Clinton’s Iranian Connection
Â 01.05.09, 12:00 AM ETÂ
On Dec. 19, 2008, at 2 p.m., the New York-based Alavi Foundation, which supports Iranian causes, contributed between $25,000 and $50,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation. This can be best described as the ultimateÂ chutzpah, for on the very same day, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York indicted the president of the Alavi Foundation, Farshid Jahedi, “on a charge of obstruction of justice for allegedly destroying documents required to be produced under a grand jury subpoena concerning the Alavi Foundation’s relationship with Bank Melli Iran and the ownership of a Manhattan office building.”
Alavi’s contribution to Clinton came just two days after the Treasury Department also designated Alavi’s partner, the New York-based ASSA Corp., as a terrorist entity, and the New York Southern District’s attorney seized and forfeited its assets. According to the Treasury Department, “Assa … continued to provide services to Bank Melli by maintaining Melli’s interest in 650 Fifth Avenue Co. and transferring income from 650 Fifth Avenue Co. to Bank Melli.” ASSA owned 650 Fifth Avenue Co. together with the Alavi Foundation. Incredibly, the government seized only 40% of the 36-story building controlled by ASSA, leaving the Alavi Foundation in charge of the remaining 60%.
The Alavi Foundation was established in 1973 by the Shah of Iran as the Pahlavi Foundation, “to pursue Iran’s charitable interests in the United States.” It was renamed the Mostazafan Foundation in 1981 by the Ayatollah Khomeini and renamed again in 1992 as the Alavi Foundation.
As early as 1979, the foundation and its partner Bank Melli were recognized as procurement fronts for Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Twenty years later, the U.S. government recognized Bank Melli as a vehicle controlled by the Iranian Government. The bank was finally designated a terrorist entity on Oct. 25,2007. What took so long? The Alavi Foundation’s Web site states that its mission is promoting and supporting Shiite educational, religious and cultural programs: in essence, delivering the mullahs’ message to America. The foundation also owns and funds several mosques and educational centers in New York, Maryland, Texas and California.
In 2007, Alavi’s IRS filing reported $87,899,567 in assets and $3,315, 237 that went to charity. Of this, $365,056 went to schools and universities, $328,667 was spent on book publications and distribution, and $262,325 was given to schools in the form of interest-free loans.
The Alavi Foundation continues to operate despite five different lawsuits against it in the U.S., filed by survivors of Iranian and Hezbollah terror attacks. The fact that the Iranian government appoints the board of this Iranian foundation apparently does not satisfy the courts. Thus, the plaintiffs failed to prove that Alavi takes direct orders from Tehran. Yet Alavi’s function as an arm of the radical leadership of Iran is evident. In 1993, the foundation’s director after Khomeini took over in 1979, Manoucher Shafie, together with his successor Mohammad Hossein Mahallati, director from 1983 to 1992, wereÂ suspected by U.S. authoritiesÂ of “exporting germ-warfare toxins to Iran.” Neither was convicted.
The Mahallatis are well known in revolutionary Iran. Ayatollah Fazlollah Mahallati, father of foundation director Mohammad Hossein, was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s mentor and the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. He oversaw the 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut, killing 241 American Marines.
Mohammad Hossein Mahallati’s brother, Mohammad Ja’far Mahallati, served as Iran’s Ambassador to the U.N. from 1987 to 1989, during which time the foundation, run by his brother, gave at least $1.4 million to Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman’s Brooklyn mosque. The blind sheikh is serving a life sentence at the Federal Correctional Complex, in Butner, N.C., for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Meanwhile, former Ambassador Mahallati has become a popular lecturer at America’s elite universities and is now a visiting professor of religion at Oberlin College. His research focuses on the “ethics of friendship in Muslim cultures.”
Moreover, to better spread the mullahs’ dogma, in 1999, Mohammad Ja’far Mahallati co-founded his own charity, the Boston-based Ilex Foundation, of which he is a trustee. Ilex is described as “a cultural bridge-building institution.” Ilex’s Trustees’ list reads like the who’s who among Middle East academics in the U.S., with names like Richard W. Bulliet of Columbia University and Olga M. Davidson of Wellesley College.
