Iran Front page, Xinhua News and Mehr news, July 10 2019:… Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), which is responsible for the killing of at least 12,000 Iranian civilians and many Iraqi citizens, as well as a number of other nationalities, “continues to receive funds from certain countries in the region while enjoying the support of certain states including in Europe,” he said. US Intelligence MKO Terrorists work closely against Iran ; Iranian Envoy
US Intelligence MKO Terrorists work closely against Iran ; Iranian Envoy
1- MKO Closely Working with US Intelligence against Iran
Iran Front Page, July 10 2019
Majid Takht-Ravanchi, the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, says members of the MKO terrorist cult are now closely cooperating with the US intelligence in order to create chaos in Iran.
“The MKO, which is responsible for the killing of at least 12,000 Iranian civilians and many Iraqi citizens, as well as a number of other nationalities, continues to receive funds from certain countries in the region while enjoying the support of certain States, including in Europe,” Takht-Ravanchi said Tuesday night.
He made the remarks in an address to the United Nations Security Council meeting on “Threats to international peace and security, linkages between international terrorism and organized crime”.
After being delisted as a terrorist group by the US, he added, the MKO is now active in this country and its members are closely cooperating with the US intelligence community for disruptive and destructive plots and plans against Iran.”
What follows is the full text of his statements:
In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful
I thank you for organizing this meeting. My thanks also go to the Executive Directors of the UNODC and the CTED for their input.
As global concerns, both international terrorism and transnational organized crimes require global response and the United Nations has a decisive role to play in regard to both cases. While the Security Council should continue its role on international terrorism, issues related to transnational organized crimes must be dealt with only by the General Assembly.
Terrorist and criminal groups have different motives and use different methods. However, the impacts of their activities are very similar; both are extremely disruptive and exceedingly destructive.
Iran is the victim of the activities of both terrorist groups and transnational criminals. At the same time, we are at the forefront of combating both menaces.
In the past four decades, 17,161 Iranian citizens, including almost 200 high-ranking political figures, among them one President, one Prime Minister, one Judiciary Chief, one Deputy Chief of Armed Forces and 27 MPs, as well as four nuclear scientists, have been martyred by foreign-backed terrorist groups.
The MKO, which is responsible for the killing of at least 12,000 Iranian civilians and many Iraqi citizens, as well as a number of other nationalities, continues to receive funds from certain countries in the region while enjoying the support of certain States including in Europe.
Moreover, after being delisted as a terrorist group by the US, MKO is now active in this country and its members are closely cooperating with the US intelligence community for disruptive and destructive plots and plans against Iran.
Cognizant of the serious threat posed by terrorist groups in our region, Iran has assisted Iraq and Syria, upon their request, in combating the most dangerous terrorist groups.
In our neighborhood, terrorist groups and organized criminals are involved mostly in trafficking of drugs and, in certain cases, of arms and cultural properties in order to finance their activities.
Therefore, along with terrorist groups, we have also engaged seriously in countering organized criminals, mainly those involved in drug trafficking.
As a result, in the past 40 years, 3,815 of our law enforcement forces have lost their lives and over 12,000 others have been wounded.
In the past three decades, Iran has seized approximately 11,000 tons of different types of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
In 2018 alone, our law enforcement forces carried out 1,557 operations against drug traffickers, seizing approximately 807 tons of different types of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
Our outstanding activities in combating drug traffickers have always been acknowledged at the global level.
For instance, according to the “World Drug Report 2019” of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in 2017, Iran had seized “the largest quantity of opiates … accounting for 39 per cent of the global total”.
Likewise, during the same period, the largest quantities of opium as well as the second largest quantities of morphine and heroin were also seized by Iran.
We are determined to continue our efforts in combating terrorists and drug traffickers. However, to ensure the continuity and effectiveness of our efforts, the international community must assist Iran, of course without precondition, discrimination or politicization.
I shall also refer to the detrimental effects of unilateral sanctions in undermining our efforts to counter terrorism and organized crimes.
Countries imposing such unlawful sanctions have to be reminded that their sanction policy seriously weakens the effectiveness of counter-narcotic efforts of transit countries.
Ultimately, our success in countering these menaces is dependent largely on our genuine political will, comprehensive approach and non-discriminatory cooperation and assistance.
I thank you, Mr President.
US Intelligence MKO Terrorists work closely against Iran ; Iranian Envoy
2- Iran UN envoy: US intelligence service closely cooperating with MKO terrorists
Mehr News July 10 2019
TEHRAN, Jul. 10 (MNA) – Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations says the anti-Iran terrorist group Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), supported by some regional and European countries, is working closely with the US intelligence service in a bid to plunge Iran into chaos.
“Even though terrorists and organized criminals differ in their motives and methods, they are similar to one another concerning the repercussions of their acts, which are total disruption and comprehensive destruction,” Majid Takht-Ravanchi said at a UN Security Council meeting entitled “Threats to international peace and security: Linkage between international terrorism and organized crime” in New York on Tuesday evening.
He added that Iran has been a victim of terrorists and international organized criminals, and has been a pioneer in the fight against them, Press TV reported.
Takht-Ravanchi highlighted that 17,161 Iranian citizens, including late president Mohammad Ali Rajaei, former prime minister Mohammad Javad Bahonar, late Head of Supreme Judicial Council Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, late Deputy Chief of the Iranian Armed Forces General Staff Ali Sayyad Shirazi, 27 legislators as well as four nuclear scientists have been killed by terrorists.
“The MKO terrorist group, which bears responsibility for the death of more than 12,000 Iranian civilians, is currently being sponsored by a number of regional counties and several states in Europe. (The United States of) America has provided its members refuge after removed the group from its list of designated terrorist organizations. The US intelligence service is working closely with them in order to hatch conspiracies of destruction in Iran,” the Iranian diplomat pointed out.
The MKO, listed as a terrorist organization by much of the international community, has carried out numerous attacks against Iranian civilians and government officials for several decades. In 2012, the US State Department removed the MKO from its list of designated terrorist organizations under intense lobbying by groups associated to Saudi Arabia and other regimes adversarial to Iran.
