Iran Interlink, April 26 2019:… Maryam Rajavi officially announced that the MEK aim to assassinate Ebrahim Raisi Head of Iran’s Judiciary and General Qasem Soleimani. Inside and outside Iran people say this has come straight after the Trump administration listed the IRGC as a terrorist entity. Raja News carries a very long article explaining 40 years during which the west has used terrorism against Iran. The article details murders by America, with the support of France and others in the west and the MEK. The article labels the MEK as ‘the Iranian ISIS’
Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – April 26, 2019
++ Rajavi’s websites have published statements purporting to be from Massoud Rajavi, while everyone is pointing out that he is dead, and these statements come straight from Maryam Rajavi. Maryam Rajavi officially announced that the MEK aim to assassinate Ebrahim Raisi Head of Iran’s Judiciary and General Qasem Soleimani. Inside and outside Iran people say this has come straight after the Trump administration listed the IRGC as a terrorist entity. Raja News carries a very long article explaining 40 years during which the west has used terrorism against Iran. The article details murders by America, with the support of France and others in the west and the MEK. The article labels the MEK as ‘the Iranian ISIS’.
++ Sara Zahiri has published a long, detailed article about how the MEK are openly threatening and killing others and warns that now they have been given the green light by the US they will go and actually kill again – ironically organised from a base in Paris. Saber from Tabriz wrote a note on this from another angle. He says that up until now, for the last two decades, Maryam Rajavi claims she asked the US to list the IRGC as a terrorist entity. She is now saying the US bowed to our wishes. What she doesn’t say is that she is now expecting the US to declare war on Iran, to attack Iran, to win the war, and to hand Iran over to her. Rajavi’s declaration of intended assassinations is simply a way of saying we’ll do our bit for the war effort and this is our contribution as the ‘only alternative’. Otherwise why would they give anything to the MEK.
++ As the UNHCR prepared to leave Albania, this week the Albanian charity Ramsa ended its support for the individuals who have escaped MEK in that country. Ex members say they have been left in limbo under constant pressure from the US and the MEK. They say, ‘We are stuck here with no IDs or work permits. We are being forced to either go back to being a terrorist or die in the street.’
++ More people have been writing about Ali Akbar Kalateh who died in the MEK camp in Albania last week. They say that because he was never with the MEK his death is suspicious. He showed no sign of illness. They ask ‘why does nobody in Albania investigate these deaths inside the MEK camp? Is there no law in Albania? The authorities take what Rajavi says at face value and don’t allow friends and family to find out what Kalateh died of. Albania is the new Iraq and the MEK are acting with impunity.’
++ Iranian media reports that the intelligence services have managed to detect and dismantle tens of CIA-backed terrorist cells linked to Takfiris and the MEK. Last year, 60 individuals with links to the MEK were arrested in the Province of East Azerbaijan. The arrests were linked to efforts by outside forces to take advantage of ‘the economic woes in Iran’.
++ US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged that the Trump Administration’s aim is regime change in Iran. He added that neither he nor President Trump supported the MEK (meaning that they did not get paid by MEK as Bolton and Giuliani are). However, a photograph of Pompeo jovially shaking the hand of MEK veteran Alireza Jafarzadeh prompted Anne Khodabandeh to remind us that the US has previously made the mistake of doing deals with the MEK. 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.”
++ Robin Wright in The New Yorker unpicks ‘Trump’s Strange, Tense Campaign Against Iran’. Wright exposes Trump’s desperation to get a meeting with the Iranians. Iran, of course, rejected the overture; “Are you joking?” replied Zarif. The article shows why: “the Trump Administration has been ‘dramatically accelerating’—in the words of the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo—its efforts to inflict more pain on Iran.” On both sides, rational folk are warning of an unwanted war, forced by what Zarif calls the B-Team: national-security adviser, John Bolton; the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu; the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman and the U.A.E. crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed. Wright cites Bolton’s long-term support for the militant MEK as evidence that he seeks a military confrontation with Iran. Iran, cautious of the risks of confrontation has put forward dialogue and diplomacy as a means to de-escalate the situation; offering prisoner swaps. Wright concludes that “under the Trump Administration, the prospects of dialogue with the Islamic Republic on detainees, diplomatic détente, or any other subject seems more remote than ever—and the risk of escalating tensions is ever higher.”
MEK Terrorists Open New Front In Canada
Massoud Khodabandeh, Iranian.com, April 19 2019:… Activities aimed at silencing these Iranian Canadians indicates that the above achievements have rattled the house of Saud and their paid MEK agents. It looks like the failure to drive a wedge between the Iranians and Europeans who insist on saving the nuclear deal against the will of Trump has angered Netanyahu and Mohammad Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. The fingerprints of MEK activity are already being revealed.
Saudi Backed MEK Terrorists Open New Front In Canada
New patronage resulted in a strategic shift for the MEK
After the fall of Saddam Hussain and the disappearance of Massoud Rajavi, leader of the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) terrorist cult, the group’s members were forcibly deported to Albania where the MEK regrouped under the now open support of the Israeli right wing and the regime change pundits of the USA. In Paris, Prince Turki al Faisal al Saud of Saudi Arabia presented himself at a public rally alongside of Maryam Rajavi, wife of the cult leader, to announce the death of Massoud Rajavi, to introduce himself as the new direct benefactor of Mojahedin Khalq (MEK) and to acknowledge Maryam Rajavi as the new head of the terrorist cult.
Under new management the MEK has undergone rapid change and the system of ‘Saddam – Massoud Rajavi’ has transformed into a system of ‘Turki – Maryam Rajavi’. The old system of ‘military-based direct terrorism’ changed rapidly to the new system of ‘intelligence based covert terrorism’. This, of course, was not surprising since Saddam and Massoud had always believed in a show of strength to push their agenda. They believed in achieving their political aims by murdering, threatening and terrorising their opponents. On the other hand, Prince Turki and Maryam favour intelligence-based covert operations to attack, discredit and weaken (and eliminate) their opponents.
Former Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Prince Turki Al-Faisal speaking at a MEK Rally
Massoud would send terror groups to bomb targets in the streets of Tehran or participate in the massacre of Kurdish people in Iraq. Saddam used chemical weapons in an attempt to eradicate the inhabitants of vast parts of Iraq. Now Maryam hires paid showmen, uses rent-a-crowd to create the illusion of mass demonstrations in Western capitals, and cries wolf as victim while sending club wielders to silence human rights activists. And Prince Turki is, of course, the famous brain behind many setups against opponents of the house of Saud in the west although he is best known as the head of Saudi intelligence who resigned 10 days before 9/11 tragedy carried out by Saudis in New York, later paying lobbying companies to blame Iran for the atrocities.
Attempts to drive a wedge between Iran and EU
Many believe that the latest series of “convenient” incidents attributed to Iranian diplomats in Europe has been the brainchild of Prince Turki who used the MEK to hinder possible rapprochement between Iran and the EU, especially after the EU refused to fall in behind President Trump (Netanyahu and Mohammad Bin Salman) in jeopardising the nuclear deal, which they hoped would trigger another war in the Middle East to reverse their losses on the ground in Syria and Iraq.
However, that strategy has not yielded the best results and the EU remains at best ambivalent about being seen to take sides. So now the Turki-Maryam system has opened a new front, this time in Canada, which has also sometimes been perceived to be wavering in relation to Iran.
MEK renewing its attacks on Iranian Canadians
In Canada, the main focal point for Iranians is the Iranian Canadian Congress (ICC). The MEK has been trying to push its agents into this organisation for years. They have had some success with the backing and finance of the Israeli lobby in getting their agents into the ICC, but recently these agents with their extremist agendas have been voted out by the Iranian Canadians who are increasingly worried about their future as Canadians with an Iranian background. They see what is happening in neighbouring USA and they don’t want to be degraded to second-rate citizens just because Israel or Saudi rulers have grievances against Iran. Indeed, the Iran Canadian Congress has been successful, not only helping Iranian Canadians in recent years, but has now moved to higher levels in social and political circles, influencing the policies which concern them in Canada. In recent weeks they have achieved big victories for their membership including but not confined to:
1- Helping secure governmental funding in response to the flood in Iran
2- Petitioning the government to investigate and bring to justice Mahmood Reza Khavari and Maryam Sheikholeslami Aleagha, the two Iranian Canadian fugitives wanted by Interpol who, while serving at highest ranks of Iranian government, misused their position to steal hundreds of millions of dollars of public funds before running away to Canada. (Taking refuge behind their Canadian passports and thereby discrediting Iranian Canadians). The petition has quickly reached over 17,000 and is increasing.
Khavari spotted at a Canadian casino
Activities aimed at silencing these Iranian Canadians indicates that the above achievements have rattled the house of Saud and their paid MEK agents. It looks like the failure to drive a wedge between the Iranians and Europeans who insist on saving the nuclear deal against the will of Trump has angered Netanyahu and Mohammad Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.
The fingerprints of MEK activity are already being revealed. Infamous Persian speaking regime change proponents from the USA are invited to Toronto for propaganda meetings to promote their agenda. But this will only work if the voice of ordinary Iranian Canadians is silenced. This is why threats to the Iranian Canadian Congress alongside the IC Journal (an online Iranian Canadian magazine) have begun in earnest. Lawyer after lawyer threatens to take the individuals and organisations to court on a variety of charges. At the same time, agent after agent contacts these individuals (mostly volunteers who are students, working mothers, etc …) threatening to ruin their lives and livelihoods if they do not give up their work (such as justly asking for humanitarian aid to be sent to flood victims in Iran).
Hallmark MEK money laundry techniques
Two die-hard supporters of regime change, Shahram Tabe Mohammadi and Mehrdokht Hadi, who groups like MEK support – and who, by the way, failed repeatedly to infiltrate the ICC with the aim of derailing it from within – have apparently now been tasked to confront and silence the ICC so as to open the way for the Saudi backed lobbies engaged in stopping any dependable dialogue between Iran and Canada.
The authors of this agenda are more obvious when we observe hallmark MEK money laundry techniques being used to funnel money from the sponsors to the team of lawyers they have hired for threatening the volunteer workers and media.
At a time that the ICC volunteers are desperately working hard to raise money for the Canadian Red Cross to help the flood victims in Iran, Shahram Tabe Mohammadi shamelessly announced that he is collecting money to pay for six different lawyers he has proudly hired threatening to sue the Iranian Canadian Council (ICC) and the Iranian Canadian Journal (ICJ) for defamation. These kinds of announcement bear the hallmark of MEK money laundry; pretending to get money from ordinary people but in fact getting paid by their benefactors. The latest example of this was the funneling about a million dollars to a far-right anti-EU Spanish party (VOX) through Alejo Vidal-Quadra through a network of individuals and accounts across the globe.
Shahram Tabe Mohammadi names some of the people he is threatening with legal action as Mr Mohsen Khakiki, Mr Mehran Farazmand (IC journal), Mr Bijan Ahmandi, Mr Mehdi Samadian, Mr Parsa Beheshti (a high school student), Ms Elham Eslami, Mr Ehshan Hamidi, and Mr Pooria Zarasoed. Mohammadi also announced that he has hired a team of lawyers including but not limited to Anoosh Salahshoor, Phillip J. L. Trotter and Adam Wawrzkiewicz, (all from Lewis & Associates Immigration Lawyers) and has then asked for money (online through social media) to pay for these lawyers!
The targets of this legal attack have since reported receiving anonymous phone calls threatening that they will be forced to pay the full fees of all these lawyers plus compensation if they don’t back off and stop their activities.
If failure in Europe is replicated in Canada, what next?
Up to this point, this type of activity is perhaps not so new for those familiar with the modus operandi of the Saudi Secret services and the MEK in the west. What is worrying is what would be the next step if they fail to achieve their goal of silencing the Iranian Canadians and their media. The MEK has been on overdrive in recent years in Europe; their new tasks planned by Turki and carried out by MEK agents trained by Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard. Although this activity failed to disrupt or derail relations between the EU and Iran to the extent the Saudis had hoped, still, people were killed. For example, Mohammad Reza Kolahi in the Netherlands and Malek Sharaee in Albania. Both these deaths should be investigated with Maryam Rajavi the prime suspect as someone with the means, motive and opportunity to assassinate.
If these threats don’t work on the Iranian Canadians (which they most certainly won’t), then an escalation to the next steps by the Saudi backed MEK in Canada must be prevented. This rests on the shoulders of the Canadian government. Whatever the push and pull that goes on, we don’t want another murder or attempted murder in Toronto.
Are The MEK And Regime Change Finally Running Out Of Road?
Anne and Massoud Khodabandeh, Lobe log, March 09 2019:… Hommerich reported that inside the camp in Albania, MEK militants were still practicing the deadly techniques for combat taught them by Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard—“cutting throats with a knife,” “breaking hands,” “removing eyes with fingers,” and “tearing the mouth open.” In 2017, the Trump administration reversed a 2013 plan by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to establish a De-Radicalisation Institute to disband and rehabilitate the MEK, allowing the dangerous cult to regroup behind closed doors in a de facto extra-territorial enclave and continue its violent practices.
Are The MEK And Regime Change Finally Running Out Of Road?
by Anne and Massoud Khodabandeh
The “regime change in Iran” bandwagon—driven by warmongers, fueled by false prophesy, and hurtling pell-mell down the road to Iran—contains various characters, some new and some old.
The bandwagon itself is an ideological construct created 40 years ago in response to the Iranian Revolution. It has taken on various incarnations over the years, but its central purpose has always been to destroy the Islamic Republic of Iran and replace it with a compliant pro-American government. What that is hardly matters of course, as was the case with Iraq in 2003.
The drivers of this bandwagon are paid large sums to pursue this agenda at any cost. Others are mere passengers, hoping for a role after the vehicle reaches the destination. Among these passengers is the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), formerly a terrorist group and currently “democratic opposition.” The MEK has been a passenger for all 40 years of the journey, hanging on by paying the drivers. These drivers are public persons such as National Security Advisor John Bolton and Trump lawyer Rudi Giuliani, along with a host of other “influential” persons who steer the bandwagon inexorably toward conflict.
But just as the bandwagon appears to be gathering speed and momentum—enough to scare the Trump administration’s opponents—the MEK appears to be running out of road. And that could signal a halt to the whole enterprise.
The first sign of this came in a piece by Eli Clifton, which discussed the provenance of a large payment ($165,000) received by John Bolton in relation to a tweet to “defend a non-governmental anti-Iran pressure group, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI)…”. Clifton’s own tweet was met by a couple of feeble MEK slave troll posts on his thread spouting the usual “no appeasement” and “terrorist Iran” themes. This indicates that the MEK has been outbid by a new bandwagon passenger UANI, since the MEK only managed $40,000 for one of Bolton’s speeches. Also, the MEK trolls are running out of steam back in their closed camp in Albania.
Even while Bolton and the Trump administration, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are pushing for a war with Iran, they are beginning to realize that the MEK is not the stick needed to strike fear into the enemy. Indeed, a look at the recent behaviour of the MEK in Albania reveals a failing group beset by internal crisis.
After a series of critical investigative articles by reporters from Al Jazeera, The Guardian, The Independent, Channel 4 News, NBC, and others, the recent report in Der Spiegel by Luisa Hommerich was apparently the last straw. The MEK issued a Farsi language statement (written and published in Europe) threatening to assassinate her—for just doing her job.
Hommerich reported that inside the camp in Albania, MEK militants were still practicing the deadly techniques for combat taught them by Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard—“cutting throats with a knife,” “breaking hands,” “removing eyes with fingers,” and “tearing the mouth open.” In 2017, the Trump administration reversed a 2013 plan by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to establish a De-Radicalisation Institute to disband and rehabilitate the MEK, allowing the dangerous cult to regroup behind closed doors in a de facto extra-territorial enclave and continue its violent practices.
In spite of this boost, the MEK, beset by exposures and defections, is trying to prevent the total collapse of the group. Around a thousand members have left the group since it relocated to Albania. The front line over which the MEK peers at its enemy, the Islamic Republic, is no longer Iraq but is now represented by a group of 40 former members protesting in Tirana. The MEK claim that these are all “agents of the Iranian regime” who want to kill the remaining cult members. So, instead of orchestrating regime change in Iran, the MEK can’t even deal with 40 destitute former members.