Although the Alavi contribution to Clinton is legal, it is malodorous. However, as long as the U.S. government continues to treat different Iranian entities as though they are separate from the state it recognizes as a sponsor of terrorism, the mullahs will be free to advance their agenda in the U.S.
Author’s update (01.12.09, 4 p.m., EST):Â It turns out that the Dec. 19, 2008, contribution by the Alavi Foundation to the Clinton FoundationÂ was not the first. According to the Alavi Foundation’s 2006 tax returns, the organization gave the William J. Clinton Foundation $30,000 in the fiscal year ending March 2006.
Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld is director of theÂ American Center for DemocracyÂ and author ofÂ Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It
Bush Destroyed a Dictator. Clinton Installed One.
Which of our last two presidents made the world safer?
ByÂ RUTH R. WISSE
As President George W. Bush prepares to leave office amid a media chorus of reproach and derision, there is at least one comparison with his predecessor that speaks greatly in his favor. Mr. Bush removed the most ruthless dictator of his day, Saddam Hussein, thereby offering Iraqi citizens the possibility of self-rule. Bill Clinton’s analogous achievement in the Middle East was to help install Yasser Arafat, the greatest terrorist of his day, as head of a proto-Palestinian state.
This is not how these events are generally perceived. The image that still looms in the public mind is that of President Clinton, peacemaker, standing between Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin in the Rose Garden on Sept. 13, 1993. With the best intentions, Mr. Clinton had worked hard for this peace agreement and would continue to strive for its success, hosting the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization at the White House more than any other foreign leader.
But the “peace process” almost immediately reversed its stated expectations. Emboldened by his diplomatic victory, Arafat adopted Islamist terminology and openly preached jihad. The casualties suffered by Israel in the years following the Oslo Accords exceeded those of previous decades, and dangers to Israel and the world have increased exponentially ever since. This so-called peace agreement rewarded terrorist methods as fail-safe instruments of modern warfare, and accelerated terrorist attacks on other democratic countries. Though Mr. Clinton did not foresee these consequences, his speech at the signing ceremony betrayed the self-deception on which the agreement was based.
Throughout the speech, Mr. Clinton invoked the significance of the “sliver of land between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea” to “Jews, Christians, and Muslims throughout the world.” He repeatedly linked the “descendants of Isaac and Ishmael,” and the “shared future shaped by the values of the Torah, the Koran, and the Bible,” as though their “memories and dreams” were all equivalent. But Judaism is quite unlike Islam. The Jews claim solely that “sliver of land” and accept their minority status among the nations. By contrast, Islam seeks religious and territorial hegemony, most especially in the Middle East.
Hence 21 countries descendant from Ishmael have denied the descendants of Isaac their ancestral home. This difference of political visions is precisely what propels the Arab war against Israel.
To be sure, the signing ceremony at the White House may not have been the best time to recall Arafat’s complete record as the “father of modern terrorism,” a title accorded him by the press for masterminding such acts as the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, the murder of a schoolroom of children in northern Israel, and the establishment of a PLO missile base in Lebanon. But some mention of his profession was surely in order.
The PLO was founded, and funded, by Arab leaders as a terrorist proxyÂ before1967 — that is, before Israel gained the disputed territory of the West Bank that retroactively served as a PalestinianÂ casus belli. Arafat had never been anything other than a terrorist. He had threatened Arab rulers in Jordan and Lebanon no less than the Jews of Israel. Mr. Clinton’s speech contained no hint of these facts, concealing the realities it purported to be changing.
To be fair, Israel’s role in this self-deception was, if anything, even greater. The Oslo Accords made Israel the first country in history ever to arm its enemy with the expectation of gaining security. The burden of soldiering in a defensive war for the “right to exist” — which ought to have been theirs from the outset — understandably saps the morale of Israelis. In this case, it also undermined their common sense.
The Oslo “peace accord” made the world more dangerous and subjected Palestinian Arabs to a rule of violence, corruption and intimidation. Arafat’s dictatorship has since been outmatched by an even more brutal Hamas regime that serves as the terrorist outpost of Iran. President Bush’s military intervention, by contrast, destroyed a terrorist state and made the world safer for its citizens.
Ms. Wisse, a professor of Yiddish and comparative literature at Harvard, is the author of “Jews and Power” (Schocken, 2007).