Were the Iranians really ready to carry out an attack in Europe?
The Albanian government has expelled two Iranian diplomats. They are Ambassador Gholamhossein Mohammadnia and Mohammed Roodaki, an official at the embassy in Tirana accused of being a member of Iranian undercover intelligence. The Independent newspaper wrote that the two were linked to a cell that was organizing “a conspiracy dating back to March 2018 to attack the Iranian opposition in Albania”; a reference to the case of the two Iranian journalists officially invited by the Bektashi community of Albania to their Nowruz party, who were arrested by the Albanian police and released shortly thereafter.
The move was implemented following talks with interested countries including Israel and the United States; it is no coincidence that the Washington administration immediately congratulated the Albanian executive for the action taken.
Several international and national newspapers have spoken of “a cell ready to strike in Albania and in Europe”, but looking deeper into the question elements emerge that cannot but raise doubts regarding the alleged plot on Albanian soil last March when the Albanian authorities announced the arrest of two individuals suspected of terrorism, identified as Seyed Mohammad Alavi Gronabadi (59) and Firouz Bagher Nezhad Zenjabi (65).
The Albanian investigative journalist Gjergj Thanasi had followed the case and had managed to show how the two were in fact [retired] Iranian journalists invited by the well-known Bektashi Albanian community for the celebrations of the Shiite festivity of Nowruz and to attend a conference on Imam Ali. Their visas had been validated by the Albanian consulate in Istanbul, there was an official letter of invitation from the Bektashi community (documents found by Thanasi himself) and their profiles were examined by Albanian anti-terrorism, complete with “clearance”.
Following the temporary detention of the two Iranians, journalists from the Albanian newspaper Gazeta Impakt, a delegate of the Bektashi community and a lawyer had gone to the police station No. 1 of Tirana, where they discovered that the two detainees had been detained and released after a brief questioning because nothing had emerged against them; the police even had to apologize for their detention.
Meanwhile, Baba Mondi, head of the Bektashi World Headquarters, who had personally invited the two journalists, had been forced to call the Interior Minister and President Ilir Meta to request the immediate release of the two guests, with a lot of protest against the offense caused to the Bektashi community of Albania by having the two guests treated as outlaws.
Gazeta Impakt newspaper later discovered that the Albanian authorities had proceeded with the arrests following [false] reports by the Mojahedin e-Khalq (MEK), a paramilitary opposition group with a base camp in Albania. Moreover, on March 15, 2018, a few days before the arrest of the two Iranian journalists, Gjergj Thanasi published a piece in the Albanian newspaper City News Albania, where he illustrated how the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an umbrella organization linked to the MEK, had asked the Albanian authorities to expel two Iranian diplomats, including Roodaki.
A few days after the arrest of the journalists, City News Albania highlighted some unusual aspects of the story, starting with the age of the two “terrorists”, a bit high for an operation like that. In addition, no evidence has ever been presented that could in any way prove the allegations against the journalists.
The fact that the two had passed through all the necessary bureaucratic and anti-terrorism checks, complete with a visa that would even be granted free by the Albanian consulate in Istanbul, makes doubt over the allegations even more legitimate. If therefore the expulsion of the two Iranian diplomats is linked to the case of March 2018, as already stated by the Albanian authorities, then the doubts are more than legitimate.
What is the MEK?
According to Tehran it is a “terrorist organization” based on the “cult of the personality of its leaders” as well as “directors and perpetrators of attacks and acts of political violence”; for the United States it is “the main opposition force promoting democracy and secularism in Iran”.
The story of the MEK is at least controversial: the organization was created in Iran in 1963 with the aim of opposing western influence in the country and fighting the Shah’s regime. In 1979 it participated in the revolution led by Khomeini, but with its popularized ideology, an intersection of Marxism, feminism and Islam, it clashed with that of the ayatollahs and the group was banned.
In 1981 the MEK moved to Paris where it made its headquarters and five years later moved to Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad, from where it supported Saddam Hussein’s eight-year war against Iran and participated in the repression of the Kurds. In 2003 the MEK was disarmed by the Americans and moved to Camp Liberty where it continued to play a leading role in the political and diplomatic activity against the regime in Tehran and continues to do so today from Albania.
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 from September 21, 2012 illustrates how the then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, had decided to delist the MEK, removing it from the black list in order to then relocate them out of the reach of Tehran’s agents, in a country willing to accept them, in this case Albania.
Numerous international sources have documented the presence of a large complex near the Albanian village of Manez. The Eyes of War had already been engaged last October with a focus on the headquarters and international support for the organization and also, in March, with an in-depth analysis of the 3,500 Mojahedin hosted in Albanian territory.
Apparently, the clash between the Shiite axis and the Salafite/Wahhabi galaxy, as well as between Israel and Iran, is now also taking place on Albanian soil and the MEK may play a major role in this scenario. However, the Mojahedin base on the Adriatic threatens to increase destabilization in the Balkans, an area already characterized by strong ethnic-religious and political tensions, all to the detriment of Europe. Albania for its part is reconfirmed as among the most loyal allies of the United States and Israel.
Gli Occhi Della Guerra, Rome, Italy, Translated by Iran Interlink