Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept, April 23 2020:… Trump’s amplification of the post was bad enough on its own: Alavi is a supporter of a militant Iranian cult called the Mojahedin-e-Khalq, known as the MEK, an organization that was designated for decades as a terrorist organization and is widely hated inside Iran. What makes it even worse, however, is that Heshmat Alavi does not exist. As The Intercept reported last June, Alavi is a composite identity run by a team of MEK members based mainly at the group’s compound in Albania, according to defectors who were involved with managing the account and other sources. Donald Trump MEK Terrorists And The Troll Factory In Albania
Donald Trump MEK Terrorists And The Troll Factory In Albania
TRUMP RETWEETED PRAISE FROM AN ANTI-IRAN HARD-LINER WHO DOESN’T EXIST
ON WEDNESDAY MORNING, just a few hours after once again threatening to go to war with Iran, President Donald Trump shared a tweet from an account from someone by the name of Heshmat Alavi. Like many of the tweets the president circulates, Alavi was praising Trump, this time for his hard-line stance against the Islamic Republic.
Trump’s amplification of the post was bad enough on its own: Alavi is a supporter of a militant Iranian cult called the Mojahedin-e-Khalq, known as the MEK, an organization that was designated for decades as a terrorist organization and is widely hated inside Iran. What makes it even worse, however, is that Heshmat Alavi does not exist.
As The Intercept reported last June, Alavi is a composite identity run by a team of MEK members based mainly at the group’s compound in Albania, according to defectors who were involved with managing the account and other sources.
“Heshmat Alavi is a persona run by a team of people from the political wing of the MEK,” a former MEK member named Hassan Heyrani, who helped manage the Alavi persona in Albania, told The Intercept in 2019. “They write whatever they are directed by their commanders and use this name to place articles in the press. This is not and has never been a real person.”
In a blog post published after The Intercept story, the Alavi account admitted for the first time that there was no real Heshmat Alavi, claiming instead to be using a pseudonym. “No, I will never reveal my real identity or photograph,” the account wrote. “No activist in his/her right mind would do so. That would place all of my family, friends and myself, both inside & outside of Iran, in complete danger.”
While the Alavi account has never declared itself a member of the MEK, the content produced under the name frequently toed a pro-MEK line. In the same post published after The Intercept story, however, the account explicitly stated its support of the group: “Why do I support the MEK? 1) They have an organization. 2) They have an agenda. 3) They are serious and dedicated.”
Under Alavi’s name, a steady stream of blog posts and tweets have been produced over the years, always advocating harsh U.S. policies toward Iran and occasionally sliding in messages of support for the MEK and its leadership. And it’s not just social media activity: Articles under Alavi’s name were published in an array of mostly right-leaning news outlets in the U.S. At least one of these articles, published under Alavi’s name in Forbes, was cited in the past by the Trump administration to the press to justify its aggressive Iran policy.
Following The Intercept’s 2019 expose, publications like Forbes, the Daily Caller, and The Diplomat that had published articles by Alavi either removed or updated them to reflect his nonexistence as a person.
WHILE NEWS OUTLETS with editorial standards showed a willingness to remove articles by people demonstrated to not exist, social media outlets like Twitter remain useful vectors for getting misinformation out to the public — as in Alavi’s case. Today, Alavi’s account still exists and is still producing superhuman amounts of content.
The account was briefly suspended following The Intercept’s report, but after a storm of pro-MEK advocates tweeting at Twitter’s support account and the company’s CEO, the account was reinstated a few days later. Twitter does not comment on its decisions regarding individual users, but a source familiar with the organization told the Saudi-government owned al-Arabiya news that, after temporarily being banned, the Alavi account was reactivated after being deemed a “credible use of pseudonymity.”
Social media companies have been under increasing criticism for their roles in helping amplify disinformation, including from sources connected to foreign governments and political movements. During the 2016 presidential election, troll farms connected to the Russian government were accused of helping sway American public sentiment over the vote. These activities are only believed to have increased since then.
The MEK, for its part, has a checkered history. A half-century-old revolutionary group, the organization has cycled through ideologies and tactics — from Marxism to democratic advocacy, from terrorist violence to protests and active lobbying in Washington — to rise to prominence. The turn toward seeking U.S. support is a decade-old tactic for a group that once allied with the Palestinian Liberation Organization and, in the 1980s and 1990s, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain.
