NIAC’s internal documents-Series two

Trita Parsi: 2001-2002

Director at American Iranian Council

Creation of NIAC

Discovery Documents: Part two


2000: Trita Parsi is hired by Hooshang Amirahmadi to work at American Iranian Council

He moves from Sweden to US in early 2001

Document: AIC board re TP

Written by Amirahmadi:

Quote from the original document:

November 24, 2009

To:          AIC Board of Directors and Advisory Council

From:    Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi

President, AIC

It is my great pleasure to welcome Trita Parsi to our team at AIC. You may recall earlier conversations about his possible employment with AIC, and I am proud to inform you that the wait is over. Trita has received his work permit and will fly in from Stockholm, Sweden on Monday, February 5.

Trita has also been very active in the Iranian-American community, mostly through the organization Iranians for International Cooperation (IIC), which he founded in 1997. IIC’s main mission has been to advocate improved US-Iran relations and mobilize the Iranian-American community into an influential political force.

With the title Director of Development, Trita will concentrate on fund raising and membership development, as well as being responsible for congressional liaisons and our congressional roundtables. As with our other staffers, Trita will live within walking distance of our office.

Please join me in welcoming Trita to our team at AIC!


While working for AIC and continuing his work as tha chairman of IIC (Iranians for international cooperation), Trita started the creation of his new lobby organization.

Document: Conference Call June 18

“Conference Call June 18, 2000

Quote from the original document:

Attendees:         Fereydoun Taslimi (Afiliation)

Brian Oliner (Children of Perisa)

Esmail Ghorbani (Omeed)

Trita Parsi (IIC)

Meeting convened 07:58 PM, June 18, 2001


  1. The issue of whether to lobby for an exemption for charitable NGOs or to lobby for the lifting of sanctions altogether was touched upon several times. Prior to the conference call, Mr. Parsi had submitted an email in which it was pointed out that the former strategy may prolong the sanctions policy in two different ways (June 17, 2001):
  • Proponents of sanctions may label the exemption for NGOs a great concession and argue that Iran deserves no further concessions until it reciprocates this “goodwill” gesture.
  • The exemption for NGOs may make the sanctions look smarter and give the impression that the sanctions, through the NGO exemption, only target the Iranian regime and not the people.

Furthermore, prior to the telephone conference, Sussan Tahmasebi had in an email dated June 18, 2001 argued for a “shooting small”, i.e. a lobbying effort aimed at getting an NGO exemption.

Mr. Parsi pointed out that focusing only on an NGO exemption might alienate allies within and outside of Capitol Hill, and that “shooting big” leaves us with the option of “shooting small” at a later stage if necessary.

Decision: Mr. Parsi agreed to do research and report back to the group. Although the majority tended to favor “shooting small”, the question was left open pending further research. [Is my impression correct?]

  1. All parties expressed concerns regarding the legality of 501 C3s getting involved in lobbying. Mr. Oliner pointed out that 501 C3 are not allowed to influence legislation, whether it be a complete lifting of sanctions or getting an exemption to NGOs through law. Mr. Parsi had in the email dated June 17, 2001 pointed out that one solution was to incorporate a new and legally and financially separate organization.

Sussan Tahmasebi had in an email dated June 18, 2001 mentioned the possibility of registration a 501 C4. She also pointed that 501 C3s can lobby granted that less than 10-20% of their resources are devoted to influencing legislation.

Decision: The question was left open and the general feeling was that expert advice should be sought.

Decision: Mr. Parsi will consult with Kenneth Katzman of the Congressional Research Service, Amb. Miller of Search for Common Ground and Congressional Staffers and report back to the group.


Preparing the creation of NIAC

First board meeting: November 5, 2001

Dcocument: Minutes, 20011105

Quote from the original document:

By: Babak Talebi

In Attendance:

Silke, Alex, Farzin, Babak, Gabe, Banafshe, Trita

Ø      4th leg – linkage with Iran?  Discussing yielded that as a strategy, it is wiser not to take on this issue at this point. In the long-term, consensus exist that focus shall shift towards Iran, but at this stage such a principle in the mission statement could be polarizing unless very cleverly formulated. Banafsheh and Trita will present proposal at next meeting.


