IRGC-affiliated strategist Hassan Abbasi said in a video that he uploaded to aparat.com on January 17, 2020 that the IRGC should "generate income" by capturing Americans and demanding a ransom for their return. Abbasi, who was speaking at the city of Noushahr, gave the example of the $1.7 billion that Iran received for the return of Jason Rezaian and the $3 billion that Iran, he claims, received from Qatar because the aircraft that killed Qasem Soleimani had taken off from Qatar. He said that the way to solve Iran's economic problems is to capture one American per week and thus "raise" $50 billion per year. He also mocked the anti-regime protesters, saying that rallying 5,000 protesters isn't nearly enough to topple Iran's regime. The audience chanted: "Allah Akbar! Khamenei is the Leader! Greetings to the warriors of Islam! Peace upon the martyrs! Death to America! Death to England! Death to the hypocrites and infidels! Death to Israel!"
Hassan Abbasi: "Look how the IRGC generates income for its budget. The IRGC grabs a spy – Jason Rezaian. America begs to get him back, but [the IRGC] says: 'No. You have to pay for him.' Then the government receives $1.7 billion in exchange for that spy. By catching a single spy, the IRGC earns the $1-2 billion that the government is supposed to allocate for it. When the IRGC martyr Hajj Qasem Soleimani was hit, the government received $3 billion from Qatar as redemption money, because [the planes that killed] Qasem [Soleimani] came from Qatar.
"Be honest. Was a similar income generated by means of the JCPOA? $3 billion [from Qatar] and $1.7 billion [for Rezaian]. Guys, this is the way. Give it a break. One of them said yesterday: 'I don't know how to resolve our economic problems without maintaining ties with the West.' This is the way. Do you want to resolve the problems caused by the sanctions? Every navy patrol that sets out once a month should catch 10-20 Americans... For each and every one of them, you will get $1 billion. Even if you get $1 billion per week...There are 51 weeks in a year [sic]. It adds up to $50 billion. When were we supposed to get such a sum according to the JCPOA?
"They gathered 5,000 people in Azadi Square in Tehran, and they chanted slogans against the regime: 'Death to the dictator! Death to the Rule of the Jurisprudent! We have come to topple the regime!' You anti-revolutionists want to topple the regime with 5,000 people? According to the science of sociology, you need to get 10% of the population to the streets. There are 10 million people in Tehran, and you only brought 5,000 people... You have the audacity to chant slogans against the constitution, against Islam, against Qasem Soleimani, against the Leader...Do you think that if the police did not stop Qasem Soleimani's students, they would have let you go back home from Azadi Square in peace?"
Crowd: "Allah Akbar! Allah Akbar! Allah Akbar! Khamenei is the Leader! Death to those who oppose the Rule of the Jurisprudent! Greetings to the warriors of Islam! Peace upon the martyrs! Death to America! Death to England! Death to the hypocrites and infidels! Death to Israel!"