Shaun Walker in Tirana, The Guardian, July 16 2019:… For example, you would have to say: ‘I saw a girl on television and I got an erection,’ or ‘This morning I masturbated,’” said Hassan Heyrani, one of the defectors. He said there was no specific punishment for such admissions except scolding and embarrassment. “If you admit to it too often they will get angry and say: ‘How do you want to create freedom for the Iranian people if you have an erection every day? In Albania Shedding Light on Bizarre Behaviour of MEK Cult .
The shadowy cult Trump advisors tout as an alternative to the Iranian government
In Albania Shedding Light on Bizarre Behaviour of MEK Cult
Trump allies’ visit throws light on secretive Iranian opposition group
MEK operates out of compound in rural Albania and has been described as having cult-like attributes
The gates to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) compound, situated on a gently inclined hillside in rural Albania, are usually firmly closed, guarded by two sculpted lions atop stone pedestals and a large team of Albanian security guards. Unannounced visitors are not welcome at the fenced-off, secretive site, where more than 2,000 MEK members live.
The history of the MEK, or the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, is long and complicated. Critics and many of those who have left the group in recent years describe it as a shadowy outfit with little support inside Iran and many cult-like attributes, condemned to die out at the obscure base in Albania because of its enforced celibacy rules.
Mojahedin Khalq MEK Rajavi Cult Iranians in Albania
But for its backers, which include many politicians and, notably, members ofDonald Trump’s inner circle, the MEK are tireless fighters for a free and democratic Iran who could potentially become the country’s next government.
This was highlighted over the weekend when the group held a gathering of international backers attended by, among others, Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Other visitors included the former Democratic senator Joe Lieberman and the British Conservative MP Matthew Offord.
Giuliani described the MEK as a “government in exile” and suggested it was also a government in waiting after potential regime change in Iran. “It gives us confidence that if we make those efforts to overthrow that horrible regime, sooner rather than later, we will not only save lives but will be able to entrust the transition of Iran to a very responsible group of people,” he said to cheers from the assembled audience.
Giuliani has been a regular visitor to MEK events for several years, as has the US national security adviser, John Bolton. While they have been predicting an MEK government in Tehran for years, the fact that these officials now have positions in the Trump administration, combined with the increasingly fraught geopolitical situation around Iran, makes their support for the MEK matter more than ever.
Originally a Marxist-Islamist group that played a leading role in the 1979Iranian revolution, the MEK ended up exiled and fighting against the Iranian regime from a base in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. In the process, the MEK lost a lot of support inside Iran.
Terrorists, cultists – or champions of Iranian democracy? The wild wild story of the MEK
The group was only removed from the US terror list in 2012 and the Obama administration later helped negotiate its relocation to Albania as the situation in post-Saddam Iraq became perilous. There, in the countryside, it has constructed a vast compound where men and women lead segregated existences.
Last month, the Guardian spoke with about a dozen men in Tirana who had fled the MEK compound over the past two years. With no passports or other documents, they remain in limbo, unable either to work or to leave the country. The picture they painted of life inside the compound was of a cult-like atmosphere in which mobile phones and contact with relatives were banned, all interactions between men and women were prohibited, and days were spent sitting at computers firing out tweets and other online messages in support of the MEK.
Each evening, the men had to gather in small groups with their commanders for “ideological training” as well as a confessional about any sexual thoughts they might have had that day.
“For example, you would have to say: ‘I saw a girl on television and I got an erection,’ or ‘This morning I masturbated,’” said Hassan Heyrani, one of the defectors. He said there was no specific punishment for such admissions except scolding and embarrassment. “If you admit to it too often they will get angry and say: ‘How do you want to create freedom for the Iranian people if you have an erection every day?’”
An investigation by the Intercept recently found that an anti-regime Iranian activist, who had written extensive media columns about Iran, appeared, in fact, to be an invented persona created by MEK trolls.
When leading political figures came to visit, the rank-and-file MEK members were told to do everything to make sure their high-level guests felt appreciated. Heyrani remembered a visit by John McCain in 2017, who was greeted by a chanting crowd of MEK members. “We had to cheer and clap. One of the commanders told us: ‘You speak English. Please tell him he is the best of democracy,’” he said.
For the MEK leadership, the election of Trump in 2016 was a godsend. Those who have left the camp since recalled that in the run-up to the election the group often prayed for a Trump victory and the defeat of Hillary Clinton.
One person who left the compound in 2018 said: “Everything changed when Obama left and Trump came to power. The leaders came from France to talk to us. They said you must wait a few months and suffer the conditions here and then soon we’ll be in power.”
