“The Tehran government has an outpost in Manhattan disguised as a nonprofit foundation. This organization has attempted to procure illegal technology and biological agents, and been linked to murder and terrorism. How has it escaped the Clinton embargo?” From our December 1995 issue.
As previewed at AmSpecBlog on Friday, November 13, 2009, in wake of U.S. government crackdown on Mullah regime front, the Alavi Foundation:
FROM OUR DECEMBER 1995 ISSUE
The Tehran government has an outpost in Manhattan disguised as a nonprofit foundation. This organization has attempted to procure illegal technology and biological agents, and been linked to murder and terrorism. How has it escaped the Clinton embargo?
HIGH ABOVE NEW YORK’S fashionable Fifth Avenue, controlling a 34-storey complex that once belonged to the Shah of Iran, sits an unusual organization called the Alavi Foundation. According to its charter, Alavi is a non-profit charitable organization run by an independent board of directors seeking to promote “understanding and harmony among persons of all faiths.” But according to a classified FBI report of 1994, Alavi is “entirely controlled by the government of Iran.”
Although the Clinton administration has declared a complete trade embargo with Iran, little has been done to impede the operations of the Alavi Foundation. The embargo regulations contain no authority to block Iranian government assets in the United States, unlike every other trade embargo currently in force, including those against Iraq, Libya, and the former Yugoslavia. U.S. officials said this was because of unspecified State Department “concerns” (perhaps that old saw that moderates are still lurking behind the Ayatollah’s robe). Yet there is much evidence to suggest that Alavi has been engaged in a spectrum of illegal activities, from attempted purchases of embargoed high-technology goods and biological warfare agents to involvement in a brutal 1980 murder in the metropolitan Washington area.
Now an investigation of Alavi has been launched by the New York State attorney general’s office, after the subject was raised by Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-N.Y.). D’Amato wants state investigators to determine whether the foundation can be shut down. Meanwhile, federal investigators are examining Alavi’s links to terrorist organizations operating in the United States and overseas. The foundation’s president, Mohammad Geramian, refused to respond to more than a dozen telephone queries for this article, referring this reporter to the Foundation’s lawyers in New York, the finn of Patterson, Belknap. The attorneys have adopted a siege mentality, declaring that no questions whatsoever will be answered.
ALAVI USED TO BE KNOWN as the Mostazafan Foundation of New York, but foundation directors changed the name in 1992, fearing the group would appear too closely associated with the Foundation of the Oppressed in Tehran, known in Persian as the Bonyad-e Mostazafan.
Despite the name change, Bonyad-e Mostazafan remains Alavi’s parent organization for all intents and purposes. The Bonyad is a multi-billion dollar manufacturing and trading conglomerate run by Moshen Rafiq-doust, former minister of Iran’s brutal Revolutionary Guards and a key figure in Iran’s international terrorist apparatus. Rafiq-doust played a major role in negotiating the purchase of SCUD-B missiles from North Korea during the Iran-Iraq war. And the Revolutionary Guards are still posted in Lebanon, where they have trained and armed the Hezbollah militia. Hezbollah guerrillas were responsible for the 1983 car bombing of a U.S. Marines post in Beirut which killed 242, and they continue to mount terrorist attacks against Israel.
Hezbollah — along with Hamas, another Middle Eastern terrorist organization — is cited in the State Department’s annual report on international terrorism. Former FBI official Oliver “Buck” Revell told New York Newsday reporters that the Alavi Foundation “funds a great number of mosques…where there are organizations which directly support Hezbollah and Hamas.”
In congressional testimony on September 27, Philip Wilcox, State Department coordinator for counter-terrorism, blamed Hezbollah and Iran for the July 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 90 people. Argentine government investigators have recently discovered new evidence linking officials at the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires to the bombing, including the commercial attaché wounded in an apparent terrorist attack in Buenos Aires on October 21.
In a 1992 English-language pamphlet about Mostazafan’s activities, Rafiq-doust claimed that the organization has an annual budget in excess of $10 billion at the official exchange rate, “comprising 7 to 10% of the national budget of the country.” He also stated that the “Foundation has many overseas establishments such as Vena commercial company in Germany, commercial companies in the United Arab Emirates and Far East, as well as many health and remedial centers in Germany and U.K., an Iranian cultural-sports organisation in Dubai and a [non-profit] institution in New York called New York Foundation.” The last is the Alavi Foundation, whose directors still claim they have no direct link to Tehran.
Mostazafan’s far-flung international network of trading companies and commercial fronts is being used to purchase sophisticated technologies for Iran’s nuclear weapons program, in an attempt to break the U.S. trade embargo and to acquire strategic technologies from the West. Rafiq-doust and Mostazafan are concentrating their efforts in four major areas — Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, and Singapore.
In Canada, the Iranians are using the state-owned National Iranian Oil Company and its subsidiary, Kala Naft, to purchase U.S. oil field equipment otherwise banned for sale to Iran. Instead of seeking to import the equipment directly to Iran, they pose as local Canadian buyers. The Commerce Department, which is supposed to require an individually-validated export license for such sales when there is reason to believe that Iran is the intended purchaser, has apparently not awakened to the scheme, despite repeated warnings.
In the UAE, Mostazafan has two direct subsidiaries, located in Dubai and in the Jebel Ali Free Trade zone. These firms, along with a series of smaller trading companies, serve as fronts for the purchase of American technology and equipment. The State Department has begun quiet negotiations with the UAE government, which wants to buy advanced American F-15 fighter-bombers, to halt this trade. So far, the U.S. efforts have not met with success.
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