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More Meddling by Richard Perle: Grooming the Next Ahmad Chalabi

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This article touches on Richard Perle and the AEI’s attempts to prop up “regime-toppling mideast dissidents who lack credibility.” Excerpt below on Amir Abbas Fakhravar for Iran.  Perle is also backing Syria’s Farid Ghadry.

People such as 32-year-old Amir Abbas Fakhravar, an Iranian dissident now living in exile in the United States. In a 2006 Washington Post Op-Ed article, Perle promoted Fakhravar as a heroic and inspirational figure around whom oppressed Iranians could rally, if only he were given America’s support. Fakhravar is president of the Iran Enterprise Institute, which takes its name and some of its financial support from the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute, of which Perle is a resident fellow. In the coming weeks, Fakhravar will be speaking at a conference in Palm Beach, Fla., on the subject of regime change in Tehran, addressing the Heritage Foundation in Washington and then heading to Rome to deliver a lecture on “Democracy in the Islamic World.” Just recently, he was the honored guest at DePaul University’s “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week,” where he was introduced as “the hero of our age.”

His story, as he and his supporters tell it, could be a Hollywood script. Young, handsome, bold Iranian student leads the oppressed and downtrodden against the crushing tyranny of the mullahs, rising up, a la “Les Miserables.” He stands atop the barricades during student protests in Iran in 1999 and is then imprisoned and tortured. He communicates with the West from Tehran’s maximum-security Evin prison via a cellphone and escapes to freedom, with a shoot-to-kill order hanging over his head.

Unfortunately, Fakhravar’s detractors, including some Iranian dissidents and exiles, insist that his story might as well be a Hollywood script. In a report last November in Mother Jones, Laura Rozen interviewed Iranian dissidents and journalists who cast doubt on Fakhravar’s story. They claim, for example, that in their experience, political prisoners at Evin weren’t allowed to use cellphones to communicate with the outside world. And, they say, he did not so much escape from prison, he simply went AWOL while on a kind of furlough that prisoners could sometimes arrange. As for other harrowing details, in reality he took a regular flight to Dubai (where he was met by Perle). Most important, Rozen’s sources told her, Fakhravar was never a major figure in the student uprising of 1999.

Writing in Progressive magazine, Muhammad Sahimi, a chemical engineering professor at USC, lists Fakhravar among the exiles who have no credibility in Iran: “They are not even known there.” Although Amnesty International lists Fakhravar among those tortured by the Tehran regime, it uses the word “reportedly” to describe his ordeal.

Perle is one of the main architects of the Iraq war, arguing for the removal of Saddam Hussein as a key objective for the Israeli state—and has been pushing for more war and regime change in Iran.

Irancove @ November 30, 2007

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