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False Identities Become the New Weapon: War with Iran Promoted by Fake Journalists

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | June 17, 2019

One of the claims made about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election was that Kremlin-controlled entities were using fake identities to create dissension and confusion on social network sites. This should surprise no one, if it is true, as intelligence operatives have been using false names since Sumerian times.

The concern over fake identities no doubt comes from the deception involved, meaning that if you are dealing with a real person you at least have some handle on making an assessment of what something means and what is likely to occur. A false persona, however, can pretend to be anything and can advocate or do something without any yardstick to measure what is actually taking place. In other words, if Mike Pompeo says something you know that he is a liar and can judge his words accordingly but if it is someone otherwise unknown named Qwert Uiop you have to wonder if he or she just might be telling the truth. You might even give them the benefit of the doubt.

A prime example of a false internet persona has recently surfaced in the form of an alleged “activist” invented by the Iranian terrorist group Mojahedin e Khalq (MEK). MEK is a curious hybrid creature in any event in that it pretends to be an alternative government option for Iran even though it is despised by nearly all Iranians. At the same time, it is greatly loved by the Washington Establishment which would like to see the Mullahs deposed and replaced by something more amenable to western and Israeli worldviews.

MEK is run like a cult by its leader Maryam Rajavi, with a number of rules that restrict and control the behavior of its members. One commentary likens membership in MEK to a modern day equivalent of slavery. The group currently operates out of a secretive, heavily guarded 84 acre compound in Albania that is covertly supported by the United States, as well as through a “political wing” front office in Paris, where it refers to itself as the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

MEK, which is financially supported by Saudi Arabia, stages events in the United States in Europe where it generously pays politicians like John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani and Elaine Chao to make fifteen-minute speeches praising the organization and everything it does. It’s paying of inside the Beltway power brokers proved so successful that it was removed from the State Department terrorist list in 2012 by Hillary Clinton even though it had killed Americans in the 1970s. MEK also finds favor in Washington because it is used by Israel as a resource for anti-Iranian terrorism acts currently, including assassinations carried out in Tehran.

MEK’s fake journalist, who has recently been exposed by The Intercept, is named Heshmat Alavi. He, or if you prefer “it,” has very successfully gained access to a considerable body of generally conservative mainstream western media, including Forbes, The Hill, the Daily Beast and The Federalist. Alavi has placed scores of articles as “an activist with a passion for human rights,” aimed at discrediting Iran and its government while also subtly praising MEK as an alternative to the current regime. His bona fides have never been questioned, even by Forbes, which placed no less than 61 articles under the name between April 2017 and April 2018. The pieces appearing allegedly by Alavi are reportedly composed at a “troll factory” as a so-called “group account” in Albania where MEK members who belong to the organization’s “political wing” toil under tight security.

Alavi’s contribution to the damning of Iran has not been insignificant. An article written by him/it that appeared in Forbes claiming that the Mullahs had been able to increase their military budget due to having money freed up by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement. The article reached the White House and reportedly helped convince the Trump Administration to withdraw from the pact.

*(MEK members working in the ‘Twitter troll factory’ in Manez Camp, Albania)

To supplement the Alavi propaganda effort, MEK’s Albania operation uses banks of computers manned by followers, some of whom are fluent in English, who serve as bots unleashing scores of comments supporting regime change in Iran while also directing waves of criticism against any pro-Iranian pieces that appear on social media, to include Facebook and Twitter. By one account, more than a thousand MEK supporters manage thousands of accounts on social media simultaneously. The objective of all the chatter is to convince the mostly English-speaking audience that there is a large body of Iranians who are hostile to the regime and supportive of MEK as a replacement.

While the Iranian government and MEK might well be regarded by most Americans as a far-away problem, there was considerable shock expressed even by congress and the media when it was learned shortly before The Intercept’s revelations that the United States government had been funding a so-called Iran Disinformation Project that was employing tactics remarkably similar to those of MEK in an attempt to control the discussion over Iran policy.

The project, run by the State Department’s global engagement center, consisted of a trolling campaign which targeted online American citizens critical of the government’s Iran policy, labeling them as disloyal to the United States and tools of the Iranian government. It used, for example, the website IranDisInfo.org and the hashtag #NIACLobbies4Mullahs. Iranian-American activist and long-time State Department contractor Mariam Memarsadeghi headed the program, receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars to “relentlessly attack critics of the Iran policy on social media… accusing them of being paid operatives of the regime in Tehran.” In all, the “Iran Disinfo” operation received over $1.5 million through the Memarsadeghi contract entity the oddly named E-Collaborative for Civic Education.

The investigation of Iran Disinfo also revealed that the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), which has been leading the charge for war with Iran, had at least one employee working with E-Collaborative. FDD, which has been advising the Trump White House on a more aggressive policy towards Iran, has also been actively involved in the State Department effort and cross-posting material from the Disinfo campaign.

FDD has long been targeting Iran. It received $3.63 million in 2017 from Bernard Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot. Marcus is a hard-core Zionist who hates Iran and once referred to that nation as “the devil.” FDD has also received billions from Las Vegas casino mega billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the GOP’s largest individual donor, who has advocated dropping a nuclear bomb on Iran to send a message. The link between major Republican donors supporting FDD and an increase in FDD quasi-overt cooperation with the Trump Administration in demonizing Iran should not surprise anyone.

Even though the State Department operation was relatively insignificant compared to similar initiatives undertaken by Israel, the idea that an ostensibly democratic government should propagate lies to defend its own policies was definitely unsettling. Some might think that disinformation on Iran is of little importance, that it has little impact on actual policy, but they would be wrong. Bad information that is allowed to circulate freely creates its own reality. Most Americans believe that Iran actually threatens the United States, though they would be at a loss to explain exactly how that could be the case. Dubious stories that originated with Reuters about corruption in Iran have been used by Mike Pompeo to justify sanctions against the regime on humanitarian grounds, measures which have ironically hurt average Iranians disproportionately. The same story was also used in at least four books to discredit the Iranian leadership.

To be sure, the mainstream media is itself largely at fault, as it was with Heshmat Alavi, for not vetting their sources more carefully, particularly when a story is clearly providing unique information or representing a point of view that might be considered controversial. In some cases, of course, the news outlet wants the story to be perceived as true even when it knows that it is not, so it becomes an accomplice in the propaganda effort. A recent attempt to create a mechanism to establish standards by determining the reliability of online news content has, in fact, been little more than a neoconservative scheme to discredit sites that do not support the neocon point of view.

Since governments and various non-governmental constituencies now, by their own admission, are heavily into the game of providing false information and discrediting critics, most Americans will completely tune out of the process, meaning that there will be little or no measurable difference between truth and lies. One already hears complaints from all across the political spectrum that most news is fake. When one reaches the point where such skepticism becomes the consensus, both elections and democracy itself will be rendered pretty much meaningless.

Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served nineteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was the CIA Chief of Base for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and was one of the first Americans to enter Afghanistan in December 2001. Phil is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group that seeks to encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values and interests.

June 17, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

How Mainstream Media Join the US Government Offensive Against Iran: Case Study of Reuters

By Ivan KESIĆ | Strategic Culture Foundation | 09.01.2019

Summary: A 2013 news investigation of Iranian corruption by Reuters news service has been cited by at least four books published one after another, the most recently in 2018. 

It has also been cited by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2018 speech. Given the article’s ongoing influence, this article will scrutinize flaws in the reporting techniques and raise reasonable questions about several of its findings. The article will also mention, a piece of important historical context, that was long assumed, but made official in 2013 – the same year the story was published – when the US government released classified documents about its involvement in the overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected leader in 1953 and the establishment of the Shah. The purpose of this article is not to stain the reputation of an entire news agency – but to simply lay out an alternative context for interpreting a single, influential story. 

Ever since the beginning of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, the United States has been leading a propaganda campaign against Iran, minimizing own harmful role in key historical events, justifying an ousted monarchist regime, and demonizing the new political system. Frequently it is done in lighter forms, for example by claiming that new government is far from perfect or even the same as a previous one, but the methods can sometimes be so radical that the characteristics of the two systems are completely inverted.

While the Reuters claims Iran is active in spreading disinformation online, the history of the agency’s reports about Iran shows the opposite. The latest of such reports is a false report about Iran’s missile program. The falsehood of the article has been dissected here. The case which I have dissected is a 2013 article authored by Steve Stecklow, Babak Dehghanpisheh, and Yeganeh Torbati. The article represents a perfect example of such radicalism and disinformation reporting about Iran.

The Reuters report has been cited by at least four books published one after another, the most recently in 2018. The books are Iran’s Political Economy since the Revolution by Suzanne Maloney (2015); Democracy in Iran: Why It Failed and How It Might Succeed by Misagh Parsa (2016); Challenging Theocracy: Ancient Lessons for Global Politics by David Tabachnick, Toivo Koivukoski, and Herminio Meireles Teixeira (2018); and Losing Legitimacy: The End of Khomeini’s Charismatic Shadow and Regional Security by Clifton W. Sherrill (2018).

