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Protests in Iran

Der Spiegel’s Reporting Makes Them Accomplices in the Regime’s Human Rights Abuses

Protests in Iran

Archive photo-Demonstrations in front of the offices of the education ministry in protest to the government’s lack of response to their demands.-January 2019

Under increasing pressure at home, the Iranian regime has intensified its misinformation campaign against the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK). The Iranian regime faces widespread protests each and every day. Since Sunday, there have been nine protests across the country attacking the mullahs’ mismanagement of the economy, soaring inflation, and unpaid wages.

These are the latest developments in a wave of protests that have washed across Iran over the last 14 months. What began in a nationwide uprising at the tail end of 2017, shows no sign of letting up.

An “army of hungry and unemployed” Iranians are taking to the streets and calling for regime change. Youth unemployment is above 50%, Iranian purchasing power is falling, and wages are stagnating. Iranians are struggling to put food on the table, meanwhile, the mullahs are living lavish lifestyles, funneling money to militia and terrorist groups abroad, and spending vast sums on clandestine missile programs.

The Regime Looks Outward

Rather than look inward at its own failings, the clerical regime has looked outwards and responded to the intensifying protest movement by cracking down on political opponents. As sanctions start to bite, targeting the regime’s oil revenue and crippling its finances, the regime has intensified its attacks on the MEK, the largest and most organized pro-democracy group who has played a crucial role in mobilizing the population.

The regime has deployed a misinformation campaign targeting the opposition group. Last year, Twitter removed 770 regime-affiliated accounts that the mullahs were using to spread disinformation about the MEK. A separate investigation from Reuters found that the Iranian regime used more than 70 websites to spread anti-MEK propaganda across the world, many of which are still in operation today.

Regime Hit Pieces

The mullahs’ latest attacks have come through Western media outlets. Its most recent hit piece against the MEK has published in German magazine Der Spiegel. As with previous hit pieces, including one published last year in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, the regime uses former members of the MEK to spread lies and deceit about the group, often touting the frequently disproved claim the MEK is a violent group that keeps members against their will.

The pieces usually allege that the MEK is not a threat to the regime and does not command the support of the Iranian population. This begs the question if the MEK is not a threat, why does the regime devout such resources and time to attacking them online, in print, and through violent terror attacks and assassinations?

The regime’s most recent propaganda piece in Der Spiegel made no less than 60 false claims against the MEK. Its publication raises questions, not only about the regime’s conduct but the journalists and editors that failed to carry out even basic fact-checking procedures. If they had vetted the information, they would have found that many of the allegations and baseless lies have been debunked many times in courts around the world.

Distracting the Global Media

What is perhaps more troubling is that while the world’s media laps up the regime’s bile and propaganda, frequent and severe human rights abuses are going unreported in Iran. Political, environmental, and human rights activists suffer attacks, arbitrary detention, and torture at the hands of the regime’s agents, yet the international media let them pass unnoticed.

The regime has a rich history of repressing, silencing, and exploiting its population. Iran has endured 40 years of regime rule and has come to expect it from the mullahs. But now, the international media and Der Spiegel is doing the same thing. Repeating the regime’s lies and failing to hold the mullahs to account for blatant and barbaric human rights abuses is tantamount to being an accomplice in these human rights abuses.

It is the international media’s role to give voice to the downtrodden and stand up for justice. Instead, in its most recent piece, Der Spiegel gave voice to the oppressors and only served to tighten the shackles the Iranian people find themselves in.

Staff Writer

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Conference "Future of Iran in 2019"

French Committee of Parliamentarians for a Free Iran Holds a Conference Discussing Future Policy Towards Iran

Conference "Future of Iran in 2019"

Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the Iranian opposition (NCRI), addressing a conference at Colbert Hall at the French Parliament -February 21, 2019

On Thursday, the Committee of Parliamentarians for a Free Iran (CPID) organized a meeting in the Colbert Hall at the French Parliament on the Iranian people’s fight for freedom. The meeting’s purpose was to chart Iranian human rights abuses and the role the clerical regime plays in state-sponsored terror and explore the role the French Government can play in the Iranian people’s journey towards a democratic Iran.

A Dire Situation in Iran

Andre Chassaigne opened the speeches with a scathing review of the Iranian regime’s human rights record. “The human rights situation in Iran is catastrophic,” he said, “between 2013 and 2019 more than 3,600 people were executed.”

He lamented the fate of Iran’s lorry drivers. “During last year, at least 268 lorry drivers were arrested in Iran,” he said, referring to the string of lorry drivers’ strikes that saw protestors arrested and threatened with death sentences for their involvement in the protests.

When Member of the French Parliament, Mr. Herve Saulignac took the floor, he outlined the regime’s involvement in murders on European soil. “It’s necessary to have a demanding approach to the regime,” in the wake of the regime’s violent and nefarious schemes on French soil. “But the strength of France is to stand alongside the Iranian people and their aspirations for a free Iran”, he stressed.

In June last year, the Iranian regime plotted to detonate a car bomb in Paris at the annual Grand Gathering of the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK), a prominent Iranian opposition pro-democracy group. The would-be assassins, a Belgian-Iranian couple traveling to the event in an explosive-laden vehicle, were apprehended by European authorities en-route to Paris.

