Years ago, after I had negotiated with the Iranians about many things — including the release of American hostages — the first hostage, the Reverend Weir, returned to Washington. A friend at the New York Times called and said, “I know I’m missing something here; can you help me?” I said, “Ask yourself why they did it.”
Two years later, when the world discovered that Iran had obtained anti-tank missiles, military intelligence, and other goodies from the United States, he called again to thank me for at least pointing him in the right direction.
Why does the Mafia release hostages? Because they have collected the ransom. So to all those who are looking for subtle reasons for the Saberi release, take it from someone who has been there. Iran collected its ransom. The mullahs aren’t subtle, they’re mafiosi. We probably won’t know for a while what they got, who delivered it, and who worked the deal. But anyone familiar with the workings of the Islamic Republic has to assume that there was a payoff.
I don’t know of a single case in which the mullahs released a hostage for any other reason.