White House MEK Trolls and the Iran Case

White House MEK Trolls and the Iran Case

White House MEK Trolls and the Iran CaseJason Rezaian, Washinton Post, June 11 2019:… After the report, Twitter appears to have suspended the account. But the MEK, the organization that “Team Heshmat Alavi” represents, has a nasty history. It was on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations for years before being removed in 2012. These days, it has no discernible popular support in Iran and egregiously mistreats its members. Despite its history and negligible influence among Iranians, the MEK happens to have the support of many U.S. officials, including Trump advisers John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani, both of whom have appeared as paid speakers at the group’s events. White House MEK Trolls and the Iran Case 

White House MEK Trolls and the Iran Case MEK Cult Operatives Undermining American Democracy

White House MEK Trolls and the Iran Case

Why does the U.S. need trolls to make its Iran case?

White House MEK Trolls and the Iran Case

This weekend, a new wrinkle was added to the ongoing saga about the information war over Iran policy: the stunning revelation that an online persona that was cited by the Trump administration to justify leaving the Iran nuclear deal is likely not a real person, after all.

On Sunday, the Intercept published an investigation into “Heshmat Alavi,” a rabid supporter of the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), a controversial Iranian opposition group. Since 2014, he had amassed a large Twitter following, which he apparently leveraged to attract interest in freelance submissions.

But according to the Intercept report, it turns out Alavi, the self-proclaimed “Iranian activist with a passion for equal rights” who claims to be “in contact with sources that provide credible information about the mullahs’ regime in Tehran,” was a team of MEK members producing the content in Albania.

That didn’t stop Forbes, the Hill, Daily Caller and even the Voice of America from amplifying Alavi’s platform as a voice on Iran policy. All of these outlets, and several more, have published articles by Alavi that claimed the MEK is the main opposition to the current Iranian regime.

More disturbing than the articles, however, were the Twitter tirades that Alavi directed at established journalists who write on Iran — including me — referring to us “lobbyists,” “agents” and “collaborators” of the Islamic republic. These efforts actively sought to undermine our credibility about the best approach to deal with Iran and resorted to personal attacks in order to do so.

Apparently, libel isn’t a concern if you’re not actually a person.

After the report, Twitter appears to have suspended the account. But the MEK, the organization that “Team Heshmat Alavi” represents, has a nasty history. It was on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations for years before being removed in 2012. These days, it has no discernible popular support in Iran and egregiously mistreats its members.

Despite its history and negligible influence among Iranians, the MEK happens to have the support of many U.S. officials, including Trump advisers John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani, both of whom have appeared as paid speakers at the group’s events.

The new revelations come less than two weeks after reports that the State Department had been funding an initiative called the Iran Disinformation Project, which was outed last month by Iran watchers for targeting and spreading lies about knowledgeable and experienced Iran commentators. The State Department suspended the funding to that initiative temporarily, but a full accounting of how taxpayer money may have been used against U.S. citizens — a crime under U.S. law — has not happened yet.

The Heshmat Alavi saga does not appear to be directly linked with the Iran Disinformation Project. But both operations raise similar concerns.

In both instances, the U.S. government — knowingly or not — aided in the flow of falsehoods perpetuated by opaque sources targeting U.S. citizens and attempting to discredit journalists and other commentators. And in both cases, the administration seemed to care more about advancing their views on Iran than about verifying the truth.

In the current atmosphere, any discussion of Iran that doesn’t explicitly advocate for the most severe measures against Iran — and, by extension, all people inside Iran — is branded apologia by supporters of President Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign. The MEK and Iranian Disinformation Project talking points have a captive audience here in the capital. So, too, do the rants of others echoing the most hawkish elements of the Trump administration’s Iran rhetoric.

But this is the United States of America. In this country, at least, we can and must have these conversations in the light of day, and maintain an atmosphere where we can openly debate and defend dissenting views without spreading falsehoods or slander. This is critical, not just for our democracy, but also for long-term peace and stability.

Political commentators have pointed to this rhetorical buildup against Iran as similar to the George W. Bush administration’s case for war with Iraq. But the comparison isn’t entirely apt: We are not at the same informational disadvantage we were as a nation in the lead-up to the Iraq War.

The current Iranian American population is much bigger than the Iraqi American population of the early 2000s. It’s better positioned economically in the society and has more political representation. And crucially, there is a flow of Iranian Americans who still routinely travel to the country. Social media is rich with images from inside Iran telling myriad stories.