Darius Baghai, a CA based lawyer comes back from Tehran, meets Roy Coffee, a Washington lobbyist, close to George Bush. Baghaei meets Bob Ney.

Trita Parsi, Baghai, Coffee and Diestefano work together to create a lobby group to assist NIAC

Public document: Roy Coffee’s letter to Front Burner:

Quotes from Coffee’s letter:

Back in the spring or summer of 2002, a good friend of mine from law school, Darius Baghai, had just returned from visiting relatives in Iran for the first time since his family left before the revolution. He spoke with me about how the economy of Iran was humming and that the US was missing out because we were the only country imposing sanctions on Iran since 1979. In addition, he said the Iranian people love everything about America, would like to normalize relations with America and that the Mullah’s were using the sanctions as a way to keep hammering us as the great Satan. He felt strongly that the Iranian people knew better. In any of President Bush’s comments on Iran, he always makes a point to speak directly to the Iranian people about his hopes that they will someday enjoy greater freedom – as he did tonight in the State of the Union. From this, I took Darius into visit with Mr. Ney. What was to be a 15 minute meeting became a 1 1/2 hour meeting as they spoke passionately about their hopes for the Iranian people. They also spoke in Farsi a great deal – I’m sure talking smack about me. From that meeting, Darius, Dave and I began to work with Trita Parsi, another Iranian-American to try to form a political action committee of Iranian-Americans to pursue a strategy of normalization of relations between the two countries. …  The 4 of us worked very hard for about 9 months to form this committee, but we found that most Iranians do not want to get involved in politics because of their experiences in Iran during and after the revolution.”


Parallel to the creation of NIAC Trita Parsi and Bob Ney, accompanied by 2 Washington lobbyists; plan to use NIAC in a lobby enterprise called NAIA

Parsi’s plan

Create a new organization (NAIA) to undertake NIAC’s lobby activities

NIAC will recruit and organize the Iranian-Americans

NAIA will use them to lobby the Congress

In this important document, Parsi explains the goals of his lobby and his strategy to materialize it:

•  The lobby’s goal is to remove sanctions and open up trade with Iran but:

•  This goal is a controversial issue among Iranians and therefore should be avoided in the beginning

•  The initial focus should be on less controversial issues like visa and discrimination

•  Working on these issues will  serve to establish credibility within the community

•  lobby should target business with positive images that have a strategic interest in trade with Iran

•  Give a human appearance to this lobby

Document: “Towards the creation of an Iranian-American lobby”

Quote from the original document:

Written by Parsi, 10.4.2002

To:                 Roy Coffee / Dave di Stefano

By:                  Trita Parsi,

Subject:     Towards the creation of an Iranian-American lobby

Date:            11/24/2009


This memo presents a preliminary strategy towards the creation of an Iranian-American lobby. It first explains the necessity of promoting a mature political culture within the Iranian-American community in order for successful grassroots lobbying to be able to take place. It highlights a few strategy issues that the proposed lobby should take into consideration: a strategic partnership with the National Iranian American Council (, initial focus on non-controversial issues such as visas and discrimination, the importance of a “human element” in the lobby campaigns, and targeting of positive-image business with a strategic interest in Iran for financial support. The memo proceeds to describe the potential competition the lobby may face. It also presents a list of potential Board members from the academic and business communities. The memo concludes with a discussion regarding the lobby’s staffing needs, with Trita Parsi as the proposed Executive Director of the organization.

Some quotes from the document:

“Although the mission of the proposed lobby should be to improve relations between the US and Iran and open up opportunities for trade, the initial targets should be less controversial issues such as visas and racial profiling/discrimination. Since the lobby will be spared from creating a grassroots network of its own, the initial focus on non-controversial issues will only serve to establish credibility within the community, and not massive support (which would necessitate the complete avoidance of issues such as US-Iran relations).”

