Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 07, 2006


In the November issue of Mother Jones magazine Laura Rozen asks: Has Washington found its Iranian Chalabi?

The piece is about Amir-Abbas Fakhravar, an Iranian dissident.

I had contacted Laura this summer after she had mentioned Fakhravar on her blog and in a Washington Post Outlook piece. In May I had become suspicious of this figure, collected some materials and asked: Is Fakhravar A Fraud?

Laura was not convinced then, though a few weeks later she had looked into it, wrote back and agreed with my cautious "yes". Turns out Fakhravar is even a double-fraud. Now Laura writes:

A virtual unknown both inside and outside Iran when he arrived in the United States in May, Fakhravar has in the months since then ascended to prominence at a dizzying clip. By midsummer he was rushing from testifying on Capitol Hill one moment to an Iran opposition gathering at the White House the next, meeting regularly with policymakers and influential advisers, chatting with the former Shah’s son on his cell phone, and generally being touted as the young, idealistic face of the movement to overthrow the mullahs.

But Fakhravar may be a false messiah. In interviews with more than a dozen Iranian opposition figures, some of them former political prisoners, a different picture emerged—one of an opportunist being pushed to the fore by Iran hawks, a reputed jailhouse snitch who was locked up for nonpolitical offenses but reinvented himself as a student activist and political prisoner once behind bars.
Some dissidents believe they do have an explanation: “As far as the other political prisoners were concerned, he was an antenna for the security of the prison and for the security services,” Bina Darab-Zand, a recently released human rights activist, told me when I reached him in Tehran in late August. Nasser Zarafshan, one of Iran’s most prominent human rights attorneys and also recently released from Evin, echoed that claim. “He has been working for the police,” Zarafshan says.
When I asked about his critics’ claims, Fakhravar threw his arms up in frustration. He said that among Iranian political prisoners, there is deep division between liberal and leftist blocks, and that Zarafshan and other leftists had “started rumors” about him that were “all false.” He opened his laptop to show photos of himself on a New York street talking with the dissident Ganji, then autographed a copy of his book, Scraps of Prison, printed by an L.A.-based Persian publisher. It is one of three books for which Fakhravar says he has been persecuted, though none of them appear to be widely known. On his website, Fakhravar says he was on the shortlist for a literary prize, the Paulo Coelho award, but there is no evidence that such an award exists—a point first raised on the blog “Moon of Alabama.”

So Fakhravar is not only a neocon fraud as a dissident, he has also worked as an informant, and may even still work, for some Iranian state security service.

A thanks to Laura for mentioning this blog, but sorry, the point where it is mentioned is a bit wrong. Yes, I did write that I failed to unearth evidence for the awards existence. But a few hours later commentator ASKOD had found a source. Such a prize seems to have been awarded exactly once. Still, there is no record available of a connection between it and Fakhravar other than his say-so.

Anyhow, with all the things known now, we can be sure that Fakhravar is a fraud, a tool for the Neocons and possibly, at the same time, a tool for some Iranian security service - quite a parallel to Chalabi.

But who "built him up"? Who has turned this person into a faux dissident? Who pushed his name for promotion to Amnesty International and the London Pen Club?

Neocons? Some Iranian secret service? An actor for both sides?

Posted by b on October 7, 2006 at 5:25 UTC | Permalink


bernhard, you are so rad

Posted by: annie | Oct 7 2006 6:00 utc | 1

billmon is a treasure.
learned of this companion site to billmon thru one of his blog post.
seems to be a great place for some good intelligent apocalyptic talk.

you gotta give it to the iranians, not only they do not seem to be least bit afraid but see the american shenanigans as an opportunity. they have very intelligently taken advantage of every american misstep. most countries would not have dared.

Posted by: holy_bazooka | Oct 7 2006 6:22 utc | 2

I don't understand why we don't just reinstate the Shah, but make him promise he'll be nicer than the last one we put in.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Oct 7 2006 7:49 utc | 3

Re Iran

And they have NK riding shotgun every time there a P5+1 meeting.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Oct 7 2006 8:39 utc | 4

Neocons? Some Iranian secret service? An actor for both sides?

It would be pretty easy to make an argument that the Iranian secret service has been a decisive actor in promoting the neo-cons since they helped out Reagan on the October surprise.

Posted by: citizen k | Oct 7 2006 10:42 utc | 5

a new project for the iranian century

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 7 2006 14:51 utc | 6

Mazal tov, b. You'd have done Izzy proud.

