The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) claims to be a non-profit, civil society NGO based in Washington, D.C. NIAC was founded in 2002 by Trita Parsi, Babak Talebi, and Farzin Illich to promote Iranian-American civic participation.
In 2007, Arizona-based Iranian American journalist Hassan Daioleslam that ran iranianlobby.com began publicly asserting that NIAC was lobbying on behalf of the Islamic republic of Iran. NIAC filed a defamation law suit.
Federal district court judge John D. Bates threw out the libel suit in 2012 against Daioleslam on the grounds that “NIAC and Parsi had failed to show evidence of actual malice, either that Daioeslam acted with knowledge the allegations he made were false or with reckless disregard about their accuracy. NIAC was obliged to release a small part of its internal documents that proved to be devastating for the organization as they showed NIAC’s direct links with the regime.
Law-enforcement experts who reviewed some of the documents, which were made available to the Times by the defendant in the suit, say emails between Mr Parsi and Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations at the time, Javad Zarif, and an internal review of the lobbying disclosure act, offer evidence that the group has operated as an undeclared lobby and may be guilty of violating tax laws.
In 2015 a court of appeals judge rejected NIAC’s lawsuit against Daioleslam, arguing that the NIAC President’s work was “not inconsistent with the idea that he was first and foremost an advocate for the regime.” The judge came to the conclusion that it is reasonable to rationally assert that NIAC is lobbying on behalf of the Iranian government. The Judge forced NIAC to pay “$183,480.09 in monetary sanctions” to Hassan Daioleslam to reimburse him for the money he has spent fighting a defamation lawsuit NIAC brought against him.
Other links to Tehran
Vahid Alaghband, London-based Iranian businessman is the chairman of the Balli group in London with multiple large holdings inside Iran. In 2010, Balli pleaded guilty to illegally exporting Boeing 747 aircraft to Iran and agreed to pay $15 million in fines to the US government.
Alaghband had donated $50,000 to the California-based Parsa Foundation. In the same year, the Parsa Foundation awarded a grant of $50,000 to NIAC. Additionally Alaghband would donate $900,000 to the Parsa Foundation and the foundation would subsequently give the money to Brookings Institution in 2007 which was actively promoting a friendlier policy with the Islamic republic.
In 2009 NIAC helped the Obama administration in mending rifts with Iranian leaders and to lobby to lift sanction and reach a deal with Tehran. The White House and the pro-Iran lobby worked together to create an echo chamber to advance a large-scale media campaign designed to overcome widespread opposition to a nuclear deal that was favorable to Iran. A key part of this campaign was the argument the nuclear deal and lifting of sanctions would change Iranian foreign policy and its position toward the US.
NIAC’s close alignment with Tehran’s anti-Israel campaigns
When Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Washington to address the US congress the Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei wrote on his English twitter account: “The day when western people realize that their problems result from zionism’s hegemony over governments they will make an inescapable hell for them.” NIAC similarly escalated its anti-Israeli campaign and bought a full-page ad in the New York times accusing the speaker of the house of being “loyal” to Israel. Two weeks later, Parsi posted a tweet about Senator Lindsey Graham’s trip to Israel, and wrote: “Graham re-pledges loyalty to a foreign leader.”
NIAC claimed sanctions against the regime were causing a medical shortage in Iran and patients were dying. However the truth is humanitarian aid, food, medicine and medical aid is excluded from the sanctions. The medical shortages in Iran have nothing to do with sanctions but mismanagement and embezzlement.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, NIAC once again took advantage of the situation to blame the sanction on the mismanagement of the pandemic on sanction by posting propaganda videos of people appealing to Americans to lift sanction as many are dying. They were exposed when Khamenei passed an order to ban American made vaccines. This caused a shipment of 150,000 American vaccines for red crescent to get cancelled proving that medicine and vaccines can be imported into Iran.
In July 2019, some members of the Iranian community in the United States organized a demonstration in front of NIAC’s office in Washington D.C. They believed NIAC is “the representative of the corrupt and brutal Islamic republic regime” and not the voice of the Iranian-Americans.
In January 2020, three Republican Senators – Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz and Mike Braun – claimed that NIAC and its sister organization NIAC Action have violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and they are “amplifying regime propaganda in the United States”. They requested the US Attorney-General William Barr to “evaluate whether an investigation of NIAC is warranted for potential FARA violations and to ensure transparency regarding foreign attempts to influence the US political process”.
In 2020 a petition was signed by 117,372 petitioners.
NIAC is the Islamic Republic’s lobby. It has been founded to defend the interests of Iranian regime. Under the name of defending political rights of Iranian people, promoting human rights and establishing friendly relationship between Iran and the USA, but in reality, it legitimizes and covers malign behavior and human rights violation of the regime.
The policy makers of NIAC (former and current), including Trita Parsi and Babak Talebi, have tried hard to cover up the true nature of the Islamic Republic including the elimination of opposition forces, trampling the rights of its religious and ethnic minorities, supporting and exporting terrorism worldwide, and ongoing anti-Americanism.
Atena Daemi, a prominent human rights activist who accused NIAC of lobbying on behalf of the Iranian regime, stated:
“NIAC is not a representative of the people of Iran, but a lobbyist and a representative of the Islamic Republic in the West. It is clear that the people of Iran do not want the Islamic Republic, and whatever NIAC says or whoever it endorses is aimed at the preservation and survival of the Islamic Republic.”Atena Daemi on Twitter
Masih Alinejad, a prominent journalist and activist, stated:
“Three members of NIAC & other Islamic Republic lobbyists frequently attacked me for appearing on Fox News or in Vogue magazine but the same groups praised Javad Zarif for going on Fox News & touted Ilhan Omar’s presence in vogue. They want to silence the opposition to the Islamic Republic.”Masih Alinejad