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

An Iranian Princeton scholar has sparked fury for smirking during an interview where he discussed how a US diplomat’s wife was unable to sleep over fears she’d be murdered in revenge for the assassination of an Iranian general.  

Hussein Mousavian, 65, gave a smile during a recent interview on Iranian TV while discussing the terror former US special envoy for Iran Brian Hook and his spouse are said to fear in the wake of 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 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 said.

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

Mousavian, the former senior negotiator of Iran’s 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, with Mousavian’s latest interview already stoking those further.    

Princeton University’s Middle East expert, Hussein Mousavian, formerly an Iranian official, smirked after saying in a recent interview that his country’s government sent death threats to Brian Hooks, a former top Trump administration official, and his family, making them tremble with fear and sleepless

Brian Hook, former U.S. Special Representative for Iran and Senior Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State, has received targeted threats from the Iran government since Soleimani's assassination in 2020

Brian Hook, former U.S. Special Representative for Iran and Senior Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State, has received targeted threats from the Iran government since Soleimani’s assassination in 2020

Mousavian’s comments came after he appeared in a documentary, titled 72 hours, that was released this month by a company with ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (ICRG). Soleimani was the 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 the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, as well as the second-most powerful person in Iran behind him.

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

The strike was strongly condemned by some, including the Iranian government. Hours after his burial three days later, the Iranian military launched missiles against U.S. military bases in Iraq; while no lives were lost in the second attack, the Pentagon reported that 110 American troops were wounded in the strikes. 

Iranian 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

Iranian 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 strike at Baghdad Airport in January 2020

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

Mousavian’s comments have stirred a debate on his employment at Princeton, which many Iranians activists against the regime have criticized due to his alleged role in human rights abuses within Iran. 

Mousavian, who frequently travels back and forth between Iran and the U.S., has been part of Princeton’s faculty since 2009 and has served as an Iranian official since 1990, when he was first appointed as the country’s ambassador to Germany.

Mousavian’s knowledge regarding threats made towards Hook and his family from Iran has been taken seriously by the U.S. government, according to sources familiar with the matter. 

Critics say it shows how Tehran has been able to place influential figures  in highly-esteemed institutions, including universities and think tanks that work hand-in-hand with the government in D.C.

‘It’s simply dangerous for any university to employ Mousavian, as he has directly celebrated death threats against Brian Hook and has been implicated in the death of Iranian dissidents in the 1990s,’ Alireza Nader, a veteran Iran expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think-tank, told 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 ‘from any association or affiliation with Princeton without delay.’ 

Mousavian ‘sounded gleeful over the fact that American citizens and their families were concerned by death threats received from supporters of the Iranian regime,’ former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I., Conn.) and former U.S. ambassador Mark Wallace, UANI’s leaders, said in a statement. They added that Mousavian’s involvement at Princeton is a ‘stain on the university’s reputation and credibility.’

‘At a time in which the U.S. intelligence community assesses that the Islamic Republic is working to develop networks for terrorist attacks on the U.S. homeland, there should be no room at Princeton or any other U.S. institution for Ambassador Mousavian,’ Lieberman and Wallace said. 

‘We condemn any threats against U.S. officials, former U.S. officials, or U.S. citizens,’ a State Department spokesman added in response to Mousavian’s comments.

DailyMail.com has contacted Princeton University for comment.

Mousavian later clarified in an email to The Washington Free Beacon, that he was only talking about the realities of the threat. He added that Soleimani’s assassination ‘was a clear violation of international laws.’

‘During past decades, the U.S. and Iranian official threatened each other thousands of times,’ Mousavian said. ‘Academics and analysts have always quoted the threat statements and analyzed. In an interview, I mentioned that such threats, cause harms to families which is a fact. 

The reality is that the assassination of General Soleimani in Baghdad was a clear violation of international laws since he was in an official visit invited by Iraqi prime minister to discuss fight on terror and improvement of Iran-Saudi relations.

‘I always have reiterated that the U.S. and Iran should avoid threatening and the use of force and resolve their dispute through diplomacy,’ he concluded.

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

The Princeton faculty member is also involved 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 in its infamous Evin prison, where political prisoners inside the country are held. He was stuck in Iran for three years until he was liberated by the Trump administration in 2019. 

Wang’s lawsuit alleges that Princeton left him to ‘rot’ in Iran as he claims that the university preferred to maintain its relationship with the Ayatollah’s extremist regime. Wang added that Princeton took the advice of ‘pro-regime activists and academics,’ including Mousavian, in downplaying his kidnapping. 

‘Everything Princeton did and abstained from doing was centered around absolving its institutional responsibility, protecting its institutional reputation, and maintaining its political relations with Iran,’ the lawsuit states.

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

Oberlin College has also faced backlash from Iran’s 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 U.N. in the late 1980s, when Iran killed thousands of political protesters over just a couple of months in 1988.

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