Takht-Ravanchi then pointed to Iran’s cooperation with Iraq and Syria in its fight against ISIL Takfiri terrorists, emphasizing that Iran’s military presence in both countries is based on requests by their legal governments.
The Iranian UN ambassador also made a reference to his country’s leading role in fighting drug trafficking, saying that more than 39 percent of world narcotics in 2017 were discovered by Iran.
“Over the past 40 years, Iran has lost 3,815 members of the law enforcement forces during anti-drug operations. More than 12,000 people have been injured as well,” he said.
Takht-Ravanchi finally called on the international community to support Iran in the fight against illegal drugs without any preconditions, discrimination and political considerations.
US Intelligence MKO Terrorists work closely against Iran ; Iranian Envoy
3- Iranian envoy says 17,161 Iranian citizens “martyred” by terrorist groups in 40 years
Xinhua News, July 10 2019
UNITED NATIONS, July 9 (Xinhua) — An Iranian envoy said Tuesday that 17,161 Iranian citizens have been “martyred” by foreign-backed terrorist groups in the past four decades.
“In the past four decades, 17,161 Iranian citizens, including almost 200 high-ranking political figures, among them one president, one prime minister, one judiciary chief, one deputy chief of armed forces and 27 members of parliament, as well as four nuclear scientists, have been martyred by foreign-backed terrorist groups,” Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi told the Security Council’s open debate on the linkage between international terrorism and organized crime.
“Iran is the victim of the activities of both terrorist groups and transnational criminals. At the same time, we are at the forefront of combating both menaces,” the ambassador noted.
Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), which is responsible for the killing of at least 12,000 Iranian civilians and many Iraqi citizens, as well as a number of other nationalities, “continues to receive funds from certain countries in the region while enjoying the support of certain states including in Europe,” he said.
US Intelligence MKO Terrorists work closely against Iran ; Iranian Envoy
Prisoners of Their Own Rebellion.The Cult-Like Group Fighting Iran
Luisa Hommerich, Des Spiegel (Spiegel Online), February 19 2019:… Members of the Trump administration have been providing support to a political sect that aims to topple the Iranian regime in Tehran. Around 2,000 of its members live in a camp in Albania. Former members say it is subjecting followers to torture and psychological terror. In 2007, units of the People’s Mujahedin began to receive training at a U.S. military facility in the desert of Nevada — even though the group was still listed by Washington as a terrorist organization at the time.
Prisoners of Their Own RebellionThe Cult-Like Group Fighting Iran
Members of the Trump administration have been providing support to a political sect that aims to topple the Iranian regime in Tehran. Around 2,000 of its members live in a camp in Albania. Former members say it is subjecting followers to torture and psychological terror.
By Luisa Hommerich
Former People’s Mujahedin member Gholamreza Shekari (ALESSANDRO INCHES / DER SPIEGEL)
On a country road in northwestern Albania, a rather odd collection of men and women living together in a camp are busy preparing themselves to topple the Iranian regime. Three times per week, many of them apparently practice slitting throats, breaking hands, jabbing out eyeballs with fingers and performing the so-called Glasgow Smile, which involves cutting cheeks from the corner of the mouth up toward the ear. That, at least, is the story told by a former member of the group.
The camp, roughly the size of 50 football fields and surrounded by high fences, is located just a 35-minute drive from the lively bars of downtown Tirana, but the people inside live in something of a time capsule. Former members of the group report that most of the 2,000 camp residents aren’t allowed to possess mobile phones, watches or calendars, though members of the organization that operates the camp deny those claims.
“My daughter is living somewhere in there,” says Mostafa Mohammadi, a 61-year-old Iranian man with a high forehead and deep eye sockets. Her name is Somayeh, a woman of 38. Her father, who lives in Canada, claims that she is being held in the camp against her will, which is why he spent several months in Albania last year. During a meeting there, he said: “I don’t have anything to do with politics. Please, I just want to see my daughter.”
Just like everyone in the camp, Somayeh Mohammadi is a member of the People’s Mujahedin, a once-militant Iranian opposition group that was listed by the United States. and Europe as a terrorist group until 2012. These days, however, several members of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump are supporting the group, commonly known by the abbreviation MEK. Both the administration and the MEK, after all, want to see the end of the current regime in Iran — and now that the group has Washington’s backing, the Mujahedin apparently hopes that its time has finally come.
On the sidelines of the Middle East conference in Warsaw, which began on Wednesday, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of possible “war” with Iran. And at an MEK rally in Warsaw, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani called for regime change in Tehran.
For almost 30 years, several thousand members of the People’s Mujahedin lived in exile in Iraq, but in 2013, many of them moved to Albania. And since 2017, the majority of the group has lived in the isolated camp near Tirana.
Ever since the group set up shop in Albania, however, more and more members have defected. Some tell stories of torture experienced in the camp and of group sessions in which members are required to open up about their sexual fantasies. Women are allegedly forced to wear headscarves. And all of it takes place in the name of a phantom leader named Masoud Rajavi, who hasn’t been seen since 2003. Indeed, it isn’t even clear if he is still alive; photos from the 1990s show a mustachioed man in a green uniform.
The residents of the camp are just one part of the movement, which is led by Maryam Rajavi, the wife of the vanished leader. The 65-year-old commutes between Albania and her office in Paris, from which she leads the group’s political arm, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which is active in both Europe and the U.S. NCRI is structured as a kind of interim government, ready to take over in Tehran as soon as the current regime is toppled and the group has offices in many capital cities, including one in Washington not far from the White House. In Berlin, NCRI has an office in the Wilmersdorf district, located just southwest of the city center. The movement in Germany has just a few hundred members, but it has several thousand members around the world.
