Iran Brief publisherKennethR. Timmerman
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Kenneth R. Timmerman (b. 1953) left the United States in1975, after studying literature and creative writing with acclaimedAmerican novelist John Hawkes at Brown University, which awarded himan MA degree in 1976. For several years, he published a literaryquarterly called Paris Voices out of Sylvia Beach'sfamous Paris bookstore, Shakespeare & Company, teaching Englishand doing translations on the side.
He got his start as a journalist covering the Israeli-PLO war inBeirut in 1982, working in the region as a free-lance correspondencefor a variety of publications, until he returned to the United Statesto join the House Foreign Affairs Committee as a professional staffmember in 1993.
After covering hotspots in Beirut, Damascus, the West Bank, Egypt,and Israel for USA Today and as a Special correspondent for theAtlanta Journal-Constitution and doing French radio spots, in 1985Timmerman began working for a French monthly magazine, Defense& Armament, specializing in defense technology and the armstrade.
In 1985 and 1986, he traveled to the battlefronts of the Iran-Iraqwar for CBS News, and made several other trips to Iraq up through1989, reporting for Newsweek, Le Monde, L'Express, andothers.
His first book,Fanning the Flames: Guns. Greed, & Geopolitics in the GulfWar grew out of his work on the clandestine arms tradeto Iran and the not-so-hidden world of Iraqi arms merchants. Aftersyndication through the New York Times Syndicate in 1987 in Dutch andin French, the book appeared in a limited German-language editionwith Orell Fûsli in Zurich in 1987.
Fanning the Flames contained the first-ever account of theclandestine U.S.-Iran arms network that came to be known as theIran-contra affair. Timmerman published parts of this story inspecial investigations in Newsweek, a cover package in theFrench newsweekly L'Express, and the New York Times.That same year, an Italian organization for investigative reportersawarded him the Certosa di Padula "Joe Petrosino" Prize, forinvestigative reporting on the international gunpowder cartel whichappeared in the French weekly magazine L'Evenement du Jeudiand which led to the arrest of a mafia-inspired gun-runningnetwork by the Italian police.
In 1987 Timmerman began his own bi-weekly publication calledMEDNEWS (Middle East Defense News), on which The Iran Brief ispatterned. MEDNEWS broke stories about Iraq's missile and nucleardevelopment programs, tracked Soviet intelligence operations in Iran,and followed French, Soviet, British, North Korea, Chinese, and U.S.arms deals throughout the Middle East. It also pioneered in reportingon high-technology transfers. Fiveyears of MEDNEWS stories are currently available viaLexis-Nexis.
Timmerman's second book,La Grande Fauche ("Gorbachev's TechnologyWars") was commissioned by French publisher Les Editions Plon in1989, and exposed Soviet high-tech espionage rings operating inEurope and the United States. Excerpts from the originalFrench, or from the author's English-language translation,can be viewed on this website.
When Operation Desert Shield was launched in response to the Iraqiinvasion of Kuwait in August 1990, Timmerman took the extensiveknowledge he had gathered on French and Soviet arms sales to Iraq -which included the first-ever interviews by a Western correspondentwith the as-then unknown heads of Iraq's missile, chemical, andnuclear weapons programs - and wrote TheDeath Lobby: How the West Armed Iraq. First published byHoughton Mifflin in 1991, the book simultaneously appeared in Franceand was translated into French Danish, Dutch, Porguguese, andFarsi.
The Executive Chairman of the United Nations Special Commission(UNSCOM), Ambassador Rolf Ekeus, called The Death Lobby the"Bible" of UN arms inspectors, who took copies of the book with themduring their initial forays into Iraq to map out Iraq'sunconventional weapons programs.
In 1992, Timmerman researched a ground-breaking study published asa monograph by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles on thespread of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, whichpresented the first detailed accounts of Syria's vast chemicalweapons and missile programs, Libya's nuclear program, and Iranianweapons programs. Weapons of Mass Destruction: the Cases ofIran, Syria, and Libya is still cited by scholars andgovernment researchers as an authority.
In January 1993, Timmerman was approached byDemocratic Congressman Tom Lantos of California, to head up a smallinvestigative team at the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee onInternational Security, International Organizations, and HumanRights, to explore missile and nuclear proliferation. While on theHill, Timmerman produced a Staff Report published by the GovernmentPrinting Office in October 1993, IraqRebuilds its Military Industries. He also preparedreports on Chinese missile proliferation, Iranian WMD programs, andwas responsible for coining the term "rogue regimes," whichhas since become the term of art for referring to Iran, Iraq, Syria,Libya, and North Korea.
Timmerman left the Hill at the end of 1993, returning to work as ajournalist at Time Magazine, and later, at the American Spectator, towhich he contributes on a regular basis. He launched TheIran Brief in December 1994.
Starting in March 1995, the Spectator began publishing aseries of investigative articles on the U.S.-China relationship,that focused on technology transfer, Chinese payoffs to Clintonadministration officials, and Chinese infiltration of U.S.society.
Later that year, Timmerman launched theFoundation for Democracy in Iran, a non-profit group thatmonitored human rights abuses in Iran. Board members included Iraniannationals Nader Afshar and Ayatollah Mehdi Rouhani, AmericanEnterprise researcher Joshua Muravchik, and former national securityand State Department official, Peter Rodman.
FDI was funded by start-up grants from the National Endowment forDemocracy. The Foundation published an on-line newswire on eventsinside Iran, and worked extensively to promote a democraticalternative to the clerical regime in Tehran by sponsoring a seriesof informal and formal meetings of democratic opposition leaders.News of FDIactivities can be found on this website.
In 1997, Timmerman was recruited by the Reader'sDigest to do international investigations on security issues ofconcern to American and foreign readers. He helped break thesecret story of how Russia helped Iran build a 1300kilometer-range missile, and revealed the international links offormer Saudi financier Osama Bin Ladin.
Timmerman serves as a Contributing Editor for the Digest, whilecontinuing to write for the American Spectator, the Wall StreetJournal and other publications. He appears frequently on radio andtelevision as a commentator on national security policy.
His knowledge of the Middle East, and national security issues hasbeen sought out by Congress repeatedly since he left the HouseForeign Affairs Committee staff at the end of 1993. On Oct. 6, 1999he testified before his old Committee on the Clinton administration'sfailure to prevent Russia from selling missile technology to Iran. InJuly, he revealed Iran's latest Russian-assisted missile, the Kosar,in testimony before a House Science subcommittee. Earlier, hetestified before to the Congressionally-mandated CommissionTo Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States (theRumsfeld Commission) on how the U.S. intelligence community hassystematically underestimated the missile programs of third worldrogue states, such as Iran and Iraq.
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