This year, an Intercept investigation documented allegations by former members of the group depicting a cult-like atmosphere inside the organization. The former members detailed practices of forced sterilization, torture, and other methods of controlling followers.
Nonetheless, the MEK now has powerful allies throughout Washington. Most notably, as of today, the group has found a friend in the White House — a president who has never been uncomfortable with blurring the lines between reality and falsehood.
— Murtaza M. Hussain (@MazMHussain) April 22, 2020
— Massoud khodabandeh (@ma_khodabandeh) April 22, 2020
Donald Trump MEK Terrorists And The Troll Factory In Albania
” Heshmat Alavi Gate ” , Trump and MEK
Negar Mortazavi and Borzou Daragahi , Independent, June 11 2019:…The “Heshmat Alavi” persona had a strong presence on Twitter and harassed Iranian journalists, academics, and activists who are critical of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq organisation, a one-time armed guerilla group now holed up in Albania. There is no known link between the Iran Disinfo programme and the fake persona. At least one was cited by the Trump administration as proof against the effectiveness of the Obama-era nuclear deal. Some of the MEK articles were also picked up by US government funded Voice of America’s Persian-language service. Heshmat Alavi Gate
” Heshmat Alavi Gate ” , Trump and MEK ( Donald Trump MEK Terrorists )
Outrage on Capitol Hill over ‘completely unacceptable’ US-funded scheme to shape Iran debate
‘This is something that happens in authoritarian regimes, not democracies’
United States officials say they are outraged by a government-funded troll campaign that has targeted American citizens critical of the administration’s hardline Iran policy and accused critics of being loyal to the Tehran regime.
State Department officials admitted to Congressional staff in a closed-door meeting on Monday that a project they had funded to counter Iranian propaganda had gone off the rails. Critics in Washington have gone further, saying that the programme resembled the type of troll farms used by autocratic regimes abroad.
“It’s completely unacceptable that American taxpayer dollars supported a project that attacked Americans and others who are critical of the Trump administration’s policy of escalation and conflict with Iran,” a senior Congressional aide told The Independent, on condition of anonymity.
“This is something that happens in authoritarian regimes, not democracies.”
One woman behind the harassment campaign, a longtime Iranian-American activist, has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the State Department over the years to promote “freedom of expression and free access to information.”
The campaign relentlessly attacked critics of the Iran policy on social media, including Twitter and Telegram messaging app, accusing them without evidence of being paid operatives of the regime in Tehran.
A spokeswoman for the State Department told reporters on Monday that funding for the “Iran Disinformation Project” had been suspended and is under review after it was reported that it went beyond the scope of its mandate by veering from countering propaganda from Iran to smearing domestic critics of White House policy.
State Department officials disclosed to lawmakers they had granted $1.5 for Iran Disinfo, which repeatedly targeted, harassed and smeared critics of Trump’s tough stance against Iran on social media.
Among those targeted were American activists, scholars, and journalists who challenged the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran.
The revelation that US taxpayer money was being used to attack administration critics has now sparked a flurry of queries.
“There are still so many unanswered questions here,” Congresswoman Ilhan Omar wrote on Twitter. “What rules are in place to prevent state-funded organisation from smearing American citizens? If there wasn’t public outcry, would the Administration have suspended funding for Iran Disinfo?”
Cold War-era US rules barring the use of government-funded propaganda against American citizens have been flouted for decades.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee accused the State Department of giving taxpayer money to operatives “accused of intimidating and harassing U.S. human rights activists, journalists, and academics who’ve criticized their hawkish policies on Iran.”
She added: “This is unacceptable and we will not stand for it.”
State Department officials speaking at the closed-door meeting admitted the project was out of bounds, according to Congressional staffers speaking to The Independent on condition of anonymity.
Both Democratic and Republican Congressional staffers were highly critical of the project and questioned whether US officials should continue to work with the contractor, E-Collaborative for Civic Education. The State Department spokeswoman declined to outline steps to prevent such an operation in the future.
