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MEK's congress in Albania - September 2017

American Reporter Visits MEK Camp in Albania

MEK's congress in Albania - September 2017

MEK members during September Congress during which they elected their secretary general.

A report published in the Washington Times on September 19th sheds light on the lives of MEK members living in Albania. Reporter L.Todd Wood researched the article while traveling in Albania. Wood was invited to visit the new MEK camp that is being built outside of Tirana while in Albania and learned about the MEK and its members. His report separates fact from fiction and explores the kinds of people who join the MEK and their reasons for doing so.

The new MEK camp, named Ashraf 3, houses around 3,200 members of the Iranian opposition movement. The group built the camp after being forced out of their old home in Iraq by a series of attacks by the Iranian-backed government.

The Iranian government is extremely fearful of the MEK, as it sees the group as an existential threat. As a result of this fear, the regime has repeatedly carried out brutal and reckless acts against the MEK in a series of failed attempts to destroy the organization and all opposition to the mullahs’ rule. In June, an Iranian diplomat was arrested for planning a foiled terrorist attack on the Iranian resistance’s Free Iran gathering in Paris. In August, two Iranian intelligence agents were arrested in the United States and charged with spying on the MEK on behalf of the Iranian regime.

According to Wood, the Iranian regime has taken its demonization campaign against the MEK all the way to Albania, employing its intelligence agents to recruit former MEK members to spread propaganda against the group in an attempt to ruin the organization’s reputation within Albania.

Wood’s visit to Ashraf 3 took place against the backdrop of the regime’s hostile attacks against the MEK, as well as the popular uprising currently taking place in Iran, which is being organized by MEK resistance units; the reinstatement of U.S. sanctions, which are exacerbating Iran’s escalating social and economic crises; and a regime that is teetering on the verge of collapse through its own corruption, incompetence, and mistreatment of its people.

Wood described his entrance to Ashraf 3 in terms of the security measures that were required to ensure the safety of camp residents. Any time he left the camp during his visit, two cars had to travel together. Local security services were employed to provide perimeter defense and to inspect all cars who entered the camp gates.

According to Wood, Ashraf 3 resembles a small city in various stages of construction. It has lodging, robust cooking facilities, assembly halls, a medical facility, and an administrative building. He said that the MEK has done a remarkable job in recreating their home in Iraq in such a short time, noting that the facilities were already very functional, if still somewhat barren.

Wood met the leaders of the camp and was immediately struck by their openness. The MEK has been the subject of a number of recent journalistic attacks by BBC Channel 4 and Al Jazeera, ending in a flyover of the camp by a drone owned by Channel 4. The false reports have left the MEK eager to set the record straight. Wood indicated that he would be willing to keep an open mind, and he received full and detailed answers to all of his questions. In some cases, additional members were brought in to provide more detail on a response. No subject was taboo during the two-day visit, and Wood left with positive feelings about the MEK and a commitment to come back and learn more about the organization.

Wood was interested in the members of Ashraf 3. He wanted to know who joined the MEK, who chose to live at Ashraf 3, and why they joined the organization. He found that most of the camp residents were older, as the children of MEK members were moved out of Iraq and sent to Europe and the U.S. over the last decade when Camp Ashraf and Liberty became the targets of missile attacks. There were, however, quite a few younger members, some of whom were part of the group of children who were evacuated from Iraq in 2009. These children grew up and joined the MEK as adults, following in their parents’ footsteps.

Wood interviewed approximately 50 MEK members during his stay at the camp, speaking to people both young and old about their experiences and what led them to join the organization. Some of the people he interviewed joined because their loved ones suffered violence at the hands of the regime. Others joined because the regime executed a loved one. Many became members because they couldn’t envision a future in Iran and chose to commit themselves to bring regime change for the generations to come.

Wood acknowledges that the MEK has been described as a cult, but he pushes back against this idea, saying instead that it is a “fanatically committed group of individuals who have given their lives for an idea: a free Iran.” He describes the members of the MEK as individuals who want a better life for their brothers and sisters in Iran. He said that this was especially prevalent amongst the young people at the camp, many of whom carried physical scars from their time at Camp Ashraf or Iran. Many of the MEK members Wood spoke to “had a deep sense of loss and pain from their dealings with the regime-murder, assault, deceit, torture. Their overriding principle was to prevent future generations of Iran from having to go through the same horrific experiences.”

