MEK Iran

Iran's disinformation against MEK Iran could cause more damage than its repression and terrorism

The Iranian regime is world famous for its international terrorism. Its history of internal repression is also well known, albeit with far fewer details than its history of attacks on Arab and Western assets. Meanwhile, there appears to be hardly any attention to the Iranian regime's parallel strategy of spreading misinformation about its internal situation in order to influence political decisions among foreign opponents.
However, some Western lawmakers and foreign policy experts have made an effort to correct this oversight. Many of them appeared in a video conference organized in July by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). While not strictly focused on the regime's disinformation strategy, that event went to great lengths to counter the regime's official narratives about the internal opposition groups that make up the NCRI coalition, particularly The People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran, or the Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI-MEK).

Supporters have endorsed the view that this group poses a significant threat to the regime’s seizure of power, and have also tried to explain why their governments have not yet done the same.

Among these speakers was US Ambassador and former Undersecretary of State, Lincoln Bloomfield. His remarks focused largely on the results of an investigation he himself carried out on MEK Iran, the year before it was finally released from its false inclusion in the State Department's list of terrorist groups. Bloomfield noted that his findings ultimately led to him being co-author of a book on the history of the MEK, intending to correct many falsehoods that had spread around the world, rooted in state propaganda.

"Incredibly," he told the NCRI event, "seven years after this book came out - in 2020 - Western media and think tank reports continue to repeat the allegations that have been completely denied, officially, by the French court proceedings, in the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. Bloomfield and others then explained that this persistent misinformation is generally the result of ongoing efforts by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security to infiltrate the Western media with its positions, often carried out by bogus independent or even former experts and MEK Iran members who actually work as ministry and government agents.

If there is any doubt about this, let it be known that Tehran is entirely transparent about its efforts to infiltrate the MEK Iran community abroad by using agents posing as would-be members or relatives of existing members. The intelligence ministry even runs an institution called the "Nejat Society" with the apparent aim of helping family members reunite with MEK activists currently living in the Albanian compound known as Ashraf-3.

In April of this year, this company released a statement stating that "Nejat Society representatives have become widely active in 27 provinces of the country" to collect signatures asking the Albanian government to issue visas for people who wish to visit Ashraf 3. However, the claim that these visas would be issued for the families of MEK members is belied by the fact that in the past, the mere fact of having a family in the MEK has resulted in harsh punishment by the Iranian judiciary. In fact, visiting that family proved to be a death sentence on multiple occasions.

In 2006, a 59-year-old man named Ali Saremi was sentenced to one year in prison for visiting his son at Camp Ashraf, the community in eastern Iraq that had housed many of Ashraf 3's current residents until they were relocated following numerous attacks by Iranian agents. Sometime after Saremi's release in May 2007, authorities determined that his punishment had been inadequate and that the visit to his son most likely meant his support for the MEK. For this, he was accused of exhibiting "enmity against God" and was sentenced to death. That sentence was abruptly executed in December 2010.

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