Nejat Society, October 12 2021:… “For a period of time, I had to spy on defectors,” Rafiq admits. “Until the day I ran into Sarafraz in the Cafe. It was his birthday. I joined him and other defectors who were having a party in the Café but then I was punished by the MEK agents. They told me that I had passed the red line.” In order to punish him, MEK agents Javad Khorasan and Abdollah Tehrani forced him to sign a paper containing some fabricated information on the defectors accusing them of being agents of the Iranian intelligence. Rafiq Dehghan Defects MEK
Rafiq Dehghan Defects MEK
The former member, Rafiq Dehghan, officially declared his disassociation from the Mujahedin Khalq Organization.
Link to the original report in Farsi:
Rafiq Dehghan from Iranshahr, Baluchestan, Iran, left the MEK in Albania after 17 years. In the announcement published by Rafiq on MEK Survivors’ website, he explains how he was deceived to join the group as a young Baluch who was seeking a happy life.
“About 17 years ago, I got to know a human trafficker named Ali,” he writes. “He told me that he could take me to Europe and I accepted what he said. After three days, I crossed the Iranian border and went to Pakistan where an Iranian man called Farid received me. Ali said that Farid would help me travel to Europe. Farid took me to an apartment in Golshahr region in Karachi.”
Though, Farid told Rafiq that he had to go to Iraq and stay there for some time before immigrating to Europe. “I asked him how long I had to stay in Iraq.” Rafiq recounts. “He told me that it would not take so long.”
By the way, Rafiq was sent to Iraq with a forged passport after bribing the Pakistani security guard at the airport. Three members of the MEK received Rafiq at Baghdad airport. “They took me to a paramilitary complex,” he recalls. “In the afternoon, I was taken to Camp Ashraf in which a man named Aidin received me. He gave me a military uniform and a pair of military boots and told me, ‘Now, you are a Mujahed’ “.
Rafiq was shocked. He had no way out. He had to stay in Iraq. “I spent tough years in Camp Ashraf until we were relocated in Albania,” he said. In Albania, he started doubting the MEK leaders who according to him were “just liars and storytellers whose lies had coerced me and brainwashed me.”
In Albania, Rafiq could manage to contact his family via another defector, Sarfaraz Rahimi who was also from Sistan Baluchestan. “I realized that the MEK cult had told me lies about my family,” he writes.
“Families are not mercenaries. The MEK leaders themselves are the top mercenaries who are henchmen of Israel and the US and Saudi Arabia.”
After Rafiq left the MEK, he was not left free by the MEK agents. They forced him to spy on other defectors of the group in Albania in exchange for giving him the monthly payment that the UNHCR is supposed to pay every refuge seeker including all MEK members.
“For a period of time, I had to spy on defectors,” Rafiq admits. “Until the day I ran into Sarafraz in the Cafe. It was his birthday. I joined him and other defectors who were having a party in the Café but then I was punished by the MEK agents. They told me that I had passed the red line.”
In order to punish him, MEK agents Javad Khorasan and Abdollah Tehrani forced him to sign a paper containing some fabricated information on the defectors accusing them of being agents of the Iranian intelligence.
Rafiq Dehghan denied all the fabricated lies that the MEK websites published under his name. “I had financial issues,” Rafiq stated.
“The cult commanders confiscated the monthly money that was mine. I had no income. Sarfaraz and his friends always helped me when I needed money. I felt guilty when I was spying against them.”
Ultimately, Rafiq Dehghan decided to defect the MEK completely. “I just want to live a free life and denounce the Cult of Rajavi that troubled me and others who are like me.”
