Hours before Iranian President Hassan Rohani addressed the United Nations General Assembly last week, the Israeli Embassy in Washington created a phony LinkedIn profile of the Iranian leader. In the profile, Rouhani purportedly described himself as an “expert public relations professional, leading international salesman and longtime advocate of nuclear proliferation.”
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LinkedIn is a social media network used primarily by business people and professionals. A link to the parody LinkedIn account was contained in a Twitter post from the embassy..
Among the so-called skills included in the fake Rohani profile were “Persuasion” and “Illusion,” as well as “International Sales,” “Deceptive Trade Practices,” “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and “Nuclear Proliferation.”
The profile highlights jobs held by Rohani during his career, including “Hassan Rohani served as National Security Advisor to Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani from 1989 to 1997. President Rafsanjani was a confidant of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini and a co-architect of the Islamic Republic.” The profile notes that Rohani was serving as National Security Adviser in 1994, at the time of the terrorist operation in Buenos Aires in which 85 Jews were killed. “Rafsanjani is currently sought by the Argentinian government for ordering the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires” the profile reads, mentioning the “allegation that senior Iranian officials planned the attack in an August 1993 meeting.”
The bogus LinkedIn profile of Rohani emphasizes the issue of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and his conduct since being elected: “Since my election as President of Iran in 2013, I developed and have executed an unprecedented PR campaign for the government of Iran. Through a series of statements, tweets, op-eds and smiles I have rebranded the human-rights-suppressing, Ayatollah-led regime as moderate and a source of hope among the international community.” The profile also states: “I served as chief nuclear negotiator of Iran from 1989 to 2005, where I successfully masked the creation of a uranium conversion project, software and hardware development for Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, and a heavy water reactor project in Arak, under the guise of a peaceful nuclear program.”
The profile includes a direct sales pitch: “If you’re looking for a persuasive communications expert and master salesman capable of making almost anything believable, I’m your man.”
The Daily Beast reported that Noam Katz, the Israeli embassy’s minister of public diplomacy, was behind the phony profile. “LinkedIn was our way to highlight Rouhani’s long history in Iranian politics and his true position as the leading PR face for the regime that the public is largely unaware of on a platform they’re familiar with,” Katz was quoted as saying.