On November 7, a powerful earthquake shook Duress and its surrounding areas in western Albania, killing more than 50 people. The country mourned. On November 29, instead of celebrating Albania’s Independence Day, the government declared a national day of mourning. Many countries assisted. The Iranian regime’s contribution to the Albanian people, however, was just a very big lie, published in several Iranian official media outlets.
Iran’s fake news campaign against MEK members in Albania
On December 5, Iran’s state-run media reported that several MEK members stationed in the Duress province and Manza town had been killed during the earthquake. This is even though the MEK had reported minor injuries among residents of Ashraf-3, where the Iranian opposition’s members reside.
The source of this fake-news is an anonymous English-language website called the Balkans Post, a front website of the cyber-cultural section of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The primary task of the Balkan Post is to spread lies about the MEK. The bogus report is based on quotes from the non-existent injured MEK members, who also claim the Iranian dissidents have no freedom in Albania.
Iran’s terrorist activities against MEK in Albania
Tehran’s actions against the MEK is not limited to its demonizing campaign. It also actively pursues terrorism against Iranian dissidents. An Iranian diplomat and three of regime’s agents are currently awaiting trial in Belgium for trying to bomb the Iranian opposition’s “Free Iran” gathering on June 30, 2018, in Paris.
In an October 23, 2019, press conference, the Albanian police chief announced that the IRGC Quds Force’s extraterritorial division was behind a foiled terrorist operation against the MEK in Albania in March 2018.
Evidence shows that the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force use Iranian agents disguised as “former MEK members” to demonize the Iranian opposition. The aim is to set the stage for terrorist operations against the MEK in Europe, using native agents in countries such as Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and France.
Inside Iran’s Misinformation Campaign Against MEK in Albania
The Albanian police revealed an Iranian regime’s agent, Alireza Naghashzadeh, as a key player in the foiled terrorist operation against the MEK in Albania. Naghashzadeh, also known as Ervin Aram, described himself as a “former member of the MEK.” He was born in 1974 and holds an Austrian passport. He traveled to Albania several times to gather intelligence for the assassination team.
Iran’s use of Albania’s media to spread propaganda against MEK
According to MEK sources, the Iranian regime prepares the political ground for its terrorist operations by securing the services of television programs in Albania. Its activities include broadcasting interviews with regime agents who identify themselves as “former members of the MEK” and fabricate lies against the MEK.
Because these agents are Iranian, they need help from locals to carry out their deeds. For example, alongside these people in the published videos, there is always an Albanian named Olsi Jazexhi. He and his wife run a very low-profile extremist website in Albania called Gazeta Impakt. The site strongly supports the Iranian regime and its terrorist activities in the region and spearheads the demonizing campaign against the MEK in Albania.
Facebook recently shut down Gazeta Impakt’s account along with various accounts run by the Iranian regime.
In November 2017, Olsi Jazexhi organized a conference at the Doro Hotel in Tirana against the MEK. Jazexhi’s special guest was Ann Singleton, a notorious London-based Iranian regime intelligence agent. A report by the United States Library of Congress commissioned by the Pentagon lists Singleton and her husband Massoud Khodabandeh as agents of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence. There is considerable evidence that the couple has been involved in the planning of the assassinations and massacres of MEK members in Iraq.
Olsi Jazexhi’s deep ties to the Iranian regime
In democratic countries where people enjoy the freedom of expression, citizens can make any comments on their websites and hold any conference without having to disclose their financial sources. But in this particular case, the situation is different. The IRGC-affiliated Fars News Agency has released a photo of Olsi Jazexhi at the New Horizon conference in Iran. New Horizon is affiliated with the IRGC’s Qods Force and was blacklisted by the US Treasury Department in February 2019 due to its destructive activities. The Treasury Department announced that the New Horizon conference is a cover for recruiting foreign spies, including a US Air Force officer named Monica Witt. She was recruited during the conference by Iranian intelligence agents and is now collaborating with the Iranian intelligence services.
The FBI has been tracking and prosecuting the American nationals attending the conference. Olsi Jazexhi has so far refused to explain his cooperation with New Horizon. Jazexhi’s ties with Iranian intelligence services notwithstanding, intellectuals in Albania despise him for his opposition to Albanian national symbols and his extremist ideas.
Furthermore, Olsi Jazexhi admits that he has taken up courses at Al-Mustafa religious university in the city of Qum in Iran in 2011. Al-Mustafa University is widely known to be a tool for religious extremism indoctrination of foreign nationals and recruiting candidates for the regime’s terrorist and military activities abroad, including direct participation in Iran’s wars in the Middle East.
The deadlock of the Iranian regime
Given the nationwide uprising that spread to 189 cities in all 31 provinces of Iran, the prospects for the overthrow of the ruling theocracy are brighter and closer than ever. It is not clear what Tehran’s priorities would be in the face of a growing crisis, but it is not likely that they would continue for long to support such campaigns against their opponents. Much more on MOIS networks would be known as the ruling apparatus in Iran begins to fall apart.
An Iranian opposition source said the agents of the Iranian mullahs should be mindful of what the future will hold for them once the dossiers on Tehran’s foreign mercenaries are made public after the mullahs’ overthrow. They, like their paymasters, will end up in the dustbin of history.