Web
	Analytics Made Easy - StatCounter
Rasa News Agency - Traitors to the homeland
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Service : > Commentary
Time : Saturday, September 22, 2018
News ID: 440637
 
Traitors to the homeland
Rasa - When Iranians rose up against the tyrannical rule of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1979, they had a picture of what they wanted in its place. It took them a short while, however, to translate that picture into a functioning government that would, among the other things expected of it, establish security.

RNA - For nearly a year, a number of outfits openly engaged in armed activity against the new government inside the capital and other cities.

 

One group was particularly notorious: the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), known to most other countries by another acronym, the MEK, which espoused a twisted ideology of Marxism and terror combined.

 

MKO had its roots in a formerly Islamic, student movement against Mohammad Reza Shah, but it had dropped Islam and adopted Marxism along the way, purging those of its members who had refused to acquiesce.

 

In its metamorphosized form, and after the Islamic Republic was established, MKO would bomb government buildings, conduct targeted killings of prominent political and religious figures, and most grotesquely, carry out routine blind assassinations of ordinary Iranians out on the streets in an attempt to create a sense of instability, insecurity, and fear.

 

Fear, it thought, would ultimately lead to popular dissatisfaction with the new regime.

 

It was wrong. And it failed.

 

Soon, and as the republic gradually solidified, putting into order its security apparatuses, the MKO was subdued. Many of its members were either taken into custody or taken out in well-planned security operations. Others either gradually came to their senses and defected, or fled the country.

 

Dead men (and women) walking

 

The killing sprees of the MKO were finished. But the group itself wasn’t.

 

In September 1980, a little over a year and a half after the revolution, the then-regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Iran, wishing to topple the nascent republic and overtake territory.

 

That invasion started after Hussein won the blessing of the United States, via the then-National Security Advisor Zbigniew Berzinski, according to Sasan Fayazmanesh, in his book “The United States and Iran: Sanctions, Wars and the Policy of Dual Containment.” (Routledge, 2008)

 

For MKO, the war had an inherent irony. It both threw the group’s surviving members a lifeline and lay bare their most treasonous colors, hastening their effective death:

 

They joined the Iraqi invasion of their own fatherland, as rank and file — cannon fodder, really. The Iraqi dictator — who was himself overthrown in 2003 by his initial American backers — gave MKO military training and hardware, and a camp near the Iranian border.

 

Hussein, who eventually agreed to a truce in 1988, nevertheless mobilized MKO members in a relatively large-scale offensive against Iran days after the truce agreement. MKO declared it would be marching to Tehran in a matter of “48 hours.”

 

Again, it failed.

 

In a counter-offensive code-named “Operation Mersad,” Iranian armed forces not only thwarted MKO but also almost decimated the group. Bodies of helmeted, indoctrinated young men and women were strewn across the roads or stuck in the mangled wreckage of tanks and other armored vehicles, along Iran’s western borders after the operation.

 

When Saddam was toppled in 2003 and a new government took over, the group felt endangered. (It had been designated a terrorist organization by the US since 1997.) So, it was crucial that MKO now got another lease on life.

 

In the period between the end of the Iran-Iraq War and the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, political winds had already begun to shift, in a way that would somehow benefit MKO:

 

After he failed to overtake Iranian territory, Hussein invaded and annexed the fellow-Arab state of Kuwait, angering the very similarly fellow-Arab states that had funded his war machine against Iran just years earlier. He faced solid opposition, by a coalition of military forces, with the US at its head, which pushed him back to within Iraqi borders but stopped short of an invasion.

 

Training assassins and taking them off the terror list

 

But, no more an obedient friend of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf and America, Hussein was bound to be taken out, a fate that met him in 2003.

 

What had remained intact of MKO in the ruins of Iraq, however, could still be exploited. At least, so thought Iran’s adversaries.

 

Saudi funding began to pour in. And “generously-compensated” legions of American lobbyists joined. To no one’s surprise, the group was taken off the State Department’s list of designated terrorist organizations in 2012.