Rafiq Dehghan Defects MEK
MEK Base In Albania – They Gave Us a Tour
Patrick Kingsley, The New York Times, February 16 2020:… I wasn’t shown the computer suites, which defectors had portrayed as a kind of troll farm: junior members using multiple accounts on Facebook and Twitter, typing messages that criticize the Iranian government, lionize the M.E.K. leadership and promote its paid lobbyists. When Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Bolton made public speeches in recent years, members were ordered “to take a particular line and tweet it 10 times from different accounts,” said Mr. Mohammadian, the former member. I was taken to an empty gym, and then to a small cafeteria. It was already close to midnight, but a small group of women had been told to wait up for me. MEK Base In Albania – They Gave Us a Tour
MEK Base In Albania – They Gave Us a Tour
Highly Secretive Iranian Rebels Are Holed Up in Albania. They Gave Us a Tour.
Depending on whom you ask, the People’s Jihadists are Iran’s government-in-waiting or a duplicitous terrorist cult that forbids sexual thoughts. What are they doing in Albania?
MANEZ, Albania — In a valley in the Albanian countryside, a group of celibate Iranian dissidents have built a vast and tightly guarded barracks that few outsiders have ever entered.
Depending on whom you ask, the group, the Mujahedeen Khalq, or People’s Jihadists, are either Iran’s replacement government-in-waiting or a duplicitous terrorist cult. Journalists are rarely allowed inside the camp to judge for themselves, and are sometimes rebuffed by force.
But after President Trump’s decision to assassinate Qassim Suleimani, a powerful Iranian general, it seemed worth trying again. Would a group that claims to want a democratic, secular Iran allow a reporter inside their camp?
The group’s loudest allies include Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and John R. Bolton, his former National Security Adviser. Both have received tens of thousands of dollars for speaking at the group’s conferences, where these influential Americans describe the People’s Jihadists as Iran’s most legitimate opposition.
Initially, the group ignored several requests for access. So less in hope than desperation, I drove to its base and presented my credentials to a guard.
Three hours later, shortly before sunset, I got a call. To my surprise, I was being allowed inside. So began a series of interviews, propaganda sessions and tours that lasted until 1:30 a.m. A New York Times photographer was admitted several days later.
The group perhaps hoped to correct the impression left by previous journalistic encounters. A visit in 2003 by a Times reporter to the group’s former base in Iraq ended badly after her subjects spoke from a rehearsed script, and she was barred from talking to people in private.
This time around, most residents were off limits, but officials did allow private interviews with several members.
At my request, these included Somayeh Mohammadi, 39, whose family has argued for nearly two decades that she is being held against her will.
“This is my choice,” said Ms. Mohammedi, after her commanders left the room. “If I want to leave, I can leave.”
While the group may not have tried to hide Ms. Mohammedi, there were several odd and telling moments when secrets were tightly held.
In particular, senior officials stumbled when asked about the whereabouts of the group’s nominal leader, Massoud Rajavi, who vanished in 2003.
“Where is he?” said Ali Safavi, the group’s main representative in Washington. “Well, we can’t talk about that, that’s … ”
He trailed off, staring at his feet.
Is he still alive? Is he in Albania?
“We can’t talk about it,” Mr. Safavi replied, after several seconds of silence.
Founded in 1965 to oppose the Shah of Iran, the group later rejected the theocracy that replaced him.
Immediately following the revolution, the group attracted significant public support and emerged as a leading source of opposition to the new theocratic regime, according to Professor Ervand Abrahamian, a historian of the group.
The group claims it still attracts significant support, but Mr. Abrahamian said its popularity plummeted after becoming more violent in the early 1980s.
“When you talk to people who lived through the revolution, and you mention the name ‘Mujahedeen’, they shudder,” said Mr. Abrahamian.
By the 1980s, the group’s ideology had begun to center on Mr. Rajavi and his wife, Maryam.
To prove their devotion to the Rajavis, members were told to divorce their spouses and renounce romance.
At the time, the group was based in Iraq, under the protection of Saddam Hussein.
Its destiny changed after the American-led invasion of Iraq. After an initial standoff, the group, also known as the M.E.K., gave up its weapons. Despite having been listed by America as a terrorist organization in 1997, it was placed under American protection.
