Ali Soufan: Former FBI Special Agent

On Jon Stewart's Daily Show

Former FBI special agent Ali Soufan examines Iran's possible use of non-state entities for making power plays in the Middle East. He is the author of "The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11".


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by UrmuFarzin on

Khamanei was born in Mashad. 


One quetion and some comments

by bahman1st on

Isn't Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of IR from The City of Khameneh near Tabriz?Isn't Mousavi from Khameh too? I would like to mention some historical facts to my Azari "Panturkist Hamvelayaty" when they complain that they have always been marginalized in Iran by the Persians, 1- The Azerbaijans both east and west are the wealthiest and industrialized Ostans of Iran2- Azaries are among the most educated and wealthiest people of Iran, Doctors, engineers etc..3- The Safavids Dynasty the very people that reunited Iran after the Arab invasions and called it "Iran" were Azari4- Nader shah that took over from the Safavids by his own admition was of Turkish decent (not Azari, there is a difference)5- The Ghajar dynasty was also of Turkish decent6- The Mashrooteh revolution was saved by the resistance of people of Tabriz.  remember Satar khan and Bagher khan.So in the past 500 years or so except for the Pahlavi era 50 years and Zand era 60 years Iran was ruled by Azari/Turkish dynasties. So what do these Panturkist people mean when they say Persian oppration




by UrmuFarzin on

I think Mohammad Ala and others need to understand the clear distinction between Patriotism and Nationalism. People like Mr. Ala clearly grew in an era of ardent nationalist rhetoric (something foreign to the Middle East, a French concept, and only adopted after the fall of the Ottoman Empire) almost to the degree that they are blinded by a romaticized idealistic view of Iran that is simply not reality. Iranian nationlists hark on days of the Shah. Well the Iranian revolution happened for a reason, the Shah times were a little better, but not ideal. 

Nationalism, just like Islamism, confines thinking to a particular set of false truths that one accepts without reason. There is nothing wrong with Patriotism, but if you develop a romantic affinity to the state, your reality becomes skewed. This idea of Iran first, all things second has in Mr. Ala's mind transcribed to mean that everyone should be Persian and speak the Persian language and all things not Iranian are inferior. Well, this is the 21st century and nationalist rhetoric has been on the decline. It's people like him that cling to this old ideology that is causing divisions among the Iranian people. His thought process is giving way to hatred and ideas of separatism. 


To m. Ala

by Aarash4545 on

Can't agree more..Iranians should be able to speak to one another. So your Tabrizi relatives should be addressed to in Azeri language by Farsee visitors/relatives.. What's worng with that?

And Pishehvari.. well to say the least, he gave us more freedom, democacy and progress in the span of 1 year than this damned regime over 33 years. Helas, it's not fashionable to talk the truth or JJ will block you out!!!!! 


JJ.. this is the second time...

by Aarash4545 on

you are deleting my blog. Are you afraid of the truth? Are somethings more sacred than others? Too hot to handle?

If so, then you are no different to other lumpins...  You should be ashamed of your double standard!



by UrmuFarzin on

That 40% figure comes from the Iranian Foreign Minister himself who said that 40% of Iranians speak Turkish.




Ali Soufan

by newyorker on

Idiotic. Firstly, the website should employ a fact-checker: Ali Soufan is Lebanese, not Iranian, so unless you want to start a "Lebanese of the Day" column, I suggest you remove this post. Secondly, who gives a ***t about what he said on the Daily Show? Apart from being egregiously wrong in his analysis of Iran, it just doesn't matter what Mr. Soufan thinks, and he probably knows it. He's plugging his book, which has nothing to do with Iran.


Hmm, he seems to be to certain about things he does not know?

by choghok on

The numbers 51%, 40% and so on, where are they from, what is the source? He talks about stuff that Jon Stewart does not mention anything about. He want to set the topics.

The fact that he thinks IRI sided with Armenia where in fact they did not choose side is also stupid.

This guy is trying to stir tension. To come out and talk about Persian Chauvinism here downright shows what game is about now, they are trying to start ethnic unrest in Iran.