The chorus doesn’t stop there and it’s not limited to academic publishing or book industry. The 2013 report lays the ground for an ongoing war of words and decisions to impose more sanctions on Iran. Speaking at Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in July 22, 2018, Secretary of State Mark Pompeo used the ­2013 Reuters report to attack Iran; he said:

“And not many people know this, but the Ayatollah Khamenei has his own personal, off-the-books hedge fund called the Setad, worth $95 billion, with a B. That wealth is untaxed, it is ill-gotten, and it is used as a slush fund for the IRGC. The ayatollah fills his coffers by devouring whatever he wants. In 2013 the Setad’s agents banished an 82-year-old Baha’i woman from her apartment and confiscated the property after a long campaign of harassment. Seizing land from religious minorities and political rivals is just another day at the office for this juggernaut that has interests in everything from real estate to telecoms to ostrich farming. All of it is done with the blessing of Ayatollah Khamenei.”

The speech applauded by Iran hawks in Washington.

The year 2013 was the year of big news about Iran. Four months before the release of the Reuters’­ ­article, CIA finally admitted its role in 1953 Iranian coup. “Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States’ role in the controversial operation. American and British involvement in Mosaddeq’s ouster has long been public knowledge, but today’s posting includes what is believed to be the CIA’s first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup.” Disinformation is dangerous. It used once to oust democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, and has been leveraged again to bring back the Shah of Iran, William David Pear writes. He continues, “Since Iran was a developing democracy, an excuse had to be found for a US intervention. Churchill accused Mossadegh of being a communist. There was no evidence that he was. Mossadegh was an anti-colonial nationalist who cared about the welfare of the Iranian people, and that was all the evidence that Eisenhower needed. Mossadegh had to be punished for standing up to the British and demanding Iran’s natural resources for the benefit of the Iranian people.” The 2013 article of Reuters reminds us of the same pattern of disinformation about Iran.

The ­2013 Reuters story claims that the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO), also known as Setad, a little-known organization created to help the poor, morphed into the $95 billion financial empire controlled by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. More precisely, they uncovered something unknown to Western intelligence services, economists and most prominent scholars of Iranian studies, even to the Iranian leadership themselves. In fact, much to the contrary, among ordinary Iranians the organization is known for their social programs, helping the poor families and doing charity works.

According to the Reuters article, the Iranian president’s office and the Foreign Ministry didn’t respond to requests for comment. Iran’s embassy in the UAE issued a statement calling their findings “scattered and disparate” and said that “none has any basis,” but it didn’t elaborate. Hamid Vaezi, the Setad’s then director general of public relations, said that the information presented is “far from realities and is not correct,” but he also didn’t go into specifics. Their short denials are understandable, considering that the same response would be received from a scientist if asked to make a serious review of a fantasy book. For the same reason, there is no scientific review of Reuters‘ article. Fortunately, this review will go deeply into the details, focusing on personal testimonies and claims of several groups of informers, thus developing a linear counter-story.

Baha’i personal testimonies

First, there’s the story of Pari Vahdat-e-Hagh, an 82-year-old Baha’i woman living in Europe, who claims that she lost family’s property, more precisely three apartments in a multi-story building in Tehran, allegedly “built with the blood of herself and her husband.” She further claims that her husband Hussein was imprisoned in 1981 because he began working for a gas company that had been set up to assist unemployed members of the Baha’i faith, and finally executed a year later. All of this happened, as the article claims, just because they were Baha’i.

The article does not mention the fact that her husband, alleged philanthropist, was actually a lieutenant in Pahlavi regime’s military. It neither mentions the conditions for obtaining such amount of property in Iran’s capital city center at that time. Ordinary military personnel were provided with an apartment, but not three apartments, nor was it possible to earn such vast properties with a salary of a lieutenant and teacher, no matter how hard you work. Miss Vahdat-e-Hagh explicitly stated that all had been obtained by herself and her husband, so it’s very easy to exclude the possibility of inheritance.

The only way of being awarded with three apartments was, in fact, an extraordinary and obedient service to the Pahlavi’s regime, and taking into account that Hussein Vahdat-e-Hagh’s career was military as well as the only war that Shah led was one against his own people, his merits to the dictatorship become crystal clear. This also perfectly explains why Hussein Vahdat-e-Hagh was imprisoned and executed, while tens of thousands of other Baha’is and hundreds of ordinary lieutenants, those without ‘special merits’ and three apartments, were not. In other words, the only blood that Vahdat-e-Hagh mentioned can be the blood of the people and the blood on her husband’s hands. Fake philanthropy and contradictions do not stop here.

Pari Vahdat-e-Hagh, also known as Paridokht Khaze, lives in Berlin where she earns a living by giving interviews and selling memoirs about the Baha’i victimhood. In the preface of her 2014 book titled In Search of Justice, Vahdat-e-Hagh claimed that before the 1979 revolution she had hoped to one day fulfill her dream of serving the needy in Africa. Before selling fictitious biographies, according to her own personal testimony to Reuters, during the 1980s she was living in one of the above-mentioned three apartments and was earning by renting other two. During these years of war the country was full of orphans and the poor, but giving any free accommodation was obviously out of the question for a self-proclaimed philanthropist.

Her lucrative rental business continued in the 1990s when she was living in Germany, taking the rental income out of all three apartments. According to the Reuters article, she left Iran in 1993 and it took six years before Iranian authorities realized she was no longer living in the country. This information contradicts her other statement that government representatives came to her apartment and threatened to beat her if she did not leave, while she bravely opposed them and yelled: “You can come and kill me.” So this old lady, allegedly under constant pressure and control, indeed left her apartment and was further able to leave the country, and the government, allegedly so greedy for her properties that it sent thugs at her doors, did not even notice that she’s out of the country and renting the same properties for six years. Makes perfect sense, isn’t it?

In both the Reuters article and the Vahdat-e-Hagh’s memoirs, her departure from Iran is described as some sort of “courageous escape” typical for a dissident genre, from books to Hollywood movies. In reality, she was free to leave the country and there was no any ban, no control, no chase at the airport. In the Reuters article, her false courage and principles are additionally enhanced by claims that government finally discovered her absence and demanded to pay rent on the unit, but she refused. The reality is again quite the opposite: she was actually refusing to pay tax on the rental income profit for six years, and in the meantime, she did not even report the change of address i.e. living abroad. Putting aside the controversial origin of properties, the consequences of such long-term lawbreaking are pretty much identical all over the world.

The Reuters‘ caricature story of courage and injustice ends with a claim that Vahdat-e-Hagh’s “stolen” building appears to be vacant, most of the windows are broken, and property’s ownership isn’t clear. This rumors allegedly came from merchants in the neighborhood, but how three Reuters journalists based in New York, London and Dubai managed to obtain the information in the streets of Tehran, also isn’t clear. Even less clear is their message, which may imply either that the building remains unused since Vahdat-e-Hagh stopped renting it, or it is basically worthless. Both possibilities make the whole story even less credible than it already is. Most likely, it is only a dystopian allegory or their own fantasy conception of post-revolutionary Iran.

Besides the story of Vahdat-e-Haghs, the Reuters article also offers the story of Katirais, yet another Baha’i family, whose narrative is similar in terms of structure. Again, there’s a rented three-story building in central Tehran, owner’s emigration to Canada, controversial ties to the Pahlavi regime, and of course, “just because they’re Baha’i” cliche. Apart from the building, there’re also 750 hectares of land around the city of Hamedan in northwest Iran. The Iranian official version says that owner had left the country and had abandoned properties, as well as that prior to 1979 he collaborated with the Pahlavi government, while owner’s daughter Heideh Katirai claims that he was being targeted solely because of his religion and never had any ties to the Shah’s government. Now, who to trust?

Making a choice on this question is much easier if we consider there was the Shah’s White Revolution of 1963 which its purpose was to weaken those classes that supported the traditional system, primarily landed elites. Virtually all landlords lost their possessions, with only a few exceptions, i.e. just those with close ties to the government were spared. Taking also into account that the general status of Baha’is during the Pahlavi period was far from thriving, the claim that a Baha’i person without any connections to the Shah’s regime could keep 750 hectares of land and stay intact by land reforms, is clearly an insolent lie.

Instead of sticking to the facts known to every historian and Iranian, Reuters journalists use logically fallacious methods like appeals to emotion through empathy, false dilemmas, and good ol’ victimhood. For example, an article quotes Katirai’s daughter saying “I took my kids there every Friday to see the family” and “each corner of that house is a memory for us.” One may wonder whether these trite phrases can be applied in the same way to their former land holdings, perhaps “every single square meter is a memory for them” also, out of 7,500,000 square meters in total. Such colossal amount of land was highly uncommon even for the richest landlords, and since Katirais weren’t historically attested among noble or wealthy merchant families prior to the Pahlavi period, it is clear that they did not just keep the property due to the ties with the Shah’s regime, but they also gained it.

Other statements are less subtle and bear aggressive religious and political messages. “We know that Islam is a religion of peace, but how can a government that claims to be an Islamic government allow this to happen?” Katirai’s daughter had asked, and thus offered the false dilemma: either the Iranian government is not Islamic, or Islam is not a religion of peace. The third option, unoffered in the article but the most realistic one, is that she is a liar and demagogue. Additional evidence for it is yet another claim of hers that legal representatives refused to consider her father’s case solely because he did not belong to any of three constitutive minorities: Zoroastrians, Jews or Christians. This implies that all others, from Iranian Hindus to foreign-born East Asian communities, have no any legal rights. Utterly bizarre.

