Iran Courting Native Americans in Canada: Leaked Document

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Saudi Arabia is greatly concerned about how the Iranian regime is establishing relationships with Native American tribes in Canada, according to a newly-leaked Saudi intelligence document.

The Islamist government of Turkey is likewise reaching out to Native American tribes inside the United States.

The secret document from Saudi Arabia's General Intelligence Agency, dated May 25, 2012, was sent to the Saudi Prime Minister and approved by the Saudi Crown Prince and Foreign Minister. Saudi intelligence appears to confirm that Iran is becoming friendly with Native Americans in Canada and has even mobilized them for pro-Iran, anti-American political activism.

The memo states that Saudi intelligence is monitoring "the attempts by the Iranian government to take advantage of the situation of the Indians of Canada, in order to build connections with them, to gain from their reservations and lands, to carry out various activities and investments."

Saudi intelligence reports that Native American leaders recently protested against American and Canadian foreign policy in front of the Iranian embassy in Ottawa. It states that the Indians expressed pro-Iran sentiments at the rally.

It also reports that two tribal leaders from Manitoba Province met with Iranian embassy officials and said they'd take a trip to Tehran. The Indian leaders said they want Iranian investment in their reservations and would like to send 200 children to Iran to study administration and development.

The intelligence memo notes that the Canadian media has reported on the matter and pointed out Iran's hypocrisy in embracing the Native American minority while oppressing its own minorities.

One of the leaders the Saudis apparently refer to is Terrance Nelson, the former chief of Manitoba's Roseau River. His visits to the Iranian embassy in Ottawa were reported in April 2012. Nelson said that he wanted Iran and OPEC to finance the construction of a refinery and other infrastructure on Indian reservations.

His letters to then-President Ahmadinejad referred to him as "His Excellency." Nelson organized a rally at the Iranian embassy with Sioux and Dakota Indian chiefs. The Iranian regime returned the favor by publicly condemning the Canadian treatment of its aboriginal population.

Nelson said he sees Iran as a partner because they "have always promoted the human rights issues of indigenous people in this country." He acknowledged that sanctions prevent direct Iranian investment but he hopes that Iran will persuade its allies to do so.

Nelson stated in October 2012 that he was going to Iran in November. He said that the Aboriginals have a common bond with Iranians because they are both allegedly persecuted by Canada economically. He and another former Manitoba chief appeared on Iranian propaganda television and claimed that Canada's Indian reservations are "concentration camps" to "exterminate" the aboriginal population.

His pro-Iran activism led to Imam Zafar Bangash inviting him to a speaking engagement at the Islamic Society of York Region near Toronto. He spoke to an audience of 1,000 who were reportedly "receptive" to his message about American genocide and alleged aggression towards Muslim countries. Nelson said, "We too have met the Crusaders."

Other Native American leaders condemned Nelson's actions.

Nelson is so extreme that he even once said, "There are two ways to deal with the white man. You either pick up a gun or you stand between him and his money." In 2011, he threatened to "launch actions" against oil pipelines in the U.S. and Canada. Of particular concern is the fact that Nelson's reservation is only 20 kilometers from the American border.

It is very possible that the Saudis responded to Iran's efforts with its own initiatives towards North American Indian tribes. The Saudis are known for throwing their money around to build influence and it would seem like a common-sense move to try to out-bid the Iranians, although the leaked memo does not indicate that has happened.

The Islamist government of Turkey has been similarly building relationships with U.S.-based Native American tribes since at least 2010. Marc J. Fink of Islamist-Watch wrote a blockbuster expose in 2012 about the activity. The Clarion Project's interview with Fink about the topic can be read here.


Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org