Iran escalated its crackdown on protesters by forcing an international flight to land to prevent the wife and daughter of soccer star Ali Daei from leaving the country. The family was apparently traveling to Dubai for vacation, the BBC reported, "but the flight was made to land on an Iranian island in the Gulf and they were removed."
Ali Daei is one of Iran's famous players as a former captain of the national team, and photos show that he took part in a team draw during the World Cup in Qatar.
This is a major escalation and conjures up memories of Belarus ordering a plane to land in order to detain a dissident in 2021. That was slightly different because the flight was flying from Greece over Belarus and was not actually flying out of Belarus.
The Iranian flight was leaving Iran but was forced to land on the island of Kish. Iran's state-run news agency Irna has admitted that it stopped Daei's wife from leaving the country and it has accused her of "association with the groups against the Islamic revolution."
Iran is trying to crush the protests
Iran has been trying to crush protests for a month and has executed several protesters while many others have been killed and injured during the protests.
UAE's Al-Ain media highlighted the Iranian decision to stop the plane from leaving.
"Daei was among the first prominent athletes to announce support for the protest," the report said. "In the latest punishment this Iranian star received, the security authorities forced a plane belonging to the Mahan Company to land at the airport in the city of Kish overlooking the Arabian Gulf in southern Iran, to remove Ali Daei's wife and daughter from the plane that took off from Khomeini International Airport in Tehran."
Iranian pro-government media have asserted that the family was seeking to travel to the US. The reports claim that the family did not inform authorities of their plans to travel. Nevertheless, the decision to make the plane land is unique. It shows the seriousness with which the regime is trying to go after not only people who dared to critique the regime but also their families. It remains to be seen how much further Iran will go in its attempt to now crush the protests. After 100 days of incidents, the regime is now beginning to spread terror even more broadly.
Seth Frantzman is a Ginsburg-Milstein Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and senior Middle East correspondent at the Jerusalem Post.