LIES & SPIES
How the Iranian Regime Has Tried to Demonize the Main Democratic Opposition Movement
By Struan Stevenson
Table of contents:
INTRODUCTION ......................................................................................... 4 The uprising in Iran intensifies the anger of the mullahs against the opposition
CHAPTER ONE .............................................................................................. 6 How Iranian Agents breach security in the West
CHAPTER TWO ............................................................................................ 8A background on Iran’s democratic opposition, PMOI
CHAPTER THREE ........................................................................................ 11 The UK, EU & US courts rule that the PMOI is not and was never a terrorist organisation contrary to MOIS lies
CHAPTER FOUR .......................................................................................... 13 Deadly attacks on Camps Ashraf and Liberty & the transfer of the residents to Albania
CHAPTER FIVE ............................................................................................. 15 Expansion of Islamic Fundamentalism to the Balkans and Albania by the Iranian regime
CHAPTER SIX ............................................................................................... 18Network of Iran’s agents in Europe
CHAPTER SEVEN ........................................................................................ 20 Iranian Regime’s lobbying methods
CONCLUSION .............................................................................................. 21
The uprising in Iran intensifies the anger of the mullahs against the opposition
The social protests that began twelve months earlier swept across Iran in a nationwide uprising in December 2017. In a short period, over 140 Iranian cities became the scene of confrontation between protesters and government forces. According to regime officials, the offices of the 60 Friday prayer Imams, representatives of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the axis of suppression and looting in each region, were burned by the people. Many of the Basij militia and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) centres were invaded by students and mainly young protesters.
Regime officials quickly acknowledged that the main opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI or MEK) had played a key role in launching the nationwide protests and anti-government demonstrations. According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), on 2 January 2018, President Hassan Rouhani called President Macron and asked him to take action against the Paris-based Iranian opposition, which he accused of fomenting the recent protests. President Macron rejected his demand.
On 9 January 2018, Ayatollah Khamenei, said the PMOI had organized the uprising, and implicitly threatened to execute the protesters.
Brutal suppression in response to the uprising
The regime has been able temporarily to halt these uprisings only with repression and mass arrests, although smaller protests have continued. The recent uprisings throughout Iran show that the people are sick to death with the theocratic dictatorship. They long for freedom, justice, democracy and the rule of law, but the IRGC and its cohorts have met their protests with the usual brutal crackdown. More than 8,000 mostly young protesters, many of them women, have been arrested. At least fourteen have been tortured to death.
On 8 February, regime officials announced that Dr Kavous Seyyed Emami, a prominent environmentalist, had committed suicide in prison. He was arrested 15 days earlier on 24 January 2018 on absurd charges. Meanwhile, coinciding with the visit of a European Parliamentary delegation to Iran in February, arbitrary and summary executions have resumed. On 14 February, 10 prisoners were callously hanged in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj.
Conspiracy in Albania, the flipside of internal suppression
The flipside of the suppressive measures of the Iranian regime inside the country is the increasing plots against members of the PMOI in Albania. The organized and safe transfer out of Iraq of the last of these refugees in 2016, many of whom were provided with sanctuary in Albania, provoked rage and frustration in Tehran, which saw its original plans to annihilate the PMOI foiled.
The formerly tiny Iranian embassy in Albania has now been transformed into one of the regime's largest embassies in the region. In early 2016, as the PMOI members were being transferred to Albania in groups, Tehran quickly sent a new ambassador, Gholam Hossein Mohammadnia, to Albania. Mohammadnia is a former high-ranking intelligence official and was also a member of the Iranian nuclear negotiations team before accepting his latest appointment in Albania. His main mandate in Tirana is to continue to implement the regime's malign plots against the PMOI.
Recently, another senior intelligence official, Mostafa Roodaki, has joined him as First Secretary. The cultural attaché of the embassy, Ahmad Hosseini Alast, is a senior official at the Organization for Islamic Culture and Communication, a major body responsible for the export of terrorism and fundamentalism. It
has become quite clear that the main mission of the embassy and all its personnel is to conspire against the PMOI.
As part of this policy the Iranian regime has set up official or unofficial intelligence and surveillance stations in the Balkans. In addition, the regime is trying to expand its influence in that country by dispatching an unprecedented number of delegations under the guise of cultural or religious activities.
In this report we will look into the activities of Iranian intelligence services aimed at damaging and demonizing the democratic opposition movement with focus on Albania.
Campaign for Iran Change (CIC)
How Iranian Agents breach security in the West
It was Tuesday 5th December 2017. The European Parliament in Brussels was bustling with activity. Thiswas ‘Group Week’ when all of the political groups meet in Brussels to prepare their voting lists for the lastplenary session of the year, due to take place the following week in Strasbourg from 11-14 December. Onthe third floor, in what is referred to by MEPs and staff as ‘The Airport Coffee Bar’, Anne Singleton wasdeep in conversation with a parliamentary staff.
It was perhaps not surprising that Anne Singleton was in Brussels. The Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (FoFI), under the chairmanship of senior Belgian MEP Gérard Deprez, had organised a conference to take place in the parliament on Wednesday 6th December, to mark international Human Rights Day. The keynote speaker was to be the Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). As head of the biggest, best-organised, opposition to the Tehranregime, Mrs Rajavi is of course, detested by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his cohorts. For decades they have used their considerable resources to demonize and attempt to annihilate the NCRI and PMOI at home and abroad, deploying Ministry of Intelligence Security (MOIS) agents.
The US Pentagon commissioned-report formally exposed Anne Singleton as an Iranian spy in an official report published in December 2012. The report entitled: ‘Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security: a profile’1 was based on exhaustive research undertaken by the Pentagon and the US Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. It made striking revelations about the extent of activities by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) against dissidents and in particular efforts to discredit the main opposition People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI or MEK 2).
The report identified two MOIS agents operating with Iran and explained how they had been recruited and trained by the MOIS in Tehran to run a demonization campaign including launching a PMOI-defamatory website: www.iran-interlink.org. The Pentagon report stated:
“The recruitment of a British subject, Anne Singleton, and her Iranian husband, Massoud Khodabandeh,provides a relevant example of how MOIS coerces non-Iranians to cooperate. She worked with the MEK in the late 1980s. Massoud Khodabandeh and his brother Ibrahim were both members of the MEK at the time. In 1996 Massoud Khodabandeh decided to leave the organisation. Later, he married Anne Singleton. Soon after their marriage, MOIS forced them to cooperate by threatening to confiscate Khodabandeh’s mother’sextensive property in Tehran. Singleton and Khodabandeh then agreed to work for MOIS and spy on the MEK. In 2002 Singleton met in Tehran with MOIS agents who were interested in her background. She agreed to cooperate with the MOIS to save her brother-in-law’s life—he was still a member of the MEK at the time. During her stay in Tehran, she received training from the MOIS. After her return to England, she launched the iran-interlink.org website in the winter of 2002. After she made many trips to Iran and Singapore—the country where the agency contacts its foreign agents— the MEK became doubtful of Singleton andKhodabandeh’s loyalty to the organisation. In 2004 Singleton finally met her brother-in-law, Ibrahim, who was sent from Syria to Iran after the Syrians arrested him (it appears that Syrians closely cooperate with theMOIS). Eventually, the MOIS forced him to cooperate as well.”