But in 2009, American troops ceded responsibility for the M.E.K. to the Iraqi government. Led by politicians sympathetic to Iran, the Iraqi authorities tacitly allowed Iran-allied militias to attack the group.
American and United Nations diplomats began searching for a safer country to house the group. After intensive lobbying by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, the American government also removed them from a list of terrorist organizations in 2012.
A year later, they were finally welcomed by Albania. The Albanian government hoped its hospitality would curry favor with Washington, according to the foreign minister between 2013 and 2019, Ditmir Bushati.
The group purchased several fields in a valley 15 miles west of Tirana, the capital, and built a camp there.
When I visited, the base seemed oddly empty. The group claims it houses about 2,500 members. But across the two days, we saw no more than 200.
The others seemed to have been sequestered away — or to have left the group altogether.
Dozens of former members now live independently in Albania. I met 10 of them, who each described being brainwashed into a life of celibacy.
Inside the group, they said romantic relationships and sexual thoughts were banned, contact with family highly restricted, and friendships discouraged.
All recounted being forced to participate in self-criticism rituals, whereby members would confess to their commanders any sexual or disloyal thoughts they had.
“Little by little, you are broken,” said Abdulrahman Mohammadian, 60, who joined the group in 1988 and left in 2016. “You forget yourself and you change your personality. You only obey rules. You are not yourself. You are just a machine.”
The group strongly denied the accusations and portrays many of its critics, including Mr. Mohammadian, as Iranian spies.
I was taken on a three-hour tour of a museum about the M.E.K.’s history, where the exhibits did not mention Saddam Hussein or forced celibacy. Instead, they focused on the group’s persecution.
Some rooms had been turned into replica torture chambers, to explain how Iranian jailers punished and interrogated supporters during the 1980s.
In each room, members waited in silence for me. These turned out to be survivors of the torture — ready to personally explain each method of repression.
One survivor, Raheem Moussavi, stood beside a bloodied mannequin and slowly detailed the four different techniques the Iranian torturers used to beat him. The process culminated in being whipped by a metallic cat-o’-nine tails.
Searching for influence, the group has turned increasingly to the internet.
I was shown a recording studio, where two musicians compose anti-regime songs and music videos for release on Iranian social media.
I wasn’t shown the computer suites, which defectors had portrayed as a kind of troll farm: junior members using multiple accounts on Facebook and Twitter, typing messages that criticize the Iranian government, lionize the M.E.K. leadership and promote its paid lobbyists.
When Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Bolton made public speeches in recent years, members were ordered “to take a particular line and tweet it 10 times from different accounts,” said Mr. Mohammadian, the former member.
I was taken to an empty gym, and then to a small cafeteria. It was already close to midnight, but a small group of women had been told to wait up for me.
They scoffed at the idea of the troll farm. As for the limits on their private lives, they said such discipline was necessary when battling as cruel an adversary as the government of Iran.
“You can’t have a personal life,” said Shiva Zahedi, “when you’re struggling for a cause.”
After I left, the group put me in touch with three former American military officers who had helped guard an M.E.K. camp in Iraq after the American invasion.
Each spoke glowingly about the M.E.K., and said its members had been free to leave since the American military began protecting it in 2003.
American officers had access to every area of the Iraqi base, and found no prison cells or torture facilities, said Brig. Gen. David Phillips, who commanded the military policemen guarding the camp in 2003 and 2004.
“I wanted to find weapons, I wanted to find people tied to beds,” General Phillips said. “We never found it.”
But other records and witnesses gave a more complex account.
Capt. Matthew Woodside, a former naval reservist who oversaw American policy at the Iraqi camp between 2004 and 2005, was not one of those whom the M.E.K. suggested I contact.
He said that in reality American troops did not have regular access to camp buildings or to group members whose relatives said they were held by force.
The M.E.K. leadership tended to let members meet American officials and relatives only after a delay of several days, Captain Woodside said.
“They fight for every single one of them,” he said.
It became so hard for some members, particularly women, to flee that two of them ended up trying to escape in a delivery truck, he recalled.
