Princeton faculty member and former Iranian official smirks at threats against Trump admin envoy


An Iranian Princeton scholar has sparked fury for grinning during an interview in which he discussed how a US diplomat’s wife could not sleep because she feared she would be assassinated in revenge for the assassination of an Iranian general.

Hussein Mousavian, 65, smiled during a recent interview on Iranian television as he spoke about the terror former US special envoy to Iran Brian Hook and his wife are said to fear following the January 2020 assassination of Qasem Solemani.

Mousavian said: “I went to America and an American told me that Brian Hook’s wife can’t sleep, she’s crying and shaking, she said to Brian ‘They’re going to kill you’ as Hook was a partner in the death of Haj Qassem [Soleimani]”They trembled so much,” Mousavian said.

He was referring to Iran’s vow of revenge after the Trump administration carried out drone strikes two years ago that killed Iranian extremist officer Qasem Soleimani.

Mousavian, the former chief negotiator of the Iranian nuclear committee, who now works as a Middle East security and nuclear policy specialist at Princeton University. There have been repeated calls for the Ivy League College to fire him, fueled by Mousavian’s recent interview.

Princeton University Middle East expert Hussein Mousavian, formerly an Iranian official, chuckled after saying in a recent interview that his country’s government had sent death threats to Brian Hooks, a former top Trump administration official, and his family, which made her tremble with fear and insomnia

Brian Hook, a former US special envoy to Iran and senior adviser to the US Secretary of State, has received targeted threats from the Iranian government since Soleimani's assassination in 2020

Brian Hook, a former US special envoy to Iran and senior adviser to the US Secretary of State, has received targeted threats from the Iranian government since Soleimani’s assassination in 2020

Mousavian’s comments came after he appeared in a documentary called 72 Hours released this month by a company with ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (ICRG). Soleimani was general of one of its divisions: the Quds Force, from 1998 until his assassination in 2020.

The Quds Force is primarily responsible for extraterritorial and clandestine military operations. In his later years, Soleimani, nicknamed the “Shadow General,” was considered by some analysts to be the right-hand man of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, as well as the second most powerful person in Iran after him.

He was assassinated in a targeted American drone strike at Baghdad International Airport in Iraq on January 3, 2020, on orders from US President Donald Trump.

The strike was strongly condemned by some, including the Iranian government. Hours after his funeral three days later, the Iranian military fired missiles at US military bases in Iraq; While no lives were lost in the second attack, the Pentagon reported that 110 American soldiers were wounded in the attacks.

Iran's Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani was killed in airstrikes launched by the Trump administration in 2020, removing what many called

Iran’s Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani was killed in airstrikes launched by the Trump administration in 2020, removing what many called “Iran’s second most powerful person” behind the Ayatollah

The wreckage of Solemani's car is pictured after the US-ordered drone attack on Baghdad Airport in January 2020

The wreckage of Solemani’s car is pictured after the US-ordered drone attack on Baghdad Airport in January 2020

Mousavian’s comments have sparked debate about his tenure at Princeton, which many anti-regime Iranian activists have criticized for its alleged role in human rights abuses in Iran.

Mousavian, who travels frequently between Iran and the United States, has been on the Princeton faculty since 2009 and has been an Iranian civil servant since 1990, when he was first named the country’s ambassador to Germany.

According to sources familiar with the matter, the US government has taken Mousavian’s knowledge of threats against Hook and his family from Iran seriously.

Critics say it shows how Tehran has managed to place influential figures in highly respected institutions, including universities and think tanks, that work hand-in-hand with the DC government

“It’s simply dangerous for any university to hire Mousavian given his direct celebrity death threats against Brian Hook and his involvement in the deaths of Iranian dissidents in the 1990s,” said Alireza Nader, a senior Iran expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank said the Free Beacon.

United Against a Nuclear Iran, an advocacy group critical of the Iranian regime, has pressured Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber to fire Mousavian “immediately from any connection or affiliation with Princeton.”

Mousavian “sounded pleased that American citizens and their families were concerned about death threats from supporters of the Iranian regime,” said former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I., Conn.) and former US Ambassador Mark Wallace, leaders of the UANI in a statement. They added that Mousavian’s involvement with Princeton was a “blot on the university’s reputation and credibility.”

“At a time when U.S. intelligence agencies believe the Islamic Republic is working to establish networks for terrorist attacks on the U.S. homeland, there should be no place for Ambassador Mousavian at Princeton or any other U.S. institution,” said Lieberman and Wallace.

“We condemn all threats against US officials, former US officials or US citizens,” added a State Department spokesman in response to Mousavian’s comments. has reached out to Princeton University for comment.

Mousavian later clarified in an email to The Washington Free Beacon that he was only speaking about the reality of the threat. He added that Soleimani’s assassination was “a clear violation of international law.”

“Over the past few decades, US and Iranian officials have threatened each other thousands of times,” Mousavian said. “Academics and analysts have always cited and analyzed the threatening statements. In an interview I mentioned that such threats harm families, which is a fact.

The reality is that the assassination of General Soleimani in Baghdad was in clear violation of international law, as he was invited on an official visit by the Iraqi Prime Minister to discuss countering terrorism and improving Iran-Saudi relations.

“I have consistently emphasized that the US and Iran should avoid threats and the use of force and resolve their dispute through diplomacy,” he concluded.

Mousavian attended Soleimani’s funeral two years ago and always maintained that the assassinated military leader was not a terrorist.

The Princeton faculty member is also embroiled in a recent lawsuit filed against the university by Xiyue Wang, a historian at the school who was kidnapped by Iranian officials and held captive at its notorious Evin Prison, which holds political prisoners in the country. He was stuck in Iran for three years until he was freed by the Trump administration in 2019.

Wang’s lawsuit alleges that Princeton let him “rotten” in Iran as he claims the university preferred to maintain its ties with the extremist regime of the Ayatollah. Wang added that Princeton took advice from “pro-regime activists and academics,” including Mousavian, to downplay his kidnapping.

“Everything Princeton has done and failed to do has focused on evading its institutional responsibilities, protecting its institutional reputation and maintaining its political ties with Iran,” the lawsuit states.

Mousavian is one of several former Iranian officials working at American universities.

Oberlin College also faced backlash from Iranian anti-regime activists for hiring Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, a religion professor and Nancy Schrom Dye Chair in Middle East and North African Studies. Mahallati was Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations in the late 1980s when Iran killed thousands of political protesters in just a few months in 1988.


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