The MEK is engaged in a form of modern slavery by not paying thousands of activists for 30 years or more. Members who leave the group are left destitute because they have nothing but the clothes on their back even after decades of loyal service. The MEK claims that members offer their services as “volunteers.” But the preamble to the UN Declaration of Human Rights states in its opening sentence that human rights are inalienable—that is, they cannot be disowned by anyone for any reason. MEK leader Maryam Rajavi is responsible for such decisions and treatment.
Not only are the defectors that Hommerich profiles impoverished because they have not had financial recompense for their years of devotion, they are also deliberately left stateless. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees brought the MEK to Albania from Iraq on “humanitarian grounds.” But on arrival they were not granted UN refugee status, nor have they been issued Albanian identity documents that would allow them to work or travel. Lack of residency rights also means that they cannot register for a bank account. They have no identity papers whatsoever, except the flimsy piece of paper used to fly them through international airspace from Baghdad to Tirana.
In her pursuit of fame and glory, Maryam Rajavi treats her members as, essentially, cannon fodder. In the idealized future she paints for the members, they will one day march on Tehran, the vanguard of a spontaneous uprising of the Iranian people against their Islamic oppressors, the mullahs. Why would they need money or identity papers?
In the meantime, it suits Rajavi to have her “followers” incarcerated in a closed camp unable to live independent lives, subject to the whims and demands of the struggle that she purports to lead. But that struggle has almost evaporated. Sure, the MEK is still performing propaganda tasks for various Saudis, Israelis, and Americans to advance the anti-Iran push. But even that is becoming more and more irrelevant as the MEK itself begins to fail.
Massoud Khodabandeh is the director of Middle East Strategy Consultants and has worked long-term with the authorities in Iraq to bring about a peaceful solution to the impasse at Camp Liberty and help rescue other victims of the Mojahedin-e Khalq cult. Among other publications, he co-authored the book “The Life of Camp Ashraf: Victims of Many Masters” with his wife Anne Singleton. They also published an academic paper on the MEK’s use of the Internet. Anne Khodabandeh is a UK 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.
The case of MEK operative Mohammad Reza Kolahi’s murder didn’t need to be a mystery
Massoud Khodabandeh, Middle East Strategy Consultants, April 14 2019:… In July 2018 I wrote an article for the Balkans Post titled ‘MEK rebrands by assassinating unwanted members’ in which I brought up the case of Mohammad Reza Kolahi Samadi as one of many examples in which the Mojahedin Khalq have got rid of an affiliated disaffected operative to 1- Cleanse themselves of their terrorist history by eliminating the operatives; 2- Get rid of someone who has gone rogue and may potentially damage the MEK legally and socially if he decided to talk; 3- Make an excuse to attach yet another murder in the west to Iran.
The case of MEK operative Mohammad Reza Kolahi’s murder didn’t need to be a mystery
According to the media in the Netherlands, two Amsterdam criminals have been jailed for the 2015 murder of an Iranian, Mohammad Reza Kolahi Samadi, who lived in the Netherlands hiding behind the false name of Ali Motamed.
In July 2018 I wrote an article for the Balkans Post titled ‘MEK rebrands by assassinating unwanted members’ in which I brought up the case of Mohammad Reza Kolahi Samadi as one of many examples in which the Mojahedin Khalq have got rid of an affiliated disaffected operative to
1- Cleanse themselves of their terrorist history by eliminating the operatives;
2- Get rid of someone who has gone rogue and may potentially damage the MEK legally and socially if he decided to talk;
3- Make an excuse to attach yet another murder in the west to Iran.
In that article I wrote:
“In 2015, in the Netherlands, Mohamad Reza Kolahi was killed by a criminal gang on the order of MEK. Investigators confirmed that Kolahi was responsible for the 1981 bombing of the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party in Tehran in which 72 high-ranking politicians and party members were killed.”
In January 2019 I wrote a short blog (in Persian) titled ‘Why is no one asking Maryam Rajavi about the fate of Kolahi?’, in which I begged the question, why have the investigators (and the relevant CIA connected Persian speaking media outlets in Prague and Washington) gone well out of their way to attach the murder to Iranian diplomats in Amsterdam and have repeatedly announced that the Iranian embassy in Amsterdam “is not giving a clear answer” as to the reasons behind this murder (as if they could or should). But why does not a single person want to investigate or even ask questions of Maryam Rajavi and her fugitive husband Massoud who was the leader of the Mojahedin Khalq Organisation at the time Mohammad Reza Kolahi carried out his terrorist act in 1981. Kolahi planted the bomb in the HQ of a political party (rivals of the MEK at that time) in the middle of Tehran which killed ten people.
I begged the question, is this because Maryam Rajavi had not told the Netherlands intelligence service of Kolahi’s whereabouts? Or did she tell them (presumably through her CIA contacts) but the Netherlands intelligence service did give him enough protection? Or is it that the Netherlands security service are too afraid of the CIA and Mossad to even question Maryam Rajavi? Or it is simply convenient for them to play the game and accuse Iran in the series of Iran bashing scenarios (presumably planned by Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud and carried out by MEK) that signal the change of direction for the MEK from Saddam-Massoud-military to Turki-Maryam-intelligence.
I knew Kolahi personally. I received him in Kurdistan when he ran away from Iran. (I had transferred a 10 KW radio transmitter and other American made transceivers from Munich to MEK bases just outside Sardasht city and was there to undertake the assembly and commissioning). He worked with me for the next two years (he was an undergraduate Electronics Engineering student) and was then moved to maintenance work at Rajavi’s Camp Ashraf (Saddam’s private army) near Baghdad.
I knew then that he was not a member of MEK or even remotely connected to their ideology when he came to me, and I knew later in Iraq that he could never accept the cultish teachings of Rajavi thereafter (the Ideological Revolution, divorces …), and would remain an outcast with nowhere to go. And this is what happened. Whether he was fooled by MEK to carry out this terrorist act, or whether he was pushed directly by other intelligence agencies which pulled MEK wires in Tehran at that time is a mystery to me. But what is clear is that although he was not a person close to MEK, the task of taking him out of Iran and saving him (and at the same time confining him) was the job assigned to the MEK.
It is inconceivable that Kolahi, with the information that he had, and the danger he could pose to the MEK and their variety of masters if brought in front of a camera, would go to the Netherlands, get married, get a job and start a new life without the help and the blessing of the MEK (Maryam Rajavi). It is also inconceivable that the MEK (or their masters) would have not have a 24/7 control of every aspect of his life (including every telephone conversation) and simply let him go unmonitored.
I am not an investigator but even I can see that all the elements of “means, motive and opportunity” are pointing directly at the Mojahedin Khalq and Maryam Rajavi in person for his murder. What I can’t see is what is it that prevents European judiciary and law enforcement agencies from even approaching the idea of considering Maryam Rajavi as a material witness never mind, God forbid, a suspect.
Iran: US masters responsible for today terror attack in Ahvaz. (Joint “al-Ahwaz” and “MEK” terror attack)The MEK’s dirty past includes the anti-Imperialist inspired murder of six Americans in pre-revolution Iran which it later celebrated in songs and publications
Maryam Rajavi’s MEK is a defunct force in Iran foreign policy
Massoud Khodabandeh, Middle East Strategy Consultants, February 25 2019:… As the following articles show, the complex issue of ‘dealing’ with Iran cannot be solved by the Trump administration or the European Union using the defunct Mojahedin Khalq (MEK) to shake a stick at the country. Iran’s government and ruling system is proving far too sophisticated for this stupid ‘regime change’ narrative. Iranians – inside and outside – don’t want that. Time for a new policy maybe; one that acknowledges facts on the ground rather than the delusion of empire.
Maryam Rajavi’s MEK is a defunct force in Iran foreign policy
As the following articles show, the complex issue of ‘dealing’ with Iran cannot be solved by the Trump administration or the European Union using the defunct Mojahedin Khalq (MEK) to shake a stick at the country. Iran’s government and ruling system is proving far too sophisticated for this stupid ‘regime change’ narrative. Iranians – inside and outside – don’t want that. Time for a new policy maybe; one that acknowledges facts on the ground rather than the delusion of empire.
1- Pro-Reform Group Condemns U.S. Sanctions As Iranian Opposition Becomes More Vocal
Radio Farda, February 25 2019
Link to the source
In a letter to political parties around the world, Iran’s Freedom Movement (Nehzate Azadi) has called for international condemnation of the United States’ withdrawal from the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), adding that U.S. sanctions will give Iranian hardliners the upper hand in the country’s domestic politics.
