The Alavi Foundation is a public not-for-profit organization based in the United States.
In 2017 U.S. Federal prosecutors sanctioned the Alavi Foundation for being "controlled by the Iranian Government." The foundation was also accused of providing university grants to help "fund pro-Tehran and anti-Israel professors."
The Alavi Foundation is the successor organization to the Pahlavi Foundation, a nonprofit group used by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to advance Iran's charitable interests in America. Most of the charity's income is from rent collected on the Piaget Building, a skyscraper on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The building was built in 1978 for the Shah, who was overthrown in 1979.
In November 2009, federal prosecutors in the United States seized its assets. The seized assets include bank accounts; Islamic centers consisting of schools and mosques in New York City, Maryland, California and Houston; more than 100 acres (0.40 km2) in Virginia; and the Piaget Building, a 36-story glass office tower in New York.
Without rent from the skyscraper, the Alavi Foundation would have almost no way to continue supporting the Islamic centers, which house schools and mosques. The most recent tax records show the foundation earned $4.5 million from rents in 2007.
Legal scholars said they know of only a few cases in U.S. history in which law enforcement authorities have seized a house of worship. Marc Stern, a religious-liberty expert with the American Jewish Congress, called such cases extremely rare. On April 18, 2014, the Piaget building was seized by authorities due to alleged links to the Iranian government, citing violation of American sanctions against Tehran.
The Alavi Foundation:
- Grants money to American universities including Columbia University and Rutgers University to fund centers for Persian and Middle Eastern studies.
- Encourages universities in North America to offer courses on Persian language, Iranian studies and the Islamic culture with a focus on Shi’ite studies;
- Supports Weekend Persian Schools throughout the United States that link Iranian-Americans with their Persian heritage;
- Supports Islamic centers that are established and used by local Muslim communities throughout the United States;
- Established a book distribution program for those unable to purchase these books on their own;
- Provides funds to support disaster relief projects;
- Provides funds to support Islamic and Persian arts;
- Provides funds supporting scholarly research projects in Iranian and Islamic/Shi’ite studies; and
- Has a student loan program.
- Satow, Julie (24 September 2013). "Seizing Iran's Slice of Fifth Avenue". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
- "Home." Alavi Foundation. Retrieved on July 5, 2016. "The Alavi Foundation 650 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2406 New York, New York 10019 "
- U.S. Can Seize Iran-Owned NYC Tower After Jury Sanction Ruling
- Feds win control over one of Manhattan’s hottest properties
- Rep calls on feds to investigate Iran’s ties to US universities
- "Foundation for the Establishment of Prince Alireza Pahlavi Fund for Ancient Iranian Studies". Retrieved October 26, 2012.
- Adam Goldman, Associated Press. "Feds to seize 4 mosques, tower linked to Iran", November 12, 2009 Archived November 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
-  Archived November 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- "Iran condemns US seizure of Alavi Foundation building". 18 April 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
- "Alavi Foundation Programs". Archived from the original on November 5, 2012. Retrieved October 26, 2012.
-  Archived June 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine