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August 26, 2015

Radio Free Europe Flacks for Iranian Terrorist Commander

U.S. tax-payer funded Radio Free Europe (RFE) recently echoed Iranian propaganda meant to show the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds (Jerusalem) Force, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in a favorable light. Soleimani has led Quds Force—designated a terrorist entity by the U.S. government—subversion and aggression in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

Entitled “Wanted for Terrorism, Commander of Iran’s Quds Force is Actually Kind and Emotional, Brother Says” (Aug. 25, 2015), an article on RFE’s website appears as part of the Persian Letters blog. The blog describes itself as offering “a window into Iranian politics and society…bringing under-reported stories, insights, and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers” including “clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.”

RFE was created by the U.S. government to help win the Cold War by countering Soviet propaganda. That it would pass off accounts from members of a paramilitary organization, the Basij, controlled by the mullahs and used to suppress regime critics is disturbing. That it fails to challenge a work of hagiography originally presented as fact by an Iranian state-run outlet, Fars News, about Soleimani, a U.S.-listed terrorist and murderer of U.S. service personnel and non-combatants defies description.

RFE acknowledges that Soleimani is a “wanted man” who has been “linked to support for terrorism,” and was sanctioned in 2012 for his “alleged role in an assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador in Washington.” After calling Fars News Agency a “Persian-language news outlets affiliated with the powerful IRGC,” the U.S. broadcasting agency proceeds to uncritically repeat its Soleimani puff piece.

RFE briefly mentions that “the Fars interview appeared to be part of Iran’s efforts to boost the IRGC commander’s profile and portray him as a selfless national hero who plays an instrumental role in the volatile Middle East.” Writing in The Weekly Standard, Lee Smith, a senior fellow at the D.C.-based Hudson Institute, observed that Tehran’s efforts to give the Quds Force leader publicity are meant to impress upon the “Obama White House” that if they “want anything done in the Middle East, you’ll have to go through Iran and you’ll have to deal with Qassem Suleimani.” (“The Iranian Regime’s Mr. Fix It,” June 30, 2014)

The U.S.-broadcasting organization, while including its qualifications, nevertheless provides free media for a terrorist once called by retired U.S. General and former CIA Director David Petraeus a “truly evil figure.” Petraeus’ description stems in part from the Quds Force’s role in setting up Iranian factories to manufacture deadly roadside bombs called EFPs (explosively formed projectiles). These are estimated to have caused the deaths of up to 1,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Soleimani’s deeds and Petraeus’ categorization contrast sharply with the article posted by RFE. It repeats family member descriptions of the terrorist as “a serious person, but very kind and emotional.”

Soleimani’s brother, Sohrab Soleimani, mentions “Qassem has a [belt] in karate, he used to work as a fitness coach in a bodybuilding club.” In addition to recounting the murderer’s fitness regimen, his brother explains that the Quds force commander “loves the children of the martyrs [Iranians and IRGC members killed] so much that sometimes his own children become jealous.”

Sohrab notes that the Quds Force leader’s globe-trotting terrorist activities often keep him from his family, leaving him “little time to devote to his own life, yet his attention for his [family and friends] has not diminished.” In RFE’s words: “[Sohrab] Soleimani also said that his older brother has always made sure that his close relatives did not take the wrong path in life.”

RFE failed to portray Soleimani accurately—as a ruthless terrorist leader responsible for countless combatant and non-combatant deaths as part of Iran’s drive for regional dominance and international influence. It did not challenge the propaganda of a theocratic, totalitarian government but rather disseminated it. It thereby failed to fulfill its mandate of providing news, information, and analysis to countries “where the free flow of information is either banned by government authorities or not fully developed.” And it did so at American taxpayer expense and oppressed Iranians’ need for truth, not propaganda, about their rulers.—Sean Durns


Posted by ER at August 26, 2015 02:29 PM

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