believed, he was being held a few miles outside Baalbek, in Lebanon's Syrian-controlled Biqa valley. His captors were believed to be the pro-Iranian Shi'ite organization Islamic Amal, whose leaders apparently transferred Arad recently to Iran, so that the Iranians could themselves handle arrangements to broker a deal for his release.

Israeli officials have refused to confirm any approach via intermediaries for a deal on Arad. But according to third-party sources, Israel's stance has been that it regards the Iranian proposal as "blackmail," and is not prepared to hand over money for the return of a prisoner of war.

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