National Iranian American Council

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National Iranian American Council
Motto Community. Democracy. Universal Rights.
Founder(s) Trita Parsi
Established January 2002 (2002-01)
Mission Strengthening the voice of Iranian Americans and promoting greater understanding between the American and Iranian people
President Trita Parsi
Location Washington, D.C., United States
Address 1411 K St. NW, Suite 250, Washington, DC 20005

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization with the stated mission of "strengthening the voice of Iranian Americans and promoting greater understanding between the American and Iranian people."[1] Trita Parsi, 2010 recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order, is the organization's president.


NIAC was founded in 2002, by Trita Parsi, Babak Talebi, and Farzin Illich to promote Iranian-American civic participation.[2] At NIAC’s founding, Parsi explained the purpose of the organization, saying “Our community is educated, affluent, dynamic, and professionally successful. However, we have yet to harness our immense human potential into constructive engagement in American civil society.” [3]

NIAC Action[edit]

NIAC's sister 501(c)4 organization, NIAC Action, was formed in 2015 to support the nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran and to champion Iranian American priorities.[4] At that time, NIAC Action assumed responsibility for and expanded direct and grassroots lobbying work previously conducted by NIAC.[4] NIAC Action’s expressed advocacy goals are "to strengthen U.S. diplomacy with Iran to advance peace and human rights, promote greater openings between the American and the Iranian people, protect civil rights and opportunities for Iranian Americans at home, and support candidates who represent the Iranian American community's values."[5] Jamal Abdi currently serves as the organization's Executive Director.[5]

Since NIAC Action's formation, NIAC has refocused on "expert research and analysis, civic and policy education, and community building."[1]

Policy Conference[edit]

Since 2011, NIAC has held an annual Leadership Conference that "aims to expose its attendees to world-class leaders, and to teach Iranian Americans how to gain the political strength needed to effect real change on the issues."[6] The conference in 2015 included addresses from Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), as well as Representatives Donna Edwards (D-MD) and Dan Kildee (D-MI).[7]

Lobbying controversy and defamation lawsuit[edit]

In 2007, Arizona-based Iranian-American journalist Hassan Daioleslam began publicly asserting that NIAC was lobbying on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In response, Parsi sued him for defamation. As a result of the lawsuit, many internal documents were released, which former Washington Times national security correspondent Eli Lake stated "raise questions about whether the organization is using that influence to lobby for policies favorable to Iran in violation of federal law."[8]

In September 2012, U.S. Federal District Court Judge John D. Bates threw out the libel suit against Daioleslam on the grounds that "NIAC and Parsi had failed to show evidence of actual malice, either that Daioeslam acted with knowledge the allegations he made were false or with reckless disregard about their accuracy."[9] However, Judge Bates also noted that "nothing in this opinion should be construed as a finding that [Daioleslam’s] articles were true. [Daioleslam] did not move for summary judgement on that ground."[9]

On April 9, 2013, Judge Bates ordered NIAC to pay $183,480.09, plus interest, to cover a portion of Daioleslam's legal expenses.[10] On February 10, 2015, a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit "determined that NIAC had 'flouted multiple court orders' and improperly delayed its delivery of documents to Daioleslam during the discovery portion of the lawsuit and even withheld certain documents. During the trial, the NIAC provided inconsistent statements about its internal computer system and recordkeeping, and then used those later-disproved claims to drag out the discovery process for years."[11]


NIAC states it has over 5,300 donors. The organization’s funding comes from Iranian-American individuals and American foundations. It does not receive funding from the U.S. or Iranian governments.[12]


  1. ^ a b "About NIAC". Retrieved 22 July 2016. 
  2. ^ NIAC Staff. "Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 22 July 2016. 
  3. ^ NIAC Staff (1 May 2002). "National Iranian American Council Opens Its Doors". 
  4. ^ a b Jamal Abdi. "Announcing NIAC Action: A New Organization to Seal the Iran Deal and Advance Peace". Retrieved 22 July 2016. 
  5. ^ a b NIAC Action staff. "About NIAC Action". Retrieved 22 July 2016. 
  6. ^ NIAC. "NIAC Leadership Conference". Retrieved 22 July 2016. 
  7. ^ Alexander Kneib. "Lawmakers Address 2015 NIAC Leadership Conference". Retrieved 22 July 2016. 
  8. ^ Eli Lake (13 November 2009). "Iran advocacy group said to skirt lobby rules". The Washington Times. 
  9. ^ a b Josh Gerstein (13 September 2012). "Iranian-American group, leader lose libel case against writer". Politico. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  10. ^ "Sanctioning Iran’s American Allies: NIAC ordered to pay nearly $200K in legal fees". Washington Free Beacon. 22 April 2013. 
  11. ^ "America's most prominent group advocating engagement with Iran was hit with a rough court decision". Business Insider. 5 March 2015. 
  12. ^ NIAC Staff. "". Retrieved 22 July 2016.  External link in |title= (help)

External links[edit]