The report proved immediately that the PMOI/MEK remained the most serious threat to the Iranian regime and therefore their suppression has always been a priority for the Iran’s intelligence services. The report also underlined that the Iranian regime was the source of all disinformation against the PMOI. Indeed by actually naming Anne Singleton and her Iranian husband, Massoud Khodabandeh as trained MOIS agents, it reinforced the findings of the British courts years earlier when they demanded the de- listing of the PMOI, showing that their black-listing had been based on supposedly classified evidence
1 https://fas.org/irp/world/iran/mois-loc.pdf2 Mojahedin-e Khalq
supplied by these, which the British judges described as ‘perverse’. Sadly, it was this self-same classified evidence which had been passed to the US State Department by the UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and which had been used to justify the continued black-listing of the PMOI in America.
Alarmingly, the Pentagon report also showed that Iran’s known agents had enjoyed freedom of activity inEurope for years. The report made it clear that the Quds Force and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), together with the MOIS who control their activities, were involved in conspiracies to murder citizens and residents of the EU. Similar reports have been made by some European Intelligence Services. The latest annual report of The German Interior Ministry’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), published in July 2017 3 stated:
“The main task of the Iranian intelligence services remains the spying-on and combating of opposition movements at home and abroad. In addition, the Iranian services in the Western world collect information in the fields of politics, business and science. The main entity that conducts activities against Germany is the Ministry of Intelligence (VAJA, mostly abbreviated as MOIS). The main focus of MOIS is in particular on the "People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran" (PMOI or MEK) and its political arm, the "National Council of Resistance of Iran" (NCRI).
And the Intelligence Services of the Netherlands, AIVD, 2012 report4, page 37, states: “AIVD has realizedthat the government of Iran is constantly active against the resistance movement PMOI. The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) controls a network in Europe, which is also active in the Netherlands. Members of this network are former members of the PMOI who have been recruited by the MOIS. Their mission is to impose a negative impact on public opinion about the PMOI by lobbying, making publications and organizing anti- PMOI rallies. These people also gather information about the PMOI and its members for the MOIS.”
A background on Iran’s democratic opposition, PMOI
The overthrow of Dr Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953 5 (Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister) caused political unrest throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s. Together with oppression and the eventualbanning of all political opposition groups by the Shah, this created disillusionment and disenchantmentamongst Iran’s then 25 million population. Against this backdrop, in the autumn of 1965, three universitystudents, Mohammad Hanifnejad, Saied Mohsen and Ali-Asghar Badizadegan, set up the People’sMojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI)6, a political organisation originally formed to oppose the corrupt and oppressive dictatorship of Shah Pahlavi and the absolute rule of the monarch. The PMOI would grow to become by far the largest and most active political movement in Iranian history.
In the 1970’s however, a brutal crackdown on the organisation and its members by the Shah’s notorious secret service (Savak) resulted in the execution of the PMOI’s original founders and the imprisonment ofthe vast majority of its followers and central committee members, including Massoud Rajavi. Massoud was a graduate of political law from Tehran University and had joined the PMOI when he was 20. He was only spared execution because of the efforts of his elder brother Professor Kazem Rajavi7, a renowned human rights advocate who spearheaded an international campaign in the West which included securing the support of Francois Mitterrand, the then leader of the French Socialist Party, the President of Swiss Confederations, the UN Secretary General and a number of other international dignitaries and human rights organisations, including Amnesty International and the Red Cross.
While Massoud Rajavi and the rest of the PMOI’s leading cadres were in prison, the organisation sufferedan internal setback. In the years 1972-1975, a number of individuals including a member who had escapedprison and gained some notoriety among the opposition, took advantage of the absence of the PMOI’s leadership and attempted to change the organisation’s ideology and direction. The remaining membersoutside prison, who strongly rejected the betrayal of the PMOI’s founders and their vision for a future Iran,vigorously opposed this Marxist coup within the organisation. By suppressing the opposing members and murdering several of them, this Marxist faction engaged in several armed attacks against American personnel and their interests stationed in Iran.
According to international experts who have closely examined the events of the 1970’s, these armedactivities were aimed at gaining the upper hand and silencing any opposition to the change in ideology and strategy of the organisation. Massoud Rajavi although in prison, strongly condemned these individuals and their actions and he went on to play a vital role in returning the organisation to its true and original founding principles and ideology.8 Once released from prison in 1979, Massoud Rajavi and other seniorPMOI members set about restructuring the organisation. Because of the group’s nationalist outlook,democratic values and modern and progressive view of Islam, they were the natural front-runners in the 1979 revolution. It was because of this tolerant and progressive interpretation of Islam, that the PMOI provided ideological inspiration to the millions of Iranians whose nationwide protests ultimately brought down the Shah of Iran in 1979.9
5 Dr Mossadegh, after the 2nd World War led the movement to nationalise Iranian oil industry. In 1951 Shah was forced toaccept him as the Prime Minister after his election in the Majlis. Mossadegh wanted to limit Shah’s powers according tothe Constitution and not to interfere into every executive affair of the country. In 1952 he was overthrown in a coup d'état orchestrated by Britain and the United States. Iran became an absolute dictatorship under the Shah for several decades.
6 The organisation is also referred to by its Farsi name Mujahedin-E Khalq (MEK), MKO and other variations of its name.7 Dr Rajavi, Iran’s first Ambassador to the United Nations after the 1979 revolution, was assassinated in Geneva by agentsof the Iranian regime in 1990.
8 For more information see ‘The Mujahedin-E Khalq, MEK, Shackled by a Twisted History’, by Lincoln P Bloomfield, Jr,published by University of Baltimore, 2013.
9 ‘People’s Mojahedin of Iran – Mission Report’ Friends of a Free Iran, pg. 7
The PMOI wanted a secular government, elections and universal suffrage to be the basis of political legitimacy. Their interpretation of Islam and what they aspired to for a future Iran was however in starkcontrast to the intentions of Ayatollah Khomeini, a Shi’ia cleric who had recently returned to Iran from exile. The Shah had imposed Khomeini’s exile in 1964 due to his increasing religious status and his denouncing of the Shah’s rule and the influence of the United States and Britain in Iran.
After widespread demonstrations against his rule in 1979, the Shah fled, never to return. Khomeini tookadvantage of the vacuum created by the Shah’s lengthy dictatorship and the elimination of all democratic opposition groups such as the PMOI, whose leaders were either executed or imprisoned and seized the leadership of the revolution. A lack of democratic institutions and a lack of public knowledge about the true nature of Khomeini, contributed to his position going unchallenged at the time. He was seen as a spiritual leader who had no interest in material life or in engaging in the day-to-day affairs of the country. Indeed, that was the promise he made.
However, having secured the support of the people by taking advantage of their religious sentiment, he reneged on those promises and instead of setting up a parliament representing the people to write the new Constitution, he set up an ‘Assembly of Experts’, which was essentially made up of clerics. This assemblyintroduced a constitution based on the ‘Velayat-e-faqih’ (the absolute rule of the clergy). He gave himselfthe title of the ‘Supreme Leader’ and established the ‘Guardian Council’, which holds absolute power and controls everything including all legislative acts to ensure they are in accordance to their strictinterpretation of the Quran. Khomeini appointed himself God’s representative on earth, changing Iraniansociety overnight and giving birth to what is now known as Islamic fundamentalism.
The PMOI fiercely opposed this undemocratic constitution and refused to take part in the referendum on the Velayat-e-faqih constitution. Infuriated by the PMOI’s stance against him, Ayatollah Khomeini ordereda brutal and bloody crackdown on members, supporters and sympathisers of the PMOI in what has been described as the “reign of terror”10. According to a decree by Khomeini, “the Mojahedin of Iran are infidels and worse than blasphemers... They have no right to life.”11 Since then, the PMOI have been the principal victims of human rights violations and systematic annihilation in Iran and they are a key target for demonization and assassination abroad.
Over the past three decades, more than 100,000 of its members and supporters have been executed. Dozens more have been assassinated outside of Iran. The execution, imprisonment and torture of PMOI members, supporters and their families continues unabated to this day. In the summer of 1988 the summary execution of more than 30,000 political prisoners in Iran took place, in an atrocity that surely must rank as one of the most horrific crimes against humanity of the late twentieth century. The vast majority of the victims were activists of the PMOI. The mass executions, in jails across Iran, were carried out on the basis of a fatwa by the regime’s then-Supreme Leader, the murderous Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.12
A ‘Death Committee’ approved all the death sentences. Mostafa Pourmohammadi, a key member of that‘Death Committee’ in Tehran and deputy chair of the Intelligence Ministry at the time, was until recentlyPresident Hassan Rouhani’s Justice Minister, until the scandal of this atrocity became public during the campaign for Rouhani’s re-election as president for a second term. Rouhani was forced to replace Pourmohammadi with Alireza Avaie, another notorious executioner, well-known for hanging dozens of people, including teenagers, when he was public prosecutor in the city of Dezful in Iran’s KhuzestanProvince. Other members of the Death Committee still hold prominent positions in the Iranian regime. When Khomeini was questioned by his head of the Judiciary in 1988 about those who had already served their sentences and been released from prison, or those who had been sentenced to terms of
11 ‘Enemies of the Ayatollahs’ by Mohammad Mohaddessin, pgs. 55 to 56.
imprisonment, he ordered that they should all be put to death. 13
In this massacre there was no mercy for anyone, including teenagers. Kangaroo courts were set up in Tehran and in more than 100 cities across Iran and PMOI political prisoners were hauled in front of a Sharia judge who demanded to know if they supported the Mojahedin. Those who defiantly said yes were sentenced to immediate execution. These sham trials took on average 2 minutes. It was estimated that 30,000 political prisoners were hanged from cranes in batches of ten, every fifteen minutes from dawn to dusk between July & December 1988.
The PMOI made a great effort for 3 decades to reveal information obtained from within the regime about the 1988 massacre. But many untold details and the truth about this horrific genocide was finally revealed on August 9th 2016, when the son of Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, the former Deputy Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic and the nominated successor to Ayatollah Khomeini, published a previously unknown audio-tape in which Montazeri acknowledged that the massacre had taken place and had been ordered at the highest levels.
In the electrifying tape, Montazeri could be heard telling a meeting of the ‘Death Committee’ in 1988 thatthey were responsible for a crime against humanity. He said: “The greatest crime committed during thereign of the Islamic Republic, for which history will condemn us, has been committed by you. Your names willin the future be etched in the annals of history as criminals.” Because of his forthright protests, the Grand Ayatollah was dismissed as the heir to the Supreme Leader by Khomeini and placed under house arrestuntil his death in 2009. For making public the audio tape, Montazeri’s son was charged with bringing theIslamic Republic into disrepute and sentenced to years of imprisonment, subsequently commuted to house arrest because of his religious prominence.
This grisly crime was an example of the ruthless way in which the Iranian regime decided to hunt down and murder anyone who opposed their tyrannical rule, in particular members of the PMOI. Members and supporters of the PMOI who were not executed or imprisoned in Iran were forced into exile, moving to Paris and other European and North American cities.
The UK, EU & US courts rule that the PMOI is not and was never a terrorist organisation contrary to MOIS lies
After the 1979 revolution Iran, the PMOI, despite their political differences with Khomeini, did everything to avoid confrontation with him and his regime. Instead it sought change through peaceful means. But when the PMOI had exhausted all possible paths to political participation, after mass executions began on 20 June 1981, as a measure of last resort, the organisation took up arms against the Iranian regime. Massoud Rajavi has said: “...the Islam that we profess does not condone bloodshed. We have never sought,nor do we welcome, confrontation and violence. If Khomeini is prepared to hold truly free elections, I will return to my homeland immediately. The Mojahedin will lay down their arms to participate in such elections. We do not fear election results, whatever they may be. Before the start of armed struggle, we tried to utilise all legal means of political activity, but suppression compelled us to take up arms. If Khomeini had allowed half or even a quarter of freedoms presently enjoyed in France, we would certainly have achieved a democraticvictory.”14
The PMOI between 1981 and 2003, was clearly an armed resistance movement, fighting tyranny and oppression in their homeland. Forced into exile, Massoud Rajavi moved to Paris in 1981. He along with the PMOI leadership continued their opposition to Khomeini and his tyrannical rule from exile, while themovement’s underground network was operating in Iran. However in 1986 the PMOI relocated to Iraq,after they came under increasing pressure from the government of Jacques Chirac to leave France. Attempting to secure the release of French hostages held by agents of the Iranian regime in Lebanon, the French Government was engaged in negotiations with Iran; a concession demanded by Tehran being the expulsion of the PMOI from French soil.
The PMOI freedom fighters fled to Iraq and built Camp Ashraf on a barren wasteland. Over the years it became a thriving, small city, but when the US invaded Iraq in 2003, it was bombed then surrounded byAmerican forces. Indeed in ‘classified’ documents disclosed later at court hearings in the UK, it was shownthat Iran had demanded the bombing of Camp Ashraf and other PMOI camps in Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. The British Government, in an act of unashamed appeasement, had subsequently assured Tehran it would oblige and had urged the US military to carry out the bombing. The completely unjustified repeated aerial bombardment of Camp Ashraf that then took place led to the loss of many innocent lives.
The Wall street journal of 17th April 2003 reported: “The dismantling of the Iranian opposition force in Iraq . . . fulfills a private U.S. assurance conveyed to Iranian officials before the start of hostilities that the group would be targeted by British and American forces if Iran stayed out of the fight, according to U.S. officials . . .But National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell contended that Tehran could be persuaded to remain Neutral toward the U.S. invasion next door in Iraq, especially if it knew the MEK [PMOI] would be attacked and prevented from harassing Iran in the future.”