“I find that organization absolutely repulsive,” Captain Woodside said. “I am astounded that they’re in Albania.”
Besar Likmeta contributed reporting.
MEK Base In Albania – They Gave Us a Tour
Rafiq Dehghan Defects MEK
Remember: MEK was an American excuse to invade Iraq
Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, May 31 2019:… Bush branded Iraq part of an “axis of evil” for harboring, financing and aiding terrorists Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or MEK. Bolton’s first encounters with the MEK took place in Iraq, where for a period it had aligned itself with Hussein’s government, which was fighting a war with Iran. The Iranian opposition group Bolton was referring to in his New York Times opinion article is the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a controversial Paris-based political organization also known as the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or MEK . ( Also Ali Safavi NCRI )
Remember: MEK was an American excuse to invade Iraq
Escalating Iran crisis looks a lot like the path US took to Iraq war
The U.S. military’s guided bombs brought “shock and awe” to Baghdad in 2003 when American forces invaded Iraq 16 years ago to hunt for weapons of mass destruction. They never found any. Many observers, today, consider that war a failure.
Now, half of all Americans believe the U.S. will go to war with Iran “within the next few years,” according to a Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll released in late May amid increased tensions between the two countries, longtime geopolitical foes.
The escalating Tehran-Washington crisis comes as the White House claims, without providing detail or public evidence, that Iran poses an increased threat to American forces and facilities in the Middle East – one year after Trump withdrew from an accord between Iran and world powers aimed at limiting Tehran’s nuclear capabilities.
Trump’s hawks: Bolton amps up Iran sabotage claims, desire for nuclear weapons
Is Iran doomed to be an Iraq redux? This is just one of the questions raised by a crisis that has eerie parallels to the missteps that led to the Iraq War in 2003, where the buildup to conflict was precipitated by faulty intelligence and confrontational foreign policymakers such as John Bolton in President George W. Bush’s administration.
To make sense of what’s happening now, here’s what happened then:
- Operation Desert Storm – the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War – came to an end 42 days after a U.S.-led offensive was launched in response to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s invasion of neighboring Kuwait. Iraq’s dictator accused Kuwait and Saudi Arabia of conspiring to keep oil prices artificially low for western consumers. President George H.W. Bush declared a ceasefire on February 28, 1991, as Iraqi forces in Kuwait surrendered or fled back to Iraq. About 700,000 American service members were deployed to the Gulf for the short war; 383 were killed.
- When President George W. Bush became president in 2001, Hussein was back on the agenda. “There were a number of people in the Department of Defense who wanted to pursue a certain policy course. I don’t think they ever took their eyes off of Iraq,” former CIA Director John Brennan said in a 2007 National Geographic documentary about the 2003 Iraq War. “There was still a great deal of residual feeling that we should not have stopped the first Persian Gulf War when we did, but rather continue into Baghdad and topple Saddam Hussein,” ex-Senator and ex-Florida governor Bob Graham said in the same documentary.
- Among the figures Brennan and Graham were referring to: Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Bolton, who had worked as a lawyer for the Bush campaign to block recount efforts in Florida that led to state officials awarding the 2000 election to Bush over Democratic candidate Al Gore.
- Bolton was a lifelong staunch conservative with hawkish views on foreign policy. For a start, he abhorred multilateralism. “There is no United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that’s the United States,” he said of the international organization in 1994, adding: “The secretariat building in New York has 38 stories. If you lost 10 stories today, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.” Years later, Bolton’s nomination to be U.S. Ambassador to the UN was blocked because of his hardline views. He would also call for the U.S. to make pre-emptive strikes against North Korea.
- The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York City and Washington shifted the Bush administration’s focus to hunting Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, where the ruling Taliban had given shelter to the al-Qaeda’s leader, who masterminded the attacks. But Iraq was also on the radar of the Pentagon’s military planners, who feared that Hussein might try to support or orchestrate an equally, or worse, catastrophic assault on U.S. soil “We’re also working to prepare our nation for the next war,” Rumsfeld said at a briefing on Afghanistan in late 2001, referring to Iraq.
