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Is FOX News’ Foreign Affairs Analyst A Former Terrorist?

Reported by Ellen - September 2, 2006 -

It was another War-A-Go-Go on Hannity & Colmes last night (9/1/06) with two guests with the same opinion – that every day we delay either military action against Iran or effecting regime change (or maybe both), the US comes closer to being attacked by a nuclear bomb. Just in case that didn’t get the message across, the screen read “Only one option?” and “Time to attack Iran?” throughout the discussion. One of the guests was a new-to-me FOX News foreign affairs analyst named Alireza Jafarzadeh. It turns out Mr. Jafarzadeh is the former spokesperson for what the US State Department deemed a terrorism group allied with Saddam Hussein.

With echoes of former US pal Ahmed Chalabi, so useful to the Bush Administration during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, now so discredited (for giving US secrets to Iran, for one thing), Jafarzadeh is a former dissident who left his home country before the 1979 revolution. Also like Chalabi, Jafarzadeh seems to have quite a colorful, some might say shady past. To quote from Answers.com:

Jafarzadeh's name first appears in the media in a Houston Chronicle article dated December 24, 1986, where he is described as a spokesman for the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq). In the article he denied US State Department claims the MEK was a terrorist organization responsible for the assassination of at least six Americans in Iran. Jafarzadeh was the public spokesperson for the National Council of Resistance of Iran until its office in Washington was closed by the US State Department in 2002 on the grounds that it was a front group for the MEK, by then listed as a terrorist organistion.

A 2002 article in National Review, said:

A 1994 State Department report indicates that the Mujahedin has trained and fought alongside Iraqi troops on a number of occasions, and that "Saddam Hussein has been one of [its] primary financiers, providing weapons and cash totaling an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars."

...The Mujahedin's Washington spokesman, Alireza Jafarzadeh, attempts -- unconvincingly -- to distance the group from its past. He says, for example, that the group assassinated Americans in the 1970s because it had been taken over by radicals; in fact, U.S. intelligence indicates that Massoud Rajavi, the group's leader, was in firm control at the time. Jafarzadeh also claims that the 1979 U.S.-embassy takeover was a Khomeini scheme to test his supporters, and that the Mujahedin had to either "endorse [it] entirely" or take a vague and "very calculated" decision to sign on; Jafarzadeh claims the group took the latter. But in fact, on the day of the takeover, the Mujahedin issued a statement: "After the shah, it's America's turn." And when the hostages were released, the group boasted that it was "the first force who rose unequivocally to the support of the occupation of the American spy center." Still, the group continues to find naive supporters like Congressman Edolphus Towns, Democrat of New York. He says, "I think they could replace [Iran's mullahs], I really do." Experts on Iran scoff at this claim.

Dealey, Sam. ‘A Very, Very Bad Bunch': An Iranian group and its surprising American friends." National Review 54.5 (March 25, 2002): NA. Student Edition. (found via Infotrac)

Note: National Review is the same publication where Rich Lowry, subbing last night for Sean Hannity, is employed. But Jafarzadeh's past never seemed to give Lowry a moment's pause.

None of Jafarzadeh's background was disclosed to the FOX News viewing audience who, I suspect, would find it of great interest that a former Hussein-connected terrorist is now being paid by the same news network that never tires of recounting the horrors of the Hussein regime.

Alan Colmes did an excellent job of confronting Jafarzadeh and the other guest, FOX News military analyst Gen. Thomas McInerney, with what Colmes called the “ginning up of emotions” over Iran. Colmes said, “Yes, they’re continuing their program but according to the IAEA, it is so miniscule, that it can only be used for energy, it cannot be used for anything else. The report this week said they found no proof of a weapons program and that they’re complying with inspections to allow the agency to inspect its uranium work."

With more similarities to the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Jafarzadeh ratcheted up the fear factor about mushroom clouds. “It's not usable (for weapons purposes) now, but once Iran has the ability (Colmes interrupted to say that it would be 8 – 10 years away before Iran would have the capability to make a nuclear bomb.) No, absolutely not. Once you have the ability to enrich uranium to peaceful level, which is 5%, you’re only weeks away from being able to enrich it further to 80% and use it for the bomb. So it’s the ability that is extremely crucial to be able to enrich uranium.” He added, “All (the Iranians) are doing, using the negotiations to buy time while the program has been progressing.” He also said “The regime is a lot bolder, a lot more defiant,” than when it began its program. Nobody questioned why that should happen when our invasion of Iran was supposed to produce the opposite result.