Some have said the harassment campaign resembles those launched by the Iranian regime against its critics, as well as clandestine troll farms run by Russia, Saudi Arabia, and other autocracies in attempts to shape online debate and intimidate critics.
In a twist, Iran Disinfo has even attacked journalists deemed insufficiently supportive of the Trump administration’s policies at US-funded news outlets including Voice of America, Radio Farda, and RFE/RL.
The harassment campaign is one aspect of an Iran policy that critics have warned was overly politicised, incoherent and risky.
Defying American allies, the United Nations Security Council, and the advice of his own intelligence mandarins, Mr Trump voided the 2015 Iran nuclear deal last year and launched an unprecedented campaign of sanctions and threats against Tehran, vowing to pressure the country into cutting a “better deal” than the one it forged with his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Seeking evidence that its policies were working and popular, the administration has relied an unconventional information sources, often citing obscure right-wing news outlets and think tanks.
E-Collaborative for Civic Education, co-founded by Iranian American activist Mariam Memarsadeghi, is a long-time State Department contractor.
It purports to promote democratic political life and empower civil society inside Iran, but it appears to have no presence inside the country and instead confines itself to engaging with Iranians in the Diaspora.
Congressional officials also confirmed to The Independent that one individual working for the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, an influential Washington organisation with hawkish views on Iran, is part of the E-Collaborative for Civic Education’s Iran Disinformation Project.
One Congressional staffer said he expected the State Department would examine “the extent of coordination” between Iran Disinfo project and “pro-war think tanks like the Foundation for Defence of Democracies.”
Over the weekend, The Intercept revealed that a purported Iranian activist, who had published dozens of articles on Iran in prominent outlets such as Forbes and The Hill, does not exist and is a fake persona run by a team of operatives connected to a bizarre Iranian political cult.
The “Heshmat Alavi” persona had a strong presence on Twitter and harassed Iranian journalists, academics, and activists who are critical of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq organisation, a one-time armed guerilla group now holed up in Albania. There is no known link between the Iran Disinfo programme and the fake persona.
At least one was cited by the Trump administration as proof against the effectiveness of the Obama-era nuclear deal. Some of the MEK articles were also picked up by US government funded Voice of America’s Persian-language service.
Both the Alavi account and the US-funded account frequently accused Iranian Americans sceptical about the Trump administration of being dupes of the Tehran regime.
“It’s an outrage that the Trump Administration was funnelling taxpayer dollars to a smear campaign accusing US citizens of dual loyalty to a foreign regime,” Dylan Williams, vice president of the left-leaning Jewish-American organisation J Street, told The Independent.
“Decent people wouldn’t tolerate such state-sponsored defamation if the target was Jewish Americans and we shouldn’t when the target is Iranian-Americans.”
” Heshmat Alavi Gate ” , Trump and MEK ( Donald Trump MEK Terrorists )
Pompeo Set To Back The Wrong Group Again (MEK, Rajavi cult)
Anne Khodabandeh (Singleton), Iran Interlink, April 24 2019:… Exactly fifteen years ago we wrote about how making a deal with the MEK was a big mistake by the USA. At that time, the MEK led by Massoud Rajavi was closer to Saddam Hussein than the US. Today the MEK led by Maryam Rajavi is closer the Saudis than the US. Either way, the MEK leadership has proven over and over that they will always put their own interests above that of anything. To make this mistake once is shameful. For Mike Pompeo to repeat the mistake now is simply wrong. Heshmat Alavi Gate ( Donald Trump MEK Terrorists )
Jafarzadeh has already published his suicide bombing note.
Wondering at those Americans who stand under the flag of Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, NCRI, Rajavi cult) only to LOBBY for the murderers of their servicemen
Pompeo Set To Back The Wrong Group Again (MEK, Rajavi cult)
Exactly fifteen years ago we wrote about how making a deal with the MEK was a big mistake by the USA. At that time, the MEK led by Massoud Rajavi was closer to Saddam Hussein than the US. Today the MEK led by Maryam Rajavi is closer the Saudis than the US. Either way, the MEK leadership has proven over and over that they will always put their own interests above that of anything. To make this mistake once is shameful. For Mike Pompeo to repeat the mistake now is simply wrong. Heshmat Alavi Gate
Once Again, the US Makes a Bad Deal with the Wrong Group
Anti War , April 22 2004
Link to the source
by Anne Singleton Posted onApril 22, 2004
Heshmat Alavi Gate
Bob Woodward’s latest book, Plan of Attack, exposes the underbelly of the build-up to the US war with Iraq. In it Woodward reveals that the “CIA hired the leaders of a Muslim religious sect at odds with Saddam, but nonetheless with numerous members highly placed in Saddam’s security services. The CIA’s code name for them: the Rock Stars.”