Maryam Rajavi is the acting leader of the People’s Mujahedin. Her husband has not been seen since 2003 (PHILIPPE WOJAZER / REUTERS)
And they have proven to be adept lobbyists, having won over influential supporters in recent years. U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, National Security Adviser John Bolton and Giuliani have all spoken at NCRI events and they all view the group as a viable alternative to the current regime in power in Tehran.
“The mullahs must go, the ayatollah must go, and they must be replaced by a democratic government, which Madam Rajavi represents,” Giuliani said at an annual NCRI rally in Paris in June 2018. And he suggested that such a regime change could come soon: “Next year, I want to have this convention in Tehran!” he said. Both Giuliani and Bolton have even visited the group in Albania, and last Monday, the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, the national security adviser issued a video message addressing Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in which he said: “I don’t think you’ll have many more anniversaries to enjoy.”
But who are Trump’s allies inside the secretive camp? Two lion statues guard the large iron gate at the camp’s entrance and guards call out “No, no!” if anyone stops out front. Three men march out of the gate and refuse to answer any questions, promising that interview requests will be responded to the next day. But nobody ever calls.
DER SPIEGEL never received a response from the People’s Mujahedin or from the NCRI to any of its interview queries prior to the visit, neither from Tirana, Paris or Berlin. A lawyer representing the group likewise declined to discuss the case of Somayeh Mohammadi. Indeed, the group only responded when DER SPIEGEL sent an email outlining the accusations that had been made against it, with an NCRI spokesman in Berlin essentially denying everything. On its websites, the organization claims to stand for democracy, human rights and the strict separation of church and state in Iran. “We want a pluralist system, freedom of parties and assembly,” it says, for example, in an article entitled “Maryam Rajavi’s Ten Point Plan for Future Iran.”
The statements suggest that once the People’s Mujahedin take over power in Iran, everything will immediately improve. But reports from those who have experienced life in the camp do not reflect that message. Instead, they appear to be prisoners of their own rebellion.
‘Lies, Manipulation and Fear’
It is, of course, undeniable that the regime in Tehran and the People’s Mujahedin are engaged in a propaganda war and lies from both sides are to be expected. But DER SPIEGEL has spoken with 15 former camp residents, some of them for several hours — and their stories are largely consistent on the most important point: The organization is essentially a sect that is difficult to escape.
Gholamreza Shekari, a slender 50-year-old man with bony cheeks, says he spent 27 years as a member of the People’s Mujahedin, adding “the organization’s public face is liberal. Internally, though, it works by way of lies, manipulation and fear.”
Shekari fell into the group of fighters as a 20-year-old, as many others apparently did as well — through false promises. In 1988, during the confusion of the Iran-Iraq War, he fled across the Iraqi border, where he met members of the People’s Mujahedin. “They spoke of freedom and democracy for Iran,” Shekari says. “And then they promised me that they would arrange a visa for Europe for me.” He believed them.
Later, he says, they took his documents and told him that if he left the group, he would end up in an Iraqi torture prison. An organization spokesman rejects the claim as a “ridiculous and fictitious film scenario.”
“They told us lies to ensure our obedience,” says Shekari. “We were guarded and forced to break off contact with our families.” Claims that fighters were banned from maintaining contact with their families are “baseless lies,” says the organization.
Shekari says that he repeatedly asked when he would be allowed to leave. But that turned out to be a mistake: According to Human Rights Watch, the organization began torturing members who wanted to leave the group or who asked critical questions in the mid-1990s.
“They insulted me as a spy, beat my shins until they were bloody and put out burning cigarettes on my skin,” Shekari says. After a week, he says, his lower legs were completely black. He rolls up his jeans to reveal scars covering his legs.
Ultimately, he says, the leader Masoud Rajavi gathered all those who had been tortured. “He threatened that if we ever spoke about it, we would be handed over to the Iraqis, which would mean additional torture or death.”
Group Denies Torture Claims
When confronted with these accusations, the spokesman for the organization’s German chapter says that “neither in the 1990s, nor before or after, did the group keep its members prisoner or torture them.”
Despite everything, Shekari remained with the organization for another 23 years, which at best could be explained as being the result of brainwashing. Only in Albania did the others allow him to leave, in September 2016. Now, he lives in a sparsely furnished apartment in Tirana and receives financial support from the UN Refugee Agency. He doesn’t have much choice but to stay where he is because, as an Iranian, getting visas is difficult and there are many countries to which he is not allowed to travel.
After he left the group, he says he received the equivalent of 350 euros per month from the group for half a year “so that I would keep my mouth shut,” Shekari claims. “The organization claims that we are all agents so that nobody believes us,” he says. “But I’m not working for anyone.”
The People’s Mujahedin used to receive funding from the erstwhile Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, but these days, group supporters collect donations and can often be seen in the pedestrian zones of German cities, showing passersby photos of executions in Iran. They operate under the cover of organizations with names like the “Association for Future Hope” or “Aid Organization for Human Rights in Iran.” According to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, these and other groups are linked with the People’s Mujahedin. In a message written to DER SPIEGEL about the camp’s financing, the group wrote: “All costs are covered by supporters of the resistance both inside and outside of Iran.”
Security experts believe that the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Israel also provide the group with financial support, but there is no proof for that supposition. The organization writes: “We haven’t received even a single euro from any government.”
An ‘Ideological Revolution’
The transformation into a sect-like organization can be explained by history. After the overthrow of the shah, the militant group, still adamantly anti-American at the time, lost the ensuing power struggle and was persecuted by the religious regime under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini. The members fled to Iraq, from where they carried out terrorist attacks in Iran and fought against their own country in the Iran-Iraq War.
Fearing that the group might disintegrate, leader, Masoud Rajavi launched what he called an “ideological revolution” in 1985. He married the wife of a confidant and forced all others to get divorced, with children being sent abroad. Loyalties other than the one to the group’s leader were no longer to be tolerated — and that is when the personality cult surrounding Rajavi and his new wife Maryam began. Still today, many camp residents continue to wear the leader’s likeness on a chain around their necks.
The last time Masoud Rajavi was seen was in March 2003, shortly before the first American bombs began falling in Baghdad. But Maryam Rajavi continues speaking about her husband as though he were still alive. Not long after the beginning of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Americans captured the People’s Mujahedin’s camp and disarmed the group. Soon, though, the organization began claiming it backed the U.S., even though it had been fighting on behalf of Saddam Hussein only a short time before.
The group’s disarming could have spelled the end, but hardliners like then-U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney wanted to use them as leverage against Iran. Already in 2002, the group had worked with the Israeli secret service Mossad in revealing that Iran had begun covertly enriching uranium.
In 2007, units of the People’s Mujahedin began to receive training at a U.S. military facility in the desert of Nevada — even though the group was still listed by Washington as a terrorist organization at the time. And now, the Trump administration has taken the position that the People’s Mujahedin has been demanding for years: a hardline stance toward Iran. And the group believes that it has played a role: When Trump abandoned the nuclear deal with Iran in May, the group’s commanders celebrated as though they had just won a great victory.
Their list of supporters is currently longer than it has ever been, including numerous U.S. Senators and members of the U.S. military and security apparatus. The former Saudi Arabian intelligence chief, Turki Bin Faisal al Saud, is also a proponent. In the European Parliament, a group called Friends of a Free Iran advocates on behalf of the People’s Mujahedin as does a multipartisan group in the German federal parliament, the Bundestag, called the German Solidarity Committee for a Free Iran.
Trump confidant Rudy Giuliani: “The mullahs must go, the ayatollah must go, and they must be replaced by a democratic government, which Madam Rajavi represents.” (REUTERS)
In October, Martin Patzelt, a parliamentarian with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), visited the camp in Albania together with former Bundestag President Rita Süssmuth, also of the CDU. Süssmuth raved about the “joie de vivre culture” among the People’s Mujahedin, adding that the Iranian secret service has repeatedly propagated “terrible things” about the group.
The People’s Mujahedin has often rejected all manner of accusations as propaganda from Tehran. And it has been an effective strategy, in part because Iran has brutally persecuted the group in the past and executed thousands of its followers.
The depictions of those who have left the organization make it sound like the group is constantly on war footing. Eight residents sleep in each room and they have to get up between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m. In addition to combat training, they also take care of construction projects in the camp. The defectors also say that around a thousand members work in the so-called “computer division,” allegedly using fake accounts to post pro-organization propaganda on Twitter and Facebook. Others, say former members, use the messenger service Telegram to entice new Iranian recruits to join them in Albania.
The group’s spokesman counters that claims that the organization is running a troll factory are merely an “attempt to cover up fake accounts belonging to the Iranian regime.”
Former group members say that there are some 200 commanders in the camp and they sometimes read out a letter from their vanished leader, including sentences like: “Have no fear, victory is ours, we will be in Iran.”
The question as to why the Albanian government tolerates the Iranian group in their country is one that the Interior Ministry in Tirana is not willing to answer. But U.S. government documents make it clear why the People’s Mujahedin ended up in Albania in the first place.
After the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the situation became increasingly dangerous for them. During her time in office, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped find a solution, together with the United Nations, and ultimately Albania agreed to accept a number of group members. In return, the U.S. donated $20 million to the UN Refugee Agency and pledged development aid to Albania.
Starting in 2013, group leaders began buying up more and more land and ultimately built the camp, including dozens of white containers and gray, two-story buildings. They house a large kitchen, a bakery, a music studio, a computer center and a dentistry practice — at least according to a propaganda video. On another one of the few videos from inside the camp, Somayeh Mohammadi can be seen, the woman whose father has been trying to free her for 21 years. In the clip, she is wearing a uniform with a headscarf and is being interviewed by two Albanian journalists. Her father, she says, is an agent of the Iranian regime and insists she wants to remain in the camp. “Here is a free country. If I want to go anywhere, I can go.”
The story that her father has to tell, one backed up with documents and video material, sounds quite different. Mohammadi himself was a long-time supporter of the organization and he collected donations for the group in Canada, where he has lived since 1994. When Somayeh was 17 years old, a woman from the organization offered her a “short trip” to the camp in Iraq.
‘The Organization Gives Nothing’
Somayeh never came back. The organization sent a cassette recording of Somayeh saying that she had decided to remain in the camp. Her father says that the organization lured him to places in various countries with the promise that he could see her, but instead used him in demonstrations. “The organization gives nothing without getting something in return,” Mohammadi says.
On one video from June 2003, Mohammadi can be seen in front of the French Embassy in Ottawa, apparently drenched in gasoline as he pulls out a match — which a journalist then knocks out of his hand. At the time, group leader Maryam Rajavi was in pre-trial detention in France on suspicions of terrorism and protesters in many countries had lit themselves on fire in front of French embassies. Because he too had apparently been preparing to do the same, Mohammadi was considered a hero within the group from that moment on. He was even allowed to visit his daughter in the camp. But he ultimately distanced himself from the group and began filming everything in an attempt at collecting evidence that she was being held against her will.
On Oct. 17, 2013, Somayeh sent a letter to Canadian authorities, in which she wrote: “Please help me return to my former country, Canada, as soon as possible.” But Somayeh doesn’t have a Canadian passport and the authorities were unable to help her.
But then, she apparently changed her mind yet again — and a book was even published in her name as a PDF document, in which she claims that she wants to stay with the People’s Mujahedin.
“Who knows what they did to her,” says her father.
(The article you are reading originally appeared in German in issue 8/2019 (February 16th, 2019) of DER SPIEGEL.)
US Intelligence MKO Terrorists .