The Need for Firm Action

The President-elect of the Iranian opposition, Maryam Rajavi, addressed the French Parliamentarians at the conference on Thursday. She had a message for the French government in the wake of the failed attack. “I urge the French government to initiate a bold policy in the EU,” she said.

She argued that the regime today is in a vulnerable state. “The mullahs are badly in need of political and commercial relations with Europe. Nonetheless, they cannot forgo terrorist operations in the heart of Europe… they are much weaker than is conceived,” she said.

She described how MEK resistance units are mobilizing the Iranian people and Iran’s “younger and freedom-loving generation.” She added they “have spread their anti-regime activities to dozens of cities across the country.”

“The policy of appeasement must be terminated,” Maryam Rajavi said, adding, “tying hopes to investments in and commercial deals with Iran is an illusion.” Pursuing a policy of appeasement, she argued, “is not only to the detriment of the people of Iran but also to the detriment of the Middle East and the world.”

Member of the Parliament, Frederic Reiss followed Maryam Rajavi at the podium and pledged his support to the Iranian people’s cause. “You have our support,” he said. “The Iranian people deserve Freedom and Democracy,” he added.

Two Types of Terrorism

Ingrid Betancourt, the Columbian politician, accused the regime in Iran of “practicing two kinds of terrorism”. “Hard terrorism,” she said,” to kill, and mild terrorism, to dis-inform and slander the NCRI and the resistance(The MEK).”

Tahar Boumedra echoed Ingrid Betancourt’s sentiments. He denounced the regime’s use of the Western media to spread lies and disinformation. “The media should apologize for their wrongdoings,” he added.

Boumedra went on to call for a UN investigation into the regime’s crimes against humanity, including its execution of 30,000 political prisoners in the summer of 1988.

Madame Vaucouleurs, the president of the CPID, closed out the speeches. She concluded the event by welcoming the committee’s progress, particularly its decision to meet with victims of repression at the hands of the Iranian regime. Her final words were to reiterate that the goal of the MEK and its allies, “is not to monopolize power in Iran, but to hand it over to the people for that it has been structured and has a program.”

Staff Writer

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Regime Apologist Publishes Falsehoods and Propaganda Against MEK

Why Der Spiegel is Little More than a Regime Mouthpiece

Spiegel hit piece against MEK

Spiegel published a full of lies story about MEK, Iran’s main opposition force, raising an outrage among the Iranian communities-February 2019

Der Spiegel, a German magazine, published a hit piece against the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK) and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). The piece, entitled “Prisoners of the Rebellion”, went to press on February 16 and contained a host of mistruths and lies about the Iranian opposition groups.

The article spouted the regime’s propaganda without meeting even the basic principles of journalistic integrity. The authors declined to visit the MEK’s compound in Albania and ignored correspondences with the NCRI in which the pro-democracy group sent documents disproving the regime’s allegations. Instead, the writers spent time with the regime’s Basij agents in Iran, interviewed members of the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) disguised as former MEK members without dealing with the group itself directly.

Waiting for the Perfect Time

Nothing demonstrates that the piece was little more than a poorly-informed hatched job against the MEK more than the timing of the piece.

In a statement released following the article’s publication, the NCRI revealed that it had been in communication with Der Spiegel’s deputy foreign editor, Mr Mathieu von Rohr, who had confirmed that the article was due to be published on November 24, 2018.

The article’s publication was delayed until “a time that the Iranian regime needed such “support,” the NCRI’s statement read. The recent conference in Warsaw which saw more than 60 governments from nations around the world come together to explore ways of dealing with the Iranian threat clearly prompted Der Spiegel to believe that this was the time the regime needed the “support” the article could lend.

The article was immediately picked up by all the Iranian state-run media outlets, which centered their coverage on the baseless allegations that the MEK carried out massacres and brutal acts of torture at its base in Albania.

Snubbed Invitations

The NCRI’s statement shows that the MEK and the NCRI had been in contact with von Rohr in the run-up to the article’s publication and were aware of the allegations about to be levied against them.

In a gesture of transparency, the MEK invited Der Spiegel to visit the group’s residence in Albania. The group frequently invites politicians and dignitaries to the compound, most recently former Scottish MEP Struan Stevenson and former Bundestag President Rita Sussmuth both visited the compound. However, Der Spiegel did not reply to the group’s invitation. The magazine clearly had no inclination of getting to the truth of the matter and instead preferred to accept the regime’s lies at face value.

The regime sent a letter instead. The NCRI’s statement claims that Mathieu von Rohr sent a letter with ten questions for the MEK and gave a deadline of one week for the group to answer said questions.

The NCRI’s statement reports that the questions included several regime-originated mistruths and propaganda statements. For example, the first question asked if MEK members were not permitted to use cell phones, clocks, and calendars, an often-touted regime lie.