- In January 2002, Bush branded Iraq part of an “axis of evil” for harboring, financing and aiding terrorists, and for its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Also members of the club: Iran and North Korea. These countries, Bush said, “are threatening the peace of the world.” He cast aside more dovish voices in his cabinet who urged him to pursue a diplomatic path in Iraq, saying “we can’t wait for the final proof, the smoking gun, that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”
- Around the same time, Bolton, then serving as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs in Bush’s administration, was becoming a key player in pushing for a military confrontation with Iraq, saying in a BBC radio debate that he was “confident” that Iraq had “hidden” weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons and production facilities. “The U.S. has already decided the outcome of this story – Saddam will be left with no weapons of mass destruction – but how that point is reached is up to Saddam Hussein,” Bolton said in the debate in London. He was also making unverified claims about other countries he wanted included in Bush’s “axis of evil,” testifying to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs that Cuba was secretly developing a biological weapons program that could be used in warfare against American forces and civilian targets by “rogue states.” Bolton provided no details when questioned. A subsequent Senate investigation found no evidence supporting his assertions.
- In the months leading up to the Iraq War in 2003, Cheney appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with a further warning: “The situation, I think, that leads a lot of people to be concerned about Iraq has to do not just with their past activity of harboring terrorists, but also with Saddam Hussein’s behavior over the years and with his aggressive pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.”
- Despite not being able to produce clear “smoking gun” evidence of Hussein’s “hidden” program to acquire weapons of mass destruction, Bush, buoyed by key advisors such as Bolton, opted for war with Iraq. When he was not able to get an express United Nations Security Council mandate to do so he pursued a “coalition of the willing” that included Australia, Britain, Japan, Spain and others.
- After the U.S. invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003, Hussein spent nine months on the run before he was found hiding in an eight-foot-deep hole near his hometown of Tikrit. An Iraqi court convicted Hussein of crimes against humanity, for using deadly gas against Iraqi Kurds and other transgressions, and he was later executed by hanging. No evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction was found. The war was viewed as a fiasco, not only of intelligence, but because it further destabilized the region, contributed to the formation of the Islamic State terrorist group and led to the violent deaths of more 200,000 Iraqi civilians and at least 4,500 American troops. It added more than $1 trillion to U.S. government debt. Iraq’s economy, security and government remain in a fragile state.
- In an opinion article in The Guardian in 2013, Bolton wrote: “Overthrowing Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003 achieved important American strategic objectives. Our broad international coalition accomplished its military mission with low casualties and great speed, sending an unmistakable signal of power and determination throughout the Middle East and around the world. Despite all the criticism of what happened after Saddam’s defeat, these facts are indisputable.”
- Meanwhile, with the failed outcome of the 2003 Iraq War still plain to see, Bolton started ramping up his outspoken criticism of Iran’s Islamic Republic. In 2009, as President Barack Obama’s administration entered into what would turn out to be almost five years of negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, Bolton said: “Ultimately, the only thing that will stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons is regime change in Tehran.” As the deal entered its final stages, Bolton advocated in a New York Times opinion piece that the U.S. join forces with Israel: “Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed. Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran,” he wrote. The articled was headlined: “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”
- Also troubling: The Iranian opposition group Bolton was referring to in his New York Times opinion article is the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a controversial Paris-based political organization also known as the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or MEK. Along with Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, Bolton is long-time supporter of the exiled opposition group and has been paid to speak at its annual rallies. The MEK is often described by observers of its activities, including by humanitarian groups and even a U.S. government research document from 2012, as displaying “cultlike behavior.” The MEK’s reported abuses – vigorously denied to USA TODAY by its senior leadership who claim they result from a vicious and protracted “disinformation campaign” by Iran’s clerical rulers – range from torture and forced celibacy to holding members against their will, sometimes in solitary confinement. The MEK says its critics are often spies for the Iranian regime. Bolton’s first encounters with the MEK took place in Iraq, where for a period it had aligned itself with Hussein’s government, which was fighting a war with Iran.
