Sunday, August 21, 2016

“See No Evil, Hear No Evil, And Speak No Evil”:
Barbara Slavin Promotes Islamic Iran’s Line on Opposition PMOI

By Rabbi Dr. Daniel M. Zucker, D.D.

Global Politician, March 10, 2011

Barbara Slavin has developed a reputation as an expert on Middle East politics, especially as pertains to the Islamic Republic of Iran. She is a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center and has served as a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 2006 and spent October 2007-July 2008 as senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace. In 2007 she authored a book on Iran entitled Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the U.S. and the Twisted Path to Confrontation. She has visited Iran seven times as part of her research and maintains contact with a variety of Iranian scholars and academics[1]. As such, one would expect that Ms. Slavin knows her subject, and given her background, one would hope that she remains strictly objective in her presentation of the facts.

Sadly, the truth is quite different. Ms. Slavin has chosen to associate with known agents[2] of the Iranian government, and while covering her backside by writing articles critical of the Tehran regime, she has contributed to the regime’s propaganda war against its opposition by presenting cleverly disguised distortions in her attacks on the Iranian resistance. She has also been very active in protecting the Tehran regime by participating in the campaign to defend Iran from economic and military attack[3]. A careful analysis of Slavin’s work will reveal that she is anything but impartial and whether willful or not, she serves the interests of protecting those in power in the Islamic Republic.

Let’s take a look at her latest piece, written earlier this month: “Iranian ‘Terrorist’ Group Courts Friends in High Places”.[4] It is interesting to note that Slavin has followed to the letter the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security’s[5] technique, borrowed from the old Soviet KGB, of telling the truth 80% and distorting it 20%. Of the twenty-nine paragraphs of her article, seven are filled with distortions of the truth or quote “experts” who turn out to be less than impartial. For the first eight paragraphs, Slavin sticks to the truth. But when she begins to speak about the history of the MEK[6], Slavin repeats the old canard of MEK complicity in the assassination of U.S. citizens in the 1970s. Those acts of assassination were performed by a Marxist splinter group that attempted to gain control of MEK while its leadership was imprisoned by the Shah in 1971-1979. The splinter group, which renamed itself Peykar, disbanded after its leaders were slain in shoot-outs with the Shah’s police in 1976. A senior staffer for the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee confirmed to this author in August 2005 that the U.S. intelligence community was well aware that the MEK was innocent of all such allegations.

Slavin suggests that the MEK is intensely unpopular in Iran. If such is the case, why has the MEK and its political umbrella organization, the NCRI[7] been represented at times with posters inside Iran—the punishment for placing such being immediate execution? How is it that the MEK has lost tens of thousands of members within Iran over the thirty years of the Islamic Republic if it is so unpopular? And how is it that the MEK and NCRI are able to get extensive intelligence on Iran’s nuclear and missile programs as well as massive lists of Iranian agents in Iraq if no one inside the country can tolerate them? Slavin is simply repeating the regime’s line against its most implacable foe—one it fears more than any other group[8] or nation.

Slavin’s contention that supporters of Iran’s Green Movement worry that de-listing would provide the regime with a propaganda victory isborrowed directly from Tehran’s propaganda machine. However, we need to ask of whom we are talking in the Green Movement? Hojatol-Islam Mehdi Karoubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi are political opponents of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but they both support the continuation of an Islamic republic as the governing system of Iran; they are hardly proponents of a Western style democracy in Iran. Both would maintain shariah (Islamic law) as the basis of the legal system. Indeed, these two “opposition” leaders would not want to see the MEK removed from the State Department’s Foreign Terror Organizations list. But neither Karoubi nor Mousavi represent the millions of disenfranchised youth that yearn for the establishment of a secular democracy—a goal that the MEK has endorsed from its inception.

As to the claim of Professor Ahmad Sadri of Lake Forest College (Illinois) that the MEK is a “personality cult” built around Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, one needs to examine the source of the claim. A little research on Ahmad Sadri shows that the good professor has spent some considerable time in post-revolution Iran, teaching at a variety of universities. For the uninformed, one needs to remind that in a theocratic authoritarian state like the Islamic Republic of Iran, no one teaches unless he (or occasionally she) has passed a test of Islamic certification. There is no freedom of speech in Iran; only those that are Islamicly correct are permitted to teach. Sadri is not a neutral source; he adheres to the line that the regime expects of him. Slavin should know better, but then again, her seven trips to Iran only were possible because she agreed to avoid criticizing the system in ways it did not want her to do.