Asked to reveal the identity of this sect, Woodward refused. But to observers of the scene looking at the various possibilities, it is not difficult to pinpoint exactly who this group is… the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) led by arguably the best conman in the Middle East, Massoud Rajavi. If that is the case, it really does call into question some decision-making at the top.
The MEK, although listed as terrorists in the USA since 1997, still maintained a high profile presence as a “democratic alternative to the Iranian regime” in the heart of the US government and had powerful friends, such as Richard Perle and Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, in the Pentagon, Congress, and the House.
With Alireza Jafarzadeh as Massoud Rajavi’s permanent representative in the US, and Mohammad Mohaddessin his “foreign minister” travelling back and forth on a weekly basis from Baghdad to Washington, this group was the only one with which the CIA had contact in Iraq. Certainly it ahs been the only group which had simultaneous open access to Washington’s corridors of power and to the top levels of the Iraqi regime. But whose side is Rajavi on?
In reality, Rajavi’s MEK is an isolated quasi-religious military cult which, based in Iraq for 20 years, had taken arms, training, and orders directly from Saddam Hussein. Saddam trusted the MEK completely, more so than the Iraqi’s surrounding him. After all, Rajavi’s stated goal was to grasp power in Iran. Hussein knew that Rajavi wasn’t trying to topple him, and knew also that Rajavi totally relied on Saddam’s help to achieve his goal.
Saddam gave Rajavi a free hand to undertake intelligence and security operations inside Iraq and as much logistical help as needed to run terrorist operations over the border into Iran, their common enemy. Ordinary Iraqi agencies didn’t dare to challenge MEK activities in their own country, so close was the organization to Saddam. It meant that MEK was acting right inside the Iraqi security system.
In a recently exposed videotape of Rajavi and some of Saddam’s top echelons, we get a picture of their relationship. After Rajavi had ordered his National Liberation Army to help suppress the Kurdish and Shiite rebellions in March 1991 after Gulf War I, Saddam praised and rewarded him. In a meeting with General Saber, Rajavi made a revealing speech:
“I think that the relations between us and you and Iraq, being the government of Iraq or the Baath Party and at the top of it Mr President [Saddam]. And on the other side the Iranian Resistance and the Mojahedin and the National Liberation Army.
I think that our relation is not a purely political relation and one cannot interpret our relations like that any more. And I think that the brotherhood relation has been completed. Such brothers that would not come short of anything for each other.
Whatever is against you, it is obviously against us, and visa versa. Our security is one. When we receive a blow, it is to both of us. And when there is progress, it affects us both…
…As far as we are concerned I have only one thing to say. In my mind and in my heart, I cannot separate the account of our interests from your interests. They are exactly matching each other. We may have some differences in our views. The reality is, that our interests match each other and are closely mixed together. Therefore I would ask you to send my sincere regards to Mr. President [Saddam] and say to him that there is no need for him to thank us or anything else. And tell him on my behalf that we have been in your house and we are with you and will be with you as far as is in our power.”
If the CIA had heard this speech, would they have been so ready to believe that Rajavi would help them? Even if they thought Rajavi’s co-operation with Saddam was cynically pragmatic, did it not occur to someone that his relationship with the US might be the same?
Rajavi most probably passed all the information he had from the CIA straight to Saddam. Why wouldn’t he? As he said himself “Whatever is against you [Iraq], it is obviously against us, and visa versa. Our security is one. When we receive a blow, it is to both of us.” Rajavi didn’t believe before the war that Saddam would, or even could, be toppled. He believed his Iraqi protector was invincible and would shelter him until he reached Tehran in some unforeseeable future. Rock Stars they may have been, but it was Saddam who rocked Rajavi’s world, not the US.
