Australia/Israel Review

Iran’s propaganda organisation in Australia 

Apr 27, 2021 | Ran Porat

From right to left: Al-Tajamu Australia operatives Jay Tharappel and Tim Anderson, Syria’s ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim, Al-Tajamu Secretary General in Lebanon Yihya Ghaddar, Al-Tajamu Australia head Hussein Dirani and an unidentified person during a visit to Lebanon in November 2019. (Source: Al-Tajamu website)
From right to left: Al-Tajamu Australia operatives Jay Tharappel and Tim Anderson, Syria’s ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim, Al-Tajamu Secretary General in Lebanon Yihya Ghaddar, Al-Tajamu Australia head Hussein Dirani and an unidentified person during a visit to Lebanon in November 2019. (Source: Al-Tajamu website)

One of Iran’s international propaganda organisations is called called the Al-Tajamu al-Islami Wa-Alarabi Li-daam Khiyar al-Muqawama, or Al-Tajamu for short (“Arab and Islamic Union in Support of the Resistance Option”). Al-Tajamu has ties to terrorist organisations across the Middle East, and what’s more is operating in Australia.

A report by Dr. Michael Barak, Senior Researcher at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) in Herzliya, Israel, explains that Al-Tajamu is “A pro-Iranian international platform for leveraging the axis of resistance against the USA, Israel and their allies. The pro-Iranian organisation based in Lebanon has close ties with the Hezbollah movement and Shi’ite militias in Iraq and Yemen as well as with other terrorist organisations such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The organisation has been able to cultivate a global network of religious and secular radical organisations and individuals who share a similar worldview and common interests, led by a struggle against imperialism and Zionism.”

This exposé, the first in a two-part series, reveals details about the leaders and activities of Al-Tajamu in Australia.


Al-Tajamu’s logos

Al-Tajamu Australia head Hussein Dirani 

The head of the Australian branch of Al-Tajamu is Sydney resident Haj Hussein Dirani. He also serves as Vice President of the Australian-Iranian Friendship Association (AIFA) and heads the Australian office of the Ahlul-Bait World Assembly – an Iranian-based international Shi’ite organisation dedicated to spreading Iranian regime founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s theological ideas.

Dirani uses every platform available to him to aggressively disseminate official propaganda messages dictated from Teheran. These include antisemitic claims, fervent anti-Israel attacks, conspiracy theories, rejection of Western society and values and praising Iran-affiliated terrorist organisations.

For example, in February, AIFA’s Facebook page hosted an antisemitic ‘analysis’, claiming the story told at the Jewish festival of Purim is propaganda from Israel and “global Zionism”, also alleging that the “descendants and survivors of the Jews liberated by Cyrus the Great from Babylon are modern-day Palestinians […] and the Ashkenazi Jews, of whom Benjamin Netanyahu is one, are in fact not Jews. They are fake and false, were treacherous, and their ancestors were forcibly converted to Judaism in the seventh century!”

AIFA’s Facebook page also posted a video with former British politician and conspiracy theory fan George Galloway claiming that the West created the Islamic State terrorist organisation.

As a political analyst for the official Iranian Mehr news agency, Dirani engages in antisemitic and hateful rhetoric. On Mehr he talks about “global Zionism” and “the Zionist entity that usurped the Arab and Islamic land of Palestine.” Dirani argued on Mehr that Washington is run by the “deep state” and that “The Great Satan remains America” and that President Joe Biden “chose ten people in his new administration who are extremist Zionists, their first and last loyalty [is] to the Zionist entity.”

Dirani claimed that Israel was behind the explosion at the Beirut Port in August 2020: “I can say that the Zionist entity carried out an aggressive, pre-emptive offensive operation against Lebanon without bearing responsibility for achieving its major and strategic objectives of preventing or dissuading the resistance from the inevitable response, destroying Lebanon’s vital nerve.”

On his Facebook feed, Dirani shared an article on March 31 by Egyptian extremist Naram Sargon promoting the conspiracy theory that the cargo ship Ever Given, which had blocked the Suez Canal in late March, was a “Suicide Ship” that deliberately got itself stuck as part of a mega US-EU evil plot to “assassinate” the canal and promote the use of an imaginary Israeli “Ben Gurion” Canal instead.

Coincidentally, the same article had been published two days earlier on an Australian Arabic language portal, Farah News – notorious for spreading antisemitism and conspiracy theories from Middle Eastern sources.

