On Saturday, Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield Jr, an American diplomat, and Assistant Secretary of State for Political and Military Affairs addressed a bi-partisan conference in Canada on the situation inside Iran. In his remarks, Ambassador Bloomfield shed light on the Iranian regime’s four decades of propaganda against its main opposition, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). He also called out the Western government’s appeasement policy toward Iran’s ruling theocracy. Below is the full text of Ambassador Bloomfield’s remarks, revised and edited for clarity.
Madam Rajavi, it’s an honor to share this podium with you, with the distinguished political leaders from Canada, Senator Torricelli, and with our friends from the Canadian Iranian community. Thank you for inviting me.
As I’m standing on Canadian soil, permit me to begin by expressing my respect and condolences for the families and loved ones, and friends of all those who lost their lives on the Ukrainian international airline flight 752, fifty-five Canadian citizens, 30 Canadian residents, 176 total. This is one of the many violations of international norms and bad behavior by this regime. I’m going to talk about a number of these. You’ll hear many things that Madam Rajavi has said.
You’ll hear them through the eyes and the voice of a Washington policymaker. Maybe you will see, we see the very same picture. I think there are three forces that will bring freedom to Iran. One is the brave women and girls of Iran. They’re not the only ones who are protesting.
But nowhere in the world do we see the women of a country saying absolutely no to a government. This is unprecedented. And if there is ever evidence that a government has no legitimacy, no standing, that there’s no social contract, to use Rousseau’s term, this is certainly it. So, the women of Iran, we ask that they continue to be brave, continue to show courage, and continue to stand their ground. That is one of the things that must happen.
The men of Iran are on the other side. I will get to that as the third piece, but we are the second thing that must happen. We have a responsibility. When I say we, I mean everyone outside Iran, the diaspora, but also responsible people, correspondents in the media, and officials in governments. We have a huge obligation.
My remarks summarizing major Iranian regime betrayals of the population and deceptions of Western governments over 44 years, at event yesterday in Toronto joined by Canadian lawmakers and Canadian-Iranian community: https://t.co/0e66dHMpor
— Lincoln Bloomfield (@LBJunior) February 6, 2023
And it’s heavier in the case of Iran because we have been repeating falsehoods for almost 44 years. We have believed things that the Iran regime has told us. They’re not true. Let me go quickly and give you just a sampling of what I’m talking about when I say that women and girls are leading the uprising. You have already seen great descriptions from our speakers of an organization led by women, led by a very brave woman, Madam Rajavi.
But at every level of the MEK and the NCRI, Women are exercising leadership. This is very impressive for a Middle East Iranian Muslim organization. It is unheard of, and they have done it for decades. So, this shows you that women must have equality, equal political rights, and equal power. But this, no, that’s not what you hear about the MEK and the NCRI, is it?
We’re told that the NCRI and the MEK are terrorists. They are a cult. They’re hiding behind walls. They are imprisoned. They are brainwashed.
They’re not there of their free will. They are shut off from the outside world. This is what we’ve heard for many years. Of course, when you see photographs of the operations center with all the information technology and you hear the regime complaining about all of the effective cyber communications from the NCRI, they’ve stepped on their message. But this has stuck in the west.
People, I’m sure, in Ottawa and Washington have repeated these things, and they still do today. So let me focus on our role and what we can do to get the facts right. I’m going to cover some of the same ground you already heard from Madam Rajavi. We need to understand why Iran became so repressive after the revolution. What happened?
Shah was corrupt and brutal and a man who had lost his mandate entirely and had left. It was time for democracy, and there was democracy. There were rallies, and there were print presses that were distributing political debates. There were huge events. There was a very vibrant electoral season.
Madam Rajavi ran for office. She was disqualified. But there was a season of democracy. What Ayatollah Khomeini did was he brought a constitution that he had never told anyone how it would work. He talked about democracy in Paris.
When he got to Iran and was greeted like a hero, he pulled out his constitution. What did it have inside it? Velayat-e Faqih, or the guardianship of the Islamic Jurist. What does this mean? It meant that you could pass all the laws you wanted. You can have government ministries, you can have court cases, and you can do whatever you want. But the Supreme Leader is not just a guardian, not just a source of emulation. He’s the embodiment of a divine figure, the 12th Imam of the Prophet, the embodiment of divine power. So if it’s time to execute someone, they must be executed. If someone should be killed, here’s a fatwa kill them.