That message was conveyed by British officials before hostilities began. Foreign Minister Jack Straw informed his Iranian counterpart Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi in a meeting in London. Britain's Iranian Ambassador Richard Dalton repeated the message weeks later in a meeting with Hassan Rouhani, the cleric who heads the Supreme National Security Council, Iran's chief foreign policy making body.
Despite this attack and despite the fact that the PMOI in Ashraf were heavily armed and well trained, the residents bore no malice against the Americans and they agreed voluntarily to hand over their weapons in return for guaranteed protection. The American army and intelligence services carried out exhaustive interviews with every individual in Ashraf. Following 16 months of review and screening of each and everyAshraf resident, the US Government on 2 July 2004 recognised all of them as “protected persons under the
14 Massoud Rajavi interview with L’Unite, Paris, 1 January 1984.
Fourth Geneva Convention” and "Senior American officials said extensive interviews by officials of theState Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had not come up with any basis to bring charges against any members of the group" (The New York Times, 27 July 200415). This meant that not a single person was engaged in any kind of terrorist or criminal activity and that they posed no threat to the US military; each person in Ashraf was then issued with a photo-identity card on which the US Government guaranteed their personal safety.
The extensive interviews and research by the US State Department and the FBI proved that the PMOI has never been in its history (past or present) a terrorist organisation. The PMOI never sought to achieve its goals using terror. It never targeted civilians, nor have civilians ever been injured or killed as a result of PMOI campaigns against the Iranian regime. The unjust, illegal and immoral terrorist designation of the PMOI came about directly at the request of the Iranian regime and the acquiescence of the West, who placed lucrative commercial contracts with the oil-rich nation above considerations of justice or human rights. But, as we have seen, the terrorist designation sparked legal challenges in successive courts of law, resulting ultimately, after years of struggle, with rulings in the courts in the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union, that the PMOI was not a terrorist organisation.
15 https://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/27/world/reach-war-people-s-mujahedeen-u... opposition.html
Deadly attacks on Camps Ashraf and Liberty & the transfer of the residents to Albania
There were previously around 3,000 key frontline members of the PMOI living in Camp Ashraf in Iraq. They were defenceless, unarmed refugees under the fragile security of the occupying US military forces and were under constant threat of attack or eviction.
Parliamentarians who spoke up in support of the Ashraf refugees were routinely vilified in the media byIranian intelligence with spurious press articles, accusing them of being “friends of terrorists”. Obscureadvertisements naming the PMOI as a terrorist organisation appeared in parliamentary magazines and news journals in an attempt to smear their supporters. These clandestine ads sometimes provided a web- site address, but any attempt to make contact was always met with a wall of silence. There was never an answer; the web addresses were bogus; these ads were all placed and funded by Iranian Intelligence (MOIS). They were afraid of the PMOI. They recognised it is the only threat to their stranglehold on Iran.
The US forces who had been stationed at Ashraf since 2003, finally packed up and left on 1st January 2009, reneging on their safety guarantees to the residents and abandoning them to their fate.
Frustrated at their inability to wipe out the unarmed and defenceless PMOI refugees in the sprawling grounds of Camp Ashraf, Tehran now put pressure on its puppet prime minister in Iraq – Nouri al-Maliki, to eject the Iranians from Ashraf and incarcerate them in a small, prison-like compound where they could more easily be targeted for extermination. In this endeavour they found a willing and malleable pawn in the newly appointed UN Special Representative in Iraq, Martin Kobler, a former aide to Joschka Fischer, the former Green Party German Foreign Minister. Kobler began a detailed programme of deception to fool the EU into agreeing to the closure of Ashraf and the relocation of its residents to Camp Liberty. His tactics were so dishonest and so uncharacteristic of normal UN practice that it led to the resignation of Tahar Boumedra, a senior UN official based in Iraq.
By combining threats of further massacres in Camp Ashraf with trickery and deception, Kobler managed to persuade the EU that the first 400 Ashraf residents would move to Camp liberty on 17th February 2012.
Martin Kobler and his team, by spreading lies about the PMOI, tried to justify the repressive actions and the inhuman siege against the camp. He shamelessly claimed that the rights of the residents were violated not by Iraq but by the PMOI leadership. His sinister objective for the transfer of the refugees to Camp Liberty and the increasing pressure on the refugees was designed to force them to go to Iran and surrender to the regime or face certain execution. The Iranian regime’s ambassador in Iraq said in an interview in January 2012: “Kobler had told us that when PMOI members are transferred to Liberty, 1620 of them will goback to Iran.” When this did not happen, Kobler and the regime became very angry. Tehran responded by increasing missile attacks on the camp.
I was closely involved in all these events as I was chair of European Parliament’s Delegation for Relationswith Iraq at the time.
After their move to Liberty, the camp was attacked by missiles, resulting in many deaths. Apart from smaller attacks, the heaviest rocket attack on Liberty was on 29 October 2015, killing 24 and wounding many. A large part of the camp was destroyed. John Kerry, US Secretary of State condemned the attack.
Behind the scenes, Maryam Rajavi had been negotiating at the highest level with the Albanian Government in Tirana, through European friends from early 2012, to see if they would accept a significant number of refugees from Camp Liberty. They had arrived at a breakthrough agreement, with the Albanians willing to accept all or most of the residents as refugees. Their humanitarian initiative was supported by UNHCR and the US. Indeed the US Secretary of State – John Kerry- travelled to Tirana in February 2016 for top-level talks with the Albanian Prime Minister – Edi Rama – who, displaying great humanitarian instincts, agreed
to allow all of the 3,000 residents of Liberty to be flown to Tirana. This was a major victory for the PMOI and a humiliating blow for the Iranian regime, which had sought the complete annihilation of everyone in Camp Liberty.
The mullahs were enraged and a task force of MOIS agents was soon deployed to Tirana. The Iranian Embassy in the Albanian capital had always been a small, unimportant outpost with a junior diplomat and few staff. Suddenly Albanian culture became of key significance to the regime, when they appointed more than a dozen cultural attaches to the embassy in Tirana!
Next, the Iranian regime's official news agency, IRNA, as well as Habilian, a website associated with Iran's ministry of intelligence (MOIS), published a report of a meeting between Gezim Podgorica, Director General of the Albanian Telegraphic Agency (ATA) who was in Iran and a known agent of MOIS by the name of Hasheminejad. It was apparent that Mr Podgorica had agreed to propagate misinformation against the PMOI in Albania as demanded by MOIS agents, including Hasheminejad, who met him pretending to be victims of PMOI/MEK terrorism. The same Hasheminejad was later dispatched to speak for visiting members of the European Parliament to Tehran in February 2018 and held a private meeting with the pro- Iran MEP Ana Gomes who according to the Habilian website accepted to closely collaborate with them.
According to IRNA on 26 February 2017, these agents attributed a series of false allegations to the PMOI, such as killing innocent people and causing indiscriminate explosions and the ATA Director General reciprocally has answered that he is in the frontline of fighting terrorism and "informing about the victims of terrorism is the frontline of the media in combating terrorism."
