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.
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.
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.
Bolton/Pompeo used MEK to prep the table for Warsaw summit against EU interests
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.