America is turning Albania into a safe haven for international Jihadism: an interview with Dr. Olsi Jazexhi
Balkans Post, January 03 2019:… The Iranian Mojahedeen-e-Khalq organization which were designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and Canada until 2012, started to come to Albania in 2013. A few months after the Obama administration removed them from the terrorist list, the Americans asked the government of Sali Berisha in Albania to offer asylum to 250 Iranian Mojahedeen commanders who could not stay in Iraq …
America is turning Albania into a safe haven for international Jihadism: an interview with Dr. Olsi Jazexhi
In an interview with Balkans Post, Dr. Olsi Jazexhi, a Canadian-Albanian historian who is specialized in the history of Islam, nationalism and religious reformation in Southeastern Europe, said America is turning Albania into a safe haven for international Jihadism. Below, the full transcript of the interview has been presented:
Navid Nasr: When did the MEK come to Albania and for what ostensible reason?
Dr. Olsi Jazexhi: The Iranian Mojahedeen-e-Khalq organization which were designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and Canada until 2012, started to come to Albania in 2013. A few months after the Obama administration removed them from the terrorist list, the Americans asked the government of Sali Berisha in Albania to offer asylum to 250 Iranian Mojahedeen commanders who could not stay in Iraq. The coming of the Mojahedeen was not the first time that Albania had hosted international jihadis on her soil. In 2010 Albania gave asylum to five Chinese Uighurs who were captured with the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Americans jailed them in Guantanamo Bay and later sent them to Albania. Even though China protested against this move and accused Albania of breaking international laws and conventions, the Americans defended Albania for this illegal act.
The Albanian government of Edi Rama has hosted even many FETO (Fetullah Gulen Terrorist Organization) members, whom the government of Turkey has accused of terrorism in conjunction with the failed coup d’etat of 15 July 2016. In the past months, different media outlets and the Prime Minister of Bulgaria have claimed that Albania is planning to host jihadis of ISIS in the country, even though the Edi Rama government has denied this assertion.
The Iranian Mojahedeen are the largest group of foreign fighters that Albania has ever hosted. When the Americans brought the first group of Iranian jihadis into Albania, the Iranian government protested this move. At the time, Prime Minister Sali Berisha assured the Iranians that the MEK were being hosted in Albania only for humanitarian reasons and no action against Iran would be taken by this group.
However, time showed that unlike with the FETO members and the Uighurs, the Iranian Mojahedeen had come to Albania not just for asylum but their intention was to turn Albania into a second Afghanistan in the heart of Europe. At present the Mojahedeen are using Albania as a base to launch psychological, espionage and probably even jihadi military operations against Iran. In these illegal activities they are supported by some American senators, in the same way that the Mojahedeen were supported in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets in 1980s.
The governments of China, Turkey and Iran that suffer from international terrorism have in the past become very worried with the way the United States is using Albania, as a base for hosting international terrorist groups and organizations.
How many MEK fighters, members and cadre are in Albania at the present? Does anybody know their actual numbers?
Dr. Olsi Jazexhi: Most of the Mojahedeen who are in Albania live in the paramilitary camp of Manza which is situated near the port city of Durres. The camp which is closed to the public and journalists, receives time after time foreign delegations that MEK calls on in order to improve its public image. Its paid supporters like Struan Stevenson, Giulio Terzi, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Robert Toricelli, Rudy Giuliani, Ingrid Betancourt, Jérard Deprez etc claim that the group is open, democratic and anyone can visit them.
However, independent journalists from foreign and Albanian media who have attempted to go and visit the camp, including those from such outlets as the Guardian, Channel 4, Al Jazeera, Top Channel, TRT, Gazeta Shqiptare, CNN Albania etc have either been beaten, insulted as agents of Iran or prevented outright from entering the camp. Since an independent inspection of the Mojahedeen camp is not allowed, we cannot know their exact number and military structure. Many MEK defectors who have managed to escape from the camp and now live in freedom in Tirana, have shown the names of some of their commanders who move outside the camp to manage the affairs of the Mojahedeen. However since most of the defectors are foot soldiers, we do not possess exact numbers and a full breakdown of the structure of MEK’s paramilitary and ideological command. The Albanian Police has compiled a report on MEK, its numbers and the danger that they pose for Albania, but the numbers of this report do not match with the numbers that other state institutions have provided in Albania.
What we know for sure is that MEK is headed by Maryam Rajavi, the second wife of Massoud Rajavi, the deceased Rehber (“Leader”) of MEK. She has built a cult like image of herself and portrays herself to MEK soldiers as a holy woman with supernatural powers. While for the MEK members she is depicted as a holy person, to the Western audiences she portrays herself as the president-elect of Iran, even though MEK is a totalitarian organization which does not organize free elections and does not tolerate any form of disobedience.
The MEK members live very isolated lives and are under the total control of their commanders. They have no phones, no free access to the internet and live in prison-like conditions behind the walls of their paramilitary camp. They are radicalized on a daily basis, made to believe that if they walk out of their camp Iran will kill them, and that their only salvation will come if they continue to live like soldiers and believe in the holy mission of Maryam Rajavi who will establish her own rule over Iran. They are not allowed to have sex, to marry, to talk to their families or to walk out of their camp in freedom. If they manage to escape, the organization labels them Iranian agents and traitors.
As the Albanian police report of 2018 shows, MEK is very ruthless with its defectors who want to deradicalize themselves and abandon the Jihad. Many defectors who have abandoned the Mojahedeen have received death threats. In July 2018 when Mostafa Mohammadi, the Canadian father of Sommayeh Mohammadi was in Tirana to meet his daughter who had been abducted by the MEK in 1997, MEK attacked and hospitalized him and kept Sommayeh in total isolation even though this is contrary to Albanian law. MEK has total control over its members and getting open access to them is impossible not only for journalists but even for their international supporters.
Until 2018 we were told that Albania is hosting around 3000 Mojahedeen. In 2016 Voice of America announced that Albania would take 2000 Mojahedeen in exchange for 20 million USD. However, the latest numbers from the Albanian Institute of Statistics show that in 2017 Albania had accepted 2.195 Iranians, while in 2016 it received 1.963. If we include here those who came in 2013 the total number of the Mojahedeen as of 2017 should be around 4.400 people. We have not included here the numbers of those who came during 2018 since their number is still a secret.