You’ve seen the phrase Mohareb, or war against God. This is the charge that was used against these beautiful young Iranians who were executed in recent months just for protesting. That’s not a law. That’s the Supreme Leader exercising fascist power with no legitimacy whatsoever. Now, why did the MEK become the number one threat to the regime?
Officials in Washington and think tank people will say, oh, they were terrorists. No, they weren’t. That’s not it at all. It’s about the fact that they were Muslims and that Muslim students and the intelligentsia supported Masoud Rajavi and supported the MEK. He had thousands of people listening to his lectures.
He would have gained millions of votes had he run for president, as Le Monde reported at the time. So, what happened when he met Khomeini? Khomeini asked him to bring the support of the Muslims behind his constitution. And Masood Rajavi said I couldn’t do that. The Iranian people suffered so much to overthrow the shah. They will not accept another dictatorship. Islam means freedom. Now, I’m not a source of expertise on Islam, but madam Rajavi has written and spoken about Islam, and I’m going to quote something she said about this period. “Two diametrically opposed versions of Islam have emerged to confront one another. One interpretation is based on tyranny, while the other, Islam, rests on freedom.
The first promotes compulsion and deception, while the other relies on free and conscious choice,” unquote. That summarizes perfectly what happened in 1981 when Massoud, Rajavi, and Banisadr, the President, were holding huge rallies, and the President and the Supreme Leader, Khomeini, said, no, we need to shut this down. They fired on the protesters, and they opened fire. They shot their way to power. And thus began a reign of terror where tens of thousands of believers in the MEK, Muslims who thought that Islam was freedom and that it should be done of free will, including the Hijab, were put to death for war against God.
So, we find that there’s a huge amount of deception about the MEK. Why do they say they have no support in Iran? I’m sure everyone in this hall has been lectured by someone who said, oh, no, the MEK doesn’t have any support inside Iran. Why do you think you don’t hear people saying they support the MEK openly in Iran? Well, let me quote from the Islamic Punishment Act, articles 186 and 190: If you do that, you face execution, hanging, amputation, or the lowest form of punishment is exile.
In other words, no one can say these things. And yet when 30,000 of these people were brought before three-panel judges in 1988 and said, yes, I still support this open, free perspective. They were all put to death in one of the greatest crimes against humanity since World War II. Do you know why Khamenei became the Supreme Leader of Iran? This was supposed to be the embodiment of the 12th Imam. The highest source of emulation. The Grand Marja, was Montazeri. What happened is, when these people were being massacred in 1988, he went to Khomeini and said, no, Imam, you can’t do this. This is a crime. We will be remembered as criminals forever.
He warned against it, and Khomeini wasn’t going to listen to it. So, he pushed the Grand Marja aside and brought up an Hojat-ol-Islam, a loyal regime supporter, Ali Khamenei, and he became the Supreme Leader. Do you know why Iran went for nuclear enrichment? The theory is that Khamenei had no charisma in the Shiite world. Look whom the Pope visited when he came to Iraq: Ayatollah Sistani. He didn’t go to see Ayatollah Khamenei. There would be no wall-sized posters in south Beirut for the Supreme Leader unless the Iranians paid to put them up. So, they thought, as with Saddam Hussein, maybe if he had a nuclear program, he would be more important in the region. And the nuclear program turned out to be very convenient for this regime because the Americans and the Western Europeans, and the Canadians all said, oh, please, can we negotiate about this nuclear program?
And they said, sure, but you have to keep the MEK and the NCRI on the terrorism list, which they did. So, they used it for trade. And then, of course, they said the Americans, I’ll speak for Washington, 80% of the experts are focused on the nuclear program. There’s no bandwidth left to focus on. Everything else the regime does, the human rights abuses, destabilization, and acts of war throughout the Middle East, the terrorist bombings around the world.
So, it’s actually been a very convenient tool for the Iranians. So why did the Western governments label the MEK as a terrorist group? For one thing, they had hostages in Lebanon, so there were trades. Do you want your hostages back? Put these people on the terrorism list.