One can only speculate how many other Iranian "dissidents" are actually on VEVAK's payroll. I would guess it's probably like a famous late '50s meeting of the central committee of the American Communist Party, in which the majority of the people in the room where either FBI agents or informants.

I remember a line from a movie (I think it was "The Flim Flam Man" with George C. Scott) to the effect that the easiest mark of all is another con man -- because they think they already know all the angles. The neocons are living proof.

Posted by: billmon | Oct 7 2006 16:37 utc | 7

Reza Pahlavi, the Baby Shah, has a splendid modern site:>link

His Mama, Fara Pahlavi (Fara Diba) also:>link

What a pity these people are so useless now!

Posted by: Noirette | Oct 7 2006 18:21 utc | 8

State Department will award more than 20 grants of as much as $1.5 million for Iran-related democracy and human-rights work, most of it outside Iran. Since U.S. fears Iranian meddling, “don’t expect a lot of transparency” on who gets awards, a State official says.


Posted by: b | Oct 8 2006 8:06 utc | 9

Meet the "Whack Iran" Lobby

Exiles peddling shaky intelligence, advocacy groups pressing for regime change, neocons bent on remaking the Middle East. Sound familiar?

Also, it might be a good Idea to recapitulate this: (from Bernhard's astute Raider Becomes Twix post, from it this:

U.S. Moves to Weaken Iran, says the LA Times. The piece describes the State Department program run by Dick Cheney's daughter Elizabeth and David Denehy, a former deputy directory of the CPA’s Office of Democracy and Governance in Iraq. They work on Voice of America programing in Farsi, financial support for opposition groups and they send special "Iran watchers" diplomats to countries with Iranian expatriats.

Writes the LA Times:

officials emphasize that this time around, State Department diplomats rather than Pentagon war planners are in charge

So this looks new, but further down we read:

The administration's efforts are taking shape on the second floor of the State Department, where a new Office of Iranian Affairs has been charged with leading the push to back Iranian dissidents more aggressively, boost support to democracy broadcasters and strengthen ties with exiles.

Nearby at the Pentagon, an Iranian directorate will work with the State Department office to undercut the government in Tehran.
[T]he Pentagon's directorate began with six full-time staff members. But they can draw on expertise throughout the government, providing access to potentially hundreds of specialists.

This new Iranian directorate is indeed a very well known shop:

At the Pentagon, the new Iranian directorate has been set up inside its policy shop, which previously housed the Office of Special Plans.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Venable declined to name the acting director of the new Iran office and would say only that the appointee was a "career civil servant." Among those staffing or advising the Iranian directorate are three veterans of the Office of Special Plans: Abram N. Shulsky, its former director; John Trigilio, a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst; and Ladan Archin, an Iran specialist.

and in particular , b's call to...

..." look up the people named." that is how I found the nation article, by looking up Ladan Archin.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 8 2006 10:48 utc | 10

Okay kids, it's compare and contrast time... follow along.

A Wallace Interview from 1974, guess with who?

Shah of Iran and Corruption in the Country

His --Wallace's--interview with Ahmdinejad was shit but what is about this one.

This is a clip from a documentary titled "Crisis in Iran" by the History Channel with Mike Wallace

Also, I searched Google for information on David Denehy – but turned up almost nothing - that is next to nothing before he appeared in a State Department telephone book as working for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) in January 2001. It is my understanding that he joined INR as an analyst on the Middle East including Iran and Iraq where he was a presidential (management)intern after receiving an MA in International Affairs from Columbia.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 8 2006 11:19 utc | 11

One last thing, (note: I'm tired so I could be wrong) but, is it just me, or are Daniel Schulman and Laura Rozen saying two different things?

Posted by: | Oct 8 2006 11:25 utc | 12

Just searched Fakhravar on Google :-)

Posted by: b | Oct 8 2006 12:57 utc | 14

can anyone here translate this page?

i don't read farsi, but i think i can guess what 'pinokio' means...

another comment of interest here:[email protected]/msg00001.html

links to a letter - again in farsi - by imprisoned iranian lawyer nasser zarafshan, and accuses fakhravar of attacking zarafshan in while both were in prison because fakhravar opposed zarafshan's hunger strike. i have no way to verify but thought it worth sharing.

Posted by: billy | Oct 9 2006 17:35 utc | 15

Thanks billy, I hope someone will be able to translate here - soory, I can´t.