These blatantly false allegations were a sure sign that the MOIS was once again using its limitless resources to demonise the PMOI refugees in Albania. Of even more sinister significance was the sudden arrival of Anne Singleton in Albania. She visited Tirana several times in November 2017 alone. Years of experience have shown that such acts of demonization and the spreading of deliberate misinformation against the PMOI are almost always a prelude to attacks and assassination. Anne Singleton was seen and photographed outside Camps Ashraf and Liberty in Iraq, prior to deadly attacks that took place in both camps.
Expansion of Islamic Fundamentalism to the Balkans and Albania by the Iranian regime
The challenge facing today’s democratic societies is the confrontation between their freedoms andindependence and the many threats posed by Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism. In the past three decades the West has continuously witnessed |Iran intervening in the domestic affairs of Islamic countries to create major sectarian rifts amongst various religions by provoking ethnic and racial conflicts.
Iran resourcefully knows how to assert its influence in neighbouring countries in the Middle East and further afield by surreptitiously gaining control over key government assets and state capacities until its presence becomes indispensable. In southern Lebanon and Iraq, under the pretext of supporting theregion’s deprived communities and spreading the word about Islam, Tehran launched various campaigns to build schools, mosques and clinics. They hold Quran classes and publish cultural books aimed at propagating fundamentalist ideals. Through such measures the Iranian theocracy has been able to deceive the less well-educated portion of those societies, resulting in the formation of terrorist and sectarian groups and militias in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and other countries, carrying out horrendous crimes against innocent Sunnis, Christians and other minorities.
In addition to the Middle East, Iran has in recent years expanded its efforts in the Balkans, focusing mainly on Albania, establishing cultural institutions to spread its fundamentalist ideology and undermine thepresence of the PMOI in Tirana. Tehran’s efforts in Albania include establishing the Sa’adi College to spreadits fundamentalist culture. This institution is supervised by the cultural office of the Iranian embassy in Tirana, directed by a mullah by the name of Ahadollah Gholizadeh. Two organizations run directly by the Iranian regime, the Islamic Culture and Communications Organization and the al-Mustafa Society, whichboth fall under the control of the office of the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, run the propagandacampaign in Albania, using assets channelled to Albania under the guise of diplomatic activities.
Abdul-Ali Asgari, head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) and Mohammad Akhgari, deputychair of IRIB international affairs, launched a new news network dubbed ‘Pars Today’ on 5 July 2017,currently chaired by Behruz Ghazalpash. ‘Pars Today’ began its activities by launching ‘Parrena’, anAlbanian-language website. Its goal is to spread misinformation against members of the PMOI. The website is run by Amir Eshkurti, who in 2017 visited Tehran together with an Albanian state news and radio delegation. The husband of Anne Singleton, the infamous MOIS agent Massoud Khodabandeh, conductedan interview attacking the PMOI with the ‘Impact’ website, which was published in Albanian. ‘Pars Today’immediately republished the story.
The identity of dozens of the Iranian regime’s intelligence agents in other countries, have also been unveiled, along with their activities. Many of them work as “Iranian experts”. They have been ordered tofocus attacks and surveillance activities on Iranian opposition members in Albania. The regime’s on-going misinformation campaign against its main democratic opposition movement is now very much focused on Tirana where the 3,000 former residents of Ashraf and Liberty have sought refuge.
On 12 February 2018 the Albanian “Top Channel News” in cooperation with Iranian embassy produced atotally biased TV programme in which they broadcast an interview with three agents of the Ministry of Intelligence under the name of former members of the opposition, PMOI, throwing false accusations at the movement. These three were fully briefed by Anne Singleton during one of her trips to Albania.
A memorial ceremony in Tehran to commemorate the renowned Albanian poet Naim Frashëri (1846-
1900), has been reported in the Iranian state media, raising questions how a regime, which frequently jails poets and writers or forces them to flee into exile, has suddenly re-discovered its cultural soul. However, on closer examination it can be seen that many of the participants in the ceremony were members of the Nejat Association, a branch of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS), with a declared mandate to demonize and dismantle the main democratic opposition, the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI); others
attending the Tehran ceremony were described by Iran’s state media as journalists, educators and
academics from Albania and other Balkan countries.
The fact that Albania, by accepting the PMOI activists, has denied the regime the opportunity to massacre them has been troubling Iranian leaders for some time. The growing friendship and mutual trust between
the Iranian opposition and the people of Albania and the increasing respect of Albanian politicians from major parties for them together with the disclosure of Iran’s plots in Albania by the PMOI has forced even the regime loyalists to acknowledge some of these realities. Olsi Jazexhi, a well-known apologist of Iranian regime in Albania recently said "The problem is that the Mojahedin (PMOI) have attracted the support of a large number of Albanian politicians, musicians, students, and civil society activists, and an American senator visits the PMOI in Albania every three months and hold large meetings with Albanian politicians." The regime is indeed very angry of the support for Iranian resistance and Mrs Maryam Rajavi in Europe.
Some of the regime apologists now even pretend to be “concerned” for PMOI members’ “well-being”. Ms Gomes who as an MEP never said uttered a word of sympathy during the years Iranian refugees were brutally beaten and killed in Iraq, has recently claimed that some PMOI members in Albania “are held against their will” and that their relatives have “no access” to them. We remember well that similar claims
in Ashraf and Liberty were a prelude to terrorist attacks and missile attacks against the Iranian dissidents in Iraq. We are well acquainted with the phenomenon of "PMOI Victims" and "former PMOI members" in Iran. They are recruited and used by Iranian secret services to feed the regime’s lobby in the West.
The Albanian media reported on 22 March 2018 about the arrest of two Iranians in Tirana, suspected of
terrorism. They were taking photos of Nowruz celebrations in the city and told the police that they were journalists. The press also added that from the beginning of March, Albanian Intelligence and anti- terrorism units are holding 10 Iranian citizens who are thought capable of organizing terrorist operations in Albania, especially against the PMOI members who have taken refuge in the country.
Iran the leading sponsor of terrorism and fundamentalism across the globe
It is of great importance that the Albanian government understands that Iran is the leading sponsor ofterrorism and fundamentalism across the globe and will do its utmost to undermine Albania’s selfless actof humanitarian compassion to the PMOI refugees. The Albanian government must expose the true nature of the Iranian regime and distance its reach from all Albanian institutions and media outlets. Such an effort will prevent Tehran from pursuing its conspiracies and implementing its terror blueprints in the country.
In a televised interview on 19 April, the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, in response to a question aboutterrorist threats against the PMOI in his country, said: “I believe that, for PMOI we did the right thing. We gave accommodation to a group which is persecuted. And that's it. Regarding your question about security and threats, we are on the right side of history, we are in a group of countries of the Euro Atlantic club which are threatened in the same way. I believe that all these countries take measures against terroristthreats.”
Prime Minister Rama was referring to the widespread terrorist plots by Iranian services against the Iranian Resistance in various countries, from Albania to Germany and even as far as the United States. For example, since the start of 2018, there have been repeated cases of suspicious activities outside the office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran in Berlin, such as reconnoitring, photographing and mock parking manoeuvres. The police and relevant officials were informed of these cases for which the regime uses both Iranian agents and non-Iranian mercenaries. At the start of April 2018, all signs pointed to preparation for a terrorist strike, and relevant officials were informed. Simultaneously, there were several cases of suspicious acts of surveillance near the NCRI office in Washington by individuals of various nationalities, which point to serious terrorist threats. The relevant US law enforcement officials were informed of these threats.