The Freedom Movement of Iran (FMI) is a pro-reform group with Shiite sympathies that briefly held the government immediately after the 1979 revolution but has been sidelined and not as active since then.
Calling the JCPOA a “model for the peaceful resolution of international conflicts,” the FMI said in the letter, “Rejection of this agreement weakens the value of endeavors in resolving international conflicts peacefully and the role of the United Nations in acting as a safeguarding mechanism for building international peace. The United States’ rejection of this international agreement also negates the significance of efforts in building pathways for peaceful co-existence of nations based on conflict resolution through negotiation and compromise.”
FMI acknowledged that the JCPOA did not address the United States’ concerns about Iran’s missile program and its ambitions in the Middle East, adding that “JCPOA was not initially intended to include the Iranian government’s regional political behavior – or any other issues,” but expressed the view that “these issues could be legitimately addressed in other forums with the consideration of the national security of all nations involved.”
It is not clear why Freedom Movement believes the Islamic Republic has any intention to discuss these issues with Western governments, particularly the United States. Iranian officials categorically reject any such dialogue.
FMI does not advocate the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, but believes in reforms and its members are tolerated to an extent in Iran and not treated as enemies of the regime. Members of the group even participated in the last local elections without any success.
In more than a decade the group has not been very vocal, preferring not to condemn many of the regime’s human rights abuses or its regional adventures. It has also not clearly supported the popular protests by ordinary people against economic hardship and lack of freedoms.
In the letter, the FMI expressed concern over the impact of sanctions on Iran’s middle class, adding that in Iran, “the middle class is exposed to the ravages of sanctions. The Iranian middle class predominately has been in the forefront of the battle for democracy and acted as the engine of change in the country.”
FMI charged that “the United States, with the support of right-wing politicians in Israel and the ruling elites in Saudi Arabia, has imposed sanctions on Iran which ultimately benefit those who are for war and conflict with this country,” adding that “sanctions have also strengthened the political position and power of the Iranian ultraconservatives who continue to encourage and support discord and antagonism in Iranian foreign policy.”
FMI also warned that “democratic changes cannot be achieved in Iran by Washington encouraging groups from outside of Iran who have aimed at toppling the Iranian government. With regards to Iran, democracy cannot be achieved through war, but rather obtained upon a period of sustained gradual reforms that are supported by the Iranian people and arise from within the country.”
Although the letter appears to support the Islamic Republic of Iran’s positions, the FMI stressed at the end of it that the “Freedom Movement of Iran has been under pressure both from the old and the new regimes, and its leaders and members have been arrested, imprisoned and tortured.”
The letter by a political organization that has not been overtly active for decades is yet another indication that the Iranian opposition has become more vocal after the nationwide protests in late 2017 and early 2018, which has weakened the regime in Tehran.
During the past year, the two main opposition groups outside Iran, the royalists and the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK) have been more active than ever and developments about and around them have been given more prominence in the media.
The royalists have highlighted the symbolic significance of Prince Reza Pahlavi and established at least two networks of young Iranian activists (Farashgard) with the aim of toppling the Islamic Republic, and the newly established network of technocrats and academics named Qoqnous (Sphinx) with the objective of reconstructing Iran. Meanwhile, the MeK has been more politically active than ever, garnering support from among political groups and Western officials.
In the latest developments, 10 political groups active in the Iranian provinces of Kurdistan, Azerbaijan and Sistan-Baluchistan formed an alliance in Hanover, Germany on Saturday 23 February. The alliance “Solidarity for Freedom and Equality in Iran” has announced its objective as “toppling the Islamic Republic.”
The coalition includes five militant Kurdish parties as well as other militant groups from Khuzestan and Azarbaijan, and a few groups including democratic secular republicans and Marxists.
The freedom movement of Iran may have noticed the changing situation and its letter to political parties around the world could be its way of making itself known as a player that once had a role in the government, hoping to secure a place in the country’s future in case dramatic changes take place.
2- ‘Enough Is Enough: Iran Won’t Give US More Concessions’
Iran Front Page, February 25 2019
Link to the source
A senior conservative journalist says Tehran has not gained much from the US in return for the many concessions it has given Washington.
Hossein Shariatmadari, the managing director of the conservative Iranian newspaper Kayhan, has, in an editorial published by the daily, taken a swipe at Tehran’s performance in dealing with the US government. The full text of the analytical piece follows.
In his book titled “The Prince,” Niccolò Machiavelli says sometimes it would be very wise to seem crazy! This recommendation is explained by Herman Kahn in one of his books. He says maybe the best way to impose our policies would be to pretend that we are a little nervous and emotional. In this deterrent game, says Kahn, the side which seems to be determined and has left no path to return would have a better chance of gaining concessions from the other side, which has entered the scene with a modest and calm behaviour. He says this is the same place where unwise wisdom is allowed. According to him, pretending to be abiding by an unwise policy may be the best strategy to adopt in the face of a crisis.
It should be noted that when someone feels they are facing an opponent who complies with no laws and regulations and who may make any crazy move when confronted, they prefer to give in to the opponent’s demands in order to spare themselves of this lunatic!
The United States and its European allies have exactly used this ploy in dealing with Iran, and, unfortunately, they have somehow succeeded in taking advantage of this tactic due to the inaction of some Iranian foreign policy officials!
After resigning as US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley said in a speech at Charlotte conference that he always regarded Trump a short-tempered person who was unpredictable during negotiations in order to scare the other side. This was what Trump wanted and the mission assigned to her, she says.
It would be unfair if we do not mention this point. While many politicians across the world and some politicians inside the country have fallen for this ploy by Washington and referred to Trump as a lunatic, the supreme Leader described him as someone who pretends to be mad.
And there are reports that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has extended Iran’s suspension from the FATF’s blacklist for another four months. Why? The only reason for this 4-month suspension would be Iran’s resistance to their humiliating demand with regards to the approval of the four bills related to the FATF, especially the Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) law and the Palermo Convention. The FATF had threatened that Iran would face tough consequences if Iran failed to ratify the bills. However, the ratification of the FATF would mean “suicide for fear of death!”
Despite insistence by the administration and a number of MPs, the Expediency Council was tasked with deciding on whether or not to approve the bills. Fortunately, most members of the council realized the disgraceful and disastrous nature of the FATF and have, so far, refused to give the go-ahead to the ratification of the bills. In other words, when the FATF saw its threats were ineffective, it has suspended Iran on the blacklist in a bid to make the Expediency Council approve the humiliating bills.
Addressing the opponents of the FATF, A pro-government economic analyst says, “Why do you insist that we be regarded as terrorists in the world?”. He claims there are misgivings of treasons when it comes to the opponents of the FATF. In response, we should say, “Why are you insisting on introducing the IRGC, the Quds Force, the Intelligence Ministry, the Defense Ministry, etc., as terrorists? If you are unaware of the contents of the CFT, why are you expressing views on a subject you know nothing about? And if you know about it, then we should ask ‘Isn’t it treason to describe the IRGC, the Quds Force, the Defense Ministry and Intelligence Ministry as terrorists?’ Or ‘Should we [instead] oppose the ratification of bills whose approval would sound the death knell to national security and result in the surrender of Iranian people to Takfiri terrorists? Hasn’t the FATF officially announced that it does not accept Iran’s definition of terrorism, and hasn’t the US Treasury’s website officially described the aforementioned entities as terrorists?’
One should ask those supporting the ratification of the said bills what will happen if Iran does not accept the FATF.
Mr Zarif says, “Neither me, as Foreign Minister, nor Mr Rouhani, as President, can give any guarantees that the ratification of the CFT would solve any of our economic problems! But it can strip the US of some of the pretexts it has!”
Mr Zarif does not explain, first, which pretexts? Isn’t the existence of the Islamic Republic’s establishment the United States’ main pretext? And, second, in return for so many concessions that we have given, what have we gained over the past five years and a few months except the increase of sanctions and the dozens of hostile cases that the White House has opened against us?
Bitten once, no wise person should be bitten again from the same spot. Do we have to be bitten dozens of times before we come to our senses? Just mention one single concession that we have got from them. Go ahead, please!
What is INSTEX, whose implementation has been conditioned by the FATF upon the ratification of the four bills? “Oil for Food and Drugs!” Isn’t this so-called trade channel with Europe anything other than the humiliation of the Iranian nation? We are supposed to transfer to European banks the forex gained from selling oil! In return, we are supposed to purchase goods from European countries, and not any other countries; but what commodities? Only medicines and food! So far, everything is in the Europeans’ interests. Well, what about our share? Will they buy petroleum from us? The answer is “No.” Will European banks lift the sanctions? Again the answer is “No.” Then what is INSTEX and what benefit does it have for us? Practically nothing! Isn’t it so?
And what countries are supposed to monitor its implementation? Read on!
The supervision is based in France, a country which has overtly turned into a safe haven for terrorists. Members of the MKO terrorist group, who, by their own admission, have murdered some 14 thousand Iranians (The true figure is 17,000) are present in France. During the arrest of members of one of the decision-making centres of ISIS terrorists in Iraq, it was revealed that 13 of those apprehended were French officers involved in the terrorist group’s plans.
The project is managed by Germany, a country which wouldn’t allow the plane carrying Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to fuel despite the fact that Zarif was travelling to Germany at the official invitation of that country to attend the Munich conference. Also, Germany has been holding one of Iranian diplomats in detention for months despite his diplomatic immunity.
And the auditing job lies with the government of the UK, a country which, according to Mr., Zarif, does not allow Iran to open even one bank account.
Finally, we hope the recent ploy by the US and its allies will have no bearing on the calculations of the respected members of the Expediency Council and we hope they will keep in mind this part of remarks by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei that “The proposals made by them (hegemonic powers) generally include deception, deceit and lies. Today, the Iranian nation regards a number of European governments along with the United States as deceitful and unreliable. The government of the Islamic Republic [of Iran] should carefully preserve its borders with them, not step back an inch from its revolutionary and national values and not be afraid of their hollow threats.”
The Many Faces of the MEK, Explained By Its Former Top Spy Massoud Khodabandeh
Ty Joplin, Albawaba, November 18 2018:… Khodabandeh admits that he had a difficult time reintegrating into society, as he struggled to rid himself of the constraints the MEK forces upon its members. He forbade himself from watching television, and did not know the extent of Iraq’s crimes against Iranians during the Iran-Iraq War. But Khodabandeh considers himself lucky; he was able to leave the group while thousands are still trapped inside …
The Many Faces of the MEK, Explained By Its Former Top Spy Massoud Khodabandeh
By Ty Joplin
Before Massoud Khodabandeh settled into his life as a consultant living quietly in the middle of England, he was directing the intelligence operations of a group that’s been labelled as a terrorist cult.
The group is called the Mujahideen al-Khalq (MEK), and Khodabandeh had, for decades, witnessed its changing of faces: from radical student group opposed to the rule of the Shah in Iran, to anti-Ayatollah guerrilla group, to pro-Saddam militia, to what it is now, an inward-looking and reclusive group with no clear identity beyond its obedience to its leader, Maryam Rajavi.
Massoud Khodabandeh left the group and granted Al Bawaba an exclusive interview, where he documents his smuggling of radio equipment into Iran, his spying on Iranian leaders and MEK defectors and his eventual departure from the group.
Khodabandeh details to Al Bawaba his founding of an MEK cell in London and his imprisonment for participating in a sit-in of the Iranian embassy during the 1979 Iran revolution. After that, he began operating covertly in Europe, traversing the continent with secret funding and passports, looking over all of the MEK’s cells working in Europe at the time, slowing becoming one of its most senior and trusted members.
After the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war and the MEK’s falling out with the Iranian regime, Khodabandeh began smuggling radio equipment into Iran via Baghdad, taking powerful radio technology into a secluded station in the mountains of Iranian Kurdistan and surviving attacks by Iranian forces in the process.
As well as helping the MEK cement an international presence, Khodabandeh also remembers helping the MEK’s former leader, Massoud Rajavi, with a particular request. Rajavi asked Khodabandeh to send him dozens of books on cults and psychological manipulation; a request Khodabandeh did not hesitate to fulfill. Decades later, he learned that each book he was smuggling to Massoud was being translated into Farsi and used as a guide on how to transform the MEK into a personalist cult dedicated to serving the will of its leader, Massoud.
After leaving the group, Khodabandeh admits that he had a difficult time reintegrating into society, as he struggled to rid himself of the constraints the MEK forces upon its members.
He forbade himself from watching television, and did not know the extent of Iraq’s crimes against Iranians during the Iran-Iraq War. But Khodabandeh considers himself lucky; he was able to leave the group while thousands are still trapped inside its confines, doomed to be associated with an opposition group many consider a terrorist cult.
To listen to the full conversation, click here:
Speaking in depth about my experiences with the MEK, from my days as a student up to why I left. Thanks to Ty Joplin of Albawaba for the podcast.
‘The Many Faces of the MEK, Explained By Its Former Top Spy Massoud Khodabandeh’ on #SoundCloud #np https://t.co/IvXGbFdqun
— Massoud khodabandeh (@ma_khodabandeh) November 14, 2018
Open Letter to Prime Minister Edi Rama – Secure the lives of all current and former MEK members
Anne and Massoud Khodabandeh, Balkans Post, November 06 2018:… Please, make sure that the MEK leadership does not lose its mind and commit horrific acts in your country. Enforce the law and impose the authority of your government over the MEK cult and reassure the European public that Albania is a responsible country. Your reply to this letter will be that you ensure the safety and security of all members and former members of MEK in Albania …
Open Letter to Prime Minister Edi Rama – Secure the lives of all current and former MEK members
Massoud and Anne Khodabandeh, former members of the Mojahedin Khalq (MEK) cult, sent an open letter to Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Albania, to show their concerns of an imminent terrorist atrocity that would take place in Albania.
Here is the full transcript of the letter:
Dear Prime Minister Rama,
This letter is being sent to you by Massoud and Anne Khodabandeh. We are two British citizens living in Leeds, UK. We are both former members of the Mojahedin Khalq (MEK) cult, who now work as deradicalization experts. We follow with great concern the issue of terrorism and radicalisation in Europe, with particular attention to the MEK. We are sending this open letter because of our concerns of an imminent terrorist atrocity that would take place in Albania.
The MEK cult/organization, which your government has hosted in Albania since 2013, is running a campaign to convince the people of Albania that they have distanced from their terrorist past. Efforts to paint a softer image for the group include: taking young people to the Villepinte rally in France in June; inviting Albanian youth to a meeting titled ‘Against Execution’ (and only mentioning Iran, not Saudi Arabia and America and China as examples); contacting members of parliament and party officials to convince them that their terrorist history is not true and has been made up by Iran to demonize the group. This is particularly ridiculous, and any politician or official who believes this in spite of all the evidence to the contrary is being deliberately stupid.
If MEK have changed, why don’t they open up their camp in Manez and allow free access to their secretive camp and their members? Why are they living in paramilitary conditions, with uniforms and gender segregation like in a military garrison? The films of retired German politicians and recruited journalists visiting the camp which were designed to show MEK as ‘ordinary folk’ inadvertently exposed and boasted of these conditions. Why don’t they integrate with the local Albanian community and instead insist having their own city in Albania, their own healthcare and bakery, etc.?
More importantly, since MEK members are working, why don’t they have work permits and pay taxes as Albanian citizens must do? What are they contributing to Albania?
Albanians are waking up to the reality of having a terrorist cult in their midst. The overt behaviour which alarmed citizens of Tirana from 2013 to 2017 has now been hidden behind closed doors. But this does not make the problem go away. Indeed, it makes the group more dangerous since there is no public scrutiny.
The scandal of the Mohammadi family is still fresh in everyone’s minds. What kind of ‘revolutionary’ is the daughter of Mostafa and Mahbubeh Mohammadi, Somayeh who is apparently too afraid to tell her mother face to face not to contact her again. As you already might know, MEK did not allow her any freedom in the matter and she is still subject to constant surveillance and monitoring, she is chaperoned everywhere.
As you are aware, MEK are very vocal that they perceive their group to be the target for death and annihilation from Iran. They claim that agents of Iran’s intelligence services are around every corner and even pose as journalists! That is clearly a matter for Albania’s security and intelligence agencies. The MEK must not be allowed to take the law into their own hands.
However, on a political level it has become clear now that relocating the MEK in Albania and then not de-radicalizing the individuals has attracted the threat of political violence to Albania. No matter which side your government takes – and let us be clear, Albania cannot have good relations with the government of Iran whilst harbouring a terrorist group which is actively working for regime change against Iran, a side must be chosen – the individual members of MEK must be protected.
Your government must take very seriously any threat to the lives of individual MEK members. At this time there is credible evidence of an imminent threat from the MEK leader Maryam Rajavi against members of her own group. Events over the past year – as outlined in this article, and this – indicate that a fatal false flag operation is being planned to advance the agenda of those who wish to destroy the JCPOA and cause a rift in Europe’s relations with Iran. Since the previous alleged plots did not achieve this aim, more drastic action is called for. Experts on the MEK are of the opinion that MEK is planning to kill some of its members, or former members, in Albania, which would then be blamed on Iran. Albania, situated outside the EU and with ongoing problems with crime and corruption, is ideally placed as a scapegoat for violent activity.
The MEK has a long history of setting up scenarios which are used by Iran’s enemies. This latest series of alleged plots in Europe fits into that profile. Your government should not underestimate the capabilities of MEK for such acts. The group’s modus operandi is based on self-sacrifice for the struggle. Over the years, Maryam Rajavi (and her missing husband Massoud) have used the blood of martyrs to keep the group going. The radicalized MEK members who believe in jihad and war are motivated to continue the same path of struggle of these martyrs. Bloodshed also enables MEK to eliminate unwanted members.
The case of Malik Sharai is an example of this activity. Sharai was planning to leave MEK, but as witness to the controversial September 2013 massacre at Camp Ashraf in Iraq, MEK leaders could not allow him to speak publicly about those events.
Your government allowed MEK to evade proper investigation into that death, just as they barred Iraqi investigators from doing their job in Iraq. Malik Sharai was buried without a post mortem examination to establish the cause of death. MEK claimed there were cultural/religious reasons why the Coroner could not do his job. This is not true. No conditions exist that would prevent a full post mortem examination. MEK have thereby flouted Albanian law and regulations to prevent proper investigation into how Sharai died.
The case of Sharai is mentioned because this example must alert you to the danger that MEK members face from their own leader.
What can your government do to stop MEK from committing a terrorist act against their members?
Firstly, MEK must be brought under control. The rule of ALBANIAN law must apply to MEK as it must to every other citizen of Albania. The camp at Manez must be opened up so that proper scrutiny and regulation of MEK’s activities can be conducted by the relevant authorities; Albanian police, tax officers, healthcare providers, anti-slavery activists etc must have full access to MEK and its members. People like Somayeh Mohammadi must be set free to choose their fate.
No matter from where the threat to life originates, every individual MEK member needs protection. To qualify for state protection, MEK members must be issued with identity and residency documents. They should not be left without work permits – a fact that forces many of them to remain radicalized inside MEK.
Security must come from the neutral state not from a private firm in the pay of the MEK. Police must have a presence inside the camp to impose law and order.
Although MEK state that the estranged families of MEK members want to come to Albania to kill them, we know from fifteen years’ experience that the opposite is true and that people whose families are actively campaigning to contact them have not come to harm and have often been able to leave MEK and return to normal life. Your government should issue visas to these families, so they can visit their loved ones in Albania.
Finally, we urge you to increase the vigilance of Albanian security services around the MEK members in Albania, including former members. We have strong indications that a false flag operation against MEK might be planned in your country by a foreign government, which will use this incident against the European Union and its relations with Iran. In order to avoid this, your government must do its utmost to save the lives of MEK members from their leadership, which as in the past, is willing to kill some of its members for its survival agenda. A terrorist act against MEK members by a foreign country on Albanian soil will be a major incident and an embarrassment for your government and the European governments which do not want to see something like this take place in your country.
Please, make sure that the MEK leadership does not lose its mind and commit horrific acts in your country. Enforce the law and impose the authority of your government over the MEK cult and reassure the European public that Albania is a responsible country.
Your reply to this letter will be that you ensure the safety and security of all members and former members of MEK in Albania.
Anne and Massoud Khodabandeh
Letër e hapur Kryeministrit Edi Rama – siguro jetën e të gjithë anëtarëve dhe dezertorëve të MEK-ut
I dashur Kryeministër Rama,
Këtë letër po ta shkuajmë ne, Massoud dhe Anne Khodabandeh. Ne jemi dy qytetarë britanik që jetojmë në Leeds, Britaninë e Madhe. Jemi ish-anëtarë të kultit të Moxhahedinëve Iranianë (MEK), që tanimë punojnë si ekspertë në fushën e deradikalizimit. Ne ndjekim me shqetësim të madh çështjen e radikalizmit dhe terrorizmit në Evropë, duke i kështuar vëmendje të posaçme MEK-ut. Këtë letër të hapur po ua dërgojmë, pasi jemi të shqetësuar mbi një sulm terrorist i cili mund të ndërmerret në Shqipërisë.
Organizata okulte e MEK-ut, të cilën qeveria juaj strehon që prej vitit 2013, ka ndërmarrë një fushatë nëpërmjet të cilës kërkon ti bindë shqiptarët që ajo është distancuar nga e kaluara e saj terroriste. Pjesë e kësaj përpjekje për përmirësim imazhi janë: dërgimi i shqiptarëve në takimin e Villepinte në Francë në qershor; ftesa e të rinjve shqiptarë në takime sikur ai që u bë “kundër ekzekutimeve” (ku u përmend vetëm Irani, por jo Arabia Saudite, Amerika dhe Kina si shembuj vendesh ku njerëzit dënohen me vdekje); kontaktet që MEK bënë me deputetët e parlamentit dhe zyrtarë partiakë në Shqipëri ku ata mundohen ti bindin ata që historia terroriste e MEK-ut nuk është e vërtetë por është sajuar nga Irani për të baltosur grupin. Kjo e fundit në veçanti është një gjë shumë e ulët, dhe nëse ka politikanë apo zyrtarë shqiptarë që beson këtë rrenë duke injoruar malin me fakte që ekziston, do të thotë që dikush të pranoj të luaj rrolin e idiotit.
Nëse MEK-u sikur ai pretendon, ka ndryshuar, ne pyesim: pse ata nuk e hapin kampin e tyre në MANËZ dhe të lejojnë publikun që të hyjë dhe shohë kampin e tyre sekret dhe anëtarët që ata kanë? Pse anëtarët e MEK-ut vazhdojnë të jetojnë në kushte paramilitariste, me uniforma ku burrat ndahen nga gratë sikur të jenë në një garnizon ushtarak? Filmimi që përpara disa ditësh disa gazetarë të paguar dhe disa politikanë pensionistë gjermanë bënë ndërsa vizituan kampin, ku kërkohej që MEK-sat të tregohen si “njerëz normalë” në fakt tregoi kushtet ku ata jetojnë. Përse muxhahedinët nuk integrohen me komunitetet vendase në Shqipëri, por këmbëngulin që të kenë qytetin e tyre, punishten e tyre, dhe qendrat e tyre shëndetësore etj?
Për më tepër, anëtarët e MEK-ut që punojnë, përse nuk kanë leje pune dhe pse nuk paguajnë taksa sikur qytetarët shqiptarë? Çfarë kontributi po i japin ata shoqërisë shqiptare?
Shqiptarët e kanë kuptuar tashmë që në mesin e tyre qëndron një kult terrorist. Sjellja e tyre e cila alarmoi qytetarët shqiptarë ndërmjet viteve 2013 dhe 2017 tanimë është fshehur në dyert e mbyllura të kampit. Por kjo nuk e zgjidh problemin e tyre. Por në të kundërt, e bën grupin më të rrezikshëm pasi tanimë publiku nuk sheh më se çfarë ata bëjnë.
Skandali i familjes Mohammadi është akoma i freskët në mendjet e qytetarëve. Çfarë ‘revolucionare’ është vajza e Mostafa dhe Mahbubeh Mohammadit, Sommaya e cila sikur edhe është parë ka frikë të takojë mamanë e saj dhe ti thotë në sy që nuk do ta takoj? Sikur edhe ju mund ta dini, MEK-u nuk e la atë të dalë nga kampi dhe ajo vazhdon të mbahet nën survejim nga moxhahedinët, të cilët e shoqërojnë kudo e ngado.
Sikur edhe ju mund ta dini, MEK-u pretendon natë e ditë që grupi i tyre rrezikohet për tu goditur nga Irani. Ata pretendojnë se agjentët e shërbimeve iraniane janë kudo dhe shfaqen edhe si gazetarë! Kuptohet që këtë gjë e vendosin organet e sigurisë shqiptare dhe jo MEK-u. Por shqetësimi ynë është që MEK-u nuk duhet të lejohet që të sillet si polic në Shqipëri.
Sikur edhe ju mund ta keni kuptuar, sjellja e MEK-ut në Shqipëri dhe mos deradikalizimi i tyre ka rritur nivelin e dhunës politike në Shqipëri. Pa marrë parasysh se në cilën anë qeveria juaj qendron – le ta themi hapur, Shqipëria nuk mban dot relata të mira qeverinë e Iranit ndërsa strehon në vend një organizatë terroriste e cila në mënyrë aktive punon që të ndryshoj regjimin në Iran, dhe këtu ju duhet ta ndani mendjen – dhe anëtarët e MEK-ut duhet të mbrohen.
Qeveria juaj duhet të trajtojë me seriozitet çdo kërcënim që i vjen individëve të MEK-ut. Në momentin që ne po u shkruajmë këtë letër, ekzistojnë fakte të mjaftueshme që të bëjnë të besosh për një kërcënim real që ekziston nga udhëheqësja e MEK-ut Maryam Rajavi kundër anëtarëve të organizatës së saj. Në vitin e kaluar – sikur është treguar në këtë shkrim, dhe këtë – MEK-u po planifikon të ndërmarrë një operacion të rremë terrorist [false flag operation] në bashkëpunim me grupe të cilat duan që të shkatërrojnë Marrëveshjen Nukleare të Iranit me Fuqitë Botërore të njohur si JCPOA duke shkaktuar kështu një konflikt ndërmjet Evropës dhe Iranit. Pasi deklaratat bombastike të mëparshme ndaj Iranit nuk janë marrë në konsideratë nga Fuqitë e Evropës të cilat vazhdojnë të mbështesin Marrëveshjen Nukleare me Iranin, tanimë po kërkohet që të ndërmerret një akt edhe më ekstrem. Ekspertët e MEK-ut besojnë që MEK-u po planifikon të vrasë disa nga anëtarët e vetë në Shqipëri, dhe kjo vrasje më pas do ti faturohet Iranit. Shqipëria e cila qëndron jashtë Bashkimit Evropian dhe ka probleme me krimin dhe korrupsionin, është vendi më i përshtatshëm për të kryer një krim të këtillë.
MEK-u ka një histori të gjatë krijimi të skenarëve që më pas përdoren nga armiqtë e Iranit. Pretendimet më të fundme të komploteve terroriste në Evropë i ngjajnë skenarëve të mëhershëm. Dhe për këtë arsye qeveria juaj nuk duhet të nënvleftësojë aftësitë e MEK-ut për të krijuar një incident të këtillë. Mënyra e operimit të grupit bazohet në vetëflijimin për luftën. Në vitet e kaluara, Marjam Rajavi (dhe burri i saj i zhdukur Masudi) kanë përdorur gjakun e martirëve për të motivuar grupin. Anëtarët e radikalizuar të MEK-ut që besojnë në xhihadin dhe luftën kanë mjaft indoktrinim që të martirizohen për luftën e tyre. Vrasjet janë një prej mjeteve që MEK-u përdor për të zhdukur anëtarët e padëshiruar.
Rasti i Malik Sharait është një shembull i asaj që MEK-u mund të bëj. Sharai planifikonte të largohej nga MEK-u, por duke qenë dëshmimtar i masakrës kontraversiale të shtatorit 2013 në Kampin Ashraf në Irak, komanda e MEK-ut nuk mund ta lejonte që të dëshmonte në publik për ato që ndodhën atëherë.
Fatkeqësisht qeveria juaj e lejoi MEK-un që të mos lejoj një hetim të duhur mbi këtë vdekje, në të njëjtën mënyrë sikur MEK-u i ndali edhe hetuesit në Irak që bënin punën e tyre. Malik Sharai u varros pa iu bërë një autopsi për të hetuar shkaqet e vdekjes. MEK-u e evitoi autopsinë me justifikimin se mjeku ligjor nuk mund ta kryente detyrën e tij për shkaqe kulturore / fetare. Por kjo nuk është e vërtetë. Ekzaminimi mjekësor nuk ndalohet dot për asnjëfarë arsyeje. Në këtë mënyrë MEK-u arriti ti shpëtojë ligjit shqiptar dhe rregullave duke i shpëtuar një hetimi të drejtë mbi arsyet e vdekjes së Sharait.
Ua përmendim rastin e Sharait pasi shembulli i tij duhet të shërbejë si shembull për të kuptuar rrezikun që i kanoset anëtarëve të MEK-ut nga udhëheqësja e tyre.
Çfarë duhet të bëj qeveria juaj që të ndaloj MEK-un nga kryerja e akteve terroriste kundër anëtarëve të tyre?
E para, MEK-u duhet vënë nën kontroll. Sundimi i ligjit shqiptar duhet të implementohen mbi MEK-un ashtu sikur edhe mbi çdo qytetar tjetër të Shqipërisë. Kampi i Manzës duhet të hapet kështu që aktivitetet e MEK-ut të mbikqyren nga autoritetet vendore; policia shqiptare, zyra e taksave, organet shëndetësore, aktivistët për të drejtat e njeriut etj duhet të kenë akses të plotë në kampin e MEK-ut dhe anëtarët e tij. Anëtarë sikur Somayeh Mohammadi duhet të lejohen që të vendosin vetë për fatin e tyre.
Pa marrë parasysh se nga u vjen kërcënimi, çdo individ i MEK-ut duhet të mbrohet. Në mënyrë që të gëzojnë mbrojtje të plotë ligjore, anëtarët e MEK-ut duhet të pajisen me karta identiteti dhe rezidencë. Ata nuk duhet të lihen pa leje pune – fakt i cili i detyron shumë prej tyre që të qendrojnë të radikalizuar nga MEK-u.
Siguria e muxhahedinëve duhet të vijë nga organet neutrale të shtetit dhe jo nga firma private që paguhen nga MEK-u. Policia duhet të vendoset brenda kampit të MEK-ut në mënyrë që të vendosi ligjin dhe qetësinë.
Edhe pse MEK-u pretendon se familjet e anëtarëve të MEK-ut duan të vijnë në Shqipëri për ti vrarë, ne e dimë nga eksperienca jonë pesëmbëdhjetë vjeçare se e kundërta është e vertetë. Muxhahedinët që kanë familjet e tyre që duan ti takojnë ata, nuk vijnë që ti lëndojnë por shpesh kanë qenë faktor për lirimin dhe integrimin e tyre në jetën civile. Qeveria juaj duhet të lëshojë viza për këto familje, kështu që ata të vizitojnë të afërmit e tyre në Shqipëri.
Në fund, ne u kërkojmë që të rrisni vigjilencën me organet e sigurisë përreth anëtarëve të MEK-ut në Shqipëri, duke përfshirë këtu edhe dezertorët. Kemi indikacione të forta që na bëjnë të besojmë që një plan për të kryer një operacion të rremë (false flag operation) kundër MEK-ut ndoshta është duke u planifikuar në vendin tuaj nga një qeveri e huaj, e cila kërkon ta përdori këtë incident kundër Bashkimit Evropian dhe marrëdhënieve të tij me Iranin. Në mënyrë që një gjë e këtillë të mos ndodhë, qeveria juaj duhet të marrë masat maksimale për të shpëtuar jetën e muxhahedinëve nga udhëheqja e tyre, e cila në të kaluarën, ka provuar që ka patur dëshirën për të vrarë disa prej anëtarëve të saj për të siguruar mbijetesën. Një akt terrorist kundër anëtarëve të MEK-ut nga një vend i huaj në tokën shqiptare do të jetë një incident i rëndë dhe skandal i madh për qeverinë tuaj dhe qeveritë evropiane të cilat nuk duan që një gjë e këtillë të ndodhë në vendin tuaj.
Lutemi të bëni maksimumin që udhëheqja e MEK-ut të mos humbasë logjikën që të bëjë akte të këtilla të tmerrshme në vendin tuaj. Ushtroni ligjin dhe impononi autoritetin e qeverisë mbi kultin muxhahedin dhe siguroni publikun evropian që Shqipëria është një vend i përgjegjshëm.
Përgjigja juaj më e mirë për këtë letër do të jetë siguria dhe ruajtja e të gjithë anëtarëve dhe dezertorëve të MEK-ut në Shqipëri.
Anne and Massoud Khodabandeh
MEK in Albania—Potential Implications and Security Concerns for Albania
Terrorism Monitor, Jamestown Foundation, October 14 2018:… Channel 4, a well-known British news agency, recently traveled to Albania to do the same. The film crew was met by hostile private security who were guarding the highly fortified Manëz camp. Camp members physically attacked Channel 4’s camera crew (Shqiptarja.com, August 19). This was an unprecedented event that raised several questions over the camp’s …
MEK in Albania—Potential Implications and Security Concerns for Albania
Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 16 Issue: 19
By: Ebi Spahiu
Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Mujahedeen El-Khalq (MEK) was the subject of frequent attacks from Iranian-backed proxies, which overwhelmed their members residing in camps Ashraf and Liberty in Iraq. Before this, MEK, an Iranian dissident group, began living in Iraq in the early 1980s under the protection of Saddam Hussein. As a group in exile, MEK sought refuge in Iraq under the protection of Hussein, who utilized their military capacities and ties to Iran to undermine the Iranian regime. Until 2012, the MEK was identified as a terrorist organization due to its activities inside Iran and against other regional and international powers, including attacks against U.S. diplomatic personnel and businesses operating in Iran in the 1970s. 
Following a series of lobbying efforts by MEK leadership and supporters, the group pledged to give up their weapons and violent tactics as a means to be delisted as a designated terrorist organization.  As a consequence, in 2013, the U.S. government pleaded to a number of governments to provide refuge to the MEK members, including Romania, which was the preferred destination at the time. Albania—grateful to the United States for its support during the war in Kosovo and advocating for its bid to join NATO and the EU—was the only country that responded positively to the request. Albania initially admitted some 200 members between 2013 and 2014. The United States and Albanian governments have extended the agreement since 2013, increasing the number of asylum seekers to somewhere in the range of 500-2,000 MEK members. During the summer of 2016, Tirana received the largest contingent of about 1,900 people, an operation managed by the UNHCR (Shekulli, March 12, 2016). Part of the agreement with Washington was the development of deradicalization and rehabilitation programs to be offered to members of the group.
Now, the group is residing in the outskirts of Tirana’s capital in a highly fortified camp located in Manëz. From this camp, the group is allegedly intensifying its political activities aimed at bringing down the Iranian regime (Exit.al, March 14). With emerging threats coming from radicalization and violent extremism, due to the rise of the Islamic State and other political Islamist groups in the region, the Albanian government may not be prepared or equipped to respond to the potential implications the group’s presence in Albania may bring.
MEK Activities and Support in Albania
There are a number of opportunities MEK is exploiting in order to restart its political activities against the Iranian regime now that they are residing in Albania. Recent propaganda efforts by the group’s leader, Maryam Rajavi, the widow of the founder of MEK, Massoud Rajavi, suggest that she sees herself as a key actor in fostering the opposition in Iran and subsequently bringing down the Khomeini regime (Exit.al, March 14). Much of the group’s propaganda material available online is translated in Albanian and seeks to also reach out to a local audience in their host country (Iran-interlink.org).
Moreover, the group has gathered significant support from important U.S. leaders who do not shy away from expressing their support for MEK’s potential rise as Iran’s future “democratic government” (Exit.al, June 26). This sentiment is frequently expressed on a number of occasions when important figures of the U.S. political landscape have personally visited Albania and spoken at rallies organized by MEK in Tirana (KlanTV, March 21). The most recent gatherings saw figures such as John Bolton (now U.S. National Security Advisor), Rudy Giuliani, one of President Trump’s most trusted advisors and personal lawyer, and late U.S. Senator John McCain, among others. The three seemingly demonstrated their support for MEK to be at the center of regime change in Iran (Exit.al, June 26).
The reasons why the Trump administration is supporting the group’s political objectives are unclear. It is also unclear the level of support MEK still has among the population in Iran, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that MEK is also making some powerful friends in Tirana as well. Over the years, key leaders from the Albanian government and civil society organizations have similarly provided their support during rallies and conferences organized by MEK in Paris as well as in Albania, where its new headquarters are located. In May 2015, Albania’s former Prime Minister during the war in Kosovo and current Minister of Diaspora, Pandeli Majko attended the National Council of Resistance of Iran rally in Paris with a large delegation of parliament representatives, journalists, lawyers and some civil society representatives, reiterating Albania’s support for Iran’s resistance and promising his personal support for regime change. 
In an impassioned speech over a cheering crowd, Majko said “whether you want it or not, you have involved us in your story, in your drama, in your tragedies and we understand you very well…some years ago, an American President was in Berlin and from Berlin, this politician, this great man declared ‘Ich bin a Berliner’. And in the name of my friends and in Albania, I’ve come here to say ‘Men mujahed astam’. I have a dream to come soon to Tehran. Invited by you.”  At the time, Majko’s attendance in the Paris rally was not covered by local media.
Despite the group’s increasing political support, recent media reports and several incidents between MEK members and local communities in Albania expose their continuing secretive activities and ongoing struggles to receive legitimacy as a democratic organization. Over the years, several media agencies have been interested in documenting the lives of MEK members in Albania and their political struggles in Iran. Channel 4, a well-known British news agency, recently traveled to Albania to do the same. The film crew was met by hostile private security who were guarding the highly fortified Manëz camp. Camp members physically attacked Channel 4’s camera crew (Shqiptarja.com, August 19). This was an unprecedented event that raised several questions over the camp’s activities (Lapsi.al, August 19). The event was widely reported by local media, which was also able to obtain a threat assessment on the group by Albania’s Intelligence Agency. According to the report initially made available to Channel 4 and then to other Iranian and local media, the group remains “deeply indoctrinated” and some of their activities, including murders of their members, are similar to the ones in Iraq (The Iranian, August 2018).
Testimonies from dissidents who left the group in recent months speak of similar military trainings, indoctrination and pressure to follow the group’s ideology (Top Channel, February 13). Although in the early years some of their members who relocated to Albania sought opportunities to travel abroad and join family members in the West, some 200 members have fled the group and continue to live in Albania (Top Channel, February 13). There is no clarity of their legal status or the employment opportunities available in a country suffering from high unemployment rates. However, some advocacy initiatives—often seemingly pro-Russian and pro-Iranian—are already fostering opposition against the group. Some of this opposition is often portrayed by the MEK leadership as an operation conducted by Iran’s security agencies (Lapsi.al, August 19; Media e Lire, April 17; Nejat NGO, September 29) Moreover, integrating the rest of the members still in Manëz into Albania’s society does not seem to be in the immediate interest for the MEK.
The MEK’s presence and activities may have serious repercussions for Albania and Albanian policy-makers. Leaders in Tirana may not foresee the long-term consequences of expanding their role on foreign policy issues beyond the small Balkan nation’s traditional reach. The group remains an existential threat to the Iranian regime. Over the years, Tehran has supported significant raids via Hezbollah and other proxy organizations in Iraq to destroy the group and kill key MEK leaders. As a result, Albanian authorities should expect more involvement from Iran in its internal and regional affairs. At the moment, there are no clear signs that Iran’s presence is significant in the region. Authorities in both Kosovo and Macedonia, however, have raised alarm bells over Iranian-linked NGOs having ties to terrorism-related activities in the past (Balkan Insight, June 25, 2015). If no effective responses are undertaken, MEK’s presence and Iran’s attention towards the Western Balkans may inflame sectarian divides in smaller communities and amplify regional rifts. Sectarian division is a latent phenomenon among Albanian Muslims, but they also remain under the pressure of other forms of Islamist radicalization. This is due to the emergence of Islamic State and Turkey’s instrumentalization of political Islam, among others.
Albania continues to struggle with endemic corruption and organized crime and the emergence of religious radicalization as a regional security threat and potential sectarian rifts may add to the list of challenges facing Albania’s political landscape. As a result, the country may not be prepared to inherit a long-standing struggle between a major regional Middle Eastern power and a former terrorist organization. Especially since both may utilize Albania’s internal vulnerabilities for their own political gains.
- See U.S. State Department Press Release (US State Department, September 28, 2012).
- Pandeli Majko’s speech in Paris, May 10, 2015: