The fortified headquarters of Iranian Mojahedin Khalq in Albania
Last February, the occhidella guerra reported the transfer of 3,500 mujahideen to Albania. The Mek was previously kept at a base near Baghdad (Liberty Camp). Among other things, it referred to their new headquarters being constructed in Manez, near Durre. Today there are further evidence that confirm this project and much more. But let’s go in order.
What is the Mek
The Mek or Mojahedin Khalq Organisation of Iran is an organization which was born in 1963 in Iran with the aim of opposing the Western influence in the country and fighting the regime of the Shah. In 1979 the Mek participated in the revolution led by [Ayatollah]Khomeini but the ideology, a crossroads of Marxism, feminism and Islamism, clashed with that of the Ayatollahs.
In 1981 the Mek moved to Paris where Massoud Rajavi (The leader) founded his headquarters and five years later moved to Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad, from where he supported and joined the war of Saddam Hussein against Iran. MEK also engaged in the repression of the Kurds on behalf of Saddam. In 2003 the Mek was disarmed by the Americans and moved to Camp Liberty. The Mek continued to play a role in the political and diplomatic activities against Tehran and continues to do so today.
Previously, the organization was blacklisted not only by Iran and Iraq, but also by the European Union, Britain, the US and Canada, only to be “cleared” between 2008 and 2012. A New York Times article by September 21, 2012 illustrated how the then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, had decided to clear the Mek , making it remove from the “black list” to be able to then put it away from the reach of Tehran, in a country willing to welcome them, in this Albania. The goal is more than evident: use the Mek to support a regime change in Tehran. But why in Albania? What is a “pledge” to pay for entry into Europe and NATO?
Today it is Maryam Rajavi who leads the Mek after the mysterious disappearance of her husband Massoud that coincides with the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. Some sources speak of a possible death while others say that the former leader is in hiding to escape the agents of Tehran.
Political support at the international level
The Mek has received support from various international political figures including former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and Emma Bonino as vice-president of the Senate in June 2012. The New York Times noted that several members of Congress had become staunch supporters of the movement that, if once Marxist-Islamist, then changed its mind by transforming its own struggle and becoming the main organized movement against the Iranian government.
According to the New York newspaper, among the supporters of the Mek there would be R. James Woolsey and Porter J. Goss, former directors of the CIA; Louis J. Freeh, former director of the FBI; Tom Ridge, former Secretary of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush; Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey and national security advisor, General James L. Jones, operating under the Obama administration.
In the last year there have been several positions in favor of Mek by members of the national and international political scene. In mid-September an official delegation of the Italian Radical Party and the “Hands off Cain” association visited the mujahidin headquarters in Albania. The delegation included Elisabetta Zamparutti, Sergio D’Elia, Rita Bernardini, Mattia Moro, Maria Antonietta and Luca Coscioni; Albanian sources claim that the members of the Mek would provide an account of the violations of human rights implemented by the regime in Tehran.
Last June 30, it was the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Monti government, Giulio Terzi, who spoke at a meeting of the Mek where, in front of thousands of anti-Tehran protesters, he announced his “unconditional support to the Mek”, defining his militants “freedom fighters” and saying that “a large part of Italian society is convinced that being on your side means being on the right side of history”. The whole speech was published on the Mek website and can be viewed here.
Even the former mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, in 2018 expressed himself at least on a couple of occasions in favour of the Mek with statements like: “The Iranian people have had enough of this regime that will be overthrown … We have no doubt that the Mek coalition can cope with this regime “.
And again: “The mullahs have to leave, the ayatollahs have to leave and must be replaced by a democratic government that Mrs. Rajavi represents”, as reported by the Guardian.
In short, yet another attempt to overthrow the government to export “democracy”, a film already seen and revised.
Last September 26, the Albanian journalist Kastriot Myftaraj, during the television program “Ju flet Moska“, had criticized the recent invocations to the uprising in Iran by the leader of the Mek, Maryam Rajavi, bringing up the article 221 of the Albanian penal code that punishes incitement to insurrection with penalties ranging from 15 years upwards.
Article 265 b / c of the Albanian penal code which prohibits involvement in military operations and violent actions in foreign countries should also be taken into consideration.
The Manez headquarters
Numerous international sources have documented the presence of a large complex near the Albanian village of Manez, which serves as the main base for the Mek, a complex that has already been inhabited even though it is still being completed. Several local reporters have witnessed the presence of private armed guards outside the complex, a barrier and further unarmed guards inside.
The well-known Albanian investigative journalist Gjergj Thanasi was among the first to notice the presence of Manez and had shown the dynamics of the Eyes of War last February:
“The Council of the Territorial Organization (Keshilli i Rregullimit te Territorit) is responsible for issuing permits for the construction of public works and private buildings (factories, hotels, schools, roads, etc.). This Council had published a list of permits issued for a series of works and among them there was one against an NGO called F.A.R.A. The permit was dated 16 October 2017 and indicated the authorization for “a residential complex and services for the Iranian community in Albania”. At that point I investigated this F.A.R.A that, strangely and contrary to the 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 the F.A.R.A. in which permission was requested for the creation of a building site (fence, water connections, electricity, containers, etc.) and it emerged that the Municipality 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 I found myself in front of a finished fence, an already installed electricity grid, and some channels under construction, for the water network. There was also a container with offices inside the fence. Around the yard there were guards and also three policemen with the uniform of the State Police “.
