In the language of espionage, agent is a person who is unofficially employed by an intelligence service, often as a source of information. However, in the language of the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (the MKO/ MEK/ PMOI/ Cult of Rajavi), agent is a person who defects the group, criticizes the group and gives testimony against it.
Since the MEK’s relocation in Albania the number of defectors from the group has been on the rise and eventually the number of people who have been accused by the MEK of being the agents of the Iranian government have been on the rise too.
A look at the group’s media in different languages, particularly their Persian and English websites provides us with a long list of individuals who are called by the MEK, or its political vitrine the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran), as “Tehran operatives” or “agents of Iranian regime”. How come that there are allegedly so many Iranian agents in Albanian territory?
The so-called list contains a range of people who have one thing in common: they all have been interviewed or quoted in the mainstream media, from Massoud Khodabandeh and his wife Ann Singleton who left the group in the 1990s when it was located in Iraq to Hassan Heyrani and Gholam Mirzaiee who left the group after its relocation to Albania, , a few years ago. Normally, those who defected the MEK in Albania are more likely to be contacted by the Western main stream media compared with those who left the group in Iraq or those who returned to Iran after defection.
What do these people tell the media that once they leave the group? they turn from “The unique holy fighter” –what the MEK calls its members—to “Agents of the Mullahs” –what it calls its defectors?
Hassan Heyrani was quoted by the Guardian in November 2018:
“According to one recent MEK defector, Hassan Heyrani, the group’s main work in Albania involves fighting online in an escalating information war between Iran and its rivals. Heyrani, who left the MEK last summer, says that he worked in a “troll farm” of 1,000 people inside the Albanian camp, posting pro-Rajavi and anti-Iran propaganda in English, Farsi and Arabic on Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and newspaper comment sections.”
He was also quoted in the famous revealing article of the Intercept by Murteza Hussain on the MEK’s fake persona “Heshmat Alavi”:
“There’s a problem, though: Heshmat Alavi appears not to exist. Alavi’s persona is a propaganda operation run by the Iranian opposition group Mojahedin-e-Khalq, which is known by the initials MEK, two sources told The Intercept…”Heshmat Alavi is a persona run by a team of people from the political wing of the MEK,” Hassan Heyrani told the Intercept. “They write whatever they are directed by their commanders and use this name to place articles in the press. This is not and has never been a real person.”
The Intercept article adds:
“Heyrani said the fake persona has been managed by a team of MEK operatives in Albania, where the group has one of its bases, and is used to spread its message online. Heyrani’s account is echoed by Sara Zahiri, a Farsi-language researcher who focuses on the MEK. Zahiri, who has sources among Iranian government cybersecurity officials, said that Alavi is known inside Iran to be a “group account” run by a team of MEK members and that Alavi himself does not exist.”
Hassan Heyrani was interviewed by a lot of other journalists including Linda Pressly and Albana Kasapi of the BBC. In their radio report, titled “Albanian’s Iranian guests”, Kasapi and Pressly interview the citizens of Albania neighboring the MEK camp, the Albanian politicians and the defectors of the group. They were not allowed to interview the members inside the camp.
The MEK media called the report “BBC’s propaganda against the resistance” and called Hassan Heyrani and Gholam Mirzaiee, the two defectors interviewed in the report as “agents of the Mullahs’ embassy”.
Gholamreza Shekari is another former member of the MEK who, according to the group, turned into a “spy” as soon as he left the group. The MEK website claims that they are not real defectors but they just play the role of former members! “The MOIS is organizing its mercenaries through two defectors, Hassan Heyrani and Gholamreza Shekari, who are posing as ‘former members’ or ‘separated members’ of the MEK”, the so-called National Council of Resistance asserts.
Shekari was interviewed by Luisa Hommerich of Der Spiegel in February 2019. “Gholamreza Shekari, a slender 50-year-old man with bony cheeks, says he spent 27 years as a member of the People’s Mujahedin,” Hommerich writes.
How did Shekari spend 27 years of his youth days in the MEK just to defect the group in order to pose as former member and separated member?
“The organization’s public face is liberal”, Shekari told Hommerich. “Internally, though, it works by way of lies, manipulation and fear.” This statement seems to be the main reason that he is labeled as a Tehran operative.
What goes inside the MEK camp is the main idea of all testimonies made by former members. Indeed, the controversies between what former members say and what the MEK leaders show off are stimulating for all journalists to follow their curiosity in order to discover true facts.
The number of reports and articles based on testimonies of former members are increasingly going up and therefore the number of the alleged Iranian agents who work against the MEK are getting higher. Each former member of the group who officially declares its defection from the group is added to list of the agents.
The MEK leaders have to explain their leadership methods that are so ineffective that not only would make members leave the group but also make them agents of the enemy’s agenda!
By Mazda Parsi