What did that do when they put the MEK and the NCRI on the lists of foreign terrorist organizations? It made all of you very careful about what you said because it’s against the law to support a terrorist group. It silenced the Iranian community in America for years. It was a very effective tool, incredibly cynical, and, I think, a major embarrassment to the United States policy community. The FBI in 1997 was never told when the Secretary of State put the MEK on the terrorism list for the first time. They were never informed. They found out after the fact that there was no evidence of terrorism. And four court cases in the UK, the European Union, the United States, and France verified that there had never been any terrorist activity. The French magistrate who studied this for eight years, as Madam Rajavi knows all too well, said that they had had legitimate resistance to tyranny for about 20 years, but had never targeted anyone other than the regime, had never engaged in the act of terrorism. No member of this group has ever been convicted of terrorism in a country with the rule of law under a democratic process.
So, they are not terrorists. And by the way, why did they go to Iraq? First of all, it was a corrupt hostage trade with the French government. The French wanted their hostages back. The Mullahs wanted to get the MEK and the NCRI out of France.
They had to go somewhere. Anywhere else they had gone, they would have been killed by Iranian agents. Iraq was one place where it would be harder for the Iranians to kill them. So, let’s go through very quickly the deceptions that have worked for too long. You see elections every four years in Iran.
There have been 12 elections. You have seen 64 candidates on the ballot. Do you know how many candidates registered to run for President and were not allowed on the ballot? 5338. That’s more than 98% of the candidates who never were shown on the ballot.
This is not democracy. This is a farce. It’s a disgrace. The MEK has been accused of being a traitor. They sided with Saddam Hussein in the war of the 1980s. No, they didn’t. When Iraq invaded Iran in September of 1980, MEK fighters raced to the front to defend Iran, and many were captured by the Iraqis. If these were allies of Saddam Hussein, why were those prisoners of war held until 1989 and not released? You tell me. The fact is they showed up in Iraq in this corrupt hostage trade in mid-1986.
Almost six years later. They had no weapons at all until 1987. And what they did was try to overthrow the government of Iran in one operation in which the Iraq military did not participate. The two never engaged in a combined military operation, ever. This is false.
Iran’s president, as you know, Raisi, was a judge from the age of 20. He must have been brilliant as a teenager studying the law. But he was famous for sending people to their death for Moharebeh, or war against God. He is guilty of a major crime against humanity, as you all know. He must face justice for the killing of upwards of 30,000 political prisoners, most of them MEK, in 1988. And so, the question of Iran coming to the negotiating table, we need to have sanctions lifted.
When they were negotiating with the Obama administration, we all felt so sorry for the people of Iran because they were poor. But at that time, Raisi had become the head of a religious foundation, Setad, under the supreme leader. Reuters in 2013 said they had $93 billion. And in 2019, the US embassy in Baghdad put out a posting that said the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, is believed to have assets of $200 billion. Now you see how much they spend on centrifuges.
You see ships that are being caught heading for Yemen. There was one three days ago that the French caught. Who pays? There have been five ships in the last three months filled with weapons, missiles, missile motors, drone engines, antitank weapons, thousands of ammunition rounds, and guns. Who pays for this?
This is all Iran’s money, which is not helping the people who are living below the poverty line. It’s one of the reasons people have realized that this government is not a government. It’s a criminal ring that has no connection to the people of Iran, and they’re letting us know that. And finally, let me just say a word about moderates. How much have we heard about moderates?
Don’t be fooled when people say that Raisi is so extreme. Yes, of course, he is. But remember, Rouhani, excuse me. His defense minister, Hussain Degan, was the brigadier who started training Hezbollah in the Bekaa Valley in 1982. He oversaw the bombing of the US marine barracks in 1983 and the embassy bombing that followed in 84.
Moderates? How about their justice ministers, Pour Mohammadi and Avaie? How about Mohammed Javad Zarif, the most popular Iranian foreign minister the West has ever known? Was he even a foreign minister? We now know that Ministry of Intelligence agents and Quds Force brigadiers were serving as ambassadors in Baghdad and Beirut. Damascus, Tirana in Albania, was he in charge? Did Zarif put these people there? What about the bomb that was supposed to kill most of us in June of 2018? That bomb was carried under diplomatic cover on a commercial airline from Tehran to Vienna. That comes from the Foreign Ministry, I think.