So, instead of resorting to false narratives and personal attacks, we should cultivate our Iran policy — because there still isn’t a coherent one — the old-fashioned way: by making real arguments, backing them up with actual evidence and prioritizing real people over the tactics of manipulation and fraud preferred by authoritarians.

White House MEK Trolls and the Iran Case

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Also read:
https://iran-interlink.org/wordpress/remember-mek-was-an-american-excuse-to-invade-iraq-ali-safavi-ncri/

Remember: MEK was an American excuse to invade Iraq

Ali Safavi NCRIKim 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 )

Ali Safavi NCRIAli Safavi, commander of Saddam’s Private Army, Mojahein Khalq NCRI Now writting as Dr. Safavi!!

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

(End)

Remember: MEK was an American excuse to invade Iraq 

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Ali Safavi Ali Safavi NCRI MEKAli Safavi MEK Spkesman: Am I a conman? 

 

 

Also read:
https://iran-interlink.org/wordpress/mojahedin-khalq-mekterrorist-commander-poses-as-a-human-rights-advocate-to-fool-the-financial-times/

Mojahedin Khalq (MEK)Terrorist Commander Also  Ali Safavi  poses as a human rights advocate to fool the Financial Times

Iran Interlink, December 12 2015:… Iranian exile Ali Safavi, who previously enjoyed infamy as a commander in Saddam’s private army – the terrorist Mojahedin Khalq (MEK) – and who is wanted in Iraq on charges of torture and murder, has now emerged as a ‘human rights’ blogger in the normally conservative Financial Times. Safavi’s personal blog has …

علی صفوی شورای ملی مقاومت ایران مجاهدین خلقAli Safavi, commander of Saddam’s Private Army, Mojahein Khalq
Now writting as Dr. Safavi!!

https://iran-interlink.org

Mojahedin Khalq (MEK)Terrorist Commander Also  Ali Safavi  poses as a human rights advocate to fool the Financial Times

Ali Safavi NCRI

Iranian exile Ali Safavi, who previously enjoyed infamy as a commander in Saddam’s private army – the terrorist Mojahedin Khalq (MEK) – and who is wanted in Iraq on charges of torture and murder, has now emerged as a ‘human rights’ blogger in the normally conservative Financial Times.

Safavi’s personal blog has been reinvented as propaganda for the MEK by publishing it as article for its National Council of Resistance of Iran website – which curiously has no Farsi language on it whatsoever. This is the site the MEK uses when it wants to disguise its violent beliefs for Western audiences, posing instead as a political, now human rights, organisation.

When the MEK’s main benefactor Saddam Hussein was removed from power in 2003, its leader Massoud Rajavi became a fugitive whose whereabouts are unknown. His wife, Maryam Rajavi claimed refugee status in Paris along with her former husband Mehdi Abrishamchi. Commander Safavi came along with them. They were quickly arrested on terrorism charges and are still under investigation. The rest of the organisation were left at the mercy of vengeful Iraqis who regard them as part of Saddam’s repressive apparatus – his own private army – responsible for the deaths of 25,000 Iraqi civilians.

While the FT is free to publish a variety of views on Iran, the editors should be aware of the hypocrisy of this particular writer. The MEK is reviled by Iranians both inside and outside the country. (The MEK doesn’t even try to pretend the NCRI represents any Iranian constituency and therefore doesn’t need any Farsi on its website.) A blog by anyone associated with the MEK will certainly not enhance the reputation of the Financial Times, rather it will provoke contempt among right minded Iranians and negatively impact the already difficult work of genuine opposition groups who are advocating for their people.

Ali Safavi as the commander of Saddam’s Private Army in Camp Ashraf IraqAli Safavi as the commander of Saddam’s Private Army in Camp Ashraf Iraq

Ali Safavi as the commander of Saddam’s Private Army in Camp Ashraf IraqDaniel Zucker, Maryam Rajavi and ALi Safavi in Paris
Am I a conman? asks MEK Spokesman

Either I am right or you are wrong, there is nothing in between

Self Sacrifice Struan Stevenson Rajavi terroristsBehind Struan Stevenson’s book “Self Sacrifice

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https://iran-interlink.org/wordpress/mek-doesnt-look-like-a-legitimate-group-mojahedin-khalq-mko-ncri-maryam-rajavi-cult/

