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Why Iranian Regime’s “Friendly Journalists” Retake Aim At MEK

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In an article that was published in Townhall on February 24, NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee member Dr. Ali Safavi criticizes the Iranian regime’s continued efforts to spread false propaganda against Iran’s main organized opposition group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) using Western media outlets like the Intercept. The author highlights how the regime is recycling old lies and misinformation to demonize the MEK and divert attention from its own failures and atrocities. Dr. Safavi argues how the MEK, which has been exposing and fighting Tehran’s war, terror, and hostage-taking machine for decades, has been the target of one of the most severe slandering campaigns and urges the international community to support the Iranian Resistance in its efforts to bring democracy and freedom to Iran. 

 

The full text of Dr. Ali Safavi’s article in Townhall is reflected below and the original piece can be found under this link: 

https://townhall.com/columnists/alisafavi/2023/02/24/recycling-tehrans-propaganda-against-the-mek-n2619893 

 

Recycling Tehran’s Propaganda Against the MEK 

 

Every time the mullahs ruling Iran face a significant impasse, such as the six-month-long uprising that has shaken the regime to its core, they cast the net as wide as possible to recruit “friendly journalists” that chant regime propaganda against the MEK. 

After vanishing into thin air when I exposed him three years ago for his falsehoods, Murtaza Hussain has resurfaced, this time lashing out against the US Congress for supporting the main Iranian opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).  

Hussain’s intense hatred towards the democratic Iranian opposition is deeply connected to his promotion of a policy of appeasement towards Iran’s authoritarian regime. As a result, his writings have received favorable coverage from regime-controlled media outlets. In Hussain’s view, any tough talk on the mullahs is nothing more than an “ideological crusade against Iran,” He maintains the dubious belief that the regime has always “negotiated a deal in good faith.” Additionally, he characterizes sanctions against the mullahs as a “form of war,” thereby obfuscating the regime’s aggressive behavior at home and abroad. 

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Hussain conveniently glosses over the regime’s real war in the region, arguing that Tehran’s operatives in Iraq are notinterested in destabilizing the country!  

The regime wants to paint the main Iranian opposition as a “cult” to dehumanize them, rendering it easier to eliminate them physically. I was a target. In 2018, the U.S. Justice Department arrested and later indicted two Iranian nationals charged with, and ultimately imprisoned for, conducting surveillance operations on my colleague and me for a “capture/kill operation.”   

According to a report by the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center, the MEK has been the regime’s “prime victim, especially since widespread protests erupted in late December 2017. The regime’s officials, including Khamenei,” admitted that the MEK played a leading role in organizing the uprising. 

Anti-MEK propaganda is manufactured by the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), which according to a Library of Congress report, recruits “former MEK members” and then plants these “sources” for friendly journalists to trump up alternate facts and sensationalist narratives against the MEK. Courts in Europe have strongly reprimanded this behavior. When an MOIS “friendly journalist” regurgitated a handful of smears in Der Spiegel in February 2019, a court in Hamburg voted to censure the magazine, forcing it to remove the allegations. 

Hussain’s latest article quotes Arash Azizi as an “Iranian historian and political commentator,” but his credentials appear somewhat different. According to a website to which he has regularly contributed, Azizi hosted a television news program in Iran. In addition, he served as a former international editor of Kargozaran, the official newspaper of one of the regime’s factions. 

The timing of Tehran’s foreign minister making a similar statement to the one made by Murtaza Hussain regarding the Congressional initiative is not merely a coincidence.  

On February 11, Hossein Amir Abodollahian said, “The US Congress’ worthless resolution in support of Monafeghin (MKO) terror cult demonstrates, just once more, their insatiable appetite for instrumentalizing terrorism.” 

Hussain’s previous anti-MEK articles had relied heavily on the words of Iranian regime operative Hassan Heyrani, who was detained by the Albanian judiciary for his contacts with Iranian intelligence services and ultimately expelled from the country. Hussain had falsely described him as a “high-ranking defector” and had quoted him about “the MEK’s cult-like operating principles.”  

Heyrani’s true affiliations as an MOIS operative were previously revealed in a February 2021 letter to the UN Secretary-General by Hadi Sani-Khani, a former MEK defector recruited by the MOIS in Albania for four years. Sani-Khani wrote that Heyrani had been expelled from the PMOI in April 2018 due to intelligence and security suspicions and had been in direct contact with the Ministry of Intelligence in Tehran, receiving a fixed monthly salary of 1,500 euros.  

This information sheds doubt on the reliability of Hussain’s reporting and raises questions about his credibility as a journalist. But, as Socrates said, “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers.”  

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While Hussain chose to side with the Tehran regime, Congress took a different approach and stood with the Iranian people being oppressed and killed daily by the regime that Hussain sought to embrace. 

Hussain’s claim that the Iranian people despise the MEK can be easily undermined because, on February 12, more than ten thousand MEK supporters rallied in Paris, France. This gathering was in solidarity with the current revolution in Iran and paid tribute to the 1979 anti-monarchial revolution. 

To suggest that over 191 members of the US Congress have been duped by the MEK into supporting a favorable resolution is an insult to the intelligence of the American people and their elected representatives. Moreover, many of these members have consistently expressed similar views on the situation in Iran for decades. Therefore, Hussein’s unfounded accusations are futile, as the Iranian people and the Iranian American community continue their unwavering efforts to achieve a free and democratic Iran.  

Safavi (@amsafavi) is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). He has been involved in Iranian politics since 1972.