Woodward points out, the CIA is still not sure whether the intelligence they got from the sect was reliable or not. Why are we not surprised? It should have been obvious that a man who had already prostituted himself to anyone and everyone in his quest for power, a man who proudly headed ‘Saddam’s Private Army’, would not be an entirely reliable associate.
Even so, when it became obvious to Rajavi that Saddam would go, he turned around and promised the Americans full cooperation in exchange for protection. And he got it. Although the MEK bases were bombed and some of his fighters killed, this was most probably stage managed so that the group could surrender to the US without arousing the suspicion of the Iraqis. Rajavi was protected in his largest base, Ashraf, with 4,000 of his fighters around him and those fighters and the base itself protected by several hundred US soldiers. In Iraq, Rajavi couldn’t have found a safer place. The Iraqi people were ready to attack the MEK as remnants of Saddam’s regime. Even now, the Iraqi Governing Council has unanimously asked the US to get rid of the sect and remove them as soon as possible from Iraq.
When Ari Fleischer, the president’s spokesman, publicly praised the MEK on March 10 2003, it was widely interpreted as the result of a CIA deal.
Because of this deal, the MEK couldn’t believe their bases were being bombed and claimed these were Iranian airplanes. But when the US army confirmed that MEK in the camp had returned fire, Mohaddessin, shocked at the news panicked and in an interview announced that they had a deal with the Americans not to be attacked.
When the State Department quite logically added an MEK alias, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), to the list of terrorist entities on August 15, 2003, because of its close alliance with Saddam Hussein, Jafarzadeh, the MEK contact in Washington, suddenly gave up his job as MEK representative and was appointed top Iran Advisor for Fox News in Washington! Coincidence? We think not.
And what has the US got from this deal to protect the MEK? Intelligence in Iraq? A mouthpiece in the US media?
Heshmat Alavi Gate ( Donald Trump MEK Terrorists )
It’s a mistake to treat the MEK as a normal opposition group
Anne Khodabandeh, Iran Interlink, February 27 2019:… It is a mistake to approach the MEK as a normal opposition. Indeed, quoting MEK members is like giving a platform to Flat Earthers or Creationists. It is not balanced reporting. The MEK is a unique entity. Not an opposition, not a ‘group’ or ‘organization’, descriptions which imply a certain kind of accountable system and order.
It’s a mistake to treat the MEK as a normal opposition group
When reporter Luisa Hommerich wrote her investigative piece in Der Spiegel titled ‘Prisoners of Their Own Rebellion – The Cult-like Group Fighting Iran’, which exposes the grim situation for MEK members, I doubt she was expecting death threats to follow. After all, she was just doing her job. But that is exactly what the MEK reaction was. A Farsi language statement (written and published in Europe) promised her assassination. Nice.
Of course, for those who already know the MEK, this is not surprising. A timely reminder that the MEK cannot disown its past and cannot stop repeating its past, came in an interview with Nabi Ahamadi, who escaped the cult in Albania recently. Ahmadi was a close friend of Malik Sharai who was killed by MEK in June last year. He confirmed that Sharai was one of the few remaining witnesses to the mysterious death of 53 MEK members in Camp Ashraf, Iraq. He also confirmed that Sharai had asked to leave the group but was then held in solitary isolation before being physically eliminated by the MEK leaders. As a trained swimmer, Ahamdi says it is implausible that he drowned as MEK claim.
Another example is the suspicious assassination of Mohammad Reza Kolahi – the bomber of the Jomhouri Party headquarters in 1981 who was killed in the Netherlands in 2015. After he left the MEK Kolahi was always going to be a liability. He knew too much. So, why is nobody asking Maryam Rajavi about this convenient death?
One reason of course is that the MEK leader Maryam Rajavi refuses to engage with journalists, investigators, researchers. Anyone in fact who might get to the truth about her organization. Indeed, Hommerich did her job thoroughly, as did the journalists of Aljazeera, The Guardian, Independent, Channel 4 News, NBC and other down the years (there is a very long list). They all asked the MEK to give their side, to comment on their findings and to have a voice. The MEK called them all agents of the Iranian intelligence services and refused to talk.