The NCRI and MEK replied to the ten questions in a 6,600-word reply just four days later. In this letter, they once again extended an invitation to Der Spiegel and implored them to visit the MEK compound. Given that this letter was sent on November 18, and the final article was not published until February 16, there was ample time for Der Spiegel to dispatch reporters to the compound to conduct journalistic due diligence and investigate the regime’s lies.

A Close Relationship

Although Der Spiegel did not publish the article on the intended date of November 24, it did share the article with the Iranian regime. On November 24, the Nejat Association, an offshoot of the regime’s MOIS published a Der Spiegel interview with former MEK member, Gholamreza Shekari. The interview was eventually included in the final Der Spiegel piece.

The fact that the Iranian regime was able to publish segments of the article several months before Der Spiegel published the piece, demonstrates close ties and deep cooperation between the German magazine and the Iranian regime.

Following the publication of the interview, in which Gholamreza, a close regime affiliate, repeated the regime’s usual lies, the NCRI reached out to Der Spiegel once more. The letter read, “what the Iranian people will not forget and will not forgive are the war crimes and the crimes committed by this regime against humanity.” The letter reiterated that these crimes had gone unnoticed and unreported by Der Spiegel.

“The appeasement of the mullahs at the expense of the Iranian people and their suffering and the blood of hundreds of thousands of tortured and executed political prisoners are truly disgusting,” it added.

Finally, the letter concluded, “the regime may reiterate its vile defamation of the PMOI (MEK) with labels such as personality cult, domination, anti-democratic structure and sect as often as it wishes: this will not stop the fall of this regime, a process in which the PMOI (MEK) is at the forefront. The process that will lead to the demise of the mullahs has begun and is irreversible.”

Staff Writer

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Spiegel is part of Iranian regime's propaganda against MEK

“The Cult-Like Group Fighting Iran” is Fake News by Der Spiegel

Spiegel is part of Iranian regime's propaganda against MEK

The Spiegel Magazine joins Iranian regime’s propaganda machine against Iran’s main democratic opposition the MEK. The Iranian communities expressed their outrage over the lies and fabrications reported by Der Spiegel-February 2019

Der Spiegel’s Hit Piece: Shoddy Journalism or Evidence of a Conflict of Interest?

As the dust settles on the Warsaw conference and the Iranian regime are forced to come to terms with the US’s concerted efforts to build a united international front against Iranian regime aggression, regime allies are intensifying attacks on the Iranian opposition.

Over 65 world leaders gathered in Warsaw to discuss ways of containing the Iranian threat and bring stability to the Middle East and the wider region. On the sidelines of the conference, the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK), the largest and most influential Iranian pro-democracy group, organized rallies and protests against the regime and its four-decade hold on Iranian politics.

High-profile political figures from around the world turned out to support the MEK, including former New York Mayor and Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. The size and scale of the rallies, as well as the support they drew, drew international attention to the MEK and the leader of Iran opposition, president-elect Maryam Rajavi.

While this was a major step forward for Iranian democracy and the opposition movement, the increased profile of the opposition group caused a ripple of concern among the Iranian regime.

A Fearful Regime

The more international recognition the MEK and the Iranian opposition get, the more fearful the regime becomes. The group represents the most viable alternative to regime rule. Maryam Rajavi’s ten-point plan outlines a clear plan of action for installing a democratic government in Iran following the fall of the regime. The group’s very existence is a threat to the regime’s future survival.

As shockwaves of concern spread across the regime in the aftermath of the Warsaw conference, the regime’s allies intensified its attempts to publicly demonize the MEK and the Iranian opposition.

Spiegel Online or a Mouthpiece for Iran’s Dictatorship

These attempts cumulated in an article published from Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine. Entitled “Gefangene der Rebellion”, the article was a hit-piece designed to sway public opinion against the MEK and curb its rising popularity.

The article’s claims are the same as those that have previously been touted by the Iranian regime, many of which have been publicly disproved on numerous occasions.

A German Delegation Visits the MEK Compound in Albania

However, the most concerning aspect of Der Spiegel’s article is not the mistruths and lies present in the text, but the complete lack of basic journalistic integrity and abandonment of journalistic principles. In the wake of the magazine’s recent Claas Relotius revelations (in which a prominent writer and journalist was found to have fabricated interviews with sources and experiences in his articles), the magazine has evidently not improved its fact-checking and information gathering practices.

This is all the more concerning considering that Der Spiegel publicly apologized following the Relotius scandal and maintained that the magazine was working to tighten its internal vetting and fact-checking processes.

A Flawed Fact-Gathering Process

An analysis of the magazine’s fact-finding process exposes a lack of journalistic integrity and the absence of even basic journalistic principles.

The writer interviewed regime affiliates, members of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS), and ex-members of the MEK, all of whom have a clear anti-MEK agenda, yet did not confer with the MEK itself, Albanian authorities, or international politicians that have visited the MEK’s compounds to verify any of the MOIS and regime allies’ claims.

The MEK reached out to Der Spiegel and invited the magazine to the group’s compound in Albania to see how the group lives. The magazine declined the offer, preferring instead to rely on regime accounts.

