Congress Investigates US Military for Feting Iranian Official Who Bragged About Efforts To Assassinate American Leaders

Hussein Mousavian gave keynote address at STRATCOM's Deterrence Symposium

Seyed Hossein Mousavian
Hussein Mousavian (Getty Images)
September 1, 2023

Congress is demanding answers from senior U.S. military leaders after one of the country’s premier war fighting outfits hosted a former Iranian official who came under fire last year for bragging about the hardline regime’s efforts to assassinate American leaders, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

The probe—spearheaded by Sen. Roger Wicker (R., Miss.) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and chair of the House Armed Services Committee—comes on the heels of a Free Beacon report on U.S. Strategic Command’s decision to host a keynote address by Hussein Mousavian, a former member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team who works as a Middle East security and nuclear policy specialist at Princeton University.

Mousavian was invited by top military brass to address STRATCOM’s 2023 Deterrence Symposium, a high-level powwow that gave the former Iranian official access to high-level Americans leaders.

Mousavian’s appearance at the military confab drew criticism from former U.S. officials and members of Congress, who raised concerns about American military members hobnobbing with a close ally of Iran’s hardline regime. Now, the matter is under investigation by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, which have oversight jurisdiction over STRATCOM and the Pentagon.

Wicker and Rogers are demanding to know "the names and positions of all officials responsible for approving the invitation to Mousavian," according to a letter sent Thursday to STRATCOM commander Gen. Anthony Cotton and obtained by the Free Beacon. Mousavian thanked Cotton for inviting him to the conference during his remarks at the gathering.

Congressional investigators also want to know if the U.S. military provided compensation to Mousavian, or paid for his travel, hotel, or other accommodations.

"Providing Mousavian with an officially sanctioned U.S. Government platform for spreading historical falsehoods and Iranian regime propaganda is profoundly ill-advised," Wicker and Rogers write. "The decision to invite Mousavian to address its Deterrence Symposium calls into question the judgement of any personnel involved in such a decision, and leads us to question whether the command is appropriately focused on meeting the rapidly growing strategic threats to the United States and its allies."

The lawmakers point out that Mousavian has "mocked U.S. officials under assassination threat from the Iranian regime." Those comments, made in a 2022 documentary produced by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, drew widespread condemnation and calls for Princeton to fire the former Iranian official.

"I went to America and an American told me that Brian Hook’s wife can’t sleep, she cries and trembles, she told Brian, ‘They’ll kill you,’ since Hook was a partner in the death of Haj Qassem [Soleimani], that’s how much they were trembling," Mousavian was quoted as saying.

"Mousavian smiled while referring to Iranian death threats against former special representative for Iran Brian Hook," the lawmakers write.

During his speech at the STRATCOM conference, Mousavian presented an "Iranian perspective" on the current threat landscape within the Middle East and accused America of committing unjustified acts of aggression towards Iran dating back nearly a century.

The Princeton professor also criticized former president Donald Trump for nixing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, claiming the Islamic Republic was fully complying with its restrictions.

"Iran complied completely [with the deal] with zero failure for three years, but the U.S. again broke the promise," Mousavian said. "Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear deal was really a disaster."

Trump "also had popular Iranian Revolutionary Guard General [Qassem] Soleimani assassinated," added Mousavian, who attended the late terrorist leader's funeral in Tehran.

Richard Goldberg, a former White House National Security Council member, warned the situation has now elicited "a catastrophic crisis of confidence in this command's judgment."

A STRATCOM spokesman defended the invitation to Mousavian when contacted earlier this week by the Free Beacon.

"We were aware of Mr. Mousavian’s previous position within the Iranian government and believe that, in the context of the Deterrence Symposium, we would have benefited from that insight into an opposing viewpoint," the spokesman said.

Republicans in Congress disagree.

"Mousavian helped lead the murderous Iranian regime’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons so it could threaten the United States and our allies with annihilation," Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), also a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told the Free Beacon on Tuesday. "Now he’s in semi-retirement at Princeton as a full-time propagandist for the IRGC. Inviting him to spread lies at a U.S. military seminar is insanity."