Legal and human rights “experts”

Another group of people used as a reference in the Reuters article are self-proclaimed human rights “experts” and lawyers, all Iranian-born and living abroad. The first one is Naghi Mahmoudi who in the introduction claimed that Khamenei as the Supreme leader oversaw the creation of a body of legal rulings and executive orders that enabled and safeguarded asset acquisitions, as well as that no supervisory organization can question its property. The article represents him as a “lawyer” and uncritically accepts his allegations which serve as the basis for further elaboration.

In reality, Naghi Mahmoudi is only a petty political activist who has a history of lying and manipulating. Back in mid-2010, Mahmoudi and his colleague Javid Hustan Kian claimed to be defectors and “lawyers” of an Iranian woman sentenced to lapidation, but the whole case turned out to be a well-organized hoax, while they were disclosed as impostors and members of the MEK terrorist cult. In the meantime, he almost completely vanished from the media, held several pro-MEK speeches in Germany, and sometimes shared a propaganda material on Twitter, including ridiculous pan-Turkist claims that “40% of Iranians are Azeri Turks deprived of basic human rights.” Ironically, even Ali Khamenei was born into an Azeri family, as the Reuters article correctly mentions.

The biographical details of other informers are no less controversial. Ottawa-based Hossein Raeesi is a legal advisor to the IHRDC, a US government-sponsored organization blacklisted as subversive by the Iranian Interior Ministry, and London-based Mohammad Nayyeri is a close associate of Shadi Sadr, an anti-Iranian activist who publicly advocated Arab separatism in Iran. It is interesting that both of them, along with certain Beverly Hills-based Reghabi couple, complain about legal complications over the return of property, but at the same time, they confirm it is actually possible and feasible. It only takes time, and money, as everywhere.

However, the informers could not agree on a precise legal fee, some of them claiming it is 20% while others even over 50%. Since both amounts are obviously extremely exaggerated and hardly provable, for this purpose two anonymous sources jump into the story and Reuters journalists use their testimonies as evidence. The first is an Iranian Shi’ite Muslim businessman now living abroad who put fee at 55%, and the second is alleged Nayyeri’s client who recovered the house but had to pay 20% of the property’s assessed value, a religious payment called “khoms” mandated under Islamic law. No names, no documents, and no sense. To fill such logical gaps and inconsistent claims, journalists also used orientalist cliché of ubiquitous corruption.

Political circles

Finally, the last group of informers consists of individuals more deeply involved in politics, comparing to the previous activists who operate under the guise of human rights. The Reuters article intentionally conceals the organizations they represent and introduces them as respectable scholars and politicians, allegedly authoritative on the subject. For example, three journalists first claim that they had identified “about $95 billion in property and corporate assets controlled by Setad” and that amount “surpasses independent historians’ estimates of the late shah’s wealth,” and as an evidence for such comparison they further used statements by Abbas Milani who believes the estimate of the Shah’s fortune was “extremely exaggerated” and stood at “a billion dollars.” In other words, about $3 billion in today’s money, or only a fraction of the worth of Setad’s holdings, Reuters concluded.

It is hard to enumerate how many manipulations this escapade contains. First of all, there are no “historians” here, but only one, namely Abbas Milani, who is far from “independent” because he is a member of the neoconservative Hoover Institution, an advocate of multilateral crippling sanctions against Iran in the US Congress. His books are full of revisionist portrayal of the US role in the 1953 coup, support of the Pahlavi regime’s oppression, the 1979 Revolution and afterward, and he offers other contorted interpretations like a claim that “Iran went from politically moderate Monarchy to totalitarian Islamic Republic.” Milani’s statement about the Pahlavi fortune does not represent a historical consensus, nor a serious scholarly assessment, only utter whitewashing of the Shah’s financial crime.

Already in January 1979, the New York Times reported that the Pahlavi wealth is rivaled in the Middle East only by the holdings of the Sauds of Saudi Arabia and the al‐Sabah dynasty in Kuwait, and according to bankers, the Shah’s personal portfolio is worth “well over $1 billion.” New York bankers told journalists that “a substantial part of the $2 billion to $4 billion belongs to the Pahlavi family,” speaking only of the sums that have been “transferred from Iran to the United States during last two years” [1977 and 1978]. The NYT article further states that “the accumulation of immense sums was made possible through the blurring of state funds and royal funds in Iran,” primarily the Pahlavi Foundation which the Shah controlled absolutely.

In 1958, the Shah formed the Pahlavi Foundation, declaring at the time that he was transferring 90% of his holding to the new institution, a combination of charitable organization and family trust. Documents proved the royal family’s penetration of almost every corner of the nation’s economy, including among other things 17 banks and insurance companies, an 80% ownership in the nation’s third-largest insurance company, 25 metal enterprises, 8 mining companies, 10 building materials companies, 45 construction companies, 43 food companies, and 26 enterprises in trade or commerce, and a share of ownership in almost every major hotel in Iran, or 70% of the hotel capacity. Some of these holdings are joint ventures with American corporations.

Behind a facade of charitable activities, the NYT article continues, “the foundation is apparently used in three ways: as a source of funds for the royal family, as a means of exerting control over the economy through the foundation’s holdings in key sectors, and as a conduit for rewards to supporters of the regime.” The transfer of billions of dollars out of Iran had started already in 1974, partly in the form of loans to members of his family that were never repaid, and numerous transactions from Iran were made through American corporations and banks as well as some New York investment houses. The additional uncounted resources were deposited in banks in Switzerland and other countries with strictly enforced bank-secrecy laws.

In the autumn of 1978, during the revolutionary turmoil, 64 members of the Pahlavi family have gone abroad. Like other wealthy Iranians, they all have made substantial deposits in Swiss bank accounts and bought luxury residences in Europe and North America. Of course, the court never revealed the true extent of its wealth, but Iranian and Western estimates place the fortune accumulated by the royal family, both inside and outside Iran, far above Abbas Milani’s “a billion dollars” claim. As New York bankers, Ervand Abrahamian and Michael Axworthy, both highly critical of the Islamic Republic but still regarded as authoritative historians of modern Iran in the West, offer a completely different picture.

According to Abrahamian’s monographies, the royal family’s total assets were estimated “anywhere between five and twenty billion dollars” (1982:437) or “in excess of $20 billion” (2008:131). With inflation, that would equal up to $60 billion by today’s currency. In Axworthy’s book, the capital that had been sent out of the country was “estimated around $120 billion” (2013:297). This figure includes the comprehensive wealth of all Iranian emigrants, but there is no doubt that the majority was concentrated in hands of the ruling family.

In January 1981, the Iranian government filed a $36 billion lawsuit in New York against 65 defendants, most of them relatives of the Shah, in an attempt to recover stolen wealth. Reuters journalists mentioned this fact but in the context of denying figures. “The suit was dismissed,” their paragraph ends, and therefore imply that “claimed” figure must be false. It is again a gross manipulation because the New York courts did not deny the amount of money, they dismissed the proceedings on the ground of ‘forum non conveniens’ though they admitted that there was no alternative forum. According to the book by Trevor C. Hartley, Emeritus Professor of Law at the LSE, this was an abuse of the doctrine, for political reasons, the courts were determinated to shield the Shah, and ‘forum non conveniens’ was the tool they chose (2009:238). After all, those are the same courts which recently ordered Iran to pay billions to relatives of 9/11 victims.

In addition to Abbas Milani, the Reuters article also quotes Mohsen Sazegara, introduced as a co-founder of the Revolutionary Guards who is now in exile in the United States, and David S. Cohen, then undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence who also served as deputy director of the CIA. The former is a member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a subsidiary of the notorious American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), while the latter is a member of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a hawkish and neoconservative organization led by Mark Dubowitz that was intensively lobbying for the anti-Iranian and anti-Setad sanctions for years.

Agenda unveiled

All of the above-mentioned lobbyists and their advocacy groups, along with three Reuters journalists, have the same agenda and are trying to convince the world that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is the same as Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, while Setad is no different than the Pahlavi Foundation. There is, however, a serious problem with this picture. More precisely, there are no Khamenei’s jewels, crowns or designer clothes, no luxury cars or art collections, no luxurious villas or expensive estates, either in Iran or abroad. There are no rich members of the family, no foreign bank accounts, no documents, no independent experts, no New Yorker or Swiss bankers. There is absolutely nothing which proves their claim.

There is, indeed, the Reuters “investigative” article with fancy charts and listed properties. Only a few months before the publication of Reuters‘ article, Washington imposed sanctions on Setad and some of its alleged corporate holdings, and the Treasury Department issued a press release containing boring numbers, hard charts, Persian-named properties and other dull text, incomprehensible for wider audiences. And that’s why the Reuters article jumped out.