Similarly, the reporter interviewed the father of 38-year old Somayeh Mohammadi, who claims his daughter is being held by the MEK against her will. Not only are the claims untrue (Mohammadi has his claims dismissed by an Albanian court following a full hearing) but Somayeh has often spoken to journalists and politicians, including former Scottish MEP Struan Stevenson, about how the claims are inaccurate and her father is a regime agent.

A Conflict of Interest?

At best, the article exposes a lack of integrity. However, many are speculating that there may be something more contrived afoot. The reporter allegedly lived in Iran for several months before writing the article. They also reportedly spent time with the Basij militia, a regime-affiliated militia organization. Given that the reporter declined to do the same with the MEK, it could be indicative of a severe conflict of interest.

More concerningly, on November 24, part of the article appeared on a website affiliated with the MOIS, with the addendum that the full article was published in Der Spiegel, although the full article had not yet been published. This indicates a deep level of collaboration between the Iranian regime and the reporter. It indicates that the regime itself had access to parts of the article long before it appeared in print.

As the MEK gathers momentum, both at home and abroad, and the Iranian regime finds itself confronted by a highly-mobilized and determined Iranian population, it feels its only chance of survival is to attack the Iranian opposition.

Der Spiegel’s latest article must be seen for what it is: the latest regime attempt to vilify and undermine its political opponents and silence dissent. It is nothing more than a political weapon to curb the rising popularity of the MEK. But the MEK is not the only victim. International journalism suffers when the Iranian regime uses it as a propaganda mouthpiece.

As long as international media outlets are unprepared to install rigorous fact-checking and editing standards, disinformation and lies will be allowed to propagate.

Staff Writer

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Middle East Expert Breaks Down the Iranian Regime’s Use of Terror as a Political Tool

“The Recent Iranian Terrorist Plots in Europe”

A white paper by Claude Moniquet on the Iranian regime’s terrorist activities on European soil published on February 2019

Middle East analyst and counter security expert, Claude Moniquet released an in-depth report examining the Iranian regime’s terror plots on European soil. Entitled, “The Recent Iranian Terrorist Plots in Europe”, the 35-page document charts the recent developments in the Iranian regime’s use of terrorism and places them in the context of the domestic political and social landscape within Iran.

Claude Moniquet, posing for a photo call, outside Brussels’ conference on the Iranian regime’s terrorist activities in Europe-February 4, 2019

“In 2018, the Iranian regime, facing a domestic uprising, collapsing economy, and international sanctions, took the decision to step up terrorism on European and US soil against the Iranian opposition movement,” Moniquet writes.

Moniquet outlines the regime’s involvement in two plots against the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK), one in France and one in Albania. He also highlights regime involvement in a plot to kill an Iranian dissident in Denmark and a plot in the US that was foiled during the surveillance stages of planning.

A Limited Fallout

In the wake of the increase in terrorist plots, the Netherlands, France, and Albania expelled diplomats. The French government also levied sanctions against the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) and two Iranian officials.

In January 2019, the European Union (EU) also made the decision to include a branch of the MOIS on the EU terror list for the first time. This is a welcome step, however, Moniquet acknowledges that the EU and the US’s “conciliatory policy” has been “counterproductive, emboldening the regime to pursue its objectives through terrorism.”

The Use of Terrorism as a “Political Tool”

The regime has been embroiled in a dozen terror attacks since it seized power four decades ago. In 1979, it was involved in the Iran Hostage Crisis and the assassination of the Shah’s nephew in Paris. Throughout the decades since, it has been involved in the bombing of the US embassy in Beirut, the Lebanon Hostage Crisis in 1982, a string of bomb attacks in Paris, the murder of Kazem Rajavi (the founder and leader of the MEK), attacked the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994, and attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington DC.

“Terrorism is used to support Iran’s political agenda in the Middle East and extend its influence on the “Shiite crescent” (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon), to fuel tensions in the Gulf Area…, to provoke the Israeli “arch enemy” … and to eradicate opponents living in exile,” Moniquet writes.

These four objectives underpin the Iranian terrorist machine. The regime uses its terror cells in Europe and around the world to further these objectives. The mullahs have employed terrorism to further these aims since the regime’s inception.

Why Now?

With these objectives in mind, it becomes clear why the regime is now intensifying its terror activities across the world.

The plots against the MEK were a deliberate attempt to damage the group and reduce its influence both abroad and within Iran. Since 2017, protests within Iran have spiraled. The MEK has been instrumental in organizing protests within the country. “Thus, to eradicate the opposition inside and outside Iran is a strategic goal for the regime for its survival,” Moniquet asserts.

Moniquet also suggests that the West’s inaction to previous terror attacks has contributed to a feeling of complacency within the regime that it can get away with terror attacks with relative impunity. “Tehran understood that it was possible to threaten and even attack Europe without having any price to pay,” he says.

“Those attacks benefitted Iran,” he added. Following attacks and bombings in Lebanon Western forces from the country, giving the Iranian regime what it craved. “Appeasement was the only European answer to the mullahs violence,” Moniquet writes.

Orders from the Top

Moniquet examines the regime’s mechanisms for planning terror attacks. He describes how the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), presided over by President Hassan Rouhani makes the regime’s decisions regarding terrorist operations and matters of national security.