The MEK did not respond to several requests for comment sent to a Paris-based spokesman, nor to a request left with the security guards outside its compound in Albania.
In Albania Shedding Light on Bizarre Behaviour of MEK Cult
Link to the source
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Massoud Khodabandeh, Lobe Log, June 18 2019:… This is the tip of the iceberg. MEK interference in the internal affairs of America goes well beyond online attacks on Iran. In 2016, the Organization of Iranian American Communities in the US—a front for the MEK—announced a “General Elections Mobilization Effort,” publicly urging its members to “fulfill their civic duty through active…
Aljazeera News, June 17 2019:… As the Trump administration continues with its hawkish talk on Iran, we need to look at how that story is being crafted and by whom: Heshmat Alavi was once cited by the White House as a credible commentator on Iran. Shame he doesn’t exist. It turns out he is a fictional persona reportedly created by the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK),…
Caitlin Johnstone, Consortum News, June 16 2019:… This would be the same John Bolton who has been paid exorbitant speaking fees by the pro-regime change MEK terror cult, promising the cult in a 2017 speech that they’d be celebrating regime change in Tehran together before 2019. This would also be the same John Bolton who once threatened to murder an… In Albania Shedding Light on Bizarre Behaviour of MEK Cult
Helen Buyniski, Russia Today, June 14 2019:… Heshmat Alavi, a virulently anti-Iranian columnist promoted by the Trump administration and published in Forbes, the Hill, and several other outlets, was unmasked as a propaganda construct operated by the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), a controversial Iranian exile group often called a cult that has only recently lobbied its way off the US’ terror… In Albania Shedding Light on Bizarre Behaviour of MEK Cult
The Young Turks, June 13 2019:… “Heshmat Alavi” is a front propaganda efforts of the People’s Jihadis (Mojahedin-e Khalq or MEK). The MEK has committed numerous acts of terrorism in Iran and then collaborated with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. It was listed as a terrorist organization the the US until a few years ago and it is mysterious why it… In Albania Shedding Light on Bizarre Behaviour of MEK Cult
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… In Albania Shedding Light on Bizarre Behaviour of MEK Cult
Jason Rezaian, Washinton Post, June 11 2019:… After the report, Twitter appears to have suspended the account. But the MEK, the organization that “Team Heshmat Alavi” represents, has a nasty history. It was on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations for years before being removed in 2012. These days, it has no discernible popular support in Iran and… In Albania Shedding Light on Bizarre Behaviour of MEK Cult
Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept, June 10 2019:… Alavi’s articles also mixed criticisms of Iran and U.S. policy with overt advocacy for the MEK. His pieces in the Daily Caller, The Hill, and other outlets — though less numerous than his contributions to Forbes — employed a similar mix of advocacy against the Iranian regime and praise for the MEK. Though… In Albania Shedding Light on Bizarre Behaviour of MEK Cult
Tony Cartalucci, Global Research, June 09 2019:… MEK is described by Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Ray Takeyh as a “cult-like organization” with “totalitarian tendencies.” While Takeyh fails to expand on what he meant by “cult-like” and “totalitarian,” an interview with US State Department-run Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty reported that a MEK Camp Ashraf escapee claimed the terrorist organization bans marriage, using radios, the Internet, and holds many members… In Albania Shedding Light on Bizarre Behaviour of MEK Cult
Iran Interlink , June 07 2019:.. Several people have written that the French government has prevented MEK from holding its annual rally to celebrate armed struggle in Villepinte, Paris this year. Some have added that the authorities have denied the MEK permission even to stage a public demonstration. This has forced MEK to stage a demonstration in Brussels instead. MEK… In Albania Shedding Light on Bizarre Behaviour of MEK Cult
Ali Breland, Mother Jones, June 06 2019:… Many of the accounts also frequently voice their support for the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), a militant opposition group that some have called a terrorist organization, and its leader Maryam Rajavi. The accounts also frequently criticize the National Iranian American Council (NIAC)—a non-profit representing Iranians in the U.S.—claiming it advocates in support… In Albania Shedding Light on Bizarre Behaviour of MEK Cult
Press TV, June 06 2019:… The #B_Team’s boy who cries wolf is crying once again: this time Mossad is fabricating intelligence about Iran’s involvement in sabotage in Fujairah. I’ve warned of “accidents” and false flags—we know what happens when you believe their lies. We’ve been here before, haven’t we? Mossad MEK and Fujairah False Flag . Zarif: Mossad fabricating intel… In Albania Shedding Light on Bizarre Behaviour of MEK Cult