Investigative journalism is when a report is built on the basis of the collected data, but here is an opposite case, all the details serve as buttress or decoration of the central point. In other words, when you take off all worthless tree charts, personal testimonies, stories of poor old ladies, allegations by fake human rights activists and lobbyists, and numerous other cliches, the only thing left standing is the official US press release and accompanying political rampage against the Iranian leadership. Nothing more.

Regarding Setad itself, as seen through the eyes of the US government, it serves as a useful bogeyman and has multiple purposes. Its first dimension is political-ideological because it follows the old discourse of bashing Iranian leaders and veterans, equalizing them with corrupt royal elites. Second, the economy of Iran is now being discussed under the guise of “Setad” name, a sort of trade name which sounds less offensive in public debates and official documents. Third and most important, it is a perfect tool for further targeting Iran’s economy and expanding sanctions, because any new emerging company can easily be declared as a Setad holding.

January 9, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Islamophobia, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Why the United States Has Not Won a Real War Since 1945

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | December 16, 2018

If anyone is still wondering why the United States has not won a real war since 1945, I offer up the example of retired U.S. Army Colonel Wes Martin, who writes for Town Hall and reportedly also has appeared as an expert commentator on Fox. Town Hall is a purveyor of a certain type of “American conservatism.” It was founded by the Heritage Foundation on the principle that the United States is ordained by God as uber alles. Though it features many good writers and even genuine conservatives it occasionally goes off the rails. Its latest incarnation features an article entitled “Obama-loving country music star Tim McGraw partners with terror-sponsoring communists.”

Colonel Martin’s bio includes his service as the Senior Antiterrorism Officer for all Coalition Forces in Iraq and Commander of Camp Ashraf, which is where the military arm of the Mojahedin e Khalq (MEK) terrorist group was camped while Saddam Hussein was still in power. MEK, consisting of Iranian dissidents, was being used by Saddam to carry out low-intensity warfare against Iran. It was placed under American military protection after the fall of Baghdad in 2003.

Martin’s latest foray in Mullah-bashing is a December 10th article entitled “Iran’s Continuing Misinformation Campaign.” It is a defense of MEK, which he describes as a victim of Iranian propaganda. Martin frames his argument around a critique of a November 9th report entitled “Terrorists, cultists – or champions of Iranian democracy? The wild, wild story of the MEK” that appeared in The Guardian, but, in reality, most of his piece is about himself. The Guardian article, written by Arron Merat, provides an in-depth analysis of MEK, how it developed, and what it is doing today. It does, to be sure, come down on the side of MEK being both a cult and a terror organization, which is what Martin disputes.

Martin’s article, like all of his pieces appearing on Town Hall, is nearly unreadable. It includes gems like “The Iranian dissidents have a primary target of the ayatollahs misinformation campaign” and also “This was the first time in U.S. history, and perhaps world history, where one country was invaded and with it came the entrapment of a large military force dedicated to the removal of a third of the country’s leadership.” I’m sure Colonel Martin actually meant something in those two sentences but I am at a loss to figure out what it might be.

Martin reports that MEK first came on to his “radar” in 2003 after the invasion of Iraq by U.S. forces, which is part of his problem, which might be described as seeing what one wants to see. He conducted “an assessment on the MEK and determined they were not a threat.” But other evidence, which Martin should have considered, suggests that MEK was not just a group of Iranian dissidents. A study prepared by the Rand Corporation for the U.S. government conducted interviews at Camp Ashraf and concluded that there were present “many of the typical characteristics of a cult, such as authoritarian control, confiscation of assets, sexual control (including mandatory divorce and celibacy), emotional isolation, forced labor, sleep deprivation, physical abuse and limited exit options.”

MEK made the transition from terrorist group to “champions of Iranian democracy” by virtue of intensive lobbying of Iran haters. The Guardian article also describes how “A stupendously long list of American politicians from both parties were paid hefty fees to speak at events in favor of the MEK, including Giuliani, John McCain, Newt Gingrich and former Democratic party chairs Edward Rendell and Howard Dean – along with multiple former heads of the FBI and CIA. John Bolton, who has made multiple appearances at events supporting the MEK, is estimated to have received upwards of $180,000. According to financial disclosure forms, Bolton was paid $40,000 for a single appearance at the Free Iran rally in Paris in 2017.”

It apparently never occurred to Martin that the group had a whole lot of history before he appeared on the scene and it began buying American politicians. It may not have been an active threat in 2003, when confronted by overwhelming U.S. military force, but it sure was anti-American back in the 1970s, to include the assassination of at least six U.S. Air Force officers and civilian defense contractors. The ambush in which two air force officers were murdered by MEK was reenacted for each incoming class at the Central Intelligence Agency training center in the late 1970s to illustrate just how a terrorist attack on a moving vehicle might take place.

Colonel Martin is inevitably a harsh critic of President Barack Obama, mentioning in passing that “Unfortunately, the State Department policy under the Obama administration was intent on appeasing the Iran regime.” It is an assertion for which there is scant evidence apart from Obama’s clearly expressed reasonable desire to negotiate an end to any possible Iranian nuclear weapons program. In fact, Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton removed the group from the State Department terror list in 2012, and then arranged for its relocation to a safe site in Albania, where it still resides.

In another article on “evil” Iran, obviously an obsession with Martin, he states that “The fundamentalists in Tehran were almost overthrown during the vast national uprisings of 2009 (predating the Arab Spring). While former President Obama and former Secretary Clinton stayed silent, in favor of their nuclear deal with the regime…” Martin is dead wrong that the regime was almost overthrown. It was never threatened. And, of course, it would have been difficult for Obama to have remained silent in 2009 over the “nuclear deal” which was not signed until 2015.

Martin also has problems with the Guardian article’s assertion that MEK derives from an “Islamist-Marxist” ideology. He observes “In other words, the MEK is composed of God-fearing atheists. He needs to pick one or the other, because Islam and Marxism do not mix.” Actually Marxism, as a primarily social and economic framework, is not necessarily anti-religious, particularly when religion inspires the workers as part of the class struggle. Political Marxism and religious zealotry can coexist. The communist Tudeh Party of pre-revolutionary Iran was reportedly full of Islamists. And MEK does indeed have both Marxist and Islamic roots. It helped to overthrow the Shah in 1979 through cooperation with the religious parties but then turned against the clerics after they had succeeded in assuming control of the revolution.

Martin also completely ignores MEK’s anti-American, anti-capitalist and anti-colonialist roots. It began as a radicalized student group in Iran in the 1970s that attacked U.S. businesses and was viscerally opposed to the United States presence. The Guardian article describes how one of its songs went “Death to America by blood and bonfire on the lips of every Muslim is the cry of the Iranian people. May America be annihilated.”

Colonel Martin saves his best for last as he fulminates “Iran, the number one nation-state exporter of terrorism, is also the number one exporter of propaganda. Iran’s MOIS [Ministry of Intelligence and Security] will fight the truth with lies, deceit, and manipulation of facts. MOIS expends great effort to neutralize the MEK as the primarily threat to the Iranian regime.”

That Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism is often asserted by folks like Colonel Martin and John Bolton but rarely elaborated on, particularly given the fact that the United States operates worldwide with intelligence officers, special ops and drones that kill lots of people on a regular basis without any declarations of war. Who has Iran killed lately? And when it comes to propaganda, no one does it better or more aggressively that the U.S. and Israel, even if no one believes any of it anymore.

What it comes down to is that people like Colonel Wes Martin, unfortunately proliferating in the U.S. government, hate Iran for a whole lot of reasons that have nothing to do with national security. Israel and its lobby are certainly an element as is the need for enemies to feed the paranoia that drives and funds the military industrial complex. Martin reveals his ignorance when he objects to what he believes to be Iranian government efforts to “neutralize the MEK as the primarily (sic) threat to the Iranian regime.” That claim is complete nonsense. MEK worked with Saddam Hussein to kill Iranians, just as it earlier killed Americans. It is hated in Iran and has little support inside the country. It is a terrorist group, currently being used by the CIA and Israel’s Mossad to assassinate and otherwise kill still more Iranians. This is why luminaries like Mike Pompeo and John Bolton and Colonel Martin love it, not because it is poised to bring democracy to Iran.

December 16, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

The White Helmets Ride Again

How easy it is to give awards to terrorists

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • October 23, 2018

I am often asked to explain why countries like Iran appear to be so aggressive, involving themselves in foreign wars and seeking to create alliances that they know will provoke the worst and most paranoid responses from some of their neighbors. My response is invariably that perceptions of threat depend very much on which side of the fence you are standing on. Saudi Arabia and Israel might well perceive Iranian actions as aggressive given the fact that all three countries are competing for dominance in the same region, but Iran, which is surrounded by powerful enemies, could equally explain its activity as defensive, seeking to create a belt of allies that can be called upon if needed if a real shooting war breaks out.

The United States and Israel are, of course, masters at seeing everything as a threat, justifying doing whatever is deemed necessary to defend against what are perceived to be enemies. They even exercise extraterritoriality, with Washington claiming a right to go after certain categories of “terrorists” in countries with which it is not at war, most particularly Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. Israel does likewise in its attacks on Lebanon and Syria. Both Tel Aviv and Washington have regularly crossed the line drawn by international legal authorities in terms of what constitutes initiating a “just” or “legal” war, i.e. an imminent threat to use force by a hostile power. Neither Israel nor the United States has really been threatened by an enemy or enemies in the past seventy years, so the definition of threat has been expanded to include after-the-fact as with 9/11 and potential as in the case of Israel and Iran.

