Schools’ Iran $$ pipeline: Columbia, Rutgers on ‘spy’ group gift list
Anti-Israel, pro-Iran university professors are being funded by a shadowy multimillion-dollar Islamic charity based in Manhattan that the feds charge is an illegal front for the repressive Iranian regime.
The deep-pocketed Alavi Foundation has aggressively given away hundreds of thousands of dollars to Columbia University and Rutgers University for Middle Eastern and Persian studies programs that employ professors sympathetic to the Iranian dictatorship.
“We found evidence that the government of Iran really controlled everything about the foundation,” said Adam Kaufmann, investigations chief at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
Federal law-enforcement authorities are in the midst of seizing up to $650 million in assets from the Alavi Foundation, which they charge funnels money to Iran-supported Islamic schools in the United States and to a syndicate of Iranian spies based in Europe.
In one of the biggest handouts, the controversial charity donated $100,000 to Columbia University after the Ivy League school agreed to host Iranian leader and Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to the foundation’s 2007 tax filings obtained by The Post.
Rutgers professor Hooshang Amirahmadi, former head of the school’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies and president of the American-Iranian Council, a nonprofit advocacy group, unabashedly has touted Hezbollah and Hamas as legitimate organizations and not terrorists.
Between 2005 and 2007, the Alavi Foundation donated $351,600 to the Rutgers Persian language program, a spokesman for the school acknowledged. The university would not comment further.
Alavi’s Web site says its mission is the “promotion of Islamic culture and Persian language.”
“This is all about Iran laundering their policies through academe,” said Michael Rubin, an Iran expert at the American Enterprise Institute think tank. “And the ivory tower is prostituting itself for money.”
But Amirahmadi disagreed. “Grants from Alavi are made to the universities, not to the professors,” he told The Post.
Columbia spokesman Robert Hornsby said Alavi’s donations rarely topped more than a few thousand dollars and that the $100,000 donation was its largest single gift. Hornsby added that the school was surprised the foundation had direct ties to the Iranian government.
The Alavi foundation declined comment.
Additional reporting by Brad Hamilton
UNIVERSITIES FOR SALE
The Alavi Foundation — a charity that law-enforcement officials believe is a front for the Iranian government — has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund professorships at Columbia and Rutgers universities. These professors have been apologists for the Iranian government:
Gary Sick, professor, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia: He [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] made it very clear that, whether he is talking about ‘wiping Israel off the map,’ or ‘erased from the pages of time,’ or whatever the quote is, what he means is that there should be a free referendum among the peoples of the Palestine that existed to the partition in 1948 to vote about the kind of a government they should have. He is confident that, in a free vote, Israel and Israelis would lose that vote and it would turn out to be something else: a unitary state, probably run by the Palestinians.
Hooshang Amirahmadi, director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Rutgers: Unfortunately, a large part of the problems between Iran and the US are not based in reality, but are based on myths. The problem of terrorism is a true myth. Iran has not been involved in any terrorist organization. Neither Hezbollah nor Hamas are terrorist organizations . . . The Iranian president’s problem is with Israel, not with America.
Hamid Dabashi, professor of Iranian studies and comparative literature, Columbia: That monstrosity that [director Zack] Snyder pictures [in his film “300”] marching towards Thermopylae is the American empire — and that band of brothers that stood up to that monstrosity are those resisting this empire: They are the Iraqi resistance, the Palestinians, Hezbollah.