Guive Mirfendereski

Nevermind the accent, listen to the content

by Guive Mirfendereski on

I saw the pre-recorded interview on JS this evening and must say that I was very underwhelmed by the writer. He seems to be ignorant of the very basic realities of Iran’s political geography – since when is Iran surrounded by Turkic neighbors? His estimation that Iran is 51% Persian and something like 40-something percent Turkic has no basis in reality -  as far as I can tell. He also ignores the fact that assimilation in Iran has played a huge role in tempering the otherwise inter-ethnic conflicts. What I found wanting is the diatribe about Iran’s support for the Armenia in the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict – what else did one expect Iran to do – side with Israeli and American ally in the Caspian region? Sure, Azerbaijan is Shia, but also cultivates the dream of one day ripping East and West Azerbaijan away from Iran. I did not hear JS say that he has read or even crack open this book – and I do not intend to do otherwise. If this level of analytical skill and insight is what the FBI has to offer it is just the same that the writer is a former FBI member. I hope for everyone’s sake, the intelligence services in this country employ people who do not have a personal ax to grind with Iran so that our decision-makers can have impartial and disinterested and sober analysis of the facts.


When you try to get your political insight

by JavoonDeerooz on

from John Stewart show, this is the bull s@@@ you get.


When you try to get your political insight

by JavoonDeerooz on

from John Stewart show, this is the bull s@@@ you get.

Mohammad Ala

Ajar Iran olmasa, benim janim olmasin (Cho Iran nabashad, tan-e

by Mohammad Ala on

Sorry to be late to this blog.  I listened to the video first and without reading the comments, I was going to say that his accent was NOT an Iranian accent or someone who was grown up in Iran.  Therefore, he should NOT be an Iranian of the Day.

With deep roots (at least five generations) in different parts of Iran including Azerbaijan, namely, Tabriz, I learned to speak Persian by going to elementary school(s) in Iran.  No one spoke Persian at home when I grew up and we still do not speak Persian at home even when we lived outside of Iran.  We speak Luri, Azeri, and Gilacki to name a few.  We also speak two international languages now that we have foreign educated among our family members. 

I can speak fluent Azeri and two other Turki dialects/languages spoken in Iran (Ghashgahee and Turki from Gonbad Kavoos).  When I called from Tehran to find a friend in Tabriz, when the operator answered she said: beyoroz, ha-rane esti-souz (befarmayed, koja ro me-khastid?).  There are many Azeri TV programs in Azerbaijan and the commentators analyze Terakto’s games in Azeri.

I had and have relatives in Tabriz who did or do not speak Persian.  They cannot communicate with other relatives in my family and one of us ends up being the translator.  This is not acceptable when Iranians cannot talk to each other.

When I taught a seminar at Tabriz University recently, I spoke in Persian and used English words when I could not find their equivalents right away.  Among my students were people from all over Iran.  Imagine teaching in Azeri in a classroom that you have students from different parts of Iran. 

At Teraktor games that I attended recently, when I spoke in Luri dialect, several Azeri’s referred to me as Safek, Eshak, and few other not so nice words.  Azeri’s should not complain that someone has called them Eshak (khar).

I am an Iranian who speaks Persian and is proud of his Azeri heritage.  I am willing to compare my Azeri’s roots and contributions to Iran's Azerbaijan against any other Azeri.  It is okay to speak about our differences and learn from each other.  As someone said in another thread we shall not forget what Pish-evari tried to do to Azerbaijan!!

Ajar Iran olmasa, benim janim olmasin (Cho Iran nabashad, tan-e man mabad).


Divide & Conquer propaGANDA machine has started! want our oil!

by Ferdowsi on

and land, the minerals, caspian and Persian Gulf and everything in between. The guy cannot even pronounce Azari and exagerates the azari population who are all iranians who happen to speak torki, making it sound as iran is falling. Never mentions that they are the most influential and rich people including Khamenei! 

Bunch of non-sense. Families speak torki and Persian as it is one language. They don't look at it as dividing line. It is enrichment of our culture.

