By Jordan Schachtel (Updated by the Apadana Chronicle Editorial Board)
Originally published on July 19, 2017 by the Conservative Review (updated)
An Islamic “charity” convicted two years ago of acting as a front group for the Iranian regime has financed and installed regime-friendly professors and curricula at 41 universities in the United States.
In late June 2017, a New York jury ruled that the Alavi Foundation was directly linked to the Iranian regime, allowing the feds to seize the Manhattan building that provided revenue for the organization’s nationwide influence operations. The 36-story office building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan is worth $1 billion. Prosecutors called the conviction the “largest terrorism-related civil forfeiture in United States history.” In 2013, The president of the Foundation, Farshid Jahedi, pled guilty to destroying evidence before it could be submitted to the grand jury.
Alavi used a multi-pronged approach to embed itself into American society. From financing pro-Tehran Shiite cultural centers and mosques to donating heavily to the infamous Clinton Foundation, the regime-connected outfit sought to win over hearts and minds in its clandestine efforts.
A primary focus of the foundation continues to be installing Iran-friendly professors and curricula into American universities. Over the past few years, the Alavi Foundation has increased its college and university financing efforts by about 50 percent.
Alavi claimed that its goal is simply to “offer courses on Persian language, Iranian studies and the Islamic culture with a focus on Shiite studies.” However, analysts continue to note that several programs connected to Alavi involve controversial pro-Tehran professors and a morally obtuse curriculum.
From 2013 to 2016, the Alavi foundation’s academic funding efforts exploded from 30 to 44 colleges and universities in North America. Over 90 percent of recipients are United States schools.
The following institutions received grants from the Alavi Foundation, according to one of its 2016 fundraising appeals:
Bard College; Boston University; Brandeis University; Columbia University; Drew University; Eastern Mennonite University; George Mason University; Hartford Seminary; Harvard University; Harvard University Law School; Lake Forest University; Sacred Heart University; University of Chicago; Binghamton University; Cal State, Fullerton; Cal State, Los Angeles; Cal State, Northridge; City College of New York; Concordia University; Georgia State University; CUNY Hunter College; Kutztown University; Ohio State University; Portland State University; Rutgers University; San Diego State University; Temple University; University of Arizona; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Los Angeles; University of Florida; University of Maryland; University of Michigan; University of Southern California; University of Texas, Austin; University of Utah; University of Virginia; University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of Pennsylvania; Utah State University.
Alavi had entered into a cost-sharing agreement with many of these universities, facilitating deals that support the hiring of tenure-track professors. One such report found that these professors are “sympathetic to the Iranian dictatorship.”
It may not come as a shock — given what we now know about the extent of the pro-Tehran group — that many of the professors supported by Alavi-backed programming have pursued a radically pro-Tehran agenda.
Rutgers professor Hooshang Amirahmadi is the leader of the American Iranian Council, a group that has offered support for the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist organizations, according to the New York Post. Alavi financed Amirahmadi’s professorship at Rutgers. Amirahmadi also served as the Foundation’s president at one point.
University of Maryland research scholar Ebrahim Mohseni produced a much-disputed poll that showed wide support for Iran’s extremely anti-Semitic former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In addition, the University had at one point on its faculty roster, Ahmad Kazemi-Moussavi, a former Iranian diplomat.
Over at Harvard University, visiting scholar Ali Akbar Alikhani penned a white paper calling for a world governed by the Quran. He also wrote a book review on “the Jewish threat” to other world religions. Many of the current political “analysts” who are aligned with the Iranian regime and are close to the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) have done fellowships at Harvard‘s Belfer Center, but it is not clear if Alavi’s donations to the University had a role in their matriculation.
In 2007, the Foundation poured $100,000 into Columbia University’s coffers after the NYC school agreed to host former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In addition, Hamid Dabashi serves as a Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia. Dabashi is an unapologetic anti-Semite who has referred to Iran-deal critics as “Fifth Column Zionists working against the best interest of Americans and for the best interests of Israelis,” And, “These laughing hyenas — the Zionists the Saudis and the US neocons that are f***** with the wrong country [Iran].” He also has said, “Every dirty treacherous ugly and pernicious happening in the world just wait for a few days and the ugly name ‘Israel’ will pop up in the atrocities.”
During the heated debate over whether the U.S. should sign on to a nuclear agreement with Iran, NIAC (which has its own extensive links to the regime) published a pro-Iran-deal letter endorsed by 73 “Middle East and International Relations Scholars.” Coincidentally or not, dozens of professors on the list came from institutions that received Alavi Foundation money.
These are but a handful of the “success” stories on college campuses funded by the Alavi Foundation’s academic grants. Given the group’s alleged connections to Iran’s sophisticated intelligence apparatus, it’s quite possible that its campaigns have had alarming, extensive success in winning over the hearts and minds of college students.
Now that Alavi has been ruled a front for the Iranian regime, it’s unclear what will become of its programming inside dozens of American universities. The seized Manhattan skyscraper acted as the major revenue stream for the foundation’s efforts throughout the nation, and it’s unclear whether the group can sustain its funding while going through serious legal proceedings.
For years, the Alavi Foundation funneled cash through a regime that hosts Friday prayers ending in “Death to America.” Now that Alavi has been exposed, only time will tell whether the 41 U.S. institutions will continue to act in a morally bankrupt manner and continue to accept dirty money from a front group forwarding the agenda of an enemy state.
Mr. Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review.
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