 

In the lobbying campaign that was launched, “[m]any of the American supporters, though not all, accepted fees of $15,000 to $30,000 to give speeches to the group, as well as travel expenses to attend M.E.K. rallies in Paris,” The New York Times reported that same year.

 

Furthermore, American journalist Seymour Hersh, a Pulitzer Prize winner who has written for The New Yorker, reported in 2012 that a number of MKO members were secretly trained by the United States Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) at the Department of Energy’s Nevada National Security Site, a secretive training facility northwest of Las Vegas, in a program that began in 2005 and purportedly ended “sometime before President Obama took office.”

 

“The M.E.K.’s ties with Western intelligence [had already] deepened after the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003,” Hersh wrote.

 

He also cited an NBC report — itself citing “two senior Obama Administration officials” — that said MKO “units... financed and trained by Mossad, the Israeli secret service” had been involved in the assassination of four Iranian nuclear scientists and an attempted attack on another one after 2007.

 

Funding ‘regime change’

 

But Iranian counterintelligence stopped any more such activity.

 

By 2016, MKO’s hands were increasingly tied. It had to fully leave its last camp in Iraq for the Albanian capital, Tirana. Yet, it was now being more openly embraced by Iran’s Western and Arab adversaries.

 

In 2016 and 2017, Saudi Arabia’s former spy chief, Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, attended MKO meetings in Paris. “Advance with God’s blessings,” bin Faisal said in a speech in the 2016 meeting, wishing the terrorists success in attempting “regime change” in Iran.

 

In 2018, another meeting in Paris attracted Rudy Giuliani, personal attorney to US President Donald Trump, and Stephen Harper, a former prime minister of Canada. Both of them, too, gave speeches advocating “regime change” in Iran.

 

In September came a revelation of how the group received funding for its “regime change” agenda all along the way: through Saudi smuggling networks and Saudi-linked black market sales.

 

Former MKO member Massoud Khodabandeh, “who personally oversaw the transfers,” told Jordanian newspaper Albawaba that “Saudi officials operating within the security apparatus of Turki bin Faisal al Saud, the head of Saudi intelligence at the time, and the late king Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, gave the MEK three tons of solid gold, at least four suitcases of custom Rolex watches and fabric covering the Kaaba, the most holy site in Islam. The transfers were worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”

 

“Gold and other valuable commodities were be shipped from Saudi Arabia to Baghdad. Then, they would be sold in black markets in Amman, Jordan[,] via Saudi-linked businessmen; the money would go to offshore accounts linked to the MEK, funding their operations.”

 

“Fraud and money laundering” were other source of revenue.

 

“From Washington D.C., to Tampa, Dallas, Los Angeles and even London, Stockholm and Paris, the MEK operated ‘cells’ that took part in fraud schemes and fake charities,” according to Albawaba, which cited an FBI investigation of the activities.

 

Online bugs

 

But, despite the showbiz and the speakers beckoned by the specter of Saudi money, MKO grew increasingly irrelevant in actual space in later years. That was when it took to the virtual.

 

In an article titled “Faking the online debate on Iran,” Al Jazeera looked at MKO’s latest anti-Iran activities, online.

 

Late last year, when short-lived protests erupted in some Iranian cities, MKO saw a virtual opening.

 

Hassan Shahbaz, another former MKO member, said, “Our orders would tell us the hashtags to use in our tweets in order to make them more active. It was our job to provide coverage of these protests by seeking out, tweeting and re-tweeting videos while adding our own comments,” according to Al Jazeera.

 

Hassan Heyrani, also a former member, said “several thousand accounts” were being run “by about 1,000-1,500” MKO members to turn anti-Iranian hashtags into top trends.

 

And bots came in handy, too. Lots of them.

 

Marc Owen Jones, a keen observer of online political propaganda by Saudi Arabia, told the Qatar-based news channel, “If you want to use bots to be effective, you need a lot of accounts, which means you might create a lot of accounts on a specific day or week or month. The majority of the accounts tweeting on the #FreeIran and #Iran_Regime_Change hashtag from late December [2017] up to May, were created within about a four-month window. What that would suggest is that a lot of the activity on those hashtags came from bots.”

 

The MKO online propagandists may be aided by Saudi companies that, according to an earlier investigation by BBC, offer “automated ‘bot’ accounts” for as little as 200 dollars “to artificially boost the popularity of hashtags to make them trend on Twitter - in contravention of the social media network's rules.”

 

(Although not exactly well-liked by his cousin rulers, Saudi Prince Waleed bin Talal — a Twitter shareholder — may be pulling a few strings of his own, may he not?!)

 

All of that while Twitter recently closed — in the words of Foreign Minister Javad Zarif — the accounts of real Iranians while ignoring MKO’s anti-Iran propaganda activities.

 

Hello @Jack. Twitter has shuttered accounts of real Iranians, incl TV presenters & students, for supposedly being part of an 'influence op'. How about looking at actual bots in Tirana used to prop up 'regime change' propaganda spewed out of DC? #YouAreBotshttps://t.co/dTs0diYrM4
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 16, 2018

 

Khodabandeh, the former MKO member, told Al Jazeera that the group had “changed from a terrorist military organisation to an intelligence-based propaganda machine.”

 

He is wrong. MKO continues to be the terrorist organization that it has always been. The only difference now is that, facing Iranian power like never before, the group and its sponsors can only attempt online subversion against Iran. Like Saddam Hussein of Iraq, the MKO and the House of Saud will have their expiration dates for the US. And until that day arrives, they can wiggle only as much.

 

Hossein Jelveh/Press TV

 

847/940

Share
Send Comment
Name :
E-mail:(Optional)
Comment Text:
Send
Comments
Monday, December 10, 2018
https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/12/09/582483/US-Saudi-Arabia-puppet-global-domination-Yemen-war
US needs ‘puppet’ like Saudi Arabia to achieve global domination: Analyst
Rasa - Saudi Arabia has is a regional "puppet" of the United States, an American analyst says, arguing that Washington needs Riyadh as part of its grand plan for global domination.
Monday, December 10, 2018
https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/12/09/582471/US-Christian-evangelical-group-have-donated-some-65-million-to-Israeli-settlements-Report
US Christian evangelical groups donated some $65 million to Israeli settlements: Report
Rasa - Evangelical Christian groups have reportedly raised tens of millions of dollars over the past decade to fund settlement projects in the occupied West Bank as the Israeli regime presses ahead wi...
Monday, December 10, 2018
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970918001193
Condemned to Drown: End US Wars to End Refugee Crisis
Rasa - European nations led by anti-immigrant politicians have just forced a migrant rescue ship that has saved tens of thousands of people trapped in international waters between Libya, Italy, and Ma...
Monday, December 10, 2018
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970918000906
All of Israel within Reach of Our Missiles: Hezbollah
Rasa Simmering tensions between Tel Aviv and the Lebanese Hezbollah Resistance Movement escalated last week after Israeli troops launched operation 'Northern Shield', aimed at destroying suspected He...
Monday, December 10, 2018
https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/12/09/582455/Yemeni-Ansarullah-delegation-in-Sweden-for-peace-not-to-surrender-Spokesman
Ansarullah says open for more talk if Sweden process yields: Yemen
Rasa - Yemen’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement says it is open for more talks with representatives of the country’s former Saudi Arabia-backed government if underway negotiations in Sweden make pro...
Monday, December 10, 2018
https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/12/09/582460/Israeli-violence-UN-West-Bank
UN warns of rise in Israeli violence, vandalism in West Bank
Rasa - The United Nations says violence and vandalism committed by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property have been on the rise since the beginning of the year 2018.
Monday, December 10, 2018
https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/12/09/582465/Zarif-Middle-East-Twitter-Rouhani-dialogue
Dialogue, respect for law essential for making strong region: FM Zarif
Rasa - Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says under the current tumultuous conditions in the Middle East, dialogue and respect for international law are among the most important factors tha...
Monday, December 10, 2018
https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/12/09/582459/Israel-Aqsa
Israeli minister, settlers 'provocatively' tour al-Aqsa Mosque compound
Rasa - Israeli Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Uri Ariel and a group of settlers have "provocatively" entered the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied Old City of East Jerusalem al-Qu...
Monday, December 10, 2018
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970918000687
Police Arrest 10 Terrorists Linked to Chabahar Attack
Rasa - Ten terrorists linked to the Thursday terrorist attack on Iran’s Southeastern port city of Chabahar have been arrested so far, Iranian Police Chief Brigadier General Hossein Ashtari stated on S...
Monday, December 10, 2018
https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/12/09/582457/US-support-Saudi-war-on-Yemen-necessary-Lenderking
US-Saudi relationship enters uncharted territory
Rasa - Ties between Saudi Arabia and the United States face an uncertain future as Congress and the White House grow more divided over punishing the traditional Middle East ally over a range of issues...
Monday, December 10, 2018
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970918000272
Participants of Anti-Terrorism Conference in Tehran Reaffirm Support for Palestinians
Rasa - The speakers of the parliaments of Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey adopted a final statement at the end of the 2nd anti-terrorism conference in Tehran, underlining the una...
Monday, December 10, 2018
https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/12/09/582453/Saudi-Arabia-GCC-summit
Bin Salman policies injurious to unity among GCC members: Analyst
Rasa - The policies of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are harmful to unity among the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council’s member states, says a commentator.
Monday, December 10, 2018
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970918000557
Report: Israel Authorized Sale of Spyware to Saudis
Rasa - The Israeli government was directly involved in the sale of sophisticated spyware to Saudi Arabia to help the kingdom purge and assassinate dissidents, according to a report.
Monday, December 10, 2018
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970918000325
Two Palestinians Killed, +60 Injured in Clashes with Israeli Forces
Rasa - Two Palestinians were killed during clashes last week with the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, according to a report released by the Hamas Movement on Satur...
Monday, December 10, 2018
https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/12/09/582433/US-White-House-Donald-Trump-John-Dean
Ex-Nixon White House lawyer: Congress will have to impeach Trump
Rasa - A former White House lawyer thinks that the US Congress will have soon no choice but to start impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
Monday, December 10, 2018
http://en.farsnews.com/imgrep.aspx?nn=13970917000949
Israeli Fire Wounds 33 Gaza Protesters
Rasa - Israeli army gunfire has wounded 33 Palestinians protesting along the Gaza-Israel perimeter fence. [PHOTOS]
Monday, December 10, 2018
https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/12/09/582448/Yemen-Sweden-Qassemi-Iran-US-war
US support for aggressors triggers humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen: Iran
Rasa - Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman says the United States is behind the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen by providing arms and financial support for the aggressor states, which have bee...
Monday, December 10, 2018
https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/12/09/582406/Saudi-bin-Salman-Jared-Kushner
Kushner advised MbS on how to survive in power after Khashoggi murder: NYT
Rasa - US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser has reportedly continued to have private contacts with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) following the murder of dissident j...
Monday, December 10, 2018
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970918000131
Brussels Police Detain 450 People in Yellow Vest Rally
Rasa - As many as 450 people were detained in an unauthorized yellow vest protest in the Belgian capital of Brussels, with 10 individuals having appeared in court, the city's prosecutor's office state...
Monday, December 10, 2018
https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/12/09/582409/Hamas-Israel-statement-First-Uprising-Intifada-Fatah-West-Bank-Arab-normazliation
Palestinians mark Intifada with call for 'armed struggle'
Rasa - Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has marked the 31st anniversary of the first Intifada with pledges to continue the "armed struggle" and rebuked Arab leaders for seeking to normalize ties ...