The Treasury Department sanctioned the Iranian commercial airline Mahan Air as part of the U.S. government response to the alleged Iranian-backed assassination plot on the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
Treasury announced in a press release early on Wednesday that Mahan Air would be sanctioned due to its financial, material, and technological support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF). On Tuesday, Treasury announced sanctions on four IRGC-QF officials who it alleges were involved in the plot to hire a Mexican cartel to bomb a Washington restaurant in order to kill Saudi Ambassador Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir.
"Mahan Air's close coordination with the IRGC-QF -- secretly ferrying operatives, weapons and funds on its flights -- reveals yet another facet of the IRGC's extensive infiltration of Iran's commercial sector to facilitate its support for terrorism," said Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen, in a statement. "Following the revelation about the IRGC-QF's use of the international financial system to fund its murder-for-hire plot, today's action highlights further the undeniable risks of doing business with Iran."
The new sanctions make it illegal for any Americans to do business with Mahan Air and freeze the airline's assets in the United States. The airline also provides assistance to the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, the Treasury Department alleged.
Further retaliatory measures from the U.S. government are expected. The State Department has been reaching out to several countries to explore options for tightening multilateral sanctions. And lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are demanding tougher measures to punish Iran for its role in the alleged plot. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) is calling for Treasury to sanction the Central Bank of Iran, which he says would collapse the bank and cripple the Iranian currency.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that, in addition to the plan to kill the Saudi envoy, the Iranian agents -- who were working with a DEA informant they believed was a representative of Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas -- also discussed plans to bomb the Israeli embassy in Washington and the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Argentina.
Attorney General Eric Holder pledged on Tuesday that, "The United States is committed to holding Iran responsible for its actions."