SPND adores the Ava Institute
Do you like pictures of spaceships and Ayatollah Khamenei? Do you enjoy fan fiction about SPND? And do you really hate changing your phone number?
If you answered yes to all those questions, have we got a sweet find for you!
Redline has just discovered an amazing new Iranian publication, the Ayandeh (آینده) magazine. It's the in-house journal of a new, Tehran-based futurist think-tank, the Ava Institute (مؤسسه آینده نگاری و ایده پروری آوا or موسسه آوا).
Ayandeh magazine is a cracking read, with articles on cutting-edge technology, musings on religion and philosophy, and short stories designed to provoke insights about what lies ahead for humankind. The graphic design is good too: the magazine is full of inspirational images of renowned thinkers and thought-leaders like Albert Einstein, Steven Hawking, and Tom Cruise in Minority Report.
There's just one thing...
We're pretty sure that the Ava Institute is a front for SPND, the shadowy defence research organization that employs more than a few personalities from Iran's nuclear weapons programme. And that Ayandeh magazine is basically an outlet for SPND's wannabe creative writers and unfortunate graduates from the humanities.
Here's how we got to working that out.
Ava's connections to SPND
Unsurprisingly, the Ava Institute doesn't flaunt its connection to SPND - but there are enough oblique references to SPND on the Ava Institute website and in back issues of Ayandeh magazine to pique our interest - in particular, this rather fetching piece of fan fiction about SPND combatting infiltration into Iran by American and British secret agents.
When we read that story, our working hypothesis was that the only people who would write fan fiction about SPND (besides Redline of course) would be SPND. But the Ava Institute is remarkably shy about revealing just who its owners are. So we went digging through Iranian business records in order to work that out.
Ava is registered at a building in downtown Tehran with the zip code 1585636473 (۱۵۸۵۶۳۶۴۷۳). As you can see yourself in various research publications, that is the very same zip code that was formerly used by the Stem Cell Technology Research Centre (STRC or شرکت فناوری بن یاخته), an SPND front organization which we've written about in a previous post.
Ava hasn't even bothered to change the phone number (21-88347781) that used to belong to the STRC's director, Dr Masoud Soleimani (دکتر مسعود سلیمانی), who was held in custody in the US for a year on charges of export control violations. Here's that phone number on Ava's website:
We'd hazard to guess that the Ava Institute/former STRC premises (Karim Khan St., Sanai St., Third Alley, no. 7., first floor) belong to SPND. It's a part of town that SPND likes - Pakravesh Tazrigh, another SPND front company that we've previously written about, has its office pretty much next door.
Perhaps because SPND are their landlords, the Ava Institute can't help but say glowing things about the organization. In another article on the Ava website, an anonymous Ava contributor describes SPND as "one of the pioneers of creativity, innovation and technology in the fields of science and technology at the national level", and recommends that SPND be given "national-level responsibility for development of integrated courses on science and the humanities." The vibe coming out of Ava is SPND fanboying at an unparalleled level. And you know that means something coming from us.
It also seems that Ava has taken over some of SPND's less nukey research work at the intersection between technology and Islamic doctrine and philosophy. We have a suspicion that SPND's Department of Philosophy and Fundamental Sciences (اندیشکده فلسفه و علوم بنیادین) is now part of the Ava Institute, probably alongside the old SPND Department of Quran, Hadith and Science and Technology (اندیشکده قرآن حدیث علم و فناوری), which pops up in one of the issues of Ayandeh magazine. Just look at the logo for the latter, which is clearly modelled on SPND's own enclosed pen emblem:
There are lot of people who have worked for Ava or Ayandeh. Each of these people is either a witting participant in SPND's work - or is unaware that their real employer is actually one of the most malign parts of Iran's Ministry of Defence.
We'll keep up our subscription to Ayandeh magazine to see what else SPND might have underway on the fringes of science and philosophy. In the meantime, perhaps the Ava Institute might want to change their phone number?