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Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – 221

++ The UNCHR has not paid any living expenses to the ex-members in Albania, in spite of its promises. UNHCR officials say they are trying to do this and will do so, but privately they admit that the MEK’s backers won’t allow them. They want the MEK to maintain a hold over everybody to prevent them talking publicly about the conditions of MEK members.

++ The 19th Bahman (8 February 1982) marks the day that leading Mojahedin members Mousa Khiabani and Ashraf Rabiei were killed in Iran by government forces. Several people wrote their memories of those events. They make the point that Rajavi wanted them to be killed because both of them were socialist and against any form of dictatorship. Some people have asserted that if Mousa – who was in the MEK’s 12 member ‘politburo’ with Rajavi – had been alive, the organisation would not have become a cult or ally with Saddam Hussein. Commentators assign this date as the most significant turning point in the history of the MEK. From this time, they say, the original MEK ideology is dead and the new ideology of Massoud Rajavi (cult ideology) replaced it.

++ Iraq’s list of most wanted terrorists was announced. Many of the MEK’s lobbyists and backers are in the list (over 8 known names) as well and Saddam’s daughter.

++ The NCRI (aka MEK) issued a statement in reaction to an article published in Italy. They again tried to connect ex-members to the Iranian Ambassador to Albania (who they claim is an intelligence officer specialising in the MEK). The MEK then crudely tried to connect Massoud Khodabandeh to him. Khodabandeh admitted he had never heard the name of the Ambassador and dismissed this as similar and as ridiculous as other MEK allegations against him. He said:

1- Rajavi is panicking and this is an attempt to politicise the issue so that the construction of a terrorist training camp in Albania would be side-lined and the abuse of ex-members and this issue of modern slavery would be side-lined;

2- All of Massoud Rajavi‘s life as MEK leader (and now Maryam’s) has been spent creating various mysterious powerful enemies to frighten his followers with. Now apparently, Massoud Khodabandeh is such a powerful enemy! According to Rajavi’s logic, the whole Iranian Intelligence ministry is devoted to the MEK, thousands of Iranian agents are deployed to the EU and US just to fight Maryam and etc. This scaremongering is primarily just to say that the enemy is too powerful hence all the failures of the past 35 years are not my fault.

In English:

++ Nejat Bloggers published a short information piece about Ashraf Rabiei, Massoud Rajavi’s first wife. Rajavi married Ashraf after they were both released from prison in 1979. Ashraf began promoting Rajavi’s rhetoric as though he were the only leader of the MEK. She and others including Maryam Qajar Azdanlou (now Rajavi) began actively recruiting female students. After Rajavi fled Iran to live in France in 1981 he left Ashraf and their one-year-old son in Iran. Ashraf was killed by government forces alongside Mousa Khiabani – MEK commander inside Iran – and other team members in a safe house in Tehran the following year.

++ Italian website Gli Occhi Della Guerra (Il Giornale) published a points of view piece by Giovanni Giacalone about the MEK in Albania. The piece exposes the MEK’s illegal activities in Albania, quoting investigative journalist Gjergj Thanasi who says he discovered an NGO called F.A.R.A. had applied for a construction permit in Manez for ‘a residential complex and services for the Iranian community in Albania’. “At that point I investigated this F.A.R.A which, strangely and contrary to Albanian law, was not registered with the Tax Office and did not even have a VAT number, which is prohibited in Albania. I then continued the investigation at the town planning office of the town of Durres (which I know very well having lived here for 52 years). There they showed me a written request from F.A.R.A. in which permission was requested for the development of a construction site (fence, water connections, electricity, containers, etc.) and it emerged that the Council had not issued any permit. The letter of request did not have a header, there was no address or telephone number.

“At this point I went to Manez (in the first week of November 2017) to see what was happening and found myself in front of a finished fence, an already installed electricity grid, and some trenches already under construction for the water network. There was also a container with offices inside the fence. Around the site there were also three guards and officers in the uniform of the State Police.”

Warning that the MEK “shares with the Wahhabi and Salafi groups the fight against Shiite enemies (primarily Iran)”, Giacalone’s piece concludes, “The presence of the MEK in Albania does nothing but further aggravate the delicate situation in the Balkans where other jihadist and Islamist groups are already present in force. It seems that the western Balkans area is becoming a logistics and transit zone in support of war policies in the Middle East.”

++ Families signing themselves as ‘parents from Nejat Society Markazi branch’ wrote an open letter to Albania’s foreign minister, Ditmir Bushati. Describing the struggles and suffering they underwent trying to visit their loved ones in Iraq, they ask for Bushati’s help in visiting Albania to meet with their offspring there as they are concerned about conditions of modern slavery there.

February 08 2018

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