The council has 12 permanent members including senior members of the regime leadership like Hassan Rouhani, Mohammad Ali Jafari (the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Cops), Mohammad Javad Zarif (the Minister of Foreign Affairs), and Mahmoud Alavi (the Minister of Intelligence).

Eight of the twelve members of the SNSC are under the direct control of the Supreme Leader, indicating that the Supreme Leader himself is implicit in the terror network of the Iranian regime.

What Next?

“So, the only question, today, is the following: what the European should do?”, Moniquet writes. Moniquet suggests an answer,

“European Union States must expel all the identified Iranian intelligence officers,” adding, “they must close all the Iranian sponsored institutions involved in terrorism or hate propaganda, they must blacklist all the officials linked to the MOIS and the IRGC  and all the institutions, companies and individuals linked to Iranian intelligence activities.”

“Last but not least,” Moniquet concludes, “they must condition political relations with Iran to a strict observance of human rights inside its borders and end of terrorist activities, support and funding outside its borders and they must support democratic opposition forces seeking fundamental and democratic change in Iran.”

Staff Writer

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Mostafa Tajzadeh,

Regime Faction Representative Reveals Coverup of Crime Blamed on MEK

Mostafa Tajzadeh,

Mostafa Tajzadeh, former deputy of the Iranian regime’s interior ministery during Mohammad Khatami’s Presidency, revealing the crimes of the regime during the so called moderate President.

A debate between representatives of Iranian regime factions about the history of the regime and matters of state unexpectedly turned into an admission of guilt for past crimes covered up by the Iranian regime in a recent broadcast on state-run media.

The debate took place between Mostafa Tajzadeh, former Deputy of the Interior Minister during Mohammad Khatami’s presidency (so-called moderate president), and a rival, former MP Alierza Zakani. The debate quickly turned to a discussion of the Iranian regime’s role in two horrific criminal scandals that the regime has previously attempted to conceal and in an attempt to demonize its main opposition had blamed MEK for.

The Chain Murders

The first series of crimes referred to during the debate was a string of more than 80 assassinations of Iranian dissident intellectuals that took place from 1989 to 1998. Khamenei initially claimed that the assassinations, known as the chain murders, were planned and carried out by “foreign enemies,” but subsequent investigations proved that the murders were orchestrated by the Iranian regime and carried out by Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) agents.

Bombing of the Shrine of Imam Reza

The second crime the two faction members referred to was the 1994 bombing of the Shrine of Imam Reza, a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, in Mashhad. The bombing, which was timed to coincide with the holy day of Ashura, killed at least 25 people and injured dozens more. The regime blamed the MEK for the bombing, despite a lack of evidence, and rounded up a number of people who claimed to be part of the Resistance and coerced them into confessing that they had been ordered by the MEK to carry out the attack. These false confessions, which were most likely

The International Committee “In Search of Justice” (ISJ) in a statement dated March 1, 2012, wrote: “Iranian regime has a long history of criticizing the victim instead of the murderer. This regime carried out the murder of Christian priests, the explosion of Imam Reza‘s sacred shrine in 1994 and killings in Mecca in 1988. Later the Iranian officials admitted that they put the responsibility on the opposition to defame them.”the result of torture, were broadcast on state television.

The Debate-Historical confession

During the debate Tajzadeh confessed: “Regarding the chain murders, Mr. Zakani, who has to be exposed? Who was opposed to keeping the issue silent and solving the issue in another way? They suggested to Mr. Khatami to carry out a scheme just like in Mashhad, find two so-called [MEK members] and say they did it. They wanted to extract confessions in ways that they know, and we would execute them.”

The Guardian Spreads the Iranian Regime’s Propaganda

Tajzadeh’s admission is a perfect example of the regime’s technique of committing crimes against its own people and then blaming the MEK for those same crimes. This is a strategy the regime has employed a number of times in its relentless campaign of demonization against the MEK. The goal is to delegitimize the opposition so that it cannot gain support in toppling the ruling regime.

When the MEK had a camp located in Iraq, regime officials claimed that the MEK was responsible for the series of deadly missile attacks carried out by Iraqi proxies of the Iranian regime to dismantle the main opposition to the regime, which eventually forced the residents to flee to Albania. Once the MEK settled into its new home in Albania, the regime tried to bomb its camp there and again claimed that the group had staged the attack itself. After an Iranian regime diplomat was arrested for masterminding a foiled terrorist attack on the annual gathering of the Iranian Resistance last summer in Paris, the regime claimed that the MEK was responsible for the attempted attack on tens of thousands of its own supporters. The European Union disagreed and issued sanctions against the MOIS and two of its agents earlier this month. The regime diplomat accused of masterminding the attack is currently standing trial in Belgium.

Iranian Diplomat-Terrorist and Accomplices Arraigned in Belgian Court on Terrorism Charges

The Iranian regime has a long history of perpetrating crimes and then blaming the MEK for those crimes. The recent televised debate is the latest illustration that this strategy is an open secret in Iran.

