Anyone can make grandiose claims, of course. And there are other Iranian expats—including Manucher Ghorbanifar, a shadowy figure from the Iran-contra scandal, and Reza Pahlavi, the eldest son of Iran’s last Shah—who have sought to position themselves as influential players in the debate over Iran. But Mr. Jafarzadeh seems to lead the field.
His finest hour—and one that he is happy to recount in exhaustive detail—came in 2002, when he claimed to have discovered evidence of a secret nuclear facility in Natanz, Iran. President Bush himself noted some three years later that the information had come to light “because a dissident group pointed it out to the world.”
According to a Newsweek report, White House sources later confirmed that this reference was to the NCRI. To have the President tip his hat towards an organization that his own administration defined as terrorist was a remarkable coup for Mr. Jafarzadeh.
Skeptics, however, have suggested that the much-vaunted intelligence had been available via U.S. agencies to many people on Capitol Hill, albeit in classified form, before Mr. Jafarzadeh “revealed” it.
They also regard the M.E.K.’s claims to be regularly unearthing fresh intelligence as an exaggeration, or worse. Referring to Mr. Jafarzadeh’s fondness for briefings that draw upon satellite imagery to support allegations about Iranian misdeeds, Professor Ervand Abrahamian of CUNY said: “I am very suspicious. The Mojahedin don’t have satellites.” (Mr. Abrahamian is one of the leading U.S. experts on the M.E.K., having written a book about the organization entitled The Iranian Mojahedin.)
Mr. Jafarzadeh, who now heads a consultancy business, has also been a foreign-affairs analyst for Fox News since 2003, and typically uses his platform there to insist that the current Iranian regime is incapable of reform and to caution against any conciliatory moves by the U.S.
Though he is a regular guest on Fox News television shows, his most recent contribution came on the Foxnews.com Web site eight days ago. Mr. Jafarzadeh authored an article that cast doubt on the wisdom of talks between Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, and his Iranian counterpart:
“For the mullahs in Iran, every inch that the U.S. concedes is interpreted as a sign of weakness that … invites more terrorism and sectarian violence,” Mr. Jafarzadeh wrote.
In at least one instance, associations with Mr. Jafarzadeh’s friends have proven problematic for D.C. power brokers. Three years ago, leading neoconservative Richard Perle found himself in hot
Several members of Congress have been clearer about their ties to the group, as has the Iran Policy Committee, a hawkish think tank whose leading members have in a number of cases previously served in Republican administrations, the U.S. military or the C.I.A.