US media is reporting on what is described as increasing Iranian “soft power” in the US. According to an article in The Dispatch, an Islamic education center in Houston could be part of a more extensive network:
August 9, 2022 An unusual news story emanated from Houston, Texas, late last month. The Islamic Education Center of Houston (IEC) posted a video on YouTube of children singing a Shiite religious song, with pledges of allegiance to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. A comparison of the background in the video to publicly available images of the IEC show a striking resemblance, leading to the conclusion that the video was likely filmed on-site. Following the backlash to the video, the IEC made it private on YouTube. Some saw this as an innocent song with a religious message, while others saw it as a political song in support of the Islamic Revolution of Iran and the supreme leader, which signifies Iranian soft-power influences in the United States. Even those skeptical that the song has sinister meaning and see it as a purely religious performance cannot ignore the Iranian influence brooding beneath the surface. The IEC is a Shiite community center which includes a mosque, organizes community programming, and runs a K‑12 private school (Al-Hadi School), as well as a Sunday school. To support the local community, it operates a free health clinic, has a COVID-19 financial assistance program, offers scholarships for higher education, promotes interfaith dialogue, and more. No less importantly, the IEC clearly supports a pro-Iranian regime ideology and may be part of a larger network.
Read the rest here.
The report goes on to detail some of the links between the IEC and Iranian influence organizations covered by the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR):
For example, on June 5, 2020, the IEC took part in an event memorializing Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Revolution, hosted by the AhlulBayt Islamic Mission, a British organization that has been endorsed by members of the Iranian regime. The event was held in cooperation with “Light of Guidance,” an organization that took part in the 2020 “International Jerusalem Day” conference organized by the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), a London-based organization with highly questionable ties to Hezbollah, a U.S. and U.K.-designated terrorist organization. The speakers at the event included Marzieh Hashemi, an American-born Press TV journalist who was linked to an Iranian espionage operation, and Usama Abdulghani, a cleric who promotes conspiracy theories, such as the claim that United States and Israel created ISIS, and supports calls by Iran and Hezbollah to destroy Israel and the Jews. The IEC held multiple events with Abdulghani, frequently in honor of the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. Over the years, it has also hosted multiple events in memory of Khomeini and featured Ayatollah Khamenei in its publications.
GIOR has extensively covered the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) and Press TV.
Last month, GIOR reported that US Republicans were probing what they called “pro-Iran propaganda” on US college campuses.