'Bonyads': Iran's Underground Economy Its Greatest Strength Against Sanctions

Iran test fired a new stealth weapon system over the New Year’s holiday. Simultaneously, boasting to the world, Iran announced a breakthrough development — its first nuclear fuel rod. Their rogue aggressiveness has many world leaders concerned. With U.S. elections soon to come, Iran must be heatedly debated.

GOP frontrunner Ron Paul believes sanctions against Iran would be an act of war. Right, wrong, or indifferent, sanctions are not the way to deal with Iran. They will do very little to cripple the Ali Khamenei state. Iran has a very secretive economic program that few Westerners understand–the Bonyads. Virtually untouchable from international sanctions, Iranian Bonyads make up approximately 30% of Iran’s GDP.

Comprising of well over 120 corrupt semi-state tax exempt monetary foundations, Bonyads have been in existence since Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s power. Originally used as a system of royal foundations for patronage, economic control, and to “keep the Shah in power” today’s Bonyads assist in fueling world terror, enhanced military might, and promotion of propaganda and “comfort for the oppressed.” Bonyads are more than complicated– they are complex and deceptive, even among those operating within the International Monetary Fund.

Enforcement of Iran’s Bonyads is both strategic and tactical. Not only does the Iranian Supreme Leader control the Bonyads; allies founded in Venezuela and even Argentina and Brazil have been known to implement and adhere to Iranian Bonyad ventures. In Venezuela alone, there are at least 10 manufacturing plants whose shareholding distribution is 49% Iranian businesses connected with Bonyads, leaving 51% within the Venezuelan state.

Tactically, Bonyads are often interrelated to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC). Operatives from the IRGC along with members founded in Al Quds and Hezbollah go undercover portraying themselves as employees or officials of trading companies, banks, cultural centers or as representatives of the Foundation of the Oppressed and Dispossessed (Bonyad-e- Mostazafan), or the Martyrs Foundation.

How serious is Venezuela’s Bonyad approach? Observe the executive board members within their Banco Internacional de Desarrollo— Rahim Faramarzi, Kourosh Parvizian, Reza Raei, Parvin Tavallaeizadeh, Samad Vafaee, Mohsen Bolhasani, Ssan Shokrian. Of note, all Directors are Iranian. Their backgrounds are presumed to be high profile businessmen but some are known to have either previously or currently operate directly for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp.

If the United States intends on imposing sanctions against Iran, they will also need to impose such sanctions against Venezuela along with a handful of other nation states and or privately owned global banking industries. Needless to say, this won’t happen nor will such a move be successful considering how the Bonyad systems work.

Bonyads are funded actively and passively. The Islamic alms giving known as Zakat often serves as a Bonyad contributor. The mysterious Islamic Hawala system has been known to funnel money into established Bonyads as well. Unfortunately, it took the United States and our western allies’ years to learn about Zakat and Hawala systems. Hopefully, we have become astute in learning about the Bonyads too. With the three financial systems in play, sanctions against Iran will serve little purpose.

Kerry Patton, a combat service disabled veteran, is a senior analyst for WIKISTRAT. He has worked in South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, focusing on intelligence and security and interviewing current and former terrorists, including members of the Taliban. He is the author of Sociocultural Intelligence: The New Discipline of Intelligence Studies and the children’s book American Patriotism. You can follow him on Facebook.


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