Expressing support for the Iranian-backed Houthi militia in Yemen, Dirani published on March 12 a Facebook post with an image displaying Houthi weapons (which are in fact Iranian). Under the image Dirani stated: “Photos showing Yemeni ballistic missiles and drones made with blessed Yemeni hands. Made in Yemen. Horror and terror reached Tel Aviv. As for the princes of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, they put on diapers.”


Anderson and the CCHS

Tim Anderson is Al-Tajamu Australia’s General Coordinator. A fervent anti-Israel activist, Anderson was fired from his role as a lecturer at the University of Sydney after superimposing a swastika over an Israeli flag during a lecture. He often seems to act as a mouthpiece for Teheran, and supports Hezbollah, and the Syrian and North Korean regimes.

Anderson is the director of The Centre for Counter Hegemonic Studies (CCHS), formed, its website says, out of “concern that many western academic bodies constrain, censor and marginalise counter-hegemonic or anti-imperial research and discussion, due to their close ties with government and corporate sponsors.”

This outfit is used by Anderson and his colleagues to spread anti-Israeli messages and Iranian propaganda (for example, by republishing posts from Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei).

Recently, Anderson repeatedly attacked Melbourne University academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was imprisoned in Iran for two years after she was falsely accused of espionage. Anderson has repeated the Iranian lie that Moore-Gilbert was an Israeli spy, claiming that she assisted in organising “repeated terrorist murders.” Similar accusations against Moore-Gilbert were published on the CCHS website.


Al-Tajamu events: praising terrorists 

Events and commemorative meetings are a major avenue for Al-Tajamu’s activities in Australia.

Every February for several years now, Al-Tajamu has held a celebration in Sydney for the anniversary of Khomeini’s 1979 revolution in Iran. In 2018, Iran’s Ambassador to Australia attended the event, along with pro-Hezbollah Australian preacher, Nami Farhat. The Iranian Ambassador again attended the 2020 event, which included praise for the arch-terrorist and commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Al-Quds force, Qassem Soleimani, killed by the US a month earlier.

In his speech at the 2021 event, Dirani described the sanctions on Teheran as “barbaric and evil aggression” and declared that Iran is attacking “the regimes of The White House and Tel Aviv” with “fire, metal and might.” The Lebanese-born former mayor of Marrickville, Sam Iskander, praised Soleimani, and called those who side with the US and Israel “shameful”. Anderson applauded Iran’s support for the “resistance” in Palestine and Lebanon against “the Zionists”, alleging that the US was behind Islamic State terrorism in Syria. After words by Assad fan Hanadi Assoud, the evening concluded with special video messages by Bassam Abu Sharif, a senior member of the terrorist organisation the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and from Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, attacking US policy on Iran.

Dirani was a key speaker in the “Anis – Palestine and the resistance” event at a Sydney memorial festival in honour of a Lebanese terrorist, Anis al-Naqqash, who died on Feb. 22 of COVID-19 in Syria. In his eulogy, Dirani applauded the teachings of Naqqash in favour of ‘resistance’ and the Palestinians. Anderson also participated.

In December 2020, AIFA organised a memorial for Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, chief scientist of Iran’s clandestine atomic weapons project, assassinated a few days earlier. The killing of Soleimani along with the head of Shi’ite proxy militias in Iraq, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was commemorated in another meeting last December, in which Dirani reportedly praised the “virtues of the martyrs and the great impact they left on the jihadist march of the [Islamic] nation.”

A first anniversary event commemorating the killing of Solemani and al-Muhandis was conducted in Jan. 2021 with similar participants. In his speech at this event, Dirani attacked “the evil Zionist entity and the devils of the Gulf.”

Anderson was the main speaker in “The Future of Palestine and the Resistance” symposium in December 2019, organised by the Palestine Workers Union. According to a report on the Al-Tajamu website, Anderson spoke of “Israeli arrogance, describing it as apartheid, and [saying] this policy will lead to the end of this regime. He also explained about the failure of the two-state solution due to the US support for the Zionist entity.” NSW MP Shaoquett Moselmane and local councillor Sam Iskander were reportedly among those in the audience.

Al-Tajamu’s activities in Australia consist in large part of promoting terrorist groups and spreading dangerous lies and conspiracy theories. In essence, they constitute blatant propagandising in Australian public life by a terror-sponsoring foreign country. They must be exposed for what they are.

More on this dangerous organisation will be highlighted in the second part of the series next month.

Dr. Ran Porat is an AIJAC Research Associate. He is also a Research Associate at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University, a Research Fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya and a Research Associate at the Future Directions International Research Institute, Western Australia.


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