Wood pointed out that the camp residents are mostly intellectuals and were very successful before joining the MEK. These are people who could have settled anywhere in the West and done well for themselves, but they chose to sacrifice everything to work toward a free Iran. Wood emphasized that everyone in the camp is singularly focused on freedom, that the idea of freedom permeates the camp itself. He spoke of the focus and determination of every member of the camp in completing their tasks. The members of Ashraf 3 have one goal—freedom—and they are determined to achieve it. Wood said that everyone he spoke to knew why they were fighting and why it was important that they do so.

Wood also referred to recent propaganda pieces published by the Iranian regime lobbies or paid agents saying: “Albania has nothing to fear from this group. I did not see any weapons or military training. They want to become good citizens of Albania and to build a life in the former communist country. In fact, it is the MEKwho has to be worried about violence. The regime has shown it will stop at nothing to destroy them. Iranian Ministry of Intelligence agents are active in Albania. They are the ones the Albanian public has to fear, not the people in the camp.”

Staff Writer

 

 

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Lindsey Hilsum filming MEK residence without permission

Channel 4 News Report Serves as Tool for Iran Lobby

Lindsey Hilsum filming MEK residence without permission

Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4 editor shows up next to the camp of the place of residence of Iranian refugees in Albania, filming the compound and individuals to be used to vilify Iran’s principal opposition the MEK.

One of the keys to a successful lobbying campaign is to get your point across through the use of surrogates and third parties, especially if those entities are not even aware of being manipulated for a specific purpose.

In politics, the tactics are well-worn and timeless as the third party, grassroots organizations, think tanks and other groups spring up like weeds to advocate a specific position, recruit like-minded people and then activate them to write letters, post on comment boards, give money or man phone banks.

The Iranian regime recognized the effectiveness of those tactics, even though it bans them within its own political world, and utilizes them to advocate abroad, especially in the U.S. and Europe. Those tactics have taken shape in forms both legal and illegal.

Iranian regime made significant investments in building a political lobbying and PR machine to help rally support for the nuclear deal during the Obama administration. Messages were carefully crafted to coincide with the projection of a moderate in the form of Hassan Rouhani’s election as president.

Many news organizations bought it hook, line and sinker as they dutifully spit out the concepts of Iranian moderation and ignored the excesses of the regime in its crackdown on human rights at home.

Predictably it all fell apart as Iran sank billions in supporting the Assad regime even as it gassed hundreds of men, women, and children and killed over half a million people and turned another five million into refugees that swamped Europe and spread Islamic extremism that Europe still wrestles with daily.

But now as the regime is facing more and more demonstrations against its corrupt and repressive rule, and as Trump administration has decided to withdraw from the nuclear deal and impose economic sanctions, the regime is under the greatest stress economically and politically it has ever been. Predictably, the regime has gone looking for a scapegoat as well as stepped up efforts to stomp out any dissension.

Given the role of MEK in recent uprisings in Iran, the mullahs in Tehran have decided to focus their efforts on the Iranian opposition, and its principal member, the MEK, and sought to bring all of their lobbying and PR tools to bear. In the U.S., the effectiveness of that lobby has been severely retarded and advocates for the regime have found it tough sledding to get their editorials and commentaries placed.

Whereas before you could see editorials in prestigious publications such as the New York Times and Washington Post, those same editorials can now only be found on obscure blogs or those already controlled by the regime’s state news apparatus.

But periodically, someone gets taken in and in this case, it was Britain’s Channel 4 News and international editor Lindsey Hilsum.

She produced a piece that dutifully checked off all the boxes for the regime in attacking the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), the oldest and principal opposition group to the Iranian regime and failed to provide many contexts to the realities of the regime’s actions.

In it, she attempts to vilify the Iranian opposition by showing visually arresting visuals of her attempt to enter the main camp in Albania where displaced MEK refugees were relocated after suffering continued attacks at another camp in Iraq by Iranian forces and affiliated Shiite militias – many of whom would later go on to fight in Syria on behalf of the Assad regime.

While the video depicts security guards trying to deter the crew from filming the camp and security measures being put in place, she never provides the context of why those measures are necessary.

Hilsum gives some lip service to prior attacks on the MEK refugee camp in Iraq and to the mass execution of MEK political prisoners by the Iranian regime but neglects to mention how relentlessly the regime continues to pursue attacks on these harsh critics of the mullahs’ rule.

