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Banafsheh Zand is an Iranian political analyst and human rights activist.
Banafsheh Zand was born in Tehran to Iranian journalist parents. In 1979, following the Khomeinist uprising, she left Tehran and moved to Paris to attend L’IDHEC, the French Institute of Higher Cinematic Studies. In 1983 she came to the U.S. and continued studies at the University of Maryland, majoring in film and linguistics. In 1984 she moved to New York to pursue a career in the film industry.
Other than working as assistant director on several feature and documentary films. In 1997 Banafsheh began working on a documentary film about the gruesome assassinations of Iranian writers, intellectuals, activists and scholars who opposed the theocratic regime of the Mullahs in Iran at the hands of the secret police of the Mullahs, known as the ‘Chain Murders’. In July 1999 however, when the massive wave of student uprisings in Iran transpired and then squelched [by the Islamic regime], Banafsheh who had remained ever-political, committed herself to the full-time dissemination of information about the student leaders, labor and human rights activists, scholars, journalists and just the average Iranian suffering under the brutal dictatorship of the terrorism-financing Mullahs.
In 2001 Banafsheh’s father, Siamak Pourzand, a celebrated journalist was abducted and imprisoned by the secret police of the Islamic Republic in Tehran, during which he was brutally tortured.
Banafsheh claims to be an expert on Iranian history, Shiitism and Terrorism, despite no formal education or credentials relevant to this topic. She has consulted for various foreign affairs departments and ministries of various countries in Europe as well as the European Union; moreover she has advised members of the U.S. Congress and Senate as well as having spoken at these venues in both briefings.
As a consultant for many scholars at various think tanks in the U.S. Banafsheh has advised many of the leading international scholars and experts. Many right-wing media shows also gather information and seek her proclamations on Iran related matters.
Banafsheh was also the organizer of the Secular Islam Summit, the first ever conference that brought together liberal and former Muslim scholars and activists from Islamic countries, that was held in St. Petersburg, Florida in March 2007.
Following a four year stint as English editor for Iran Press News, a highly respected Iranian media source, Banafsheh launched Planet Iran, a detailed and comprehensive English Language website covering Iran-related news and all aspects of Iranian culture, history and society.
Banafsheh has been a regular contributor to several U.S. political publications such as The National Review, Defense & Foreign Affairs, New York Post, Pajamas Media among other, as well as European publications such as the Italian newspaper, Il Foglio and L’Occidentale. Other than local radio broadcasts throughout the U.S., Banafsheh has appeared as a regular weekly contributor on the John Batchelor radio show from 2003 on, Steve Malzberg and has appeared on Fox News, CNN, C-Span’s Washington Journal and Voice of America TV. Other than US based networks, she has also appeared on UK, Dutch, French and Italian news and political television broadcasts.
Banafsheh is a consultant for various US and European think tanks, international media, NGOs, etc. Banafsheh also works with and consults for all echelons of the Iranian factions (student, women and labor, LGBT, etc.) and on occasion has acted as their spokesperson in the international arena.
Her most recent project is producing the video Set the Red Line, which in the first five weeks of it being finalized and posted to YouTube, received 1.3 million views.