Iranian official celebrates attack on passenger airplane

An Iranian lawmaker is hailing the regime’s downing of a passenger airplane in January, perpetuating Iranian officials’ ever-changing accounts of the tragedy that killed 176 people.

“The Iranian military did well by downing the passenger plane,” Hassan Norouzi, spokesman for the parliament’s Legal and Judicial Commission, said April 5, Radio Farda reported, citing an Iranian news outlet. “The plane was no longer under the control of the tower and appeared to have come under America’s control,” he added, in an apparent attempt to justify the missile strike on a civilian airliner.

Norouzi also said that no one has been arrested in connection with the disaster January 8.

The lawmaker’s remarks contradict senior regime officials who, after initially denying involvement, acknowledged shooting down the plane and pledged accountability for the incident.

U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook has cited the regime’s cover-up of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ downing of the Ukrainian airliner as a source of frustration for Iranians who are fed up with the regime. Most passengers were Canadian or Iranian citizens.

“The public were livid that the IRGC lied to them for three days about shooting down a passenger jet, which killed 176 people,” Hook told reporters January 17. He added that four employees of Iran’s state-run media quit over the incident, including one who apologized for lying to viewers for years.

Protesters on street holding flowers as cloud of gas comes toward them (© AP Images)
Police fired tear gas during a January 11 demonstration in Tehran honoring passengers of a Ukrainian airplane shot down by Iran’s regime. (© AP Images)

Iran’s regime acknowledged attacking the passenger jet only after video evidence suggested a missile strike and U.S., Canadian and British officials said it was “highly likely” the Iranian regime was responsible.

The initial denials, and subsequent reversal, sparked renewed protests against a regime that acts swiftly to suppress citizens’ demonstrations but responds to crises with disinformation and delay.

Norouzi’s remarks, including that the plane had “come under America’s control,” continue a familiar pattern of deceit that often blames foreign propaganda rather than the regime’s incompetence.

The head of Iran’s civil accident investigation commission initially “ruled out” a missile strike on the airliner and a spokesman for the Iranian armed forces dismissed the allegations that the regime was responsible as “psychological warfare.”

Iran’s leaders also have downplayed the toll of COVID-19 on the country. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei dismissed fears of the virus as “negative propaganda” circulated by the regime’s enemies. And in March, he suggested the country’s outbreak of COVID-19 might be a biological attack.

But the regime moved quickly to crack down on the November 2019 protests against economic mismanagement, killing more than 1,500 demonstrators, according to Reuters.