Former MEK members Gholamreza Shekari and Hassan Heyrani from Albania, who were interviewed for the Der Spiegel article, revealed that not only did the MEK refuse Hommerich’s request for interviews, they sent armed guards to prevent her getting near to Camp Ashraf 3 in Manez. This is not the response of a normal political opposition. Issuing death threats to journalists is not the response of a normal political opposition. But then, there’s nothing normal at all about an opposition universally hated by their own people, inside and outside Iran.
It is a mistake to approach the MEK as a normal opposition. Indeed, quoting MEK members is like giving a platform to Flat Earthers or Creationists. It is not balanced reporting. The MEK is a unique entity. Not an opposition, not a ‘group’ or ‘organization’, descriptions which imply a certain kind of accountable system and order.
Hommerich asked to speak with someone from the MEK (NCRI) but they did not reply. Instead, she spoke with some of the many defectors who have escaped. Their stories do not differ much from the testimony of other former members over thirty years: the MEK is a cult that routinely and systematically abuses the human rights of its whole membership. According to 50-year-old Gholamreza Shekari, this is achieved through ‘lies, manipulation and fear’; a methodology known as Cultic Abuse.
For the record, the MEK is a cult. Maryam Rajavi keeps slaves. It is that simple.
( Donald Trump MEK Terrorists )
Maryam Rajavi (Mojahedin Khalq, MEK leader) just doesn’t get it does she
Anne Khodabandeh (Singleton), February 10 2019:… Her desperate efforts to stay visible – parading on stage in glamorous outfits before paid speakers and audience – expose her ego rather than her leadership. As de facto leader of the MEK, Rajavi has successfully carved out a niche for the mercenary MEK in the anti-Iran front – acting out the silent wishes of America, Israel and Saudi Arabia, who might proclaim an interest in regime change against Iran, but who cannot necessarily do the dirty deeds. By continually insisting on her propaganda events she is overstepping her mandate: the MEK’s role is to get paid, do the work, then disappear.
Maryam Rajavi (Ideological leader of Mojahedin Khalq, MEK) just doesn’t get it does she
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has invited several of what are known as Iran’s ‘fake opposition’ to his Middle East summit in Warsaw on 13-14 February. (A thinly disguised Iran bashing fest!). But Rajavi is being kept at arms’ length, a barge pole’s length even. She has not been invited.
To be clear, Maryam Rajavi is notorious inside the MEK to be jealous and throw tyrannical temper tantrums. No doubt she reacted similarly to the photograph of Pompeo posing alongside the much younger controversial ‘activist’ Masih Alinejad circulating in social media. Though, apparently, these days just about anybody except Rajavi can have their picture taken with Pompeo.
Rajavi’s actions indicate that she really doesn’t understand why this is. Her desperate efforts to stay visible – parading on stage in glamorous outfits before paid speakers and audience – expose her ego rather than her leadership. As de facto leader of the MEK, Rajavi has successfully carved out a niche for the mercenary MEK in the anti-Iran front – acting out the silent wishes of America, Israel and Saudi Arabia, who might proclaim an interest in regime change against Iran, but who cannot necessarily do the dirty deeds. By continually insisting on her propaganda events she is overstepping her mandate: the MEK’s role is to get paid, do the work, then disappear.
Rajavi is not invited to Warsaw because, quite frankly, she and her organization stink. The smell of terrorism, murder, crime and corruption cling to the MEK in spite of all the group’s efforts to whitewash, re-write, lobby and otherwise hide their past and present. No other fake opposition is as dirty and untrustworthy as the MEK. No other fake opposition keeps its members as slaves and kills dissenters. No other fake opposition commits false flag ops to blame on Iran and destroy trust.
So, while western media is reluctant to delve deeper into what the MEK are actually capable of, the security services which advise those governments who turn a blind eye to this activity are fully aware of Maryam Rajavi’s weaknesses. The fact she is prepared to sell her homeland for dollars means she is just as easily capable of selling another country for Rials when the time comes!
Anne Khodabandeh, Open Minds, De-Radicalisation Consultant, PHOTO-EXHIBITION in Bruxelles
(International Terrorism Mojahedin Khalq, MEK, NCRI, Rajavi cult)
Albanian students! Go to Paris! Don’t let your political leaders take all the MEK freebies!