On my recent trip to iran, i was introduced to this gentleman in bazaar who was reciting all kinds of intersting poetry from ferdowsi, hafez, etc. and wonderful stories. He was so passoinate that i thought to myself that now this is a real persian man who loves iran and the persian culure. Only to find out at the end that he was from Tabriz and had masters in electrical engineering and owned the whole pasage. Believe it or not, he even told couple of very funny torki jokes. He was confident on his identity that the jokes were only jokes, nothing personal.

Tork, Azari, Kord, Baluch, Gilaki, Khorasani, etc, is what being Iranian is all about and we are proud of it. WE ARE NO LEBANON WHO FIGHT ALONG ETHNIC AND RELIGION LINE! STUPID HAS NEVER EVEN BEEN IN IRAN AND TALKS ABOUT US. OPPORTUNIST!   GOM SHOW!

Oon Yaroo

When you can't make up your mind, they'll do it for you!

by Oon Yaroo on

When a nation (i.e., Iran) is so inept and incapable that it can't reconcile its inter- and intra-differences then they (i.e., the decision makers) decide its destiny!

Soosan Khanoom

His remarks are nothing but provocative lies.

by Soosan Khanoom on

His remarks are nothing but provocative lies. Everyone from the Iranian community should make a constructive comment on the daily show web page. I did my share. It will give the readers some perspective from the Iranians point of view especially for the educated viewers that this show has.

Don't be naive cause this kind of interviews are not happening for the sake of nothing. They are all calculated and planned.   

Nader Vanaki

اصلاً بین قوم تُرک و فارس مشکلی نیست

Nader Vanaki

در هر محله ای یک سوپر دریانی وجود داره که همه صاحباشون از یک شهر میان.  اگر اینقدر بین تُرک و فارس تنش بود، چه جوری در تمام ایران همه خریدشون رو از سوپر دریانی می کنن؟  کجا یک درگیری بین این دو قوم بوجود اومده که علی آقای اف.بی.آی. داره به اون اشاره می کنه؟  تنها چیزی که درست گفت طرفداری ایران از ارمنستان در جریان قره باغ بود اونهم اگه از سیّد علی بپرسی دلیلش چی بود؟ خودش هم نمیدونه از بَسکه اوضاع سیاست خارجی خرتوخره.


Just because someone's name is Ali that doesn't make them

by Disenchanted on


      expert on Iran! As much as being Yoshimoto dosn't make you an expert in Germany! :-) Oh, Wait....!


Mash Ghasem

Did he say "Al Ahvaz" region @ 2:12?

by Mash Ghasem on

He probably won't be able to properly pronounce Khuzestan. That by itself should be a big clue where he's coming from.


Ali Soufan is not an Iran Expert

by Faramarz on

And no one should be alarmed by his comments.

He was an FBI agent who conducted interrogation of al-Qaeda detainees in the days after 9/11 using standard FBI techniques. When later on the harsher methods were employed like forcing detainees to stand for long hours or music blasting all night, Soufan blew the whistle and FBI wrote memos objecting to what was taking place.

During his testimonies to the Congress, he rejected the idea that water-boarding or other harsh measures produced results that could not have been achieved by normal FBI techniques.

He is not an Iran expert and was trying to promote his book about 9/11 when Jon Stewart completely took him in a different direction and asked his opinions about the situation in Iran.

He is as qualified to talk about the Iranian situation as some Iranians who regularly comment on this site!

Jeesh Daram


by Jeesh Daram on

This interview helped me to make sure not to buy his book even when it goes down to fifty cents by next Christmas. But most importantly, listening to his lopsided analogy made me understand why he is called "FORMER" FBI agent. Incompetency

هر مرغی که انجیر میخوره نوکش کج نیست. این مردک هم فکر نمیکنم اصلا ایران را دیده باشد


Arthimis, agreed with your analysis completely

by Bavafa on

well said.

'Hambastegi' is the main key to victory 


Maryam Hojjat

Arthimis, Great explanation of facts

by Maryam Hojjat on

happening in our world. 


