Politics

Supporter of Iranian dictatorship brought Chuck Hagel to Rutgers University for 2007 speech

A pro-Hezbollah, pro-Hamas candidate for the Iranian presidency, a man linked to Iranian-controlled front groups, brought former Republican Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel to speak at Rutgers University in 2007, according to another professor on campus.

Hooshang Amirahmadi, who led Rutgers’ Center for Middle Eastern Studies when Hagel came to campus, is the founder and president of the American-Iranian Council. He arranged for Hagel’s speech on March 2, 2007, the faculty source told The Daily Caller. (RELATED OPINION — Chuck Hagel: the darling of Tehran)

Iran’s Guardian Council cleared Amirahmadi to run for the presidency in 2013. Approval of the regime is required before candidates’ names can appear on the ballot. To be approved, candidates must be Shia, male, and committed to the Islamic revolution.

He attempted to mount a campaign in 2005, but the Guardian Council disqualified him.

According to a contemporaneous online report written by a Hagel supporter, the former senator said during his 2007 presentation at Rutgers that the U.S. State Department “has become adjunct to the Israeli Foreign Minister’s office.”

The Washington Free Beacon first reported on that account, which was followed by a letter to Hagel from Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, asking for an explanation of his remarks.

A press release in 2007 noted that the “Rutgers Center for Middle Eastern Studies” — Amirahmadi’s campus group — “is hosting the senator’s visit to the university.”

Amirahmadi’s CV discloses that he has received financial support from the Alavi Foundation, a wealthy organization that the U.S. government has called “a front for the government of Iran.”

And IRS records provided to TheDC by FoundationSearch.com show that between 2003 and 2008, Rutgers University received $688,000 from the same foundation.

The New York Post reported in 2009 that the Alavi Foundation contributed $100,000 towards Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Columbia University.

“We found evidence that the government of Iran really controlled everything about the foundation,” Adam Kaufmann, investigations chief at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, told the Post in 2009.

Farshid Jahedi, the Alavi foundation’s former president, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of obstruction of justice for destroying documents connecting the foundation to Bank Melli Iran, the regime’s terror-linked national bank, and to the ownership of a Manhattan office building.

Jahedi was sentenced to three months in prison and six months of supervised release, and fined $3,000.

As early as 2008, Amirahmadi was revealed to be a supporter of the Iranian regime who received its backing. He traveled to Tehran to ask for additional support from the government, telling the government-funded newspaper Etemad on November 12, 2008 that “there is a clash between various regional [Middle East] lobbies. Israelites will gather around Obama. Arabs will also spend their money to get close to Obama. Iranian rights are [the] subject of unkind hostility in Tehran.”

He explicitly called for more financial help immediately after President Obama’s first presidential election.

“Iranian leaders should pay attention to what is going on, and strengthen their friends.  They should have confidence in, energize, and trust their friends so they enter the arena.  This is very important,” Amirahmadi said then.

“Therefore the next two or three months are the time to conquer Obama’s heart and mind and that of his teams. Anyone who acts faster will rest trouble-free for the next eight years. Anyone who does not go to that bazaar [marketplace] now will have a tough time entering that bazaar in future.”

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has repeatedly asked why Hagel’s financial disclosure forms do not reflect all the money he received for what Hagel concedes are hundreds of speeches he has given in the past five years.

It is unlikely, however, that Hagel received an honorarium for his 2007 speech at Rutgers, and more likely that he delivered the speech to articulate policy positions. In its publicity materials, Rutgers touted him as a “potential presidential candidate” in 2008, and said he would “address war, diplomacy, [and the] state of the Middle East.”

U.S. senators have been prohibited from accepting speaking honoraria since 1991, according to a 2013 report titled “Congressional Salaries and Allowances” from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

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