 

 

 

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Mohammad Mohaddessin, chairman of NCRI-FAC

Chairman Mohaddessin: Domestic and International Pressures Have Left Iran’s Clerical Regime Vulnerable to Collapse

Mohammad Mohaddessin, chairman of NCRI-FAC

Chairman Mohammad Mohaddessin, in charge of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)’s Foreign Affair’s Committee during an online conference -June 2015

On Friday, January 18th, Mohammad Mohaddessin, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), published a piece for US-based news site, Townhall. In the piece, Mohaddessin argues that US sanctions are having a tangible effect on the Iranian economy, drastically weakening the clerical regime, and putting the mullahs’ in a position where the status quo is no longer tenable.

“The Iranian economy is infested with corruption,” Mohaddessin writes, “and has been so terribly mismanaged that an array of crises— unemployment, inflation, currency devaluation, poverty— have become existential threats to the socio-political order.”

Given the rapidly deteriorating economic situation, the mullahs’ future in power looks uncertain. With the added pressures of international sanctions, the regime is even more vulnerable to collapse.

The regime’s shortcomings have been clearly visible in the increasingly frantic and extreme rhetoric from its leaders. The Iranian leadership has made vague threats of seizing Saudi oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz and taking international personnel hostage.

These wild threats only serve to show a “weakening regime under siege on multiple fronts,” Mohaddessin argues.

A Turning Point

Mohaddessin suggests that a turning point for the regime came in December 2017. Over the space of two months, anti-regime protests swept across Iran, rapidly spreading to 142 towns and cities in all of Iran’s 31 provinces.

Since then, protest after protest has engulfed Iran. Every sector of the Iranian economy, from logistics, to steel, sugar, taxi drivers, investors, and car buyers have taken to the streets or gone on strike to demonstrate their fury at the clerical regime.

These protests are now “a defining figure of the domestic landscape,” Mohaddessin writes. They “chip away at the regime’s power,” and leave it in an increasingly vulnerable state.

For the first time, the mullahs have begun to acknowledge the increasing influence of the Iranian opposition and its principal member, the MEK. On August 3rd, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei conceded, “we have problems.”

And the regime’s problems are growing. “A ruling structure dependent on repression will prove incapable of squelching public outbursts,” Mohaddessin writes. The mullahs have certainly become dependent on repression.

In 2018, the regime responded to the protest movement by increasing repressive measures. They arrested protestors, restricted internet and communication access, and publicly executed prisoners.

Iranian Opposition Calls for Release of One Thousand Protesters Arrested during August Uprising

“At the right moment, such conditions can bring down any dictatorship,” Mohaddessin writes.

Running Out of Options

So what can the mullahs do? Mohaddessin points out that they cannot negotiate with the US. Khamenei has already stated that to do so would amount to “treason”. To go back on this could lead to the regime collapsing from the inside.

It has instead launched a demonization and terror campaign aimed at the Iranian resistance. The People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK), the largest and most influential opposition group, has been the target of several foiled regime terror attacks abroad, the largest of which saw the attempted detonation of a car bomb at a MEK event attended by more than 100,000 supporters.

The French Government Confirms “Without any Doubt” the Iranian Regime was Behind the Foiled Terror Attack

This has only left the regime increasingly isolated on the international stage. Following the failed terror attack on the MEK’s Grand Gathering in Paris, the French government froze assets belonging to the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) and expelled two diplomats. The EU also recently approved their own set of sanctions against top MOIS officials. Mohaddessin suggests this indicates, “a closing of the ranks, and an increasingly aggressive posture toward” the mullahs.

“In such circumstances,” Mohaddessin concludes, “the best end game is an end to the malicious dictatorship that has consistently meddled in the region and suppressed its own citizenry.” Given the increasing pressure the regime faces at home and abroad, this may not be too far over the horizon.

Staff Writer

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Fake News by Iran's MOIS

MOIS and Revolutionary Guards Launch RESTART Social Media Campaign Against MEK

Fake News by Iran's MOIS

The Iranian regime’s Intelligence Ministry emanates fake news in order to discredit the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq / PMOI) the principal opposition to the religious dictatorship ruling Iran

On Thursday, January 17th, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted a message from the U.S. State Department’s Farsi Twitter account asking the Iranian people to respond with their questions and hopes for the future of their country. The Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and Revolutionary Guards responded to this message by using their forces both inside and outside of Iran to quickly organize a campaign of misinformation against the MEK and the Iranian Resistance.

RESTART Hashtags

By midnight, thousands of anti-MEK and Iranian Resistance tweets had been posted on Twitter using a number of hashtags, primarily variations of #RESTART. The tweets were produced by the regime’s troll factories in Mashhad, Tabriz, Yazd, and Tehran.

While Twitter is forbidden and filtered in Iran, “Restart” – a name given to the self-made “opposition” Tweets tens of thousands tweets from Inside Iran

The hashtags used in the campaign are frequently used by the regime in their demonization campaigns against the MEK and appeared along with the #Restart_ Opposition hashtag. They included #Iranians_hate_PMOI” and “#no_to_ Mojahedin _e_khalq, distributing hit pieces produced by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS).