So, there’s much fraud here. And the scandal is, ladies and gentlemen, that the Western media never asks Zarif a single question about these things. It’s time that we brought the truth forward and demanded the Iran regime answer for their crimes. Now, finally, remember this. The foiled bombings in Paris and Albania in early 2018 were all being planned and carried out while the nuclear accord was in full force before President Trump pulled out of it.
So, let’s not talk about how this is a turn toward extremism. (It was) Rouhani, and Zarif! When you hear the slogan about moderate extremist principlist, they’re all the same. They are all the same. These people are all part of the same criminal conspiracy.
And here in Canada, you can look all you want on the website of the Ottawa Citizen for November 17, 2001, spread that showed how Camp Ashraf in Iraq had underground tunnels that had all of Saddam’s nuclear weapons. It was a multipage foldout, a great expose. This was just one of many examples in Canada where the regime’s money was used for false propaganda, to fool the general public, and to try to steer policy in a direction away from the facts and reality. Today, the regime has lost all control of the narrative. The FBI in America and the head of MI5 in the UK have been warning of Iranian threats on their soil.
People are being stalked for kidnapping, for assassination. Albania has expelled Iranian spies who are masquerading as diplomats. The courts in Belgium and Sweden have sentenced regime bombers and war criminals. This is a very large dossier of activities. We can’t keep up with all of the planned assassinations, kidnappings, bombings, cyber-attacks, spies, and weapons transfers, including drones to Russia, to be used against the brave Ukrainian people.
This is a disgrace. Iran is doing it. It’s a fact. Don’t let anyone tell you inside Iran that they’re not doing it. The regime denies this.
It’s known universally that they’re providing lethal drones that are killing Ukrainians. And then there’s the heroin trade and all the illicit trafficking. We have many arrests of trucks coming through Europe filled with heroin. This is how this regime, the spies, the MOIS, and the IRGC, how to sustain themselves, the Iranian people benefit not one bit from any of it. So let me finish by saying it must stop now.
We must expose the truth. We all have a role in doing this. That’s what I came here to do. So let me finish with a word about Iran’s men, who are the third element that will bring down the regime in 2023. As the senator said, we talk about the women of the MEK and the NCRI, and we should talk about Madam Rajavi and others who are exerting leadership throughout those organizations at leading country offices and doing many impressive things.
But let me take one moment to pay tribute and salute the men of the MEK and the NCRI. For 30 years, they’ve done something that I’ve never seen in the Muslim world. They have embraced the idea of female leadership and have followed and supported the women leaders of the NCRI and the MEK for years. And I salute those men today.
They are not the owner only men to talk about in this situation. The young men of the regime are the ones who are holding it up. You see the pictures of the Supreme Leader and Raisi and the heads of the Quds Force, the IRGC commanders, the Ministry of Intelligence, Justice Ministry. You see them sitting in pictures together. They’re not the ones holding up this regime.
It’s the young men guarding all the critical infrastructure with guns. The airport, the train station, the communications links, the banks, the central bank, et cetera. They’re the reason that this regime is in power today. They can be the reason this regime is out of power tomorrow. It’s time for these guys to remember that for the rest of their lives.
They have to look at the women of their generation. And when the women look at them, the women will know what they did in 2023. They have no exit from Iran. All of the senior leaders can get on planes. There are seats being reserved for emergencies.
My new essay "The Ayatollahs and the MEK: Iran's Crumbling Influence Operation" just published by Univ of Baltimore College of Public Affairs @publicaffairsub: https://t.co/gSXUv8bzzk pic.twitter.com/2gAEcvw97T
— Lincoln Bloomfield (@LBJunior) June 25, 2019
They have places to go. They have money; we know that. But the young men of Iran who are holding the guns and defending the regime are being used. It would be, I think, the final straw if they decided at long last to say no more. We will do the honorable thing.
We will stand with the people of Iran. We will guard this infrastructure and keep things safe. And we will allow a process to unfold under our protection to produce a legitimate constitution. This is what we must do. Ayatollahs have disgraced and dishonored themselves and their followers.
Iran’s women are demanding their rights. Iran’s men must now stand with them. All of us here and around the world can do our part by exposing the truth. If your family was victimized or threatened, and I know that there are stories in this hall today, you must tell your story. If we all do our part, there will be accountability.
There will be justice and freedom for all Iranians and a new era of peace in the Middle East and beyond. The great people of Iran have waited long enough. Let this be the year of a free Iran. Thank you.