Fellow travelers are persons who support the policies of a foreign government without having a formal relationship. The Soviet Union had its fellow travelers during the Cold War and, not surprisingly, today there are fellow travelers who embrace the Republic of Iran and its authoritarian government.
Some of these individuals have set up organizations to influence American policy and are part of what is known as the “Iran Lobby.” This includes:
- Center for a New American Society
- Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran
- American Foreign Policy Project
- Council on American Islamic Relations
According to Clare Lopez, a former CIA officer and policy expert on Iran, available evidence “suggests that the Iran Lobby in America is coordinated in Iran at various government levels and within establishment circles both governmental and industrial."1
National Iranian-American Council
One of the highest profile groups in the Iran Lobby is the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), formed in 2002 by Trita Parsi, an Iranian raised in Sweden.
The NIAC halfheartedly condemns human rights abuses by the Iranian government, while giving support to the mullah's agenda and opposing domestic groups that seek to bring democracy and regime change to the country.
Lawsuit and Fine
In 2009, Trista Parsi and the NIAC filed a defamation lawsuit against Seid Hassan Daioleslam, an Iranian activist who moved to the U.S. in 2001 to continue his "political research." Daioleslam has written extensively about the NIAC, posting stories on his website, IranianLobby.com. In 2008, he stated in an article that Parsi was a key player "in the lobby enterprise of Tehran's ayatollahs in the United States."
The Daioleslam's legal team requested details on Parsi's meetings and copies of emails to find out who he had met and what had been said. Parsi and the NIAC failed to make available 4,159 calendar appointments. About 1,000 entries were deleted, which included meetings with Iranian officials at the United Nations. The NIAC also failed to make available data from computers and a shared server (the information was discovered by Daioleslam's defense team, which had a forensic assessment conducted). Other data was lost when Parsi's laptop was supposedly stolen in March 2010 in a hotel in Norway and information had not been backed up.2
The case lasted more than two years. In September 2012, a judge dismissed the lawsuit against Daioleslam and seven months later Parsi and the NIAC were penalized $183,480.09 for filing a frivolous lawsuit against Daioleslem.
Inside the NIAC website is a link to MekTerror.com (whois), a propaganda site with documents and videos that attack the PMOI. The material mirrors false allegations against the resistance organization distributed by Iran's Ministry of Intelligence.
Like the MOIS attack websites, NIAC's descriptions of the PMOI are all negative. There is no attempt to provide balance or transparency, also the same as the MOIS sites.
MekTerror.com was registered on July 5, 2011. There is no dropdown menu delineating the section; it can only be accessed by conducting a search of the PMOI or MEK. The NIAC fully discloses its ownership of its flagship website (NIAC.org (whois)), but hides its registration of MekTerror.com. (It is assumed the NIAC registered the domain address because it has a direct link to MekTerror.com and its logo appears at the top of the section.)
The NIAC regularly distributes press releases, many of which are focused on the PMOI. Not surprisingly, all of the documents present a negative view of the resistance organization. The NIAC offers topics for the public to communicate with their Congressional representatives in Washington, DC. The third highest priority for the NIAC is "Tell U.S. Government to say NO to Mujahedin."
Given the NIAC's attention and resources directed against the PMOI, it would appear that discrediting the resistance organization is a top priority - not unlike the MOIS. The question arises, why is the NIAC doing the bidding of the MOIS?
1) “Rise of the ‘Iran Lobby.’” Clare M. Lopez. Center for Security Policy. February 25, 2009.
2) "Predatory Lawsuit Rebounds Back on Iranian Front Group." Frontpagemag.com. April 18, 2013.