Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – 176

++ Over the last week the MEK tried to insert their letter, word by word, line by line, into the media in the hope it would provoke some response from Iran. There was no response at all. The MEK want to say they are part of Trump’s war machine and he will declare war on Iran soon. Nobody is buying this. The only people who wrote about it are some of the ex-MEK members who remind us where the MEK started from (anti-Imperialist) and where they have ended up (begging America for support). Sources inside the MEK report that because the letter gained no response the MEK are wishing they hadn’t written it; the group is so obviously and so publicly being side-lined and ignored. This means the MEK is well below the radar blip of other minor letter writers, so-called opponents of Iran who advocate sanctions, etc. At least they had some response.

++ The MEK have again launched a street fundraising campaign. Ex-members and critics published short notes about why this is done every year. The purpose has always been for money laundering. They explain, the MEK will probably have recently received money from the Saudis and possibly others and now they are collecting money in the street so they can claim that these funds come from charitable public donations. Other methods of money laundry are revealed as: sympathetic ‘individuals’ sell their gold and deposit the money in MEK accounts as a donation; sizeable cheques are given to street collectors from agents of foreign governments supposedly as spontaneous ‘donations’; over-priced sales are transacted through pseudo companies – such as selling a Persian rug for 100 times its real value; money is laundered through antique sales. This is accompanied by the MEK’s usual claim that all their money comes from friendly public and sympathiser donations.

++ Mardom TV had interview with Ali Mohammadi, who has recently left the MEK in Sweden. The interview exposed many of their activities. He appeared alongside Issa Azadeh, a former high-ranking intelligence officer with the MEK, who knows them inside out and who now lives in Paris.

++ Leading MEK enforcer Mehdi Abrishamchi has established a permanent presence in Albania along with an office peopled by his deputies. Abrishamchi is notorious inside the MEK as an agent of Saddam Hussein’s Mokhaberat and as a torturer. He has now set about intimidating the members in Tirana. He tells them ‘Don’t think that Saddam has gone. That is just a name. We are now well established in Albania and we have full backing and have an open hand to do what we like.’ Abrishamchi named Albania’s Interior minister, the head of the UNHCR in Albania and the Albanian Immigration ministry as being ‘in our pocket’ and says ‘they will do as we tell them’.

++ In Tirana, the MEK have printed and distributed maps and plans for the members. These show that the MEK is purportedly planning to build a replica of Camp Ashraf in Albania. The MEK claims they will be given the land soon by the Albanian government and that the Albanians have got no say in this ‘because the Americans and NATO have ordered it and they will not be able to say no’. The plans show that the same monuments (Kuwait’s fountain, the morvarid statue) and buildings and parade ground – presumably along with a cemetery – as in Camp Ashraf will be created. The plan shows the same streets, along with the same names and bus stops. On top of this the MEK has asked all the members to sign a new oath committing to give a hundred times more effort to help build this new base even better than Ashraf. They are told, ‘your age and health are not an excuse. Your life is ours. You will also train for military operations which will come soon.’

The source of this information is still inside the MEK but will leave soon. S/he says the people inside are really, really desperate and very afraid of the MEK leaders. The members are afraid of leaving because they believe what the leaders tell them about Albania being in the hands of the MEK. The MEK hire Albanian thugs and tell the members ‘these are from Albania’s security services who have come to help us’. The source stressed that if only the Albanian authorities or an official would make an announcement to the members that they can live freely outside and that the MEK cannot do anything to harm them, then not many people would be left of the MEK.

In English:

++ Several articles highlighted the plight of the MEK members in Albania and the efforts of their long-suffering families to rescue them. Nejat Society writes how the MEK imprisons members incommunicado in Albania. The campaigners with the No to Terrorism and Cults Movement attended meetings in the European Parliament to share their testimony with lawmakers and policy makers about the situation inside the MEK. Mazda Parsi, writing for Nejat Society, describes Massoud Rajavi’s “ominous legacy…: suffering families and desperate members” as he details the process of internal suppression by MEK leaders against the members in Albania.

++ Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported the visit of Albanian Foreign Minister, Dmitr Bushati, to Tehran and talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif. No mention was made of the MEK in the report, but we can assume that the issue of the group’s presence in Albania was discussed during the visit.

++ Iran Interlink noted that the misguided letter signed by several former US officials had served only to inform Iran that the anti-Iran “toolbox is truly empty”.

++ Albanian newspaper Gazeta Impact reported a clandestine concert held by the MEK out of sight of the media to demonstrate “the solidarity of the Albanian people with the Iranian Mojahedin”. The article derided the ignorance and hypocrisy of the attendees, Deputy Minister of the Interior Elona Gjebrea and Shehi, an MP who claimed to have just been there by accident. The conductor also spoke of the Albanian people’s satisfaction with the MEK terrorists’ cooperation over the years.

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