Pastor Saeed Abidini was held in an Iranian prison for three years, but even as freedom and a return to America beckoned one January night this year, he was forced to endure one more night of waiting.

Abidini remembers waiting on an airport tarmac in Iran for hours that night as his guards told him, and the other three American hostages, the plane that was to carry him home would not be allowed to take off until – and unless another plane arrived first.

He talked about the night in an interview conducted after a Wall Street Journal’s bombshell report revealed a delivery of $400 million cash in foreign currency from the U.S. government that night – flown in on an unmarked plane to the tarmac where Abidini and the others waited.

I just remember the night at the airport sitting for hours and hours there and I asked police, ‘why you not letting us go?’ And he told me ‘we are waiting for another plane and if that plane take off we gonna let you go.’”

The timing of the midnight arrival and departure of the two planes on that tarmac in Iran is being characterized by the Obama administration as partial payment of money owed to Iran after an arms deal fell through – in 1979.

Less naïve members of the press, Congress and the public say it smacks of the payment of a ransom, which is strictly against longstanding U.S. policy.

While the instinct to rescue any American being held against his will by a foreign entity is natural, officials understand that payment of a ransom only serves to guarantee future kidnappings of Americans as a sure way of earning a payoff from the U.S. government.

In fact, so stringent is the rule that when the parents of journalist James Foley attempted to privately raise the ransom to save their son from execution by ISIS, the Obama administration flatly prohibited the payment.

Foley was beheaded in Syria in August 2014 – the first U.S. citizen executed by the terror group.

As the Obama administration tries to sell the “coincidence,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is calling for a Congressional hearing to consider whether the transaction was a violation of federal law which prohibits, The exportation, reexportation, sale, or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States… of any goods, technology, or services to Iran or the Government of Iran.”

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