 

The perpetrators of the campaign used IP addresses located in the United States, Spain, and Germany in order to mask the origin of some of the tweets.

Origin of the RESTART Campaign

 

The RESTART campaign was originally launched several years ago by Mohammad Hosseini and has been used by the regime and its agents a number of times since in its demonization campaigns against the MEK and the Iranian Resistance. Hosseini first gained media attention on state-run television in Iran and then joined the Khamenei-approved Green Movement. He went on to make appearances in the United Arab Emirates, Cyprus, and the United States.

MOIS Agents’ Involvement in the Campaign

In an August 2013 interview with a Los Angeles television station, Hosseini explicitly stated that MOIS agents approached him while he was in the UAE and arranged a meeting, during which they asked him to start a television show. The MOIS agents told him:

“We will provide you with some news that would serve your interest. You will also be able to swear at us. If you have a character problem, we will fix it for you. We will give you news that you also find in other TVs of this kind here. Then gave me some names but I did not see any documents. For instance, they gave a name who is on their payroll and named a TV who is funded by them. They told me, ‘Hosseini, you either take this money from us… or we use a tenth of this money to obstruct your success. Make your decision. You will set up the TV that will be publicized. Its system is available and we will give you the news which is all critical [of the regime].’”

The Iranian Regime Uses Social Media as a Propaganda Tool

This is only the latest example of the regime’s cyber-terrorist actions against the MEK and the Iranian Resistance. Last August, Google, Twitter, and Facebook removed hundreds of fake accounts created by Iranian regime agents. Many of those accounts were used to disseminate propaganda against the MEK.

Staff Writer

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Tulip Square - Ashraf 3

Journalists from the National Visit Camp Ashraf

Tulip Square - Ashraf 3

The main entrance of Ashraf 3, the place of the residence of the MEK-Albania

The Iranian regime and its allies in the international media attempt to portray the largest pro-democracy Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK) as a brainwashing cult. It has often levied accusations against the group that it holds members at its compound outside the Albanian capital of Tirana against their will.

Daniel M. Zucker Refutes Merat’s Guardian Hit Piece

The MEK has responded by giving international journalists unfettered access to its Albanian compound, Camp Ashraf 3, which houses some 2,500 MEK members. Most recently, the opposition group invited journalists from the National newspaper from Scotland.

A Reeling Economy

Whilst there, the journalists spoke with Senior MEK member, Mehdi Baraie, an active MEK member who spent six years incarcerated in Iran under the Shah.

 

Mr. Mehdi Baraie, one of the Senior member of the MEK

Baraie described the effects of Donald Trump’s renewed sanctions against the Iranian regime was having on the country’s economy. The sanctions have left the Iranian economy reeling as the rial’s value is in freefall against the dollar, inflation is rising, and unemployment is creeping up.

 

“What’s happening now is interesting,” he said. “2018 was a very important year because the uprising continued despite the regime trying everything it could to stop it.”

But Baraie predicted that 2019 would be vital for securing a democratic future for Iran. He explained, “as Ali Khamenei has said, 2019 is vital. Nobody believed the uprising could continue the way it has… Now every day they [the MEK and the Iranian opposition] have demonstrations everywhere.” He concluded, “it’s obvious that the Iranian regime will not be able to continue and will be overthrown.”

A Regime Fighting for Its Survival

As the domestic landscape in Iran becomes more hostile to the regime, and daily protests become more explicit in their calls for regime change, the regime has embarked on a propaganda campaign against the MEK and the Iranian opposition.

It believes that by turning international opinion against the MEK, it will legitimize its violent crackdown against the group, which has seen more than 5,000 members imprisoned and many executed.

The Regime’s Fear is a Sign of Changing Times

A pillar of this disinformation campaign is to portray the MEK as oppressors and hostage-takers. The Iranian regime used a Canadian-Iranian couple, Mostafa and Mahboubeh Mohammadi as mouthpieces and forced them to claim the MEK had taken their daughter, Somayeh, against her will.

Somayeh Mohammadi, MEK member now living in Albania

The pair told the international media that the organization was holding their daughter at Camp Ashraf 3 and that she was unable to leave the compound.

This narrative has been exposed as a lie. Somayeh told the National that her father was working on behalf of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS). She said, “when I wanted to leave Canada and join the MEK movement my parents would not give their consent.”

Somayeh’s father was among the Iranian agents that traveled to the MEK’s former camp in Iraq and installed loudspeakers around the compound making threats against the members inside. Somayeh recounts how her father was involved in blaring messages of abuse and death threats towards herself and other MEK members.

“He was claiming that he loves me as my father but was against what I wanted to do,” she said, adding, “what kind of father would do this to their child?”

Somayeh has appeared in public disputing her father’s claims that she is being held against her will. She even wrote a book debunking the regime’s lies about her and her family.

Her father had all his claims rejected by the Iraqi judiciary. After an Iraqi judge interviewed Somayeh, the judge concluded that Somayeh was staying with the MEK at its compound of her own free will.