This Ali Soufan dude is

by Arthimis on

This Ali Soufan dude is either on some serious drugs himself or is sheer ignorant and opportunist who is taking advantage of his FBI Bullshit experience to express his inferiority complex toward Persians in a typical bitter , envious and jealous Arab fashion and make money on selling his stupid book here and further misinform & confuse his American audience who are naturally uneducated and uninformed about the entire world , let alone that specific region ... 

The Simplest Explanation of that Region & in our own case Iran is one thing and one thing alone!!!

That is $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ X infinity of OIL & GAS resources & money!!!

After the discovery of the Oil & Gas in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia , All the other Arab (Persian) Gulf Countries & Iraq (especially after Saddam) have been the "Tools" of  the Western Powers lead by The United States & The U.K. (+ France , Germany and other European Allies)

Soviet Union only had "tools" in Syria, Egypt & Afghanistan (and a fraction in Iraq...) who had only had "Strategic" locations among all the other "tools" of Western Powers in the region. Even Iran was a Western ally...

After the Islamic Revolution & Fall Of USSR, Iran was shifting it's "Toolness" toward Russia & China to be protected against the Direct Western invasion .

Bottom line is that The Western Powers OWN all the wealthiest countries and Natural resources in the RICHEST region in the world through their little puppets and slave dictators and governments. To the extend that they actually attacked IRAQ & Afghanistan by direct Military intervention!!!

Meanwhile , Bitter Russia and it's old communist partner in crime, The New Global Economical Giant, China have decided to take their fair share in the entire region as well, Now they are Powerful enough to stand together aganist the Western Powers!!!  

Russia & China OWN IRAN & SYRIA and these two little terrorist Governments (I.R. & Asad's) would not be able to survive more than a month (even together) without 100% DIRECT support & protection of These two other rising Evil Super Powers, Russia & China!!! (as we saw recently in their Vetos at the U.N. against defenseless Syrian people getting killed every day...)

The Western Powers on one side and RUSSIA & CHINA on the other side are ruling the entire world and in specific this RICHEST REGION of Middle East and ALL IT'S WEALTH & RESOURCES!

This Islamic Republic Regime (the occupiers of Iran) along all the other Puppets and slaves in the region along with their ethnicities, religions & so called political regimes and views are just an "EXCUSE" for Western Super Powers on one side & Russia & China on the other side to further exploit and milk the entire region and people through their 100% further FALSE information and deceiving every one !!



This guy is not an Iranian he is Lebanese!

by aliash on

For a person who is supposed to be informed of the Iranian issues he is really clueless.  Based on his accent and his level of knowledge of Iran, Iranians, and the Persian/Azari relations it is clear that he is not an Iranian.  Plus the you could see the wikipedia page on him linked below. 



Is his accent Iranian?

by darius on

Can anyone help me with the acccent.His accent sounds arab and not Iranian?

Is that me that hear that accent ?


Anonymous Observer

It's all IR's fault

by Anonymous Observer on

for creating a Shia supremacist clusterf**k that has alienated vast portions of Iranians, including sunni Baluchis, Sunni Arabs and Sunni Kurds.  Plus, Shia culture itself is inherently Persian in nature, and that is an ever present in-your-face fact that has not gone unnoticed by Iranian minorities.

Moreover, the IR by its warmongering, and by making the Palestinian issue its main cause and the resulting threats against Israel for the past 33 years, has isolated Iran and has allowed countries like Turkey and saudi Arabia to rise to prominent positions in the region.  Both these nations aid separatist movements in Iran.  

Lastly, and again, because of its warmongering, the IR is preoccupied about being attacked by its own self created enemies, and does not have the resources to devote to countering separatist incitements within the country. 

So, just like every other ill that has befallen the Iranian people for the past 33 years, this is yet another IR "dasteh gol" as we say in Persian.

But, we can forget, ignore and whitewash all of the above and just blame the Western media bias against the innocent IR and chalk it all up to being another Zionist conspiracy!  

Soosan Khanoom

Thanks JJ this really needs our attentions

by Soosan Khanoom on

Please read my earlier blog regarding this interview 

How many times I've told you to cut back on the Turk jokes?