The “which side of the fence” formulation has also had some interesting spin-offs in terms of how so-called non-state players that use violence are perceived and portrayed. Nearly all widely accepted definitions of terrorism include language that condemns the “use of politically motivated violence against non-combatants to provoke a state of terror.”

It is quite easy to identify some groups that are unambiguously “terrorist.” Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) and its various affiliates fit the definition perfectly, but even in that case there is some ambiguity by those state actors who are ostensibly pledged to eradicate terrorists. There have been credible claims that the United States has been protecting the last enclaves of ISIS in order to maintain its “right” to stay in Syria, allegedly based on the stated objective of completely destroying the group before withdrawal. As long as ISIS is still around in Syria, Washington will have an admittedly illegal justification for doing likewise.

There are two notable groups that should be universally condemned as terrorists but are not for political reasons. They are the Mujaheddin e Khalq (MEK), Iranian dissidents that are based in Paris and Washington, and the so-called White Helmets who have been active in Syria. MEK is particularly liked by Israel and its friends inside the Beltway because it retains resources inside Iran that enable it to carry out assassinations and sabotage, and if it is only Iranians that are dying, that’s okay.

MEK has been on the State Department roster of foreign terrorist organizations since the list was established in 1997. Its inclusion derives from its having killed six Americans in the 1970s and from its record of violence both inside and outside Iran since that time. The group was driven out of Iran, denied refuge in France, and eventually armed and given a military base by Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein. Saddam used the group to carry out terrorist acts inside Iran. MEK is widely regarded as a cult headed by a husband and wife team Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. Its members were required to be celibate and there are reports that they are subjected to extensive brainwashing, physical torture, severe beatings even unto death, and prolonged solitary confinement if they question the leadership. One scholar who has studied them describes their beliefs as a “weird combination of Marxism and Islamic fundamentalism.” Like many other terrorist groups MEK has a political wing that operates openly referred to as the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which is based in Paris, and another front organization called Executive Action which operates in Washington.

MEK was regarded as a terrorist group until 2012, when it was taken off the Special Designation list by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It was removed because multi-million dollar contracts with Washington lobbying firms experienced at “working” congress backed up by handsome speaking fees had induced many prominent Americans to join the chorus supporting NCRI. Prior to 2012, speaking fees for the group started at $15,000 and went up from there. Former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell reported more than $150,000 in honoraria. Rudy Giuliani has been paid generously for years at $20,000 per appearance for brief, twenty-minute speeches. Bear in mind that MEK was a listed terrorist group at the time and accepting money from it to promote its interests should have constituted material support of terrorism.

The group’s well-connected friends have included prominent neocons like current National Security Advisor John Bolton and ex-CIA Directors James Woolsey, Michael Hayden and Porter Goss as well as former Generals Anthony Zinni, Peter Pace, Wesley Clark, and Hugh Shelton. Traditional conservatives close to the Trump Administration like Newt Gingrich, Fran Townsend and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao are also fans of NCRI. Townsend in particular, as a self-proclaimed national security specialist, has appeared on television to denounce Iran, calling its actions “acts of war” without indicating that she has received money from an opposition group.

MEK’s formula for success in removing itself from the terrorism lift involved paying its way through a corrupt political system. More interesting perhaps is the tale of the White Helmets, who have just been given the 2019 Elie Wiesel Award by the National Holocaust Museum, with the citation “These volunteer rescue workers have saved lives on all sides of the conflict in Syria. Their motto is ‘To save one life is to save all of humanity.’”

The White Helmets have been praised by those who hate the government of President Bashar al-Asad in Syria and want to see it removed because of its role as a leading element in the propaganda campaign that seeks to instigate violence or use fabricated information to depict the Damascus government as guilty of slaughtering its own citizens. The propaganda is intended to terrorize the civilian population, which is part of the definition of terrorism.

Favorable media coverage derives from the documentary The White Helmets, which was produced by the group itself and tells a very convincing tale promoted as “the story of real-life heroes and impossible hope.” It is a very impressive piece of propaganda, so much so that it has won numerous awards including the Oscar for Best Documentary Short last year and the White Helmets themselves were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. More to the point, however, is the undeniable fact that the documentary has helped shape the public understanding of what is going on in Syria, describing the government in Damascus in purely negative terms.

Recently, with the Syrian Army closing in on the last White Helmet affiliates still operating in the country, the Israeli government, assisted by the United States, staged an emergency humanitarian evacuation of the group’s members and their families to Israel and then on to Jordan. It was described in a BBC article that included “The IDF said they had ‘completed a humanitarian effort to rescue members of a Syrian civil organization and their families’, saying there was an ‘immediate threat to their lives.’ The transfer of the displaced Syrians through Israel was an exceptional humanitarian gesture. Although Israel is not directly involved in the Syria conflict, the two countries have been in a state of war for decades. Despite the intervention, the IDF said that ‘Israel continues to maintain a non-intervention policy regarding the Syrian conflict.’”

All of the Israeli assertions are nonsense, including its claimed “humanitarianism” and “non-intervention” in the Syrian war, where it has been bombing almost daily. The carefully edited scenes of heroism under fire that have been filmed and released worldwide conceal the White Helmets’ relationship with the al-Qaeda affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra and its participation in the torture and execution of “rebel” opponents. Indeed, the White Helmets only operate in rebel held territory, which enables them to shape the narrative both regarding who they are and what is occurring on the ground.

The White Helmets travelled to bombing sites with their film crews trailing behind them. Once at the sites, with no independent observers, they are able to arrange or even stage what is filmed to conform to their selected narrative. Exploiting their access to the western media, the White Helmets thereby de facto became a major source of “eyewitness” news regarding what was going on in those many parts of Syria where European and American journalists were quite rightly afraid to go, all part of a broader largely successful “rebel” effort to manufacture fake news that depicts the Damascus government as engaging in war crimes directed against civilians, an effort that has led to several attacks on government forces and facilities by the U.S. military. This is precisely the propaganda that has been supported both by Tel Aviv and Washington.

Perhaps the most serious charge against the White Helmets consists of the evidence that they actively participated in the atrocities, to include torture and murder, carried out by their al-Nusra hosts. There have been numerous photos of the White Helmets operating directly with armed terrorists and also celebrating over the bodies of execution victims and murdered Iraqi soldiers. The group’s jihadi associates regard the White Helmets as fellow “mujahideen” and “soldiers of the revolution.”

So, the National Holocaust Museum, which is taxpayer funded, has given an apparently prestigious award to a terrorist group, something which could have been discerned with even a little fact checking. And the museum also might have been sensitive to how the White Helmets have been used in support of Israeli propaganda vis-à-vis Syria. Perhaps, while they are at it, the museum’s board just might also want to check out Elie Wiesel, for whom the award is named. Wiesel, who was a chronicler of Jewish victimhood while persistently refusing to acknowledge what Israel was doing to the Palestinians, notoriously mixed fact and fiction in his best-selling holocaust memoir Night. Ironically, the award and recipient are well matched in this case as mixing fact and fiction is what both Elie Wiesel and the White Helmets are all about.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

October 23, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia Bankrolled Iran’s MEK with Tons of Gold, Rolexes – Report

Sputnik – 19.09.2018

A former high-ranking MEK official confirmed long-held suspicions that Saudi Arabia has been financing the political-militant group bent on violent regime change in Iran through sophisticated channels to provide the group with valuables like gold and Rolex watches, according to a new report.

In an interview with Jordanian news outlet Al-Bawaba Tuesday, a former MEK member who oversaw the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of materials explained how the group has stayed financially afloat.

Massoud Khodabandeh explained that 3 tons of solid gold, a minimum of four suitcases of customized Rolex watches and fabric that had been used to cover the Muslim holy site of Kaaba in Mecca were among the commodities shipped from Saudi Arabia to MEK operatives in Baghdad as part of the scheme. From there, the valuables would be sold on the black market in Jordan’s capital, Amman, to Saudi-aligned merchants.

“Aided by two Iraqi and two Saudi representatives, Khodabandeh smuggled three trucks filled with gold bars from Saudi Arabia to Baghdad. He estimated that each truck held about a ton of gold, making the shipment’s contemporary worth almost $200 million,” Al-Bawaba reports. After selling the gold, funds would be sent to offshore MEK bank accounts, Khodabandeh said.

The report says that the US also supported the MEK by providing the UN Refugee Agency with $20 million in order to transport thousands of MEK members from Iraq to Albania. The US then gave Albania funds to construct a “military-style facility for the MEK, in which it is currently holed up.”

War hawks in Washington point to the MEK as the most viable proxy force for bringing down the Iranian government. The group doesn’t  have support within Iran, according to Saeed Jalili, a Tehran-based writer. “I have not heard anyone asking them [MEK] to make a comeback in Iran or anything like that,” Jalili told Al Jazeera in March.