The prosecution determined that he had been in regular contact with the Iranian regime, which was also apparent in his travel arrangements. “He was staying at the most expensive hotel in Tirana, the Plaza. How could he afford to stay in a hotel like this for four months when back home in Canada he was a builder, an ordinary construction worker?” Somayeh exclaimed.

“I go out with my friends every other day. I can go to Tirana and buy whatever I need, I go to shops or the hospital, where I translate for PMOI [MEK] residents who need treatment,” she said.

A Terrorist Regime

The Iranian regime spreads these falsehoods and lies as part of a wider strategy to eradicate the MEK. In March, the Albanian authorities uncovered a plot to bomb the MEK’s compound during the Persian New Year celebrations. Fortunately, the agents involved were arrested before it was allowed to develop.

Then, in June, the Iranian leadership planned a car bomb attack on the MEK’s annual Grand Gathering in Paris. The plan was also foiled, and the Belgian authorities saved the lives of countless numbers of the 100,000 supporters who gathered at the event.

Following the foiled Paris attack, the French government concluded that senior members of the Iranian regime had been involved in the planning and execution of the terrorist plot. It froze the assets of several MOIS officials and expelled two Iranian diplomats from the country.

Baraie told the National, “the international community should put the Iran intelligence [MOIS] and [the] IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] on the terror list.”

Baraie echoed the belief of many of the MEK and the international community that the increased volume of attacks and propaganda aimed at the MEK demonstrates one thing; that the group represents a very real threat to the regime.

The Committee of Anglo-Iranian Lawyers Issue a Statement on the Guardian’s MEK Hit Piece

The mullahs know their days are numbered. They are resorting to violence and dishonesty in an attempt to stay in power. But everyone at Camp Ashraf 3 knows their plans. They know they have the support of the Iranian people. They know they will secure a peaceful, democratic future for Iran.

Staff Writer

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MEK supporters rally to demand EU blacklist MOIS

Regime Officials Respond to EU Blacklisting of MOIS Agents with Threats and Finger Pointing

 

MEK supporters rally to demand EU blacklist MOIS

Supporters of MEK, hold a rally in front of the European Parliament in Brussels-November 2018

2018 was a disastrous year for the Iranian regime. Widespread protests weakened the mullahs’ already tenuous grip on power; the United States withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, worsening an already calamitous economic climate within Iran and signaling a radical shift in the old Western policy of appeasement toward the mullahs; and the European Union continued that shift by placing two senior regime Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) agents on the EU terror blacklist, as well as imposing sanctions on the MOIS.

The regime has spent a great deal of time and effort attempting to preserve the EU’s policies of appeasement toward the mullahs since the U.S. withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. Now that the regime is seeing the consequences of its foiled terrorist plots against the MEK on European soil, the reactions by regime officials are unsurprising.

Regime Officials Fault Europe for “Harboring” MEK

Regime Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded to the EU blacklisting with hostility and in a bid to divert the attention away from regime’s terrorist activities, tweeting, “Accusing Iran won’t absolve Europe of responsibility for harboring terrorists.” Zarif was referring to the MEK, whose members reside peacefully in countries across Europe. The blacklisted MOIS agents were both involved in terrorist plots against the MEK on European soil.

Europe’s Sanctions Are Welcome, Now A Change In Policies Is Required.

MP Declares a Diplomatic Attack on Iran

Iranian regime MP Alireza Rahimi in an unwanted acknowledgment of MEK’s support among Politicians in Europe claimed that European leaders had been infiltrated by the MEK and urged Zarif to warn all of the regime’s European ambassadors about this diplomatic attack on Iran.

Rahimi said: “It is necessary for the Foreign Ministry to summon the ambassadors of Denmark and the Netherlands, and provide necessary explanations in this regard, demanding they not allow a number of extremist European states to damage or downgrade relations with Iran…”

Threats to Withdraw from the Nuclear Deal

Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Parliamentary Director General for International Affairs and Assistant to Speaker of the regime Parliament Ali Larijani, one of the regime henchmen who has been involved in suppressing MEK dissidents in Camp Ashraf, made perhaps the most startling statement admitting regime’s fear of  the opposition, when he tweeted that Iran might withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal entirely.

He tweeted: “Having strong relations w/ #Europe is part of #Iran foreign policy’s logics. But West should face a ‘shock’ to realize we won’t remain in one-way tunnel of the current #JCPOA at any cost. Now, safe Europe for #terrorists & #MEK has to get a logical, prudent but shocking message.”

The Regime’s Fear is a Sign of Changing Times

A Terrorist Regime

The Iranian regime and its agents were foiled for terrorist activities against the MEK last year in Albania, Paris, the United States, and Norway. Asadollah Assadi, a regime diplomat, is currently awaiting trial in Belgium for masterminding a foiled terrorist attack on the annual gathering of the Iranian Resistance in Paris last June.

Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian opposition, tweeted this about the need to expel the regime’s diplomats:

“I would like to once again reiterate –on behalf of a Resistance movement which has been seeking the oil and arms embargo of the mullahs’ theocracy since 1981—the need for taking the following steps, [including recognition of the Iranian people’s right to overthrow the Regime and expelling the mullahs’ terrorist diplomats from other countries.”

Staff Writer

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