MEK doesn’t look like a legitimate group ( Ali Safavi  Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, NCRI, Maryam Rajavi cult, …)

ali safavi_National_Council_Of_Resistance_Of_Iran_NCRI_Saddam_Torturer_terrorist_camp_iraqIran Didban (From CODPINK), July 25 2018:…  Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin and national director Ariel Gold dropped in on MEK members in their Washington office, trying to meet with their officials. Ali Safavi, a senior member of MEK, surprised by the unexpected visit, did not let them in the office, saying, “go to our website”. He went onto say that they were “not allowed to film this” or “I will call the police.” White House MEK Trolls and the Iran Case 

ali safavi_National_Council_Of_Resistance_Of_Iran_NCRI_Saddam_Torturer_terrorist_camp_iraqAm I a conman? asks MEK Spokesman Ali Safavi. Either I am right or you are wrong, there is nothing in between

Ali_Safavi_Baghdad_Washington_Terrorism_NCRI_MEKAli Safafi  Saddam’s Private Army commander, wanted for war crime in Iraq now harboured and protected by CIA in Washington DC

Link to the source 

MEK doesn’t look like a legitimate group (Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, NCRI, Maryam Rajavi cult, …)

Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin and national director Ariel Gold dropped in on MEK members in their Washington office, trying to meet with their officials.

Ali Safavi, a senior member of MEK, surprised by the unexpected visit, did not let them in the office, saying, “go to our website”. He went onto say that they were “not allowed to film this” or “I will call the police.”

Benjamin said, “I think this organization is very secretive. This is the organization that John Bolton gets $ 180K from for speaking engagements.”

She added, “It’s the organization that Rudy Giuliani loves and says next year in Tehran. But they don’t even answer our e-mails and phone calls or agree to meet with us.”

“They don’t even give us a booklet explaining what their organization is about. So it’s very fishy.  It doesn’t look like a legitimate group to me.”

CODEPINK Co-Founder Medea Benjamin and National Director Ariel Gold tried to meet with officials from the The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran office in D.C. As you can see, they were not receptive. Bolton wants to attack Iran & put these folks in power? It’s a repeat of the Iraqi National Congress debacle after the US invaded Iraq! Take action to support diplomacy with Iran: codepink.org/rouhani

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White House MEK Trolls and the Iran Case

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ali safaviSecretive MKO (Mojahedin Khalq, MEK) Cult Member Refuses to Talk to Peace Activists in DC (+Video)

Also read:
https://iran-interlink.org/wordpress/?p=9258

Meet the Organization Pushing Regime Change in Iran—and Its Willing American Accomplices (Mojahedin Khalq, Rajavi cult, MEK) 

People's_Mujahedin_of_Iran[1]Christopher A. Preble, National Interest, July 17 2018:… Bolton skipped the meeting this year, but Giuliani’s work on behalf of the organization has caught people’s attention—and not for the first time. Daniel Benjamin, who coordinated counterterrorism efforts for the Obama administration explained to The Washington Post, “Plenty of us…found just the appearance of support for [an] organization that had American blood … 

Bolton_MEK_MKO_Maryam_Rajavi_Cult_PayedJohn Bolton – Defender Of Zion, Promoter Of MEK Terrorism – Fees Revealed

National Security: Could Maryam Rajavi (Mojahedin Khalq) blackmail her friends in high places – Rudi Giuliani, John Bolton and Newt Gingrich

Link to the source

Meet the Organization Pushing Regime Change in Iran—and Its Willing American Accomplices (Mojahedin Khalq, Rajavi cult, MEK)

Will the U.S. media learn from when they supported the invasion of Iraq?

It is customary for pundits to lament how partisanship is destroying U.S. policymaking, but one area remains curiously bipartisan: Democrats and Republicans alike are quick to show their support for an organization publicly dedicated to regime change in Iran.

Late last month in Paris, for example, thirty-three senior U.S. officials and military officers, including Rudy Giuliani and former United Nations Ambassador Bill Richardson, attended a meeting convened by the National Council for Resistance in Iran (NCRI), an offshoot of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) .

The MEK was founded in 1965 as a hard-left opponent of the secular Shah of Iran. They gained attention in the early 1970s for several acts of terrorism, including attacks against the Shah’s primary patron, the United States. Civilians working for American companies operating in Iran in the 1970s, including Pepsi, PanAm, General Motors and Rockwell International, were all among the MEK’s victims. Unsurprisingly, the MEK was listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department in 1997.