She mentions the MEK’s annual gathering in Paris but doesn’t mention the arrest of Iranian diplomats and operatives by French and Belgium police who were planning on smuggling a bomb to the MEK’s convention this summer.

Nor does she mention the recent disclosure by cybersecurity firm FireEye of a sophisticated operation by Iran Ministry of Intelligence Services (MOIS) to influence U.S. and European opinion about economic sanctions on Iran through the use of false front social media profiles who were also involved in massive vilifying campaigns against the MEK.

Taken in context, it’s understandable why the MEK in Albania are nervous about any video showing the layout, security, and location of the camp and its facilities. Remarkably, Hilsum adds with emphasis that this is Albania, how can they be in danger here?

Obviously, she must believe that Paris, Brussels, Sydney, Ottawa, San Bernardino, Nice, Orlando, Berlin, and other cities are immune from Islamic extremism. The fact that Iranian diplomatic personnel was attempting to smuggle a bomb from Belgium to France to bomb the MEK must have slipped her attention.

While Hilsum conveniently mentions the MEK’s placement on the U.S. terrorism list, she neglects to mention that it was taken off that list by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during Obama administration.

That bipartisan support of the MEK is also neglected by Hilsum who makes a big show of discussing support from the MEK by Trump legal counsel Rudy Giuliani and National Security Advisor John Bolton, but never mentions support from Democratic senators Robert Menendez, Richard Torricelli and Joseph Liberman, not to mention a slew of Democratic representatives and ex-administration officials.

Hardly a club of extremists.

Oddly, in the video of the MEK gathering, Hilsum prominently displays videos and name tags for American officials attending, but curiously in one scene, blurs the nameplate for a prominent British official.

Why? Afraid to showcase support from Channel 4’s home country?

The truth is Hilsum has served as a useful tool by taking as gospel the key messages churned out by the Iranian regime’s PR machine. Her ultimate condemnation of the MEK is to claim there is no support for it within Iran.

Her most serious omission is that the MEK has long campaigned on one simple platform: open and fair elections in Iran allowing for all political parties to participate.

Hilsum never mentions membership in the MEK is banned in Iran.

She never mentions active participation in MEK activities in punishable by imprisonment and even death.

She never mentions the Iranian regime outlaws the MEK from participating in any election.

She never mentions the regime’s ruling council regularly disqualifies dissident candidates from election slates by the hundreds.

As the statement by the Iranian opposition mentioned, “Demonizing the Iranian regime’s main opposition concurrent with the visit of the UK Foreign Office’s Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt, to Iran is another objective of Ms. Hilsum’s upcoming report. Burt’s visit to Iran is the first by a European minister subsequent to the foiled Paris terrorist plot” states the NCRI.

It also rightfully warns, “Experience has shown that offering concessions to the main state sponsor of terrorism in the world that has made hostage-taking into its most lucrative trade for the past four decades, would only encourage it to continue its despicable policies. Proffering concessions to the clerical regime by jeopardizing the safety and security of 2,500 refugees, members of the PMOI (MEK), is tantamount to the promotion of terrorism and hostage-taking.”

Staff Writer

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Channel 4 news possible colluding with Iran's intelligence Ministry against the Iranian opposition

Iran Opposition Issues a Warning over Upcoming Channel 4 Report

 

Channel 4 news possible colluding with Iran's intelligence Ministry against the Iranian opposition

Iranian opposition, warns against spreading disinformation by Channel 4 News.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) issued a warning, it has reason to believe the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) and the British television network, Channel 4 are working together to defame against the MEK.

An Eleventh-Hour Warning

Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4’s Foreign Editor, submitted a letter to the MEK on August 31st, 2018. In the letter, it warned the Iranian opposition organization that the television network would air a report on the MEK’s activities in Albania.

The report will carry the much-touted falsehoods and accusations pedaled at the behest of the Iranian regime. In his letter, Hilsum declared that if the MEK had a response to the allegations, it should submit them to Channel 4.

Hilsum’s actions beg the question: why wait until the eleventh hour to warn the MEK and solicit a response? The preparation and production of such a report would have taken weeks or even months, yet the network waited until the last moment to contact the MEK.

This decision was likely made to prevent the MEK from mounting a legal challenge against the allegations made in the report.

The MEK had prior knowledge of the report after the detention of three Channel 4 reporters on August 10th for illegally filming the MEK compound in Albania without permission.