Similarly, one should be very cautious of claims that the MEK brainwashes its members and holds them against their will. Yes, there are ex-members who make such statements, but careful research shows that they have been recruited by the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (VEVAK) through a combination of incredible pressure upon family members and considerable bribes to soothe the consciences of these “flipped” agents. The Khodabandeh brothers are a good example of such pressure and bribery by VEVAK to “flip” MEK members to the side of the regime.[9]

One sees a different picture of the MEK in the testimony of Brigadier General David Phillips, then a Colonel and the commander of the 89th MP Brigade that served in Camp Ashraf from January through December 2004. In a letter rebutting such accusations against the MEK, he wrote, “The [MeK] in fact notified us on a routine basis of people who desired to leave the organization and then transported them to our gate.”[10] Similar is the testimony of JIATF commander Lt. Colonel Julie Norman who said in an official Memorandum for Record (without getting an honorarium): “The MeK has been very cooperative in facilitating International Organizations’ requests for family contact and JIATF’s visits with these individuals … everyone is free to leave [MeK] anytime he or she wishes to.”[11]

Having met former members of the MEK and their family members, as well as current MEK members, I can testify that Slavin has failed to do her homework on the subject, relying on agents that were furnished her through regime contacts. That is not the standard that one expects of a responsible journalist.

Once again, Slavin failed to do her homework when she consulted Ambassador Roberto Toscano, the Italian ambassador to Tehran from 2003 to 2008, and now a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center.  Toscano parroted the late Shah’s label of the MEK as being a weird combination of Marxism and Islamic fundamentalism. The MEK is made up of Moslem anti-fundamentalists; it is egalitarian to the core which makes it the opposite of fundamentalist. And as to the Marxist label, since when has Marxism believed in private enterprise?

Now, back to Toscano. It turns out that Professor Toscano authored a book with Ramin Jahanbegloo who was born in TehranIran, and is married to Azin Moalej, the cousin of renowned Persian philosopher and scholar, Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Even a cursory review of Nasr’s writing demonstrates clearly his adherence to shariah and his loyalty to Iran. It appears that Toscano has been heavily influenced by the Jahanbegloo-Nasr connection, and thus fails the test of objectivity.

Let’s end with Slavin’s quote of Lee Hamilton, former chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee and recently retired as head of the Woodrow Wilson Center. Over the last twenty-nine years, Representative Hamilton has been all over the map in his opinions of the MEK. As Slavin quoted him in her final paragraph, Hamilton said: “You can always be misled”. It seems that Hamilton and a lot of Slavin’s readers have been mislead—not by the MEK—but by Barbara SlavinShame on Ms. Slavin for falling for the disinformation put out by the Tehran regime and its VEVAK agents. She should know better.

Rabbi Dr. Daniel M. Zucker is founder and Chairman of the Board of Americans for Democracy in the Middle-East, a grassroots organization dedicated to teaching our elected officials and the public of the dangers posed by Islamic fundamentalism and the need to establish genuine democratic institutions in the Middle-East as an antidote to the venom of fundamentalism. He may be contacted at

[1] Among others: Stephen Kinzer, Abbas Milani, Trita Parsi, Ervand Abrahamian, Reza Aslan, and Hadi Esfahani.
[2] See the extensive literature on Trita Parsi and NIAC and the relationship of the NIAC leadership to the Iranian government. Among other, see Clare M. Lopez, “The Rise of the ‘Iran Lobby’”, Center for Security Policy, February 25, 2009,, and the extensive site of Iranian-American writer Hassan Daioleslam at In Search of Truth: Reports on Mullahs's lobby in US,, (
[3] See: “THE FOLLY OF ATTACKING IRAN: The 2008 Tour for Diplomacy with Iran”, Subsection: Speakers,
[4] Barbara Slavin, “Iranian ‘Terrorist’ Group Courts Friends in High Places”, IPS NewsMarch 1, 2011
[5] The Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) is known in Farsi as VEVAK (Vezarat-e Ettela’at vAmniat-e Keshvar). For more information on VEVAK and its techniques of disinformation, see this author’s three articles on VEVAK, accessible at International Analyst Network [].
[6] MEK is an Anglicization of the Farsi Mojahedin-e Khalq; the group is also known by the acronym PMOI which is the English translation of its name: the People’s Mojahedin [Holy Warriors] of Iran.
[7] NCRI=National Council of Resistance of Iran.
[8] Research conducted by the Iran Policy Committee in the summer of 2005 demonstrated that the Iranian regime press attacks the MEK and NCRI 350% more than all other opposition groups combined. See Clare M. Lopez, et. al., “Regime Statements and Opposition Groups”, pp. 39-46, in Appeasing the Ayatollahs and Suppressing Democracy: U.S. Policy and the Iranian OppositionIran Policy Committee, WashingtonDC, c. 2006.
[9] See: “Spying for the Mullahs: Iran’s Agents in UK”, British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom, October 2007, pp.8-11,
[10] Letter to Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, May 27,2005, reproduced in DLA Piper, Iran: Foreign Policy Challenges and Choices, c. 2006, as Appendix D, pp. 106-107.
[11] Julie S. Norman, “Memorandum for Record”, August 24, 2006, reproduced in DLA Piper, Iran: Foreign Policy Challenges and Choices, c. 2006, as Appendix B, pp. 103-104.

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