The US State Department has now recognised and exposed the dangerous and destructive role of the Iranian regime in the Middle East and the systematic violation of human rights across the zone that characterizes its aggressive attempts to spread Islamic fundamentalism. The US Treasury Department has listed the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as an international terrorist organisation, joining the Quds Force, which has been on international blacklists for some years. The IRGC and the body responsible for extra-territorial operations - the Quds Force, are the main vehicles for Iran’s aggressive expansionismin the Middle East.
Over the past seven years the world has witnessed in horror how the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has massacred his own people, even using barrel bombs and chemical weapons like Sarin gas, while enjoying unlimited financial and military support from Iran and air cover from the Russians. Iran is pumping billions of dollars in weapons and military resources into Syria in its effort to prop up the blood-soaked regime of Assad. Iran has committed 70,000 frontline troops to the Syrian civil war. The regime is careful to send Afghan refugees who have sought sanctuary in Iran, to die on the Syrian battlefields as cannon fodder. Their widows are then offered full Iranian citizenship and a meagre pension by way of compensation.
The IRGC is also behind most of the brutal Shi’ite militias who during 2014-2017 rampaged through the predominantly Sunni provinces of Iraq, massacring families and levelling cities like Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul in the name of the war against Daesh (ISIS). The Iranian regime's violence and crimes in othercountries in the region and in particular its suppression of Sunnis, carried out under the banner of Shi’iteIslam, is what provoked the original backlash that in turn spawned the birth of groups like Daesh whosought to establish an “Islamic Caliphate” while spreading their violence and brutality to the four cornersof the globe. It is a great irony that Iran has exploited the campaign against Daesh as an opportunity to carry out its genocidal crusade against the Sunnis, at the same time fooling the West into regarding the theocratic regime as an ally, even coaxing the US into providing vital air support.
Iran cannot be part of the solution to the conflicts raging in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya. It is part of the problem. Iran exports terror. This is the real Iran under the theocratic rule of the mullahs, whose so-called‘moderate’ president Rouhani the West believes it can do deals with. But it should be plain for all to seethat if Tehran is prepared to devote billions to the export of terror and conflict across the Middle East in pursuit of its fundamentalist goals, then the financing of an army of trained MOIS agents to demonise and attack the main democratic opposition PMOI movement across the whole of Europe and North America is never going to pose any difficulty. Massive resources are devoted to this cause and to buying the support of corrupt decision-makers and opinion-shapers in the West.
Network of Iran’s agents in Europe
The regime is also astute in its ability to target former supporters of the PMOI who, for various reasons, have voluntarily decided to leave the movement. They are quickly sought out by MOIS agents like Anne Singleton and her husband Khodabandeh, who use threats against their families in Iran, or lucrative bribes to turn them into allies of the regime; most of them despite threats and bribes do not cooperate with the regime. But the ones who do are often taken to Tehran for training then they are unleashed against their former PMOI colleagues, making outrageous claims of torture or abuse and other fatuous claptrap. Sadly some naïve Western media outlets occasionally fall for this rubbish, publishing groundless accusations of PMOI ‘cult-like’ activities, forced incarceration and other nonsensical lies that are easily refuted.
Iran’s network of spies in Europe is extensive. On 13th July 2015, Ghorbanali Hosseinnejad was arrested by the French gendarmerie, when he travelled to Auvers-sur-Oise in Northern Paris, to reconnoitre the residence of Maryam Rajavi. He confessed to the French police that he was in contact with Ahmad Zarif, in the Iranian Embassy in Paris. He said that Mohammad Hossein Sobhani travels every month from the MOISheadquarters in Germany to Paris and pays €500 monthly salaries to Hosseinnejad and other MOIS agents. Indeed Mohammad Hossein Sobhani was already known to the French police. In June 2007 he was arrested with various other MOIS agents after they disrupted a meeting of Iranian refugees in Paris, attacking and wounding some of the participants.
A Canadian citizen known as Gholam Reza Sadeghi Jebelli (aka Jebeli), now mostly living in Belgium, is another active member of the European network of the MOIS. He is frequently in the European Parliament. He started working for the regime in 1980 after being arrested and ‘turned’ by the IRGC. In 2008, with an Iranian passport and a visa from the Iraqi embassy in Tehran, he went to Iraq to harass the PMOI members in Camp Ashraf but was arrested by the Iraqi police and the American forces who were responsible for the protection of the camp at that time. On 6 December 2017, Jebeli began shouting and insulting the security officials of the European Parliament when he was prevented from entering the parliament.
Two other agents who visit the European Parliament regularly to meet Ana Gomes MEP, are Ali-Akbar Rastgou and Mehdi Khoshhal. The German Der Spiegel, on 14 July 2008, wrote about the two men: “Germansecurity agencies released two weeks ago two Iranian-born German nationals who were detained for more than five weeks under suspicion of espionage in a prison in Baghdad. Ali R., a resident of the city of Cologne, his acquaintance Mehdi K, who lives in Baghdad, and an Iranian who travelled to Baghdad in late May, were arrested there by security forces. They must have identified an ‘important national interest facility’. Ali R isan active member of the Aawa Association, based in Cologne, that confronts the left-muslim People’sMojahedin Organization.”
Another agent who has been frequently visiting EU parliament is Davood Baghervand Arshad. Baghervand was for some years in the PMOI but left Camp Ashraf after situation became difficult in Iraq. He was offered amnesty by Iranian regime in return for collaboration and went to Iran in 2005. There, he was fully recruited and spent several years to receive special training and instructions from the intelligence ministry and was sent abroad in 2015 with the aim of countering Iranian resistance's work in Europe. In March and April this year he published photos of his private meetings with Portuguese MEP Ana Gomes and French MEP Patricia Lalonde both of whom are known for their collaborations with Tehran.
At a time of heightened security throughout the EU and North America, in the wake of a series of attacks by Islamist terrorists, it is time that Western security forces and anti-terrorist units took action to preventthe penetration of Iran’s army of MOIS agents and spies into almost every country. These agents operate under the direction of the MOIS or a branch of the IRGC and its notorious Quds Force. Their activities include the assassination of dissidents, espionage against opponents and spreading mass disinformation against the opposition movement – the PMOI/MEK and NCRI. In the last 39 years, these agents in
Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Austria, France and Turkey have carried out dozens of assassinations. The murders are still going on.
On 29 April 2017, Saeed Karimian, a 45-year-old London-based Iranian TV executive and chairman of the GEM satellite TV network, was assassinated in Turkey, where his TV station had a branch. In January 2017 a revolutionary court in Tehran had condemned him in absentia to a 6-year prison term for spreading propaganda and acting against national security.