Mojahedin Khalq (MEK) leader Maryam Rajavi must have been furious that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo didn’t invite her to his Middle East summit in Poland on 13-14 February. What did she expect? Did she assume that as the ‘president elect of the main opposition to Iran’ she would have a seat at the table. Just like Ahmed Chalabi had before Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
The Americans may have used the MEK to manufacture a fake Iranian terrorism threat to scare the European Union with but they don’t support her or her cult.
Either she has misunderstood the MEK’s role as a mercenary force – get paid, do the work, then disappear – or she is wilfully doing more than she’s paid for. Either way, Rajavi, the queen of propaganda, will make sure she is not ignored and the MEK at least looks relevant in the regime change game against Iran.
Maryam Rajavi announced a rally in Paris to be held on February 8th. The only problem, where to find an audience. In typical MEK fashion, top members were immediately dispatched to Camp Manez in Albania to charge up the ancient residents there as if they were going on a military adventure. They are not what is needed though. The members are too old, sick and despondent to wave a flag and cheer, more importantly they do not have ID papers or travel documents to get to Paris.
Instead, MEK members are on an intensive recruitment drive to gather as many Albanians as possible to travel to Paris for the rally as a show of popular support. There is nothing new in this. For two decades the MEK has had to bus in paid rent-a-crowd extras because its own supporters and members have abandoned the cult in such great numbers.
According to on the ground sources in Albania, the MEK is targeting youth, especially students from rural areas. Here is the offer:
A free 4-5 day trip to Paris with free air ticket, free transport, free hotel and free food. The Albanians will also be given a free bus ride to take them to the Tati store for shopping where they can buy clothes, umbrellas and shoes at dirt cheap prices.
The only condition: They must attend the conference. But even there they will enjoy free coffee breaks, free lunch and free soft drinks and cakes.
At this point you may expect this blogger to tut and warn against such bribery and deception. But no. If Albania’s political class and its media are happy to take money and favours from Rajavi, why not her citizens. Why should Pandeli Majko and Elona Gjebrea and a lot of others take advantage of the MEK’s generosity, and not the poor citizens of the country.
Students should accept the MEK offer. Take a free break in Paris. Go to the MEK gathering; you won’t be interested, but you can take a book or magazine to read, or catch up with your course work while you are there!
Nobody who knows anything about the MEK will be fooled into thinking that you are Iranian, or that you have any knowledge of, or support for the group. Go. Enjoy yourselves. Don’t let your corrupt leaders get all the freebies. Heshmat Alavi Gate
Bolton/Pompeo used MEK to prep the table for Warsaw summit against EU interests
Anne Khodabandeh (Singleton), Balkans Post, January 27 2019:… The Poland summit is an indication that top officials in the Trump administration like former CIA chief Mike Pompeo and Trump’s Security Advisor John Bolton now feel confident they can create Trump’s foreign policy for him. The MEK’s use as a regime change tool is not new, but it was a speech made by John Bolton (before he was appointed Security Advisor) at the 2017 MEK rally in Paris that first indicated that his advocacy for using the MEK for regime change against Iran had a timeline. Heshmat Alavi Gate
Bolton/Pompeo used MEK to prep the table for Warsaw summit against EU interests
Heshmat Alavi Gate
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s global summit in Warsaw on 13 and 14 February to discuss Middle East issues was greeted with scepticism. It was widely interpreted as a thinly veiled excuse to talk about Iran. And because Iran was not invited, the agenda could only be hostile.
But while it is acknowledged that Pompeo wants to build consensus against Iran, it is also understood that Pompeo’s first target is the European Union. Efforts to get the EU to withdraw from the JCPOA have already failed. This time, Pompeo hopes his approach will undermine the unity and integrity of the European Union itself. There are already divisions. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini has rejected the invitation. But European countries which may send representatives are those – Denmark, Belgium and Holland – which have allegedly been targeted by Iran for terrorist acts.
Manufactured threat to Europe
The Poland summit is an indication that top officials in the Trump administration like former CIA chief Mike Pompeo and Trump’s Security Advisor John Bolton now feel confident they can create Trump’s foreign policy for him.