Posted by: b | Oct 9 2006 18:32 utc | 16

uncle's #13 link?

i found the #11 quote here, scroll

Posted by: annie | Oct 9 2006 19:43 utc | 17

b#14, i googled him just weeks after you first posted, because that site kept getting attention. noticed back then you were at the top of the google list. holding strong.

Posted by: annie | Oct 9 2006 20:35 utc | 18

found the moon following a thread on fakhravar and I'm glad its still ranked up there in google. spent the good part of day on the dicussion on fakravar on a post back in june/july/august and I can only say that all that is required if anyone needs a lesson in democracy is to read the thread. wont get into the details :) but have outmost respect for the site and its contributors.

but regarding the pinochio bit:

billy, think you might be on the right track. the heading on top translates to "I like Abbas Fakhravar because he looks like pinochio. when he lies his nose grows longer. dont you think?"

seems to be satirical.

sorry. my farsi is a little rusti and Dr. Zarafshan is quite articulate. and the letter is veerryyyy looooooongg..

on an un-related/related note: seymour hersch was giving a talk in stanford re abu gharib but naturaly the dicusssion went all over the place and a lot of times to iran. he seems to be fasincated with the subject as he said and cant stop digging further. at the end of the talk people lined up for questions and finaly this women introduced herself as an iranian and in very direct terms asked why shouldn't the u.s. take miliary action against the regime in iran to spread democracy? mr hesch: "like we have in iraq?" the exchange continued as I started squirming in my seat not wanting the audience to think she represents the view of all iranians. just as I was about to loose it and interject mr. hersh said something like "what part of califonia are you from? you sound like you could be from southern california. people from there seem to share your point of view, but I know many iranians that do not agree with you and want sustainable home-grown democratical changes." :) i was amazed of his scope and range of his knowledge. after the talks had a brief chat with mr. hersh. he didn't think much of the eiseinhowe's departure from virginia for middle east and he noted Howard Dean just raised $20 mil from the southern california "people"!!!!!! may the force protect this man.

Posted by: Farzam | Oct 21 2006 23:55 utc | 19

Thanks Farzam.

Posted by: jonku | Oct 22 2006 8:16 utc | 20

Laura Rozen has something new about a Iran Enterprise Institute

The Iran Enterprise Institute is directed by a newly arrived Iranian dissident whose cause has recently been championed by AEI fellow and former Pentagon advisor Richard Perle. Amir Abbas Fakhravar, 31, served time in Iran’s notorious Evin prison before arriving in Washington in May, with Perle’s help. Fakhravar, who advocates U.S. intervention to promote secular democracy in Iran, now seeks Washington’s backing to lead an organization that would unite Iranian student dissidents. (I profile Fakhravar in this month’s Mother Jones). Some other Iranian activists and journalists say Fakhravar and his supporters exaggerate his importance as a dissident leader in Iran. "Student circles and journalistic circles don’t recognize him as a student leader,” says Najmeh Bozorgmehr, the Financial Times’ Tehran correspondent who closely followed the 1999 pro-democracy Tehran student uprisings.

Posted by: b | Nov 14 2006 7:08 utc | 21

Not to familiar w/the blog Americanfree press here, but I found it interesting (if funny) none the less...


Aleading voice of the pro-Israel lobby is pushing for an old-style “witchhunt”—under the guise of “homeland security”—to identify (and expel) individuals in the U.S. government and our military who are suspected of being hostile to Israel.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 14 2006 8:35 utc | 22

spent the good part of day on the dicussion on fakravar on a post back in june/july/august and I can only say that all that is required if anyone needs a lesson in democracy is to read the thread.

farzam, yes we remember the thread! our own b was one of the first people to notice this conniving scam artist. from b's new link it appears he is getting set up by the government for some 3 million, there is money to be made for up and coming young regime change opportunists.

anyway welcome and come around more often to comment.
hersh is one of the best journalist in the US on all things ME and wrote the first difinative piece on US current intentions on nuking iran forcing the WH to make public statements last winter before it was on the radar of most americans. it is tru there is a huge divide between the politics of northern calif and the southern part of the state. on hersh recent tour a friend had an opportunity to hear him speak. you are lucky, i wish i had been there.

Posted by: annie | Nov 14 2006 17:38 utc | 23

oops, just realized farzan was here weeks ago. old thread, should be checking the dates more often!

Posted by: annie | Nov 14 2006 17:43 utc | 24

what I really don't understand is why so many Iranian pay any attention to a guy that is in bed with the likes of Pearl and Leeden.Or maybe I don't know what is happening in LA!!

Posted by: kam | Nov 14 2006 21:43 utc | 25

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