We have learned from the media that the Americans are planning with the Albanian government to build a new camp in Albania between Tirana and Durres. This camp will host some 4.000 people. We do not know if this camp will be used to host the Mojahedeen who live in Manza, or the defeated soldiers of DAESH / ISIS jihadis as the Bulgarian Prime Minister declared in Albania in June 2018.
From the data that we possess we can conclude that up til now Albania has probably received around 4.500 Mojahedeen. From these, around 400 have managed to escape and abandon the jihad and live a civilian life or have smuggled themselves into Europe. The remaining 4000 are still radicalized and loyal to Maryam Rajavi’s jihad (their slogan is to free Iran) against the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
What activities are they engaging in inside of Albania?
Dr. Olsi Jazexhi: The radicalized MEK members who live in the paramilitary camp of Manza, or Ashraf 3 as Maryam Rajavi calls it are engaged in a number of illegal activities. From what the defectors have told us, we know that the MEK camp in Manza is run as a paramilitary organization. Even though we do not have any information that proves that they possess weapons, the defectors show that the MEK camp is run as an army. It is protected by an armed private Albanian Security company. Inside the camp MEK has a high command which gives orders and runs the everyday life of the Mojahedeen. The supreme commander of the Mojahedeen is Maryam Rajavi and her dead husband Massoud Rajavi. Maryam Rajavi, who has total control over the MEK, directs the organization through a commanding council where people like her first husband, Mehdi Abrishamchi are major people who supervise the organization.
The common soldiers of MEK are segregated inside the camp. The women live in their barracks, and the men live in theirs. They are not allowed to mix with each other and men and women cannot speak with each other unless they are ordered to do so. Common soldiers are not told that Massoud Rajavi is dead. MEK defectors have told me that, on a periodic basis, they get recorded messages from Paris, where the voice of Massoud is played on tape where he tells the soldiers to wait for the moment when they will launch their jihad and free Iran from the Mullahs.
Inside the MEK camp there are a number of other commanders whose names are not known. We see time after time some of their commanders come to Tirana and meet government officials, or as in the case of the beating of Mostafa Mohammadi, they lead MEK gangs to beat their opponents. Some of the commanders that we have seen in Tirana are Behzad Saffari, Jila Deyhim and Ahmed Taba. They were trained by the Mukhabarat of Saddam Hussein and some have even killed or tortured people in Iran and Iraq. Some MEK commanders, like Farid Mahoutchi, have changed their names or surnames after coming to Albania, since in the past they have been accused of killing people in Iraq and leading tank divisions against the Kurds.
MEK analysts believe that inside the MEK camp there are other commanders who in the past have made major terrorist attacks. It is believed that they have changed their names and appearance and now hide happily and unpunished for their past crimes and assassinations. Apart from these, in the Manza camp there are many other MEK members who are simple soldiers. Many of them work in maintenance, some work as dentists, some are self-made doctors, some are cooks etc. However, around 2.000 of these soldiers have in the recent months turned themselves into cyber jihadis. As a recent Al-Jazeera documentary revealed, from the Manza camp, MEK organizes fake news production, twitter attacks, propaganda and espionage against Iran and European governments that support the Nuclear Deal with Iran. MEK is not shy to show that it works day and night to overthrow the government of Iran, even though such an act is considered a terrorist crime in Albania and all MEK members who do this should be imprisoned from four up to ten years.
But as you might imagine, the Americans have put pressure on Albania to save MEK from the laws of Albania. MEK today is like the Mojahedeen during the Soviet war. They are great American patriots! US Intelligence MKO Terrorists .
How is MEK using Albania as a base of operations aiding the organization both regionally and internationally when it comes to its efforts at weakening and undermining the Iranian government?
Dr. Olsi Jazexhi: MEK is attacking the government of Iran from Albania in a number of ways. Since their coming to Albania, MEK has engaged itself in a massive recruitment drive for supporters. By offering money, gifts, free trips to Paris and Rome in support of Maryam Rajavi’s protests against Iran, and by indoctrinating innocent Albanians with hate against Iran, they have created a large number of followers who believe that the government of Iran is criminal and should be overthrown. Their American and European supporters have exerted a lot of pressure on major Albanian political parties, the Socialists and Democrats, to send their members to the Paris meetings of Maryam Rajavi and speak against Iran. MEK commanders do weekly activities and meeting with Albanian deputies, government officials and even youth whom they radicalize by spreading fake news against Iran. In the same way that DAESH and Jabhat al-Nusra managed to indoctrinate many Muslims in the Balkans to join the Jihad in Syria against Bashar al-Assad’s government, by claiming that Assad was killing his own people, MEK is doing the same. If you see the websites run by MEK, like the NCRI, they produce fake news on a daily basis. This news is translated in Albanian and is then sent to Albanians via email or Facebook.
The news that MEK produces claims that Iran is killing its own people, beating women, hanging and torturing prisoners etc. These same tactics were used by DAESH and many Western media outlets in 2012 who created the idea that Bashar al-Assad was killing his own people in Syria. The same tactics were used even in Libya against the government of Muammar al-Gaddafi. As a result of this, we had thousands of European Muslims join the Jihad in Syria. Now, MEK is preparing a Jihad 2.0. against Iran. They are mass-radicalizing many Albanians, Europeans and Iranians with hate against Iran. We have government ministers in Albania, like Pandeli Majko who have already declared themselves to be Mojahedeen and dream to go one day to Tehran and do Jihad against the government of Iran.
MEK is proving very effective in radicalizing many Albanian politicians, officials and youth. By using Albania as a base they are launching anti-Iran campaigns even in Europe. In the European parliament, in the Italian and French senate, and in other parliaments in Europe they have managed to recruit and radicalize a number of MP’s who now believe that MEK is a democratic organization, while Iran lives in a dictatorship.
