A few weeks ago, we wrote a piece detailing for the Iranian Regime was running a disinformation campaign against the Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) through both disinformation agents and media disinformation.
Today, we will focus on the third leg of the Iranian Regime’s disinformation campaign, which is used to both influence policy and discredit the MEK: fellow travellers.
Fellow travellers are people who support the policies of a foreign government, but do not have a formal relationship with it. In the US, the Iranian Regime has fellow travellers known as the “Iran Lobby” to promote the Regime and discredit the MEK at all costs.
Former CIA officer and Iran policy expert, Clare Lopez said that evidence “suggests that the Iran Lobby in America is coordinated in Iran at various government levels and within establishment circles both governmental and industrial.”
Who is the Iran Lobby?
There are many groups and organisations in the Iran Lobby, including
• Centre for a New American Society
• Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran
• American Foreign Policy Project
• Council on American Islamic Relations
• National Iranian-American Council (NIAC)
Today, we will focus on the NIAC and their efforts to sway US policy in favour of the mullahs and disparage the MEK.
The NIAC was formed in 2002 by Trita Parsi, an Iranian raised in Sweden. It openly supports the mullah’s agenda, giving only heart-hearted criticism of human rights abuses when they are raised, and attacks opposition groups, like the MEK, which want to see regime change in the country to ensure a free and democratic Iran.
In 2009, Trista Parsi and the NIAC filed a defamation lawsuit against Iranian activist Seid Hassan Daioleslam for describing Parsi as a key player “in the lobby enterprise of Tehran’s ayatollahs in the United States”.
Daioleslam, who moved to the US in 2001 to continue his political research, has written extensively about the NIAC on his website, Iranian Lobby. When the lawsuit was filed, his legal team requested details on Parsi’s meetings and emails with Iranian Regime officials, because a statement isn’t defamatory if it can be proved true.
Parsi and the NIAC failed to provide information about over 4,000 calendar appointments and deleted around 1,000 entries, including meetings with Iranian officials at the United Nations. They also failed to produce data from computers and a shared server, which was later found by Daioleslam’s defence team during a forensic assessment. The NIAC also claimed that some data was lost when Parsi’s laptop was “stolen” in Norway, as it had not been backed up, which is suspicious in itself.
In September 2012, a judge dismissed the lawsuit and later ordered Parsi and the NIAC to pay nearly $200,000 for filing a frivolous lawsuit.
How does the NIAC attack the MEK?
In a similar way to Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS), the NIAC will use disinformation campaigns against the MEK and parrot baseless claims against the MEK to any media outlet that will feature the NIAC.
They also have their own anti-MEK propaganda site, MekTerror.com, which is filled with documents and videos that attack the MEK, with no attempt at balance or transparency.
The site can only be accessed by doing a search for the keyword MEK on the NIAC website. The fact that the attack site and the NIAC’s registration of it remain hidden, indicates that the NIAC doesn’t want to be publically linked to the site- it might hurt media perception of them- but their logo is proudly displayed on the anti-MEK site and it is only reachable via a secret search on their site.
The NIAC also routinely distributes anti-MEK press releases, which urge the American public to turn their backs on the MEK and lobby Congress against support of the MEK. In fact, the third highest priority for the NIAC is getting the US to abandon the MEK.
Given all of this, it seems clear that the NIAC is determined to discredit the MEK and anyone who supports freedom and democracy in Iran, but it still begs the question, why would the NIAC do the bidding of the MOIS?
That is unknown, but in essence, be wary of any information that comes from the NIAC. It’s just more fake news.