- When Bolton joined the Trump administration as national security adviser in 2018, replacing seasoned former Army officer Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, he continued his public saber rattling and criticism of Iran by releasing a video on the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution via the White House’s official Twitter channel. In the video, Bolton calls Iran “the central banker of international terrorism” and accuses Tehran of pursuing nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them and of “tyrannizing its own people and terrorizing the world.” The video ends with a direct threat to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader: “I don’t think you’ll have many more anniversaries to enjoy,” Bolton says.
- Iran’s interest in nuclear technology dates to the 1950s, when it received help from a U.S.-backed program promoted by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who wanted to share U.S. nuclear expertise with other countries for peaceful purposes, such as energy production. But after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and a U.S. hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran effectively ended relations between the two nations, U.S. intelligence agencies have long suspected, without explicit evidence, that Iran has attempted to use its civilian nuclear program as a cover for clandestine weapons development. Obama’s 2015 nuclear accord was designed to prevent that and the UN’s nuclear watchdog has repeatedly verified through inspections and other safeguards that Iran has been complying with the terms of the agreement, even after the U.S. withdrew from it and Washington re-imposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy. Bolton has regularly decried those inspections as ineffectual, believes the nuclear accord was a sham and has advocated for a far bolder Iran policy that aggressively addresses Iran’s support for anti-American shia militias and Tehran’s ballistic missile program.
- Most Iran experts, political scientists and many U.S. lawmakers believe that it is this – Bolton’s desire, like in Iraq, to confront Iran – that underpins a still-unexplained decision by the Pentagon to deploy warships, B-52 bombers and missiles to the Persian Gulf earlier this month in response to unspecified threats from Iran in the region. The U.S. also plans to send 900 additional troops to the Middle East and extend the stay of another 600 who are part of tens of thousands of others on the ground there. “The previous administration appeased the Islamic Republic of Iran. So we are pushing back. And when you push back, tension does increase,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, another Iran hawk in the Trump administration, said in response to efforts to get clarity over the moves.
- In recent days, Bolton also has accused Iran of being behind a string of incidents in the Persian Gulf, including what officials allege was sabotage of oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and a rocket that landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, while Yemen’s Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels launched a string of drone attacks targeting Saudi Arabia. Iran has mostly avoided addressing the allegations, although it has said it doesn’t fear a war with the U.S. It has also signaled that its patience with the nuclear deal is wearing thin and threatened to resume uranium enrichment at levels higher than the accord permits. Speaking in Abu Dhabi, Bolton said Wednesday that there had been a previously unknown attempt to attack the Saudi oil port of Yanbu as well. “Who else would you think is doing it? Somebody from Nepal?” Bolton said that there was “no reason” for Iran to back out of the nuclear deal other than to seek atomic weapons.
- As for Trump’s position on Iran, nobody seems to know the president’s mind, not even, perhaps, the president. Trump has oscillated between overtly aggressive rhetoric and seemingly conciliatory statements. “We have no indication that anything’s happened or will happen, but if it does, it will be met obviously with great force,” Trump said last week at the White House. While on a four-day visit to Japan, Trump denied he wants regime change in Iran and said it’s not the goal. Some national security experts believe that Bolton’s role in pushing for war with Iran has been exaggerated, and that his influence on the president has been overstated. Still, there have been few Iran-related denials from Bolton, although just hours after the publication of this story, Bolton told a group of reporters while on a trip to London: “The policy we’re pursuing is not a policy of regime change. That’s the fact and everybody should understand it that way.”
Trump says he doesn’t want war: Is Bolton driving the U.S. into a conflict anyway?
Inside Iran: America’s contentious history in Iran leads to anger, weariness, worry
Remember: MEK was an American excuse to invade Iraq Fake MEK Writers