FBI: Dedicated team seeking return of Jewish agent missing in Iran

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The FBI says it has a dedicated team seeking the return of Robert Levinson, a former agent who went missing in Iran a decade ago.

The announcement, included in a statement released Thursday on the 10th anniversary of Levinson’s disappearance, is unusual. Over the years, the State Department and the White House have noted the anniversary, but the FBI has not weighed in.

“Bob and the entire Levinson family are remembered every day by his FBI friends and colleagues,” said the statement. “The FBI shares in their anguish and resolve to return their husband, father and grandfather to his family and country.”

It concluded: “The FBI continues to dedicate a team of agents and analysts who, along with our interagency partners, remain steadfast in our mission to locate Bob and return him home where he belongs.”

Robert Levinson, 68, of Coral Springs, Florida, a private investigator and former FBI agent who was also a part-time consultant for the CIA, disappeared on Iran’s Kish Island during what has since been revealed as a rogue CIA operation.

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Also Thursday, the White House reiterated President Donald Trump’s pledge, made as a candidate, to bring Levinson home.

“The Levinson family has suffered far too much during the last decade due to the absence of Mr. Levinson, a loving father, brother, husband, grandfather and friend to many,” the White House said in a statement on Thursday. “Each and every day, but especially today, our hearts are with the Levinson family. We will not rest until this case is resolved.”

The statement noted that there is an outstanding $5 million reward for information leading to Levinson’s return.

Under President Barack Obama, five Americans were released by Iran in January 2016 in an exchange timed to coincide with the implementation of the nuclear deal struck between Iran and six major powers. Levinson was not one of those released, but the Obama administration, which had brokered the deal, accepted an Iranian pledge to help track his whereabouts and said his return was a top priority.

Iranian tips on Levinson’s whereabouts have reportedly led to dead ends.