Pompeo will come to Poland with a list of grievances against Iran, including human rights violations, destabilising the region, terrorism and of course, Iran’s ballistic missile programme. Some grievances are subject to interpretation – Iran of course is in Syria at the invitation of Bashar al Assad. Iran’s success in driving back Daesh in Syria and Iraq is undisputable. However, there is evidence that some grievances have been manufactured to deliberately demonise Iran. From its closed base in Albania, the Iranian Mojahedin Khalq (aka MEK, MKO, NCRI, Rajavi cult) been busy behind the scenes for over two years creating a false narrative designed to persuade European politicians that Iran is a threat to Europe.
The MEK’s use as a regime change tool is not new, but it was a speech made by John Bolton (before he was appointed Security Advisor) at the 2017 MEK rally in Paris that first indicated that his advocacy for using the MEK for regime change against Iran had a timeline. “Before 2019”, he told his audience, “we here will celebrate in Tehran”. Others chimed in; Albania’s former prime minister Pandeli Majko boasted that he would eat ice cream with the MEK in Tehran after they conquered Iran. As 2018 passed into 2019 commentators mocked. However, the idea of an active plan wasn’t picked up until last week when it was revealed that Bolton was doing everything within his power to push for President Trump to launch a military attack on Iran. The dots now begin to join up.
Regime Change Timetable
John Bolton is a long-term paid cheerleader for the MEK. He did not hesitate to visit them when they arrived in Albania to give them his blessing. And also, it seems, to enable their activities. In the Autumn of 2017, the MEK were given the green light to evade the de-radicalisation programme agreed by the Obama administration and regroup in a closed camp 30km from the capital where the cultic conditions of Iraq could be replicated.
Inside the camp the MEK were helped to create a click farm, using the slave labour of the members, to create and curate an online narrative concerning Iran to shape public and political perception on human rights, terrorism, nuclear intentions, etc.
In March 2018, the MEK made a false allegation against two retired Iranian journalists. They were invited to Albania to celebrate Norouz or Persian New Year by religious leader Baba Mundi and the Bektashi community. The MEK told police they were there to kill MEK members in their remote camp. Albanian police found no evidence and apologised to the men and the religious community. But the MEK narrative has been repeated so many times that it has taken on the aspect of fact. Indeed, it has now taken on the aspect of a ‘super-fact’ as faked embellishments to the story have been added; “A truck loaded with explosives was set to attack 3,000 members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) who are refugees in Albania, the dissident faction explained..”
In April 2018, the MEK the suspicious death of a troublesome member was a reminder that the MEK has a history of eliminating its members to whitewash its past. The impunity with which the MEK can act has transferred from Iraq to Albania because the MEK is protected by America. The Albanians do not have authority over the MEK in their own country.
In July 2018, just after the MEK held its annual propaganda rally in Paris to promote its regime change agenda an alleged assassination plot was immediately blamed on Iran. Iran however denied responsibility and called it a false flag op aimed at alienating the EU. Iranian media published information that two of those involved were long-term MEK supporters.
MEK are untrustworthy
With this background, it is hardly surprising that while anti-Iran pundits are happy to take money to promote the MEK as the main opposition, its leader Maryam Rajavi has not been invited to the summit in Poland. Not only would that ensure a total boycott, but Rajavi herself cannot answer for the criminal and subversive activities of her group. Instead of staying in the shadows though, Maryam Rajavi has insisted on holding her own propaganda rally in Paris on the 8th February, desperate to maintain the fiction that the MEK is relevant and popular and that it is the key to regime change.
Pompeo may echo this message but will fall short of promoting the MEK. The real reason for keeping the MEK at arms-length is not just because it is too dirty, but because ultimately the MEK cannot be trusted. The rally on 8th February is an example of the MEK doing its own thing. It may be a paid mercenary group but Rajavi doesn’t know when to stop. The Intelligence community knows the MEK. It is a group which will take money to kill Iranians. It is a group which may also, one day, take money to kill Americans. It would be disastrous for any government to share a platform with such people and Albania should follow America’s example; keep the MEK at a distance.
Anne Khodabandeh, is an expert in anti-terrorist activities and a long-standing activist in the field of deradicalization of extremists. She has written several articles and books on this subject, along with her husband, who is of Iranian origin.