In July 2016, Maysam Panahi, an MOIS agent, was sentenced in Germany to two and a half years imprisonment for spying on the NCRI and the PMOI. According to German court papers, he was connected to a veteran intelligence officer of the MOIS. Panahi was a former affiliate of the PMOI who went from Camp Liberty to Hotel Mohajer in Baghdad, a place that was under Tehran’s control. There he was recruited by Iranian intelligence. He was later taken to Iran by the MOIS for training and then sent to Germany. According to the verdict of a Berlin court, Panahi received €28,000 from the MOIS for sharing his information.
On 25th March 2017, Mustufa Haidar Syed-Naqfi, a Pakistani national, was convicted in Germany of spying for Iran, specifically of searching out potential targets for attacks by the IRGC. According to A spokesmanfor Berlin’s superior court, Syed-Naqfi was sentenced to four years and three months in prison “for working for a foreign intelligence service”. The court found he had “spied against Germany and another NATOmember,” France, for the Quds Force. Syed-Naqfi compiled dossiers on possible targets – namely a German lawmaker who is the former head of a German-Israeli organisation and a French-Israeli economics professor. In its latest report published in July 2017, the domestic intelligence service of Germany - The Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz or BfV) stated that the PMOI and NCRI are the primary targets of spying activity by the Iranian MOIS.
On 8 November 2017, Iran’s espionage network in The Hague assassinated an Iranian dissident by the name of Ahmad Mola Nissi. Having interviewed his daughter, Reuters wrote on 12 December: “Thedaughter of an Iranian Arab activist killed in the Netherlands last month ... warned other exiles in Europe to be on their guard. Ahmad Mola Nissi, 52, was gunned down by an unidentified assailant in front of his homein The Hague.”
Following the assassination of 4 Iranian Kurdish dissidents in the Mykonos Restaurant, Berlin, in 1992, the German Federal Court of Justice found that the murders were directly linked to the Iranian authorities at the highest level, i.e. the Supreme Leader, President, Ministers of Intelligence and Foreign Affairs, after which the EU in April 1997 agreed to expel all MOIS agents from EU Member States. Regrettably, as a result of the EU’s policy of appeasement this sanction has been lifted and a great many trained MOIS agents are once again active across the EU, creating a clear and present danger.
Iranian Regime’s lobbying methods
Iran spends vast amounts of money on lobbyists on both sides of the Atlantic. It even provides financial aid to some universities, ostensibly for research, via fake charitable organisations, like the US-based Alavi Foundation, whose assets are currently under threat of court seizure for violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and for money laundering offences.
The lobbyists have penetrated the West’s key media outlets and parliaments. The Iranian intelligence services increasingly rely on trained foreigners, rather than Iranians, to propagate their misinformation, to allay the suspicion of their targets. This has become readily apparent, for example, in the annual UN Human Rights Council meetings in Geneva, where significant numbers of European lobbyists busy themselves in spreading falsehoods and defamations on behalf of the Iranian regime. They have even setup state controlled NGO’s for this purpose, leading to vigorous protests by other genuine, non-IranianNGO’s, over the abuse of the NGO framework and mechanism.
The Iranians offer staggering amounts of money to spread their lies. On 5th July 2010, the Canadian Daily’ – ‘Toronto Sun – reported one such case: “John Thompson, who heads up the Mackenzie Institute, a security minded think-tank, says China isn’t alone in trying to gain influence. Thompson, who is often called on by media outlets to offer up analysis, says he was offered $80,000 by a man tied to Iran’s mission in Canada. ‘Theywanted me to publish a piece on the Mujahedin-e Khalq’ he said. ‘Iran is trying to get other countries to label it as a terrorist cult.’ Thompson says he turned down the offer.”
The activities of the Iranian funded lobbyists are regularly reinforced by Iranian diplomats, ministers and MPs. Whenever the regime hears of an intended visit to any parliament in Europe by Maryam Rajavi, the regime goes into overdrive, ordering its ambassadors to meet or telephone leading members of that parliament and occasionally even prime ministers and party leaders, in an attempt to prevent such visits from taking place. In addition, visits to Tehran by delegations from Western parliaments are always exploited as a propaganda tool by the regime, which lobbies the participating parliamentarians relentlessly with negative messages aimed at demonizing the PMOI.
Individual MPs in the European Parliament and in Western democracies are also singled out for an onslaught of misinformation, whenever they express support for the PMOI or call for freedom anddemocracy in Iran. They are often bombarded with misinformation about Iran’s main democraticopposition and can on occasion also receive calls from the Iranian embassy or from people who claim to be disaffected former members of the PMOI, although they are in fact trained MOIS agents who have been recruited by the regime.
In a recent example, a pro-Iran Portuguese MEP, who has a history of hostility towards the PMOI, organised a meeting aimed at undermining the status of Iranian refugees in Albania, following her visit to Tehran in February this year. (See statement Annex 1).
Demonization and disinformation against the opposition have been a common practice by the theocratic regime since its inception, especially against the PMOI. This has been practiced as a prelude to suppression, killing and assassination. In order to justify its crimes, the regime needs to discredit its opposition. Demonization of the residents of camps Ashraf and Liberty and military and rocket attacks and their killings were a cycle that took place repeatedly between 2008 and 2016.
Two major developments turned the balance incredibly against the regime and in favour of the opposition. Firstly, the safe and organized relocation of all members of the PMOI from Iraq to Albania that snatched the opportunity from the regime to massacre them. Secondly, the people’s uprising that started in the final days of 2017. The regime’s supreme leader and the president both openly acknowledged that the PMOI was the main driving force behind the mass protests.
Mounting economic and social crises in Iran has been reflected in a sharp fall in the value of the Iranian currency, which has gone down by one third within the past three months. In addition, developments in the US have removed the type of support typified by the previous Obama administration, throwing Tehran into a period of confusion and seriously weakening the regime. All of these issues have brought the prospect of change in Iran to the fore.
Typically, in these circumstances, Tehran has stepped up its cycle of demonization and terrorist and espionage activities targeting the main democratic opposition movement, especially in Albania. After extensive apparently diplomatic and cultural activities against the PMOI, the Albanian media reported on 21 March 2018 that two Iranians had been detained in Albania for suspected terrorist plans. It was also reported that ten others are under surveillance. The reports indicated that their possible target was the PMOI. In 2017, two assassinations of Iranian dissidents took place in Turkey and the Netherlands. The Western intelligence and security sources highlighted credible terrorist threats against the PMOI.
Tehran has set up a major apparatus with hundreds of millions of dollars to advance its policy of demonization and disinformation. Some of the common methods used by the regime include the deployment of sophisticated lobbies in the US and Europe, the dispatch of agents under the pretext of being refugees to these countries, paying journalists, media and PR companies specially in Albania to demonize the PMOI/MEK.
The regime’s intimidations through espionage and terrorism are not limited to the opposition. It threatens western countries’ interests as well. Last year, a Pakistani citizen in Germany, who was working for Iranian services, was accused of identifying German and French pro-Israeli personalities and passing the information to the Quds forces. He was sentenced to four and a half years in prison.