While, after coming to Albania from Iraq, MEK lost its capacity to carry direct terrorist attacks against Iran, it is developing new grounds of Jihad against Iran. By producing fake news on daily basis – such as the story about an alleged terrorist attack against MEK in Albania in March 2018 – they are depicting Iran as a terrorist country that wants to kill Europeans. This kind of fake news is creating much enmity and hatred in Europe. The CIA and Israeli Mossad are making great use of MEK in their geostrategic war against Europe, Iran and the Nuclear Deal. MEK, its paid supporters and fake news are being used as a major blackmailing tool against Europe to force her to cut her relations and trade with Iran.
The MEK have turned Albania into a second Iraq – like the Iraq of Saddam Hussein – from where they are harassing Iran. The Americans have ordered the Albanian authorities not to interfere in their business. Pandeli Majko, a minister in the present Albanian government told Maryam Rajavi on December 15 that Albania is a castle for MEK. They can do whatever they want here.
Is Albania itself deriving any benefit from hosting the MEK on its soil?
Dr. Olsi Jazexhi: Albania is deriving no benefit but only headaches, scandals and bad name for what it is doing with MEK. The media in the Balkans and the region, from Serbia, to Greece, Macedonia and Italy, have reported with great concern the coming of MEK to Albania. Europeans are also upset with what Albania is doing.
The only people who are benefiting from hosting the MEK is organized crime and some Albanian politicians who run gangs of drug dealers. Many Albanian politicians, like Prime Minister Edi Rama, Minister of Diaspora Pandeli Majko etc are building personal relationships with American politicians like John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani, Patrick Kennedy etc, who are opening their doors to Washington. In their yearly “Free Iran” meetings that MEK organizes in Paris, Maryam Rajavi is enabling many corrupt Albanian politicians to meet major European and American neocon politicians. And this is a lot for them.
Is there any internal debate inside the country on whether or not it should be playing host to this organization? What do the Albanian people think of all this?
Dr. Olsi Jazexhi: When the news of MEK’s coming to Albania broke out in 2016, many Albanian analysts, journalists and the general public protested against their coming. They compared MEK to ISIS and did not want them in the country. They said why are we exporting a foreign conflict and a terrorist organization into our country.
MEK has spent a lot of money the past several years by paying journalists in major TV stations like Vizion +, News 24 etc to portray them as “harmless” war refugees, asylum seekers, victims of the “Iranian regime” etc. The public discontent for the coming of MEK was silenced by the coming of many US senators in Albania, people like John McCain, John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani etc who ordered and dictated to Albanians to welcome the MEK. When many politicians were asked why the Americans brought MEK to Albania and not to the United States instead; the answer was: America gave us Kosovo, so we have to give them something in return.
The campaign by American warmonger senators like John McCain and John Bolton to silence the fears of Albanians about the MEK was quite successful. However in July and August 2018 when the Albanian public learned that MEK was keeping hostages in its camp, as with the case of Sommayeh Mohammadi, the public was shocked. When MEK started attacking journalists, as was the case with Channel 4, many TV stations and news portals were appalled. The public was shocked to see Sommayeh Mohammadi, the daughter of Mostafa Mohammadi, being kept in isolation and paraded in front of the camera by MEK commanders like Farid Toutonchi and being made to denounce her father as an agent of Iran. Albanians have gone through these staged TV denunciations during the era of communism and they understood then the monstrous nature of MEK.
To counter these scandals, MEK paid a lot of money to silence the media and show itself as a democratic organization which was targeted by the Ministry of Intelligence of Iran. They brought some retired European and American guests in their camp, who tried to convince the Albanian public that MEK was good. They produced a few TV interviews inside their camp with paid journalists who tried to show that everybody was happy in the MEK “resort” of Manza.
Some newspapers and TV stations that reported on past MEK crimes and their present isolation and indoctrination of their members, were later silenced. Some journalists claimed that MEK blackmailed them, while MEK commanders met with media owners and offered them “sponsorship agreements” to buy their silence.
What is the position of the Albanian media on the MEK? Other than yourself, are there dissenting voices and if so are they getting any airtime?
Dr. Olsi Jazexhi: The beating of Mostafa Mohammadi and the hostage issue of Sommayeh Mohammadi was generally portrayed accurately in many media outlets in Albania. Albanians who had many of their fellow citizens join the Jihad in Syria could not understand and tolerate MEK for doing the same thing with young Iranians.
Most Albanian journalists know what MEK is. Some journalists who have written against MEK have been blackmailed by their commanders or the owners of their media. But since Albania has no real independent media and the two major political parties of Albania, the Democratic and the Socialist parties, have been ordered by the Americans to support MEK – the public debate is silenced from the top. No Albanian politician dares to attack MEK and no major media outlet dares to criticize MEK openly, since the Mojahedeen will accuse them of being agents of Iran.
On the other hand, MEK hides itself from the Albanian public and media. Their 4000 members live in isolation in Manza camp and are not allowed to walk in public and meddle with the public. Albanians do not see them in the streets. They live in a prison and in their isolated reality and Albanians do not know what happens beyond the Manza camp.
Whenever news against MEK breaks out in international media, MEK supporters like Struan Stevenson, Giulio Terzi, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Ingrid Betancourt, Jérard Deprez, Rudy Giuliani etc rush to Albania, or publish pieces written by MEK, where they defend MEK and accuse Iran, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence, Iranian agents etc of making up stories. MEK translates their pieces and publishes them in some major newspapers who work with the MEK and the story gets over. MEK commanders who have blood on their hands do not show themselves in public. They use people like Struan Stevenson, Giulio Terzi, Alejo Vidal-Quadras and others to say what they want to say. They do not accept public debates and a democratic debate about their nature and activities. Many Albanian media outlets have asked MEK to come out and have a public debate about their activities in Albania, but they never show up. Even their paid supporters like Struan Stevenson, Giulio Terzi, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Ingrid Betancourt, Jérard Deprez, Rudy Giuliani do not dare to debate the MEK issue with Albanians. When these people come to Albania they make monologues. They go to paid studios, deliver their attacks on Iran and defense of MEK and then run away.