“There is a viable opposition to the rule of the ayatollahs. And that opposition is centered in this room today,” John Bolton, once the US ambassador to the UN and now White House national security adviser, said during a speech at an MEK conference in Paris last year.

Bolton went so far as to conclude his remarks by predicting the overthrow of the Iranian government by the end of 2018, according to Iranian expat journalist Bahman Kalbasi. “And that’s why, before 2019, we here will celebrate in Tehran,” Bolton said to a round of roaring applause.

“We resettled a lot of the MEK people from Iraq in Albania,” Daniel Benjamin, the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator at the time, told Foreign Policy in April. “It became the goal of the US government to get them out of there. That is the reason they were delisted” from the US list of terror groups in 2012.

“It happened under the secretary’s authority, not because they had met the requirements for not being a terrorist group,” said Benjamin, who is now director of the Center For International Understanding at Dartmouth University. Hillary Clinton was the US secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, before John Kerry assumed the post until the arrival of the Trump administration in 2017.

“Bolton is positively predisposed to the MEK,” a foreign policy Capitol Hill staffer told Foreign Policy in April, when Bolton joined the White House as national security adviser. “They will have some access to this White House at least.”

September 18, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

US Indicts Two on Allegations of Spying for Iran on MEK Members in US

Sputnik – August 21, 2018

The Justice Department of the United States charged two people with circumventing US sanctions against Iran, discretely working on behalf of Iran’s government to conduct surveillance on Israeli and Jewish facilities inside the country, and attending MEK events in the US to collect intelligence.

The Justice Department’s National Security Division announced the charges Monday evening.

Ahmadrea Doostdar, 39, of Iranian and US citizenship, and Majid Ghorbani, 59, of Iranian citizenship and whose residence was California, are the two individuals named in the indictment.

Among the alleged offenses ascribed to Doostdar and Ghorbani are collecting identifying information on American citizens who are members of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), a group that seeks to overthrow Iran’s current leadership. The group, which has been described as a “cult” by the Washington Post and others, pays John (“Bomb Iran”) Bolton tens of thousands of dollars to speak at MEK rallies, and was designated a terrorist group by the United States Department of State from 1993 to 2012, when Bolton reportedly was able to lobby for its removal.

“In or about July 2017, Doostdar traveled to the United States from Iran in order to collect intelligence information about entities and individuals considered by the government of Iran to be enemies of that regime, including Israeli and Jewish interests, and individuals associated with the MEK, a group that advocates the overthrow of the current Iranian government,” the DOJ said with respect to the indictment.

The DOJ alleges that Ghorbani took pictures at an MEK rally in New York last September and that Doostdar paid him $2,000 cash for 28 pictures during a meeting in Los Angeles a few months later. Ghorbani would later attend the MEK’s rally in Washington, DC, in May 2018 where he “appeared to photograph certain speakers and attendees, which included delegations from across the United States.”

The Justice Department noted that Ghorbani and Dootsdar engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the US.

“Doostdar and Ghorbani are alleged to have acted on behalf of Iran, including by conducting surveillance of political opponents and engaging in other activities that could put Americans at risk,” DOJ’s John Demers said in the August 20 announcement.

August 20, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

US’ Iran Regime-Change Plan: Hit Economy, Orchestrate Protests, Engage MEK Cult to Chant “Democracy”

By Elliot Gabriel | Mint Press News | June 28, 2018

Iran’s latest wave of protests against the suffering state of the economy and the plunging value of the rial appeared to have come and gone by Wednesday, as crowds dissipated and businesses opened up shop following a two-day strike. While clashes between security forces and protesters during the protests were far from widespread, the very fact that the protests broke out hints at the extreme duress Iran is undergoing thanks to President Donald Trump’s renewed economic war on the country.

Judging by the enthusiastic response to the demonstrations in the U.S., Saudi, and Israeli press, anti-Iranian forces are clearly banking on the possibility that the sanctions that will soon be reimposed in the next several months could dislodge the Islamic Republic, clearing the way for a regime friendly to the West.

Thus we have witnessed anti-Iran publications like the Israeli Jerusalem Post frothing over with excitement over scenes of alleged Iranian citizens chanting “Death to Palestine,” “Let go of Syria – think about us,” and the much-beloved anti-Ayatollah Khamenei mainstay “Death to dictator.”

While videos from Iran depict what could very well be an organic groundswell of social protest against government policies, photos published in papers like the Post show a different story: middle-aged Persian men gripping English-language signs and the flags of the toppled Iranian monarchy, along placards bearing the portrait of an unlikely figure: the mustachioed, mysterious and long-disappeared charismatic cult leader who is considered an outlawed terrorist and traitor to the nation — Massoud Rajavi.

Rajavi was the leader of the group that lies at the center of the anti-Iran alliance’s “regime change” dreams: Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), or the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI). A fanatical militant group whose title translates literally to the “The People’s Holy Warriors,” this eccentric left-nationalist, pseudo-religious cult has been led by Massoud’s wife, Maryam Rajavi, since the 1980s.

Formed in 1965, the group’s tortured history has seen it transformed from a movement of communist-influenced, Islamist-tinged anti-imperialists who carried out attacks on U.S. military officers in Iran into an authoritarian de facto mercenary army serving anyone opposed to the Islamic Republic – be it Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Israel, or the United States.

The group wields major PR clout and outsized influence in Western capitals through countless front groups like the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), through which it depicts itself as “a political coalition that represents all of Iran’s religious, ethnic, and political groups proportionately;”  stresses feminist, Islamist, free-speech and pro-free-market values; and is firmly “committed to a secular, democratic, non-nuclear republic” in Iran.

The RAND Corporation described the group as “skilled manipulators of public opinion,” but a cursory look at its publications shows a rather ham-fisted and self-celebratory pile of cultish jargon. Throughout the past week, publications like Iran Focus or Iran News Update – the latter of which bills itself as “Insider News & Analysis in Iran” – have pumped out articles boosting NCRI as “the only viable alternative to the Iranian regime” and claiming:

As protests in Iran continue to multiply and intensify, the regime’s claim to power is looking more and more tenuous. If the people were to overthrow their tyrannical government, the only democratic organization in the position to take over governance would be the NCRI … The regime’s reign of terror is at its close.”

The MEK was one of the first groups to be named a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department, but its extreme opposition to the Islamic Republic of Iran and generous donations to politicians has led to its eventual delisting. The roster of politicians and influential figures tied to the MEK and its fronts spans much of the U.S. political spectrum, from the far right to the left-of-center.

Trump’s White House is a virtual all-star cast of MEK associates – explaining the administration’s frenzied push to scrap the nuclear deal and push to topple Tehran. Among the top supporters of MEK is White House National Security Advisor John Bolton, whose hatred of Iran’s government verges on the pathological.

A congressional foreign-policy aide who attended an Iranian New Year celebration hosted by an MEK front group told Foreign Policy magazine:

Bolton is positively predisposed to the MEK …  they will have some access to this White House, [to say] the least.”

From revolutionary anti-imperialists to bizarre mercenary cult

The MEK once enjoyed a decently-sized support base within Iran and even played a role in the 1979 Iranian Revolution that overthrew U.S.-loyal Shah Reza Pahlevi and opened up a new period of national independence for the nation. Following the revolution, the group’s political struggles with the faction led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and failure to secure widespread support led it to deploy its Shah-era “armed struggle,” or terrorist tactics, against officials and clergy loyal to Khomeini, claiming the lives of dozens of key figures in the newly-formed government.

The Mojahedin (jihadists), whom the Islamic Revolution’s leader regularly derided as monafeghin (hypocrites) – an allusion to those in the Quran who conspired against the Prophet while feigning loyalty – became the top enemies of the Islamic Republic.

Faced with the full brunt of the Islamic Republic’s retribution, the group fled to Iraq in the 1980s and became a virtual “Iranian Legion” for Saddam Hussein, who equipped the group with heavy armor, uniforms, and artillery so that it could fight alongside Iraqi forces during the Iran-Iraq war. Following the war, the self-styled “national liberation army” launched a series of cross-border raids against Iranian civilian and military targets, sacrificing nearly all of its remaining support among Iranians.

The drop in Iranian support led to a push to replenish MEK ranks by targeting family members, wealthy potential donors, and expatriate Iranians in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. True to their form as a cult, the group promised to connect prospective recruits with a lifeline of assistance as the trade-off for their enlisting in the group.

According to the RAND Corporation:

Many were enticed not with promises of an opportunity to fight the IRI, but rather through promises of paid employment as translators, assistance in processing asylum requests, free visits to family members, public-health volunteer opportunities, and even marriage. All ‘recruits’ were brought into Iraq illegally and then required to hand over their identity documents for ‘safekeeping,’ effectively trapping them at MeK compounds. These findings suggest that many MeK recruits since 1986 were not true volunteers and have been kept at MeK camps in Iraq under duress.”

Watch | Cult of the Chameleon 

Tens of thousands of the group’s members remained under the protection of the Iraqi dictator, even participating in the bloody massacres that followed the Shia Arab and Kurdish uprisings of 1991, until the fall of the Ba’athist regime in 2003 when the U.S.-led coalition bombed the Saddam loyalists’ camps.