The Iranian regime has been using two factors: First, the opportunities and grounds that were created to its benefit by the policy of appeasement in the United States and Europe. Second, Taking advantage of democratic mechanisms in Western countries. According to a decision made by the Council of the European Union in its session of 29 April 199716, all the intelligence agents of Iran had to be expelled fromEuropean countries after the Federal Court in Berlin held the Iranian regime’s leaders responsible forassassinating Iranian Kurdish leaders in the Mikonos restaurant 17in September 1992.
A firm policy by western countries both in the United States and Europe is necessary to ensure the safety of the genuine Iranian refugees and opponents of the regime, as well as the safety of those countries in a more general picture. Such a policy requires that Tehran’s agents and spies be expelled with noexceptions made. Tehran’s official and unofficial lobbyists must be identified and monitored and should be held accountable for their acts in violation of European laws.
Annex 1 – Campaign for Iran Change - Statement 9 April 2018:
Brussels- 9 April 2018
Iranian regime agents in the European Parliament; political cover for terrorist acts against the opposition in Albania
Iran’s deep frustration after the organized transfer of thousands of members of the main democratic opposition movement from Iraq to Albania and the loss of the opportunity to massacre them is not a secret. This transfer was the result of an unprecedented campaign by the Iranian opposition and its supporters in Europe and the United States. It took place under the noses of the theocratic regime while Tehran had put all it’s efforts into preventing their transfer and orchestrating either their surrender or their annihilation.
The Iranian regime’s officials have now acknowledged that the main opposition movement, the People’sMojahedin of Iran (PMOI or MEK), played a key role in launching the recent nationwide protests and anti- government demonstrations. According to AFP, on 2 January 2018, President Hassan Rouhani called President Macron and asked him to take action against the Paris-based Iranian opposition and their leader Maryam Rajavi, which he accused of fomenting the recent protests. President Macron rejected his demand.
On 9 January 2018, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, said the PMOI had organized the uprising and implicitly threatened to execute the arrested protesters. The Iranian regime is now citing these events as a reason to exert pressure and instigate terrorist acts against the PMOI in Albania.
The appointment of Gholam Hossein Mohammad Nia and Mostafa Roodaki, two senior officials of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS), as the ambassador and first secretary of the embassy in Tirana has been a clear indication of the regime’s malign intentions. Ostensibly, their role is to create religious and cultural institutions, which in fact are guileless covers for the sinister activities of the two branches of the Iranian MOIS in Albania, functioning under the names of the Habilian Center and the Didban Institute.
These organisations employ local Albanians and train them to demonize the PMOI, launching websites and TV channels in Albania and purchasing several nationwide TV programmes. On 22 March 2018, the Albanian media reported that two Iranians had been arrested on suspicion of preparing acts of terrorism and a further ten people were detained for questioning, adding that the PMOI was a possible target. This has been the same pattern pursued by the mullahs’ over the past four decades, spreading lies and misinformation to prepare the ground for repression and acts of terrorism. In Camps Ashraf and Liberty in Iraq, an orchestrated campaign of demonization combined with vicious terrorist and missile attacks were part of the daily routine aimed at terrorising the unarmed and defenceless PMOI refugees. Now Iran is focusing on Albania where the pattern will inevitably be repeated.
The MOIS and its affiliated agents, lobbies and pro-regime politicians are determined to undermine theIranian opposition’s status in Europe and to portray them as a threat to Albania and the Balkans. It isinteresting and not surprising to see that many of the main actors of this recent campaign in Albania and Europe are the same ones who worked against the Camp Ashraf and Liberty residents when they were stuck inside Iraq. This is despite the fact that Western security services in 2017 and 2018 found new signs of credible threats against Iranian opposition activists. In 2017, two Iranian dissidents were assassinated in Turkey and the Netherlands.
We are alarmed to learn that a meeting is planned to take place in the European Parliament entitled:“Mojahedin e-Khalq (MEK) a threat in Albania” on April 10, 2018. It is being organized by a pro-Iran Portuguese MEP Ana Gomes, who has a history of hostility towards the PMOI. Gomes has recently returned from a visit to Tehran.
In April 2009 when we were going to vote in favour of a resolution in the European Parliament calling for the protection of Ashraf residents, Ms Gomes proposed 7 amendments to damage our efforts. Had her amendments been adopted it would have given give a free hand to the Iraqi government to suppress the residents. All her seven amendments were rejected by a majority of MEPs. But her strange behaviour and open hostility towards the Iranian opposition raised a lot of protests in the European Parliament and even in the British Parliament at the time.
After her recent visit to Iran, Ms Gomes said in the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee on 22February 2018, “... I met with relatives of the victims of a terrorist organisation, called the MEK, Mojahedinof the People, and National Council of whatever revolutionary Iran...! They are creating troubles in Albania, trouble that will come to haunt us... (and) are keeping people hostage namely in Albania.” These remarksare clearly defamations and judicially prosecutable.
During her stay in Iran, she had additional meetings with the Habilian Institute and Nejat Association, two branches of the MOIS.
The list of speakers scheduled for her meeting on April 10, 2018 clearly reveals the nature of this farce, as it includes Anne Singleton (Khodabandeh), an Iranian regime agent exposed by a US Pentagon & Library of Congress report in December 2012.
In June 2004, Win Griffiths, a former Labour Member of the British Parliament, travelled to Tehran tomeet a prisoner in Evin prison. In a witness statement he said: “When I went to Evin, expecting to meet the detainees in private, I was surprised to see Anne Khodabandeh (Singleton), Ebrahim’s sister-in-law, in Evin Prison. She later claimed that she was there as part of an NGO visit. Yet it was clear to me that the prison guards treated her as a friend and on their side, rather than as a member of an independent NGO”.
Singleton visited Tirana no fewer than three times in November 2017 alone and went on to discuss “thethreats of the PMOI in Albania" during a meeting in Ms. Gomes' office in the European Parliament in Brussels on 5 December 2017. Anne Singleton was seen and photographed outside Camps Ashraf and Liberty in Iraq, prior to deadly attacks that took place in both camps.
Other speakers at the meeting in the European Parliament include: Olsi Jazexhi and Migena Balla. This Albanian couple are strong advocates of the Iranian regime and work closely with Singleton.
I believe it is very unwise to allow the Iranian regime and its agents to misuse the European Parliament. The 1997 decision of the European Union to expel Iranian intelligence agents from Europe must be implemented in the European Parliament with greater emphasis and these agents should not be allowed to appear there.
STRUAN STEVENSON Coordinator
Campaign for Iran Change (CIC)
Annex 2 – photos and documents taken from internet
Davoud Baghervand Arshad in Iran in 2005 Davoud Baghervand Arshad in European Parliament, April 2017
From (L to R): Mohammad Hossein Sobhani, Issa Azadeh, Reza Jebeli, Alireza Nasrollahi, Shiite Mullah Al-Husseini, Amir Movasseghi, Batoul Soltani, Zahra Moeini, Mohammad Razzaghi, Mansour Nazari, Ghafour Fattahian, Ghorbanali Hosseinnejad, Aliakbar Rastgou, Edvard Termadou
Struan Stevenson was a member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), president of the Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14) and chairman of Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004-14). He is an international lecturer on the Middle East and is also president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) and Coordinator of Campaign for Iran Change (CIC).