Albania is a US colony where democracy does not work. When the Americans do not want to debate something in our country, they have ways and means to do that. And unfortunately Albania, as Minister Pandeli Majko declared to Maryam Rajavi on December 15, 2018 has become a castle for MEK.
Explain the role that the MEK played in the recent expulsion of Iranian diplomats from Tirana.
Since their coming to Albania, MEK has continuously attacked the Iranian embassy in Tirana. In their fake news articles they claim that the Iranian Embassy is a nest of snakes that is about to launch a terrorist attack against the Mojahedeen and kill them. For this, they have continuously asked from the Albanian government to close the Iranian embassy. They have conveyed this request to their European and American supporters too.
MEK and Maryam Rajavi was and is very anxious with any activity that Iran does in Albania or in the Balkans. In March 2018 when the Bektashi Community of Albania organized a congress for Imam Ali and celebrated the Festival of Nowrooz with its Bektashi community and the Iranian diplomats in Tirana, MEK asked the Albanian authorities to interrupt this religious event and arrest two Iranian journalists – by falsely claiming that they were terrorists.
After failing to find any terrorists among the Bektashi Albanians and the Iranians, Maryam Rajavi continued with her demands to close the Iranian Embassy in Tirana and expel the “Mullah’s diplomats”. Rajavi, who depicts herself as the president-elect of Iran, is jealous of the presence of the Iranian Embassy in Tirana, since she claims to be the representative of Iran in Albania and not the government of Iran.
The MEK are worried by the Iranian presence in Tirana for two major reasons. Reason number one is that they suspect that the Iranian Embassy is helping many MEK members to deradicalize themselves, abandon MEK and return back to Iran. This is a nightmare scenario for MEK, since many of its members are tired with their military life. They want to break free and return to a normal civilian life. MEK defectors have told me that inside the MEK camp there are hundreds of members who want to abandon MEK, escape from the camp, get married, find a job and forget their past terrorist life. For this reason, MEK is doing all it can to keep its members isolated from Iran and their families in Iran.
Reason number two is the Iranian families. MEK has asked the Americans, to order the Albanian government to stop any Iranian family from coming to Albania to meet their enslaved children who are with the MEK. MEK commanders tell their members that if you talk to your families, you are agents of the Mullahs. The families and the Iranian Embassy are two major factors that can deradicalize MEK soldiers and convince them to return to a peaceful normal life. For this reason Maryam Rajavi did all she could to degrade the Iranian Embassy’s activity in Tirana and she is doing all in her power, together with the Americans, to keep her soldiers isolated from their families in Iran.
The order that John Bolton gave via twitter to the Albanian government on 20 December 2018 to expel the Ambassador of Iran and another diplomat from Albania was a major victory for Maryam Rajavi. The attack against the Iranian Embassy was made in a full coordination with Israel and the office of Benjamin Netanyahu, who praised Prime Minister Edi Rama for removing the Iranian ambassador. The Albanian government, who cannot say no to America and Israel, had to obey Maryam Rajavi’s request and remove the ambassador from the country.
However, the Albanian government was not happy with this major scandal that John Bolton and Maryam Rajavi forced Albania into. Until this very moment, Prime Minister Edi Rama, President Ilir Meta and Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati have made no statement about the expulsion of the Iranian diplomats. They are not happy with what MEK forced them to do, and now they have finally understood what MEK is capable of doing in Albania.
The reason that the Americans gave for the expulsion of the Iranian diplomats from Tirana, was that they were planning to stage a terrorist attack against MEK. This is what Maryam Rajavi had been saying for many months. The next dream of Maryam Rajavi would probably be to take over the Iranian Embassy in Tirana and turn it into her residence. Time will show if the Americans and their Albanian vassals will enable her to do this next diplomatic scandal.
What leverage does the US government have with the Albanian government? Is there any kind of implied or implicit threat behind their asking the country to host the MEK? What can the US really do if Albania says no?
Dr. Olsi Jazexhi: If Albania says no to the American dictate to host MEK or ISIS fighters, the Prime Minister and the President of Albania can end up like Mossadegh in Iran. Albania is not an independent country. The US Embassy in Tirana and its ambassadors are the supreme leaders of the country. If you read the Wikileaks on Albania, you will see how the Americans have files for almost every politician in the country.
What is the best way for Albanians, or citizens of any other country, to voice their displeasure with the Albanian government and its policy with regards to the MEK?
Dr. Olsi Jazexhi: We as Albanian citizens, but even the citizens of other countries, must ask the United States to stop funding and supporting terrorist organizations like DAESH, Nusra, and MEK.
The Albanian government, which is not free to do what it wants, must be pressured through EU agencies, civil society organizations, the media and other international organizations, to stop its support for MEK and other terrorist groups. We must tell Albanians that they must stand up for their independence and not allow their country to be treated as an American colony.
The European Union, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which are not happy with what Albania is doing, must be asked to raise their voice against the MEK’s activities. These three organizations must extend their deradicalization programs over to the MEK and must not use their programs only against Albanian Muslims who want to do Jihad in Syria.
EU bodies must ask Albania and the Americans to come out with an action plan to deradicalize MEK in the same way that they are jailing and deradicalizing ISIS sympathizers. France must do the same. They must not allow Maryam Rajavi to use French soil as a base for violent Jihadi propaganda against Iran or any other country. The Europeans must ask MEK to open its camp, deradicalize its members, stop its Jihadi propaganda and its members must be allowed to marry, find jobs and start free civilian lives.
We must also ask international media to come to Albania, investigate the MEK and put pressure on the Albanian government to open the MEK camp to media and the public. The Mojahedeen must abandon their violent jihad, integrate and deradicalize. The same policies that Europe is implementing against radicalized Wahhabi Muslims must be implemented against MEK. The Mojahedeen must be taught to live in a secular democracy and stop their illegal activities.
If the United States and Israel want to wage war against Iran, they should not do this through illegal and terrorist groups and should not use Albania as a rogue state for such criminal activities. US Intelligence MKO Terrorists .