Seeing continued use for the MEK for their own anti-Iran efforts, however, the U.S. placed 3,800 members of the group under protective custody at Camp Ashraf, the sprawling city-sized base built for them by Saddam. Those who escaped the group had to undergo cult deprogramming.

Watch | Introducing Camp Ashraf

According to RAND, the group – which claims to uphold women’s equality – ensured that lines were “painted down the middle of hallways separating them into men’s and women’s sides” at the camp, prior to their expulsion by Iraqi forces in 2013. Many were shipped by the U.S. to Albania, the only country willing to accept them.

Yet while a major portion of the group’s membership spent over three decades imprisoned in Ba’athist Iraqi camps near the border with Iran, a significant chunk of the group – such as leader Maryam Rajavi – nestled into the Iranian expatriate communities in Paris, Washington, and other capitals. The group spent decades relentlessly lobbying Western governments and lawmakers to support its attempts to bring “reform” to Iran, and has even furnished intelligence to U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies in hopes to provide a casus belli for hostile policies and even military actions versus Tehran.

The “Iranian Resistance” wags the dog in Washington

In the U.S. capital, the group was enormously successful in its efforts to recruit an auxiliary brigade of highly influential top politicians to its cause. Even the far-right Washington Times, owned at the time by charismatic cult leader Reverend Sun Myung-Moon, issued glossy “special report” inserts hailing the militaristic group as the bringers of “freedom” to Iran. The publication included words of praise from Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the late Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal al-Saud, and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), among many, many, others.

A brief list of these MEK supporters in the Republican Party reads like a who’s-who of anti-Iran officials from the neoconservative administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump:

  • In 2000, future Bush administration attorney general and Republican then-Senator John Ashcroft intervened on behalf of MKO military commander Mahnaz Samadi, who has been detained by immigration authorities due to her failure to disclose past terrorist ties — hailing the former anti-Iran combatant as a “highly regarded human-rights activist” and a “powerful voice for democracy.”
  • Former Pennsylvania Governor and first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge praised the National Council of Resistance in Iran as “the single most visible, most credible, and most effective democratic movement with a clear and specific program to bring a democratic Iran to existence,” led by the “steady hand and inspiring leadership” of cult leader Maryam Rajavi.
  • Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, Florida, who served as Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has been a major leader in legislation calling for regime-change measures against Cuba, Iran, Syria, and Venezuela, and even called for Fidel Castro’s assassination in 2006. In 2003, she came out in defense of MEK as a group that “loves the United States” and is an ally in the “war on terrorism.”
  • Tea Party leader, Bush confidante and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey promoted the MEK while working for lobbying firm DLA Piper. Armey also represented Saeid Ghaemi, an Iranian expatriate in the U.S. who paid almost $910,000 to the lobbying firm “for Armey’s services bringing issues relating to Iran to the attention of Congress, the State Department, the Department of Defense, the White House, the National Security Council and the Department of Treasury.”

Watch | Giuliani Leads MEK “Regime Change” Chant

And then we have the top luminaries from President Donald Trump’s circle, including:

  • Former New York City Mayor and top White House lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who co-signed a letter along with various bipartisan officials urging a newly-inaugurated Trump to “establish a dialogue” with NCRI, and was revealed to have been a paid advocate for the removal of MEK from the State Department terror group list. Giuliani has been an almost annual guest at MEK functions in Paris and a regular anti-Iranian voice on television.  In 2015, Giuliani stood before a crowd of MEK supporters in Paris and shouted:

The ayatollah must go! Gone! Out! No more! I will not support anyone for president of the United States who isn’t clear on that slogan behind me. What does it say? It says regime change!”

  • Trump adviser and GOP elder Newt Gingrich, who ripped on former President Obama for bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia, but was caught on camera bowing to Maryam Rajavi – whom the conservative ultra-patriot sees as an Iranian version of U.S. founding father George Washington.
  • Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the elite Taiwanese-American wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has received honoraria in the amounts of $50,000 and $17,500 to speak for MEK front groups like the Iranian-American Cultural Association of Missouri and the NCRI. At the same Paris event attended by Giuliani, Chao sat as guest of honor alongside “president-elect” cult leader Rajavi before delivering a feminist-themed speech slamming Iran’s government.

And then, of course, there’s John Bolton, a ravening ultra-hawk with a nearly obsessive hatred of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Speaking to Foreign Policy magazine, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace senior fellow Karim Sadjadpour commented:

I suspect Bolton’s interactions with the MEK were above all motivated by financial interests … The MEK may be a backward cult with little to offer, but they are the enemy of his enemy. And they pay handsomely.”

The same can likely be said about the rest of the elected “representatives”-for-hire in Washington, whose belief in the MEK’s ability to lead a post-IRI Iranian state is no doubt on par with their trust in the late Rev. Moon’s claims to be the one and only messiah.

While the hard-hit Iranian economy is likely to continue reeling, driving more protesters into the streets, one shouldn’t mistake their social demands or financial pain for a desire to subject themselves to a totalitarian cult with hardly a fraction of the support enjoyed by the Shia clergy helming the Islamic Republic — no matter the extent to which Washington and the Saudis attempt to foist the Rajavi group on the Iranian nation.

Yet despite the group’s dearth of political legitimacy, the congressional aide who spoke to FP understands why they remain a mainstay in the U.S. Capitol:

They’re useful as provocation … They’re useful as a signal to the Iranian government that we’re coming to get you.”

Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador.

June 28, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Video | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MEK’s Money Sure Can’t Buy Love

But it can buy a lot of politicians

Maryan Rajavi
By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • May 29, 2018

Iran’s radical Marxist cult Mohajedeen e Khalq, better known by its acronym MEK, is somewhat reminiscent of the Israel Lobby’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in that it operates somewhat in the shadows and is nevertheless able to punch well beyond its weight by manipulating politicians and understanding how American government functions on its dark side. MEK promotes itself by openly supporting a very popular hardline policy of “democratic opposition” advocating “regime change” for Iran while also successfully selling its reform credentials, i.e. that it is no longer a terrorist group. This latter effort apparently convinced then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on 2013 as she and President Barack Obama responded to the group’s affability campaign by delisting MEK from the government list of terrorist organizations.

This shift in attitude towards MEK was a result of several factors. First, everyone in Washington and the Establishment hates Iran. And second, the Executive Order 13224, which designates Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization, ipso facto defines any group fighting against it as one of the good guys, justifying the change

MEK is best described as a cult rather than as a political movement because of its internal discipline. Its members are, according to the testimony of those who have somehow escaped, subjected to considerable indoctrination best described as brainwashing. Though not exactly imprisoned, adherents are kept isolated and separated insofar as possible and cannot contact their families. Their possessions are collectivized so they have no money or other resources. If they are in contravention of the numerous rules that guide the organization they are punished, including physically, and there are reports of members being executed for trying to escape.

The current head of the group is Maryam Rajavi, the wife of the deceased co-founder of MEK, Massoud. She is reported to be politically savvy and speaks excellent English learned in part to enable her to communicate with adoring American politicians. The group itself was founded in 1965. Its name means “People’s Holy Warriors,” derived from its Marxist/populist roots and its religiosity. It was not unlike the Taliban which developed in adjacent Afghanistan. During the 1970’s it rebelled against the Shah and was involved in bombing and shooting American targets. It executed U.S. Army Lt. Col. Lewis Hawkins in 1973 as he was walking home from the U.S. Embassy and in 1975 it killed two American Air Force officers in their chauffer driven car, an incident that was studied and used in CIA training subsequently as an example of how not to get caught and killed by terrorists. Between 1976 and 1978 the group bombed American commercial targets and killed three Rockwell defense contractors and one Texaco executive.

MEK welcomed the Iranian revolution and also the occupation of the U.S. Embassy but soon fell afoul of the Ayatollah Khomeini regime. It eventually moved to join Iran’s enemy Saddam Hussein in Iraq and participated on the Iraqi side in the bloodletting that followed when the two countries went to war in 1980-8. For that reason alone, MEK is particularly hated by most Iranians and the repeated assertion that it is some kind of “Iranian democracy” alternative is ridiculous as the people in Iran would never accept it. In terms of the duplicity surrounding its marketing, it is reminiscent of Iraqi con artist Ahmed Chalabi, who also had little following inside Iraq but was able to convince Pentagon geniuses like Paul Wolfowitz that he represented some kind of democratic movement. At the time Chalabi was also secretly working for Iran.

MEK was protected by Saddam and later by the U.S. invaders who found a weapon to use against Iran useful. They were housed in Camp Ashraf near Baghdad, and later, after Ashraf was closed, at so-called Camp Liberty. In 2013, when the Iraqis insisted that they go elsewhere the President Barack Obama facilitated their removal to Albania under the auspices of the United Nations refugee program, with the $20 million dollar bill being footed by Washington. The organization’s political arm, the National Council of Resistance or Iran (NCRI), meanwhile established itself in Paris under the control of Maryam Rajavi, in part to place it closer to the American and European sources of its political legitimacy and financing. In 2001, to make itself more palatable, the group had renounced violence.