But, in recent years, the MEK has managed to rehabilitate its image. It switched sides after Saddam Hussein’s overthrow in Iraq, hoping that the United States would perform a similar service in neighboring Iran. The MEK also successfully lobbied the Obama administration to be removed from the terrorist list. Today, the organization routinely feeds information to build support for regime change in Tehran.

This state of affairs is eerily reminiscent of a period in the late 1990s when a bipartisan coalition in Congress—responding to a concerted pressure campaign by Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan’s Project for a New American Century—passed legislation calling for regime change in Iraq. The Iraq Liberation Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton on October 31, 1998, also provided Iraqi exile groups direct financial assistance from the U.S. government. One of the leading beneficiaries of U.S. taxpayers’ largesse was the Iraqi National Congress (INC). In 2004, the New Yorker’s Jane Mayers concluded that the U.S. government steered more than $100 million to the group over a twelve-year period, with the Bush administration responsible for at least $39 million.

The INC and its leader, Ahmed Chalabi, proved to be one of the leading sources of false information that hawks deployed via a too-credulous media to build support for war with Iraq.

Years later, after U.S. troops had dislodged Saddam Hussein from power, and Chalabi and his cadre of followers were back in the country he had fled as a teenager, he famously boasted “we are heroes in error…What was said before is not important.”

But Chalabi and the INC were more popular in Washington, DC than in Baghdad—or anywhere else in Iraq, for that matter. When Iraqis went to the polls in December 2005, his party secured only 0.5 percent of the vote.

So, to recap, U.S. taxpayers funded the organization whose primary objective was to feed misleading information about the nature of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. The resulting war claimed over 4,400 American lives and has cost, so far, $2 trillion , with some estimates of the eventual costs approaching $6 trillion. And Chalabi and his INC weren’t able to implement the pleasing, pluralist, vision for Iraq, that they promised. Instead, many tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, and millions driven from their homes.

That doesn’t seem like a very good return on investment.

The source of the MEK’s funding is murkier, but the organization is flush with cash. MSNBC’s Richard Engel determined that Bolton was paid $40,000 for one speech in 2017.Others report that speakers at MEK gatherings receive up to $50,000 per speech.

At last year’s gathering in Paris, Bolton stated categorically “There is a viable opposition to the rule of the ayatollahs, and that opposition is centered in this room today.” “The declared policy of the United States of America,” he continued, “should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran.”

Bolton skipped the meeting this year, but Giuliani’s work on behalf of the organization has caught people’s attention—and not for the first time. Daniel Benjamin, who coordinated counterterrorism efforts for the Obama administration explained to The Washington Post, “Plenty of us…found just the appearance of support for [an] organization that had American blood on its hands to be outrageous.”

There is a tendency to dismiss the MEK as a fringe group. Ervand Abrahamian, a professor of Iranian history and politics at Baruch College, described it as “a cult organization.” “It’s like the Moonies,” he said to McClatchy.

Except that the Moonies aren’t trying to get the U.S. government to overthrow a foreign government, and John Bolton sits a few doors down from the President of the United States. Ahmed Chalabi would have lusted after the level of access that the MEK’s Maryam Rajavi now has.

That means that Americans might have to rely on the news media to do its job. It could begin by questioning information provided by expatriate advocates of regime change in Iran.

When the New York Times reviewed its coverage of the Iraq War in 2004, the editorscalled out Chalabi by name as a source for many inaccurate or misleading articles. They noted that “information” in their stories “that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged.” The worst instances “shared a common feature,” the Times editors continued. “They depended at least in part on information from a circle of Iraqi informants, defectors and exiles bent on ‘regime change’ in Iraq.”

Rob Reiner’s feature film, “Shock and Awe, ” tells the story of the Knight Ridder DC news bureau, one of the few outfits who, when presented with similar information from Iraqi exiles, and Bush administration officials, had the good sense to ask “Is it true?” Equally important, Knight Ridder reporters and editors dared to stand by their reporting when post-9/11 bloodlust cast full-throated support for the war as synonymous with patriotism—and skepticism as akin to treason.

Americans must wait to see which direction the U.S. news media will go in 2018, but I hope that they will be more like John Walcott, Jonathan Landay, Warren Strobel, and Joe Galloway, and less like Judith Miller.

