Early last Wednesday, Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 took off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport. Within five minutes, the Boeing 737-800 came flaming down in what the Iranian regime initially claimed was an accident due to engine failure. Before week’s end, the regime admitted the missile launch that downed the aircraft killing 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three British citizens, and three Germans.
Thirteen of the victims were involved in engineering and scientific research at four universities in southwestern Ontario, Canada. Grieving relatives have cause to wonder about the way the shootdown was brokered to the public.
Victims from the University of Windsor included Zahra Naghibi, 32, a PhD student in engineering, and her husband Mohammed Abbaspour Ghadi, 33, a civil engineer and UW graduate. Samira Bashiri, 29, was a research assistant in biology and her husband Hamidreza Setareh Kokab, 31, was a PhD student in industrial engineering. Pedram Jadidi, 28, was a PhD student in engineering.
According to a January 10 report by Doug Schmidt of the Windsor Star, “Just minutes after takeoff, the Boeing 737-800 crashed, with some news reports on Thursday accusing the Iranian military of an accidental missile strike. Just hours earlier, Iran had launched a missile attack on U.S. military bases in neighboring Iraq in retaliation over the U.S. assassination of a top Iranian general last Friday.”
On January 11, the Star’s Julie Kotsis covered a memorial service for “five University of Windsor colleagues killed Wednesday in a plane crash in Iran,” with no speculation about an Iranian shootdown, and no quest for answers. That marked a stark contrast to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“The families want answers,” Trudeau said last Thursday, revealing that Iran may have shot down the flight. “I want answers, closure, transparency, accountability and justice,” Trudeau said. “This government will not rest until we get that.” They got some of it the same day, January 11, when as CNN reported, “Iran facing mounting pressure –from Trudeau, US President Donald Trump and other world leaders – admitted Saturday that it mistakenly shot down the passenger jet.”
That led to other speculation that, as Michael Ledeen noted, the regime shot down the flight to kill “disloyal” Iranians, the majority passengers on the doomed flight, with a full 82 Iranians killed. Nothing along those lines appeared in the Windsor Star, and University of Windsor officials and Windsor mayor Drew Dilkens failed to entertain any speculation about the cause of the 63 Canadian deaths.
On Monday, the Kotsis and Schmidt pieces remained on the Windsor Star website with no change alerting readers to Iran’s admission of shooting down the aircraft. Revolutionary Guard warlord General Qassem Soleimani also escaped mention. On the other hand, Doug Schmidt told readers Iran had launched a ballistic missile attack on Iraqi bases housing “U.S. and Canadian soldiers.” That had gone missing in many reports, along with the back story of Canadian involvement in the Iranian conflict.
In 1979, during the presidency of Democrat Jimmy Carter, Iran’s Islamic regime, headed by the Ayatollah Khomeini, invaded the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took 52 American diplomats and citizens hostage, holding the captives for 444 days. As the 2012 film Argo shows, Canada contrived to smuggle out six Americans, as it was brokered at the time “disguised as Canadians.”
In the film, the Americans barely make through the Tehran bazaar to board a Swissair flight to Zurich. In a classic Hollywood narrow escape, the Muslim militants give chase on the runway but the 747 lifts off, and when it clears Iranian airspace the champagne goes “pop.”
The audience is told that all the hostages are eventually released, but Argo doesn’t explain that this only happened when Ronald Reagan defeated the gutless Carter and became president. Reagan is absent from this story, and so is Canadian Prime Minister Joseph Clark, who readily signed on to the exfiltration.
Today the Iranian regime would have shot down that Swissair flight without a second thought. That could have been the regime’s strategy with Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752, to take out those 82 disloyal Iranians, and any infidels along for the ride. In the wake of the shootdown, the American left and establishment media parroted propaganda from the Iranian regime, and in typical style blame everything on President Trump.
Atlantic staff writer Anne Applebaum, author of Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine, and Gulag: A History, tweeted that the passengers had been caught in “a crossfire.” In similar style, CNN’s Susan Hennessey blamed a crossfire and NBC’s Heidi Przybyla said that the plane crash was “at minimum, related to crossfire.” Many Iranians didn’t think so.
They took to the streets in protest, and President Trump championed their cause, in English and Farsi. For his part, Canadian Prime Minister wants answers, and justice for the victims, including Zahra Naghibi, Mohammed Abbaspour Ghadi, Samira Bashiri, Hamidreza Setareh Kokab and Pedram Jadidi from the University of Windsor.
Meanwhile, by way of disclosure, the University of Windsor is the alma mater of this writer, his brother Ralph Billingsley, and his mother Victoria Billingsley.
Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Yes I Con: United Fakes of America, Sexual Terrorist, A Shut and Open Case, and other books. Bill of Writes is a collection of his journalism. He writes for City Journal, American Greatness, the California Globe and other publications.