The site would have been located precisely between the villages of Kulles and Manez e-Vieter, with entrance on the Rruga Lalezit road and the complex there are several aerial images and films.
On August 10th, British journalist Lindsey Hilsum of Channel 4 went outside the Manez complex to document its existence and was physically attacked by some members of the Mek.
According to reports from the Albanian media, some witnesses said that security guards tried to tear and break the crew camera while some members of the Mek hit Hilsum and took their chaperone by the neck. At that point, Albanian police officers arrived on the spot and stopped the attack and accompanied the two assaulted men to the barracks.
Later, a spokesman for the Mek told the Albanian media that British journalists are in contact with the Iranian secret services and that they had not been advised of their arrival.
The case of Somaya Mohammadi and interviews with dissidents
Another case that is doing a lot of discussion in Albania is that of Mostafa Mohammadi, father of 38-year-old Somaya, who left home when he was 16 together with a militant woman from the Mek.
Mostafa explained that he had immigrated to Canada with his family in 1994 and entered the orbit of the Mek, helping them raise funds but in the meantime the organization would brainwash his sister, convincing her years later to move to Iraq, Camp Ashraf, to fight the Iranian regime. She die on the spot during military attacks or could have been executed if arrested. Years later a Mek militant would have approached his daughter Somaya, telling her that they have met her aunt (with whom the girl had a close relationship) and that she would like to show her where she had been and what she had done. So the they went off on a journey that only lasted two weeks but Somaya never returned home, cutting all contacts with her family.
Last July Mostafa Mohammadi went to Tirana to try to raise the case and get in touch with his daughter, which he said was held against her will in the Manez headquarters and accused some members of the Mek of attacking him , as reported by Shqiptarija and Gazeta Impakt who also published a video.
The Canadian, Iraqi and Albanian judiciary have however expressed themselves against Mohammadi’s accusations, declaring that the girl is voluntarily a member of the organization and being an adult, she is able to make her own decisions in autonomy and freedom.
On 25 July 2018 Somaya released an interview where he rejected the accusations made by his father, claiming to be a voluntary member of the Mek and accusing his father of collaborating with the Iranian secret services. A controversial case whose dynamics are still unclear.
The Albanian investigative program Fiks Fare managed to get in touch with three of the 200 dissidents who have fled from the MEK in Albania and interviewed them, as also reported by the Prishtina Post.
All three confirmed that the mujahideen housed in the camp are all well-trained fighters and that it is strictly forbidden to maintain contact with their families.
The first interviewed, Sadolah Seifi, explained that he was born in 1969 and that he joined Mek voluntarily at 21 for economic reasons. Seifi explained that initially the Mek speaks of freedom, but in fact it is “a frightening organization” with many agents who force their followers to do what the leader says, and it is strictly forbidden to have a family. According to Seifi the main problem of those who would like to leave the Mek is that in Albania they do not have a status, they cannot work and they do not have money to live.
The second interviewee, Ehsan Bidi, confirmed the military preparation of the mujahidin, adding that he learned a lot about weapons and their use; Bidi also claimed that the Mek at the time sent men in to Iran to place bombs and conduct terrorist acts.
The third interviewee, Manuchehr Abdi, 55 years of which 13 years with the Mek, pointed out that in Albania the organization is trying to reconstruct the same context that was present in the Iraqi base.
On military training Abdi said: “When I was part of the organization I was a member of a group that virtually connected with young people in Iran and taught them to fight, because we need to know that everyone in this organization knows how to fight to kill, we are militarily prepared we know everything about weapons “.
Regarding the family context, the interviewee made it clear that visits to his family were forbidden in Camp Ashraf and that he himself could not have contact with his daughter. A situation that is also present in Albania following agreements with the Tirana government.
What is the Mek then? A group of dissidents and persecuted by the Iranian regime? A sectarian force of opposition composed of militarily trained elements ready to overthrow the regime? A terrorist organization? (According to what was stated by Tehran). Where do the Mek funding come from?
In geopolitics it is known that an organization can be considered “terrorist” or “resistance movement” based on the interests of those who support it and have seen it with many other organizations, from the Muslim Brotherhood to Hizbullah, from the PLO to the “resistance” “Syrian. What is certain is that it is difficult to combat terrorism when we cannot even find a universally shared definition of the term.
Meanwhile, however, the presence in Albania of the Mek does nothing but further aggravate the delicate situation in the Balkans where jihadist and Islamist groups are already present. The Balkan area seems more and more a logistics and transit area in support of the war policies in the Middle East and all this at the expense of regional stability, Italy included.
Giovanni Glacalone, Cliocchidella Guerra, Rome, Italy,Google Translation with Iran Interlink editing