The Nigerian company that paid Obama senior adviser David Plouffe has links to one of America's clearest national enemies — the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp in Iran, according to a new study from a conservatie group.
In 2010, Plouffe, Obama's former campaign manager, gave two speeches in Lagos, Nigeria to a branch of South African telecommunications firm MTN, which has been linked to Iran — and it's terrorist supporting Revolutionary Guard.
A draft report prepared by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which has done extensive work on Iran and Syria sanctions issues, shows that MTN owns 49 percent of Irancell, with the rest of the company owned by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC)-affiliated Iran Electronics Department Co. The company is co-owned by the Mostazafan Foundation and Iran Electronics Industries (IEI), the later of which is subject to U.S. and EU sanctions, while the group's chairman is tied to several other IRGC companies, the report adds.
The FDD report corroborated elsewhere online: Many of these relationships are documented across a host of Iranian corporate sites for the various entities. Published reports have accused Irancell of cracking down on internet access and other services for Iranian citizens during the 2009 election protests at the direction of the Iranian government.
Republicans contend that Plouffe could have easily determined MTN's ties to Iran with a simple Google search. A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
MTN's ties to Irancell, in addition to well publicized efforts to try to expand their business in Iran have raised questions as to why the company has avoided U.S. sanctions under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010.
"MTN Irancell is intertwined within a tangled web of Revolutionary Guard-affiliated companies, some of which have been sanctioned by the US or the EU or both for nuclear proliferation activities," said Mark Dubowitz, executive director of FDD, and an Iran sanctions expert. "Those Revolutionary Guard entities which have not yet been designated are outstanding candidates for blacklisting. Buyers and sellers beware: If you are looking to make a few extra dollars from Iran, you run the considerable risk of associating with bad actors who are aiding the Iranian regime in its pursuit of atomic weapons, the killing of American troops, support for terrorist attacks, and its abuse of the Iranian people."
A Republican Congressional foreign policy aide told BuzzFeed, several members of Congress have been looking into allegations against MTN for possible violation of CISADA and for affiliation with the IRGC.
"If you know they sell to Iran, and you know they're in the telecom sector, and you know the telecom sector is where human rights abuses take place...why are you taking their money before you know for sure what they're doing and why aren't they designated now that you know," the aide said.