“Despite its predominantly business oriented constituency, it is essential that the lobby creates a “human face” for its aims and goals. AIPAC successfully painted the opponents of the Iran Libya Sanctions Act as “greedy businessmen who had no scruples when it came to doing business with terrorist regimes.” The oil companies failed to characterize their campaign with “human concern for the well-being of innocent Iranians stuck with a dictatorial regime” or “support for the poor mid-Western family father who lost his job due the sanctions.”  The human element is essential both when it comes to attracting support among Iranian-Americans and when it comes to winning the debate and the votes on the Hill.”


Roy Coffee humanizes and reformulates Trita Parsi’s project

Document: NAIA sell document, 20021222

Written by Roy Coffee, 112.19.2002

Quote from the original document:

Mission Statement

The mission of the National Association of Iranian Americans (NAIA) is:

  • To promote the interests of the Iranian-American community by actively participating in the daily affairs of Congress and the Administration;
  • To strengthen the Iranian-American community by educating policy-makers and the general public about the achievements and contributions of Iranian-Americans;
  • To ensure that members of Congress and the Administration take the interests and concerns of the Iranian-American community into consideration in their day-to-day decision-making and,
  • To promote cultural, commercial, and educational ties between the Iranian-American community and their ancestral home by addressing existing barriers to such exchanges;

To this end, NAIA is, amongst other goals:

  • Encouraging members of Congress and the Administration to rectify the negative consequences of recent visa restrictions for Iranian-Americans and Iranian nationals,
  • Promoting investments in Iran’s IT-sector in order to put the youth in Iran in contact with the globalized world,
  • Working with the White House as it prepares an interim report on the consequences of the Iran Libya Sanctions Act due to Congress by December 2003 and,
  • Preparing the groundwork for potential changes in restrictions on commercial, cultural and educational exchanges between Iran and the United States.


Roy Coffee and Distefano teach lobby techniques to NIAC members

Document: NIAC newsletter

Quote from the original document:


NIAC is proud to present two of Washington’s most experienced lobbyists at the NIAC Power Dinner on October 30 in Washington DC.Roy Coffee, former Chief of Staff for Governor George W. Bush, and David DiStefano, former Chief of Staff for Congressman Bob Ney (the only Persian-speaking member of Congress), will discuss the tricks of the trade of lobbying and advise Iranian-Americans on how they can start making their voices heard. As lobbyists with several years of experience in Washington, Coffee and DiStefano are excellent guides for Iranian-Americans who want to start participating in American political life.


January 2003: Bob Ney helps NIAC’s fundraising

Document: NIAC newsletter



Quote from the original document:

Washington DC , January 15, 2002. NIAC will hold a fundraiser with Chairman Bob Ney (R-OH), the only Persian speaking Member of Congress, and Iranian-American author Afshin Molavi (Persian Pilgrimages) at the Washington City Club in Washington DC on January 29.

This is an exclusive event with limited seats available for a very private and frank discussion of the state and role of Iranian-Americans in America. Minimum donations are set at $1,000. The donations will go towards various NIAC projects.

For more information, please contact Shervin Pishevar, Co-Chair of Fundraising at 202 369 4673″


2002: Parsi seeking  sensitiveinformation from Roy Coffee and gives the address and phone number of Javad Zarif, the Iranian regime’s ambassador at United Nation

Document: Parsi’s email title: Question

Quote from the original document:

From: Trita Parsi

To: Roy Coffee

Sent: 12/24/02 12:44 AM

Subject: Question

Dear Roy:

Is there a way we can find out who drafted Bush’s statement on Iran this past


Below is the address to the Ambassador:

H. E. Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif

The Permanent Mission of the Islamic republic of Iran to the UN

622 Third Ave. New York, NY 10017

Tel: (212) 687-2020 / Fax: (212) 867-7086



February 2003: Bob Ney, Coffee and Distefano are hired by 2 London based felon to help the Iranian regime buy a VIP aircraft

•   For a quick review of this story, see:

•   Coffee’s letter:

•   Bob Ney accepted bribes from Al-zayat:

•   Roy Coffee was paid $220.000 by 2 London based dealers. DiStefano was paid about $20,000


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