By Hooman Enayati
If you are an Iranian-American and you have any interest in politics at all, then chances are that you are aware of the debate over the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). Bloggers have filled page after page with their cases for or against NIAC, and countless hours of Farsi satellite television has been filled with the same. Strangely absent from this debate has been any look into the views and opinions of Seid Hassan Daioleslam, the man behind the anti-NIAC campaign. As part of the lawsuit NIAC filed against Daioleslam in 2008, a series of explosive emails have been uncovered, a few of which I will analyze below.
An email dated May of 2008 shows an exchange between Daioleslam and the managing editor of the neoconservative Frontpage Magazine, Jamie Glazov. In this exchange, Mr. Glazov inquires about Daioleslam's view of the Mujaheddin-e Khalq, a group designated by the United States as a terrorist organization. Daioleslam's stunning response is that "it has been a great mistake to discard them. They should be included in a general support of Iranian opposition as a whole."
This revelation is astounding because anyone that has watched a fraction of the countless hours in which Daioleslam has appeared on California based Iranian TV is aware of the noticeable discomfort in his demeanor each time he is asked about his links to the Mujaheddin and has to wriggle himself out. It may be an interesting thought experiment to imagine the reaction if someone in the United States came out supporting a terrorist group like Hamas and asking that the US government financially aid the organization. The reaction would predictably be one of outrage, and rightly so.
It is bewildering not that the US would discard such a terrorist organization, but that someone living in the United States would discard the human rights violations of such a group, not to mention the group's record of slaughtering innocent Americans. Daioleslam seems to deny links with the organization in public, yet take a very different tone in private.
Upon scratching the surface however, it would appear that Daioleslam's ties with the Mujaheddin are much deeper. Both his brother and sister are members of the Mujaheddin, and the little information we have on him prior to gaining prominence through attacking NIAC is that he worked as a perfume and ice-cream salesman, and has been identified by several former members of the Mujaheddin as having once been a member.
It is understandable that someone with siblings who are active members of the Mujaheddin would have a strong emotional attachment to that organization. It also makes perfect psychological sense for someone who may have been a member of a terrorist organization that is much despised within Iranian communities all across the world to want to distance himself from the organization. Even among those in California satellite TV who would salivate at the mouth at the thought of an attack on Iran, the Mujaheddin is still a discredited organization whom none of them would affiliate themselves with. On a practical level, Daioleslam understands that he wouldn't last ten seconds in the Iranian-American community if he openly came out in support of the Mujaheddin.
Daioleslam's double talk also raises a serious ethical question. Even assuming that he never was an official member, how can anyone advocate financial support of such a group, even if that support was signaled in private? How many people do the Mujaheddin have to blow up for Daioleslam to consider them a terrorist organization? How many tarred bodies of innocent Iranians does Mr. Daioleslam consider enough before he withdraws support? Frequently on Iranian television Mr. Daioleslam has noted that the only measure of an action is if it furthers his views of what Iranian interests are. But even then, for someone with such disregard for American interests, how can he justify his support for a group engaged in killing innocent Americans while at the same time living in this country that has allowed him to make a career out of slandering others?
Should the terrorist attacks of the Mujaheddin be excused or justified because the Islamic Republic also engages in terrorism? How can anyone with even the most elementary of moral principles justify such support? It is a testimony to how far out in the fringe Daioleslam is that his recommendations would not even be entertained by the Bush administration, let alone the current one. The surest way to bludgeon the Iranian opposition within Iran and within the United States would be if the Obama administration did in fact begin to support the Mujaheddin financially. Thankfully, such an absurd idea would never be see the light of day in Washington DC.
What these now public emails reveal more than anything else is that again and again there seems to be a wide gap between what Seid Daioleslam proclaims in public, and what he tells his neoconservative allies in private. His close ties with the neoconservative movement also begs the question, is this founder of the Progressive American-Iranian Committee (PAIC) as progressive as his organization claims? PAIC's raison d'etre is "to expose the true intents of the numerous and widespread Islamic Republic lobbying networks and the deployment of suitable measures to counteract and neutralize the effects of such networks." For the man who has built a career around this goal, dismantling these "numerous" and vast networks has become something of a personal crusade.
But progressive beware! In one of the most stunning emails that have emerged, Hassan Daioleslam writes to far right neocon Kenneth Timmerman, "I strongly believe that Trita Parsi is the weakest part of the Iranian web because he is related to Siamak Namazi and Bob Ney. I believe that destroying him will be the start of attacking the whole web. This is an absolute integral part of any attack on Clinton or Obama. I hope your friends understand this crucial point."
To what extent Daioleslam is correct about this "Iranian web" we cannot know. But what is certain is that Timmerman's neoconservative friends have gotten the memo and even preceding this email these individuals were spearheading the efforts to undermine NIAC's image in the Iranian-American community. This statement by Daioleslam raises two key questions: is Daioleslam a progressive and why does he exhibit such zealotry in attacking NIAC?
It is very difficult to imagine that a true progressive would work tirelessly to attack the policies of the two leading progressive candidates for president, in the midst of a very close primary race no less. But more significantly, this email reveals something very critical about the anti-NIAC campaign waged by Daioleslam and PAIC. It would seem that it is not NIAC that is the target here, but rather the entire Democratic policy of no war or devastating sanctions on Iran that is now the official policy of the Obama administration. How can any progressive ally himself with a band of neocons who go against the very existence of Democrats? This goes beyond a simple policy difference. Not to mention that Daioleslam asked neoconservative to fund PAIC, something that the neocons refused to do arguing that PAIC must first develop a base of support in the Iranian-American community.
These two emails reveal astonishing truths about a man whose public statements are strongly at odds with what he says and does in private. Virtually every major thing he has said has been contradicted by what he has done. Whether it is his private support for the terrorist MeK, or his tireless efforts against progressive policy, this is a man whose shady past and current behavior merit close examination, particularly among the Iranian-Americans which he seeks to influence. In part two of this series, we will delve deeper into the views and ties of Seid Hassan Daioleslam.
About the author: Hooman Enayati was born in 1971 in Tehran, Iran. He was raised in Scotland and earned his Civil Engineering degree at Nottingham University. He is now a freelance journalist focusing on diaspora issues in Hammond, Louisiana.
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