Britain’s Channel 4 is Working with the Iranian Regime in Albania

On August 10th and 13th, the MEK and NCRI wrote to Channel 4’s editor-in-chief. In the letters, the groups expressed concern over the detained reporter’s footage ending up in the hands of the Iranian regime (which was later confirmed when photos and footage of the MEK in Albania were posted on the Facebook page of regime agents). However, they received no reply.

On August 16th, the NCRI released a statement revealing the cooperation between Channel 4 and regime MOIS agent, Massoud Khodabandeh. The NCRI expressed concern that the cooperation indicated the regime’s exploitation of Channel 4 to further its terrorist objectives.

A justification for Foiled Terror Plots

In a statement, the NCRI suggested that the Iranian regime would use the Channel 4 report to provide justification for its foiled terror attacks. The MEK were the targets of a failed bomb attack during the Nowruz (Persian New Year) celebrations and at the organization’s annual Grand Gathering event in Paris this summer.

By demonizing the MEK, the regime would attempt to justify the attempted terror attacks. The timing of the Channel 4 report is also deliberate. The UK Foreign Office Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt, visited Iran this weekend.

A One-Sided Narrative

Channel 4 did not cover the foiled terror attacks carried out by the Iranian regime. It has made no attempt to offer accredited, impartial journalism. The report on September 3rd has used well-known regime agents as sources, including Mostafa Mohammadi.

The report comes at a time when the regime seeks justification, recognition, and above all, stability. Protests rack Iran every week. The Iranian population has clamored for regime change in the streets. The regime’s very existence is under threat. It needs to utilize its allies and media connections now more than ever. The upcoming Channel 4 report is the product of a regime in crisis. It is the verbal manifestation of Rouhani and Khamenei’s uncertain future.

Staff Writer

 

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Iranian regime's SSC meeting to plot against Iran's main opposition

Regime Orders Spying on MEK and Sets Stage for New Terrorist Acts

Iranian regime's SSC meeting to plot against Iran's main opposition

The Iranian regime’s Supreme Security Council plans new terrorist plot against the MEK

On August 6th, regime President Hassan Rouhani commented on the widespread protests that have taken place in cities across Iran this month. During his remarks, his hostility toward the MEK was evident when he said, “There is nothing wrong with the people’s protests … but it shouldn’t be like some people respond to a group(’s requests).”

The regime has now chosen to retaliate against the MEK for its role in helping to organize the recent protests by taking a number of measures to spy on the organization and to set the stage for future terrorist actions. The regime’s Supreme Security Council recently directed the Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS), the terrorist Quds Force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Intelligence and other agencies involved in the exportation of terrorism and fundamentalism to take the following actions against the MEK:

 

  1. MOIS stations in Europe were ordered to utilize more resources in order to collect information about the movement and activities of MEK members in Europe.
  2. The MOIS and Quds Force were directed to research the human, political, and technical potential for terrorists acts in Europe, particularly in Albania, using non-Iranian mercenaries. The goal would be to carry out terrorist acts against the MEK that could be attributed to either “internal conflicts of the Mojahedin [MEK]” or “natural incidents” and would not be traced back to the regime.
  3. In an effort to control the damage done to the regime’s public image after terrorist plots were revealed in Albania (April) and France (July), MOIS agents and mercenaries abroad have been instructed to cooperate with the regime’s cultural advisors in Europe, the overseas directorate of the State Radio and Television, the Islamic Propaganda Organization and other relevant organizations in order to increase the scope and dimensions of the demonization campaign against the MEK. Agents will step up the production and dissemination of false information and fake documentaries, spreading disinformation for the Iranian regime under the cover of journalism. Non-Iranians “hirelings” will be used to spread this propaganda.
  4. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Intelligence, and the Quds Force have all been ordered to petition European governments, particularly Albania, to curtail the Iranian Resistance and its activities. The plan is to achieve this task through talks with friendly “governments and parties” in Europe and the Balkans through political and economic relations.
  5. The regime plans to dispatch its mercenaries and agents to Albania to pose as MEK family members. MOIS and Quds Force agents, along with some so-called non-governmental organizations, have been ordered to go to Albania in groups. The pretext is that they are “Family members of the Mojahedin,” and the strategy employed is the same as that used at Camp Ashraf and Liberty.

Staff Writer

 

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