Christopher Preble is the vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute and blogs for The Skeptics at The National Interest.

(End)

White House MEK Trolls and the Iran Case

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Albania: MEK rebrands by assassinating unwanted members

MSNBC_Massoud_KhodabandehThe MEK’s man inside the White House (Maryam Rajavi cult, Mojahedin Khalq)

US Forces Albania To Take IS Fighters After Hosting MEKUS Forces Albania To Take IS Fighters After Hosting MEK

European_Parliament_Against_Maryam_Rajavi_Mojahedin_Khalq_MEK_MKO_TerroristsMEPs discuss Mojahedine-E Khalq (MEK) Threat in #Albania

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https://iran-interlink.org/wordpress/?p=5812

The Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and Its Media Strategy: Methods of Information Manufacture

The Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and Its Media Strategy: Methods of Information ManufactureIran Interlink, February 04 2015:… A review authored by Massoud and Anne Khodabandeh has been published in Asian Politics and Policy, Media Reviews. The article titled ‘The Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and Its Media Strategy: Methods of Information Manufacture’ looks at the MEK’s historical manipulation of various media over thirty years …

ISIS supporter Maryam Rajavi attacks ObamaISIS supporter Maryam Rajavi attacks Obama

Asian Politics and Policy
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com

The Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and Its Media Strategy: Methods of Information ManufactureThe Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and Its Media Strategy: Methods of Information Manufacture

A review authored by Massoud khodabandeh and Anne Khodabandeh (Singleton) from Middle East Strategy Consultants has been published inAsian Politics and Policy, Media Reviews. (Volume 7, Issue 1, January 2015)

The article titled ‘The Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and Its Media Strategy: Methods of Information Manufacture’ looks at the MEK’s historical manipulation of various media over thirty years. Other terrorist entities such as Al Qaida and ISIS have only recently shown themselves media savvy and have been able to create artificial reputations through exploiting both media and internet communications. In this review the authors demonstrate that the MEK has long pursued this propaganda strategy.

“… this overview seeks to demonstrate how and why, through a sophisticated and persistent media campaign, the MEK has created a place for itself on the Iranian political scene totally disproportionate to its capabilities and support base; and how from this aggrandized position the MEK has exerted a negative influence over Western opinion and policymaking toward the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) and Iraq, which began long before and reaches far wider than its role in Tehran’s nuclear dossier. Also, this review seeks to indicate that while this propaganda campaign has been highly successful for the MEK, it has been deliberately detrimental to the growth of a civil opposition movement in Iran as well as significantly affecting Western foreign policy toward the IRI in adverse ways.

“The MEK stands out as perhaps a unique example of a belligerent entity that exploits to the maximum a range of propaganda methods and outlets in the West to project itself in the international community as a constructive, almost benign, force. Far from avoiding publicity, the MEK has done everything in its power to maximize what can be described as its virtual presence. In addition to its native Farsi, the group disseminates information about and projects an image of itself in English, French, German and Arabic, in print, in broadcast and on Internet media. But insofar as it has no popular support among indigenous or diaspora Iranians, its image as a popular resistance movement has been largely invented.”

Read the full article at:

Khodabandeh, M. (2015), The Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and Its Media Strategy: Methods of Information Manufacture. Asian Politics & Policy, 7: 173–177. doi: 10.1111/aspp.12164

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/aspp.12164/full

(End)

White House MEK Trolls and the Iran Case

Massoud Khodabandeh: America Must Make Its Underlying Intentions Toward Iran ClearMassoud Khodabandeh: America Must Make Its Underlying Intentions Toward Iran Clear

Anne Khodabandeh (Singleton), University of Baghdad: MEK’s Western backers are complicit in their deathsAnne Khodabandeh (Singleton), University of Baghdad: MEK’s Western backers are complicit in their deaths

link to one of the Mojahedin Khalq songs
advocating terror and killing Americans

(In Persian)

Lets create another Vietnam for America(pdf).
(Mojahedin English language paper April 1980)
Letter to Imam (Khomeini) (pdf). 
(Mojahedin English Language paper April 1980)
 
(Maryam Rajavi directly ordered the massacre of Kurdish people)
 
(Saddam used Rajavi in the massacar of Iraqi Kurds)
(Saddam used Rajavi in the massacar of Iraqi Kurds)
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