The MEK folks in Albania have become a bit of a problem. Through various additional migrations they have multiplied and now number around 3,000 and have largely adhered to their cultish ways even though one of the original objectives of the move into Europe was to somehow deprogram and “deradicalize” them in an environment far removed from Iran-Iraq. Part of the problem is that the Albanian government likes the U.N. subsidies used to support the MEK associates, but it will not let them work as they have no legal status and they cannot resettle or lead normal lives. So they resort to criminal activity that includes promotion of fraudulent charities, drug trafficking and even a form of slavery in which their own people are sold and traded as laborers. The temporary solution has been to move the MEK out of a rundown university property in the capital Tirana to a more remote site in northern Albania dubbed Ashraf-3, but local people believe that that is just kicking the can down the road and that MEK should be forced to go somewhere else, preferably in the United States, which seems to like them so much.

Also, Albania is majority Muslim and has been subjected to the same Saudi Arabian ultra-conservative wahhabi promotion backed by lots of money that has plagued many states in the Middle East. Albanians accustomed to the mild form of Turkish Islam suddenly found themselves confronting the Sunni-Shia divide and also the MEK as agents of both Saudi Arabia and Israel. Many outraged Albanians see the unreformed MEK in their midst as a terror time bomb waiting to go off, but the government, under pressure from the U.S. Embassy has not sought their removal.

Meanwhile back in the United States everything involving the non-deradicalized MEK is just hunky dory. MEK and the NCRI are enemies of Iran and also seem to have plenty of money to spend, so they buy high ranking American speakers to appear at their events. Rudy Giuliani and John Bolton have appeared regularly, as have Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Jeanne Shaheen. At a 2015 appearance in Paris, Giuliani brought the crowd to its feet by calling for “Regime change!” after shouting out that the “Ayatollah must go!” In August 2017, Senators Roy Blunt, John Cornyn, Thom Tillis and Carl Levin met with Rajavi in Paris. Newt Gingrich also considers himself a friend of the Iranian resistance while Elaine Chao, Secretary of Labor and wife of Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell spoke in Paris for five minutes in 2015 and was paid $50,000. The payments made to the other politicians have not been revealed.

And then there is the Saudi and Israeli angle. Saudi Arabia is now the major funder of MEK/NCRI. It’s intelligence chief Turki al-Faisal spoke before the group in 2017. Israel funded the group in its early days and its external spy service Mossad continues to use MEK stay-behinds in Iran to assassinate scientists and tamper with computer systems. The CIA, which recently expanded its anti-Iran task force, it also working closely with MEK. And Giuliani, Bolton, Chao are all in the White House inner circle, which, not coincidentally, is baying for Iranian blood.

Lost in all of the above is any conceivable American interest. It is difficult to even make the claim that Iran threatens the United States or any vital interest and the drive to decapitate the Mullahs, both literally and figuratively, really comes from Riyadh and Tel Aviv. And there is potential collateral damage where it really might matter as MEK cultists continue to sit and fester in a holding pattern maintained by Washington in the heart of Europe. What comes next? War of some kind with Iran is appearing to be increasingly likely given recent remarks by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, threatening to crush the Iranians. Is Washington intending to send the MEK warriors on sabotage missions inside Iran, something like the resistance to the Germans in World War II? Maybe Giuliani and Bolton know the answer to that question.

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Latest Act in Israel’s Iran Nuclear Disinformation Campaign

By Gareth Porter | Consortium News | May 3, 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim in his theatrical 20-minute presentation of an Israeli physical seizure of Iran’s “atomic archive” in Tehran would certainly have been the “great intelligence achievement” he boasted if it had actually happened. But the claim does not hold up under careful scrutiny, and his assertion that Israel now possesses a vast documentary record of a covert Iranian nuclear weapons program is certainly fraudulent.

Netanyahu’s tale of an Israeli intelligence raid right in Tehran that carted off 55,000 paper files and another 55,000 CDs from a “highly secret location” requires that we accept a proposition that is absurd on its face: that Iranian policymakers decided to store their most sensitive military secrets in a small tin-roofed hut with nothing to protect it from heat (thus almost certainly ensuring loss of data on CDs within a few years) and no sign of any security, based on the satellite image shown in the slide show. (As Steve Simon observed in The New York Times the door did not even appear to have a lock on it.)

The laughable explanation suggested by Israeli officials to The Daily Telegraph – that the Iranian government was afraid the files might be found by international inspectors if they remained at “major bases” — merely reveals the utter contempt that Netanyahu has for Western governments and news media. Even if Iran were pursuing nuclear weapons secretly, their files on the subject would be kept at the Ministry of Defense, not at military bases. And of course the alleged but wholly implausible move to an implausible new location came just as Netanyahu needed a dramatic new story to galvanize Trump to resist the European allies’ strong insistence on preserving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Act (JCPOA) nuclear deal with Iran.

In fact, there is no massive treasure trove of secret files about an Iran “Manhattan Project.” The shelves of black binders and CDs that Netanyahu revealed with such a dramatic flourish date back to 2003 (after which a U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) said Iran had abandoned any nuclear weapons program) and became nothing more than stage props like the cartoon bomb that Netanyahu used at the United Nations in 2012.

Disinformation Campaign

Netanyahu’s cartoon bomb

Netanyahu’s claim about how Israel acquired this “atomic archive” is only the latest manifestation of a long-term disinformation campaign that the Israeli government began to work on in 2002-03. The documents to which Netanyahu referred in the presentation were introduced to the news media and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) beginning in 2005 as coming originally from a secret Iranian nuclear weapons research program. For many years U.S. news media have accepted those documents as authentic. But despite the solid media united front behind that narrative, we now know with certainty that those earlier documents were fabrications and that they were created by Israel’s Mossad.

That evidence of fraud begins with the alleged origins of the entire collection of documents. Senior intelligence officials in the George W. Bush administration had told reporters that the documents came from “a stolen Iranian laptop computer”, as The New York Times reported in November 2005. The Times quoted unnamed intelligence officials as insisting that the documents had not come from an Iranian resistance group, which would cast serious doubt on their reliability.

But it turned that the assurances from those intelligence officials were part of an official dissimulation. The first reliable account of the documents’ path to the United States came only in 2013, when former senior German foreign office official Karsten Voigt, who retired from his long-time position as coordinator of German-North American cooperation, spoke with this writer on the record.

Voigt recalled how senior officials of the German foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachtrendeinst or BND, had explained to him in November 2004 that they were familiar with the documents on the alleged Iran nuclear weapons program, because a sometime source—but not an actual intelligence agent—had provided them earlier that year. Furthermore, the BND officials explained that they had viewed the source as “doubtful,” he recalled, because the source had belonged to the Mujahideen-E Khalq, the armed Iranian opposition group that had fought Iran on behalf of Iraq during the eight year war.

BND officials were concerned that the Bush administration had begun citing those documents as evidence against Iran, because of their experience with “Curveball” – the Iraqi engineer in Germany who had told stories of Iraqi mobile bioweapons labs that had turned to be false. As a result of that meeting with BND officials, Voigt had given an interview to The Wall Street Journal in which he had contradicted the assurance of the unnamed U.S. intelligence officials to the Times and warned that the Bush administration should not base its policy on the documents it was beginning to cite as evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, because they had indeed come from “an Iranian dissident group.”

Using the MEK

The Bush administration’s desire to steer press coverage of the supposedly internal Iranian documents away from the MEK is understandable: the truth about the MEK role would immediately lead to Israel, because it was well known, that Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad had used the MEK to make public information that the Israelis did not want attributed to itself – including the precise location of Iran’s Natanz enrichment facility. As Israeli journalists Yossi Melman and Meir Javadanfar observed in their 2007 book on the Iran nuclear program, based on U.S., British and Israeli officials, “Information is ‘filtered’ to the IAEA via Iranian opposition groups, especially the National Resistance Council of Iran.”

Mossad used the MEK repeatedly in the 1990s and the early 2000’s to get the IAEA to inspect any site the Israelis suspected might possibly be nuclear-related, earning their Iranian clients a very poor reputation at the IAEA. No one familiar with the record of the MEK could have believed that it was capable of creating the detailed documents that were passed to the German government. That required an organization with the expertise in nuclear weapons and experience in fabricating documents – both of which Israel’s Mossad had in abundance.

El Baradei: Didn’t buy it

Bush administration officials had highlighted a set of 18 schematic drawings of the Shahab-3 missile’s reentry vehicle or nosecone of the missile in each of which there was a round shape representing a nuclear weapon. Those drawings were described to foreign governments and the International Atomic Energy Agency as 18 different attempts to integrate a nuclear weapon into the Shahab-3.

Netanyahu gave the public its first glimpse of one of those drawings Monday when he pointed to it triumphantly as visually striking evidence of Iranian nuclear perfidy. But that schematic drawing had a fundamental flaw that proved that it and others in the set could not have been genuine: it showed the “dunce cap” shaped reentry vehicle design of the original Shahab-3 missile that had been tested from 1998 to 2000. That was the shape that intelligence analysts outside Iran had assumed in 2002 and 2003 Iran would continue to use in its ballistic missile.

New Nose Cone

It is now well established, however, that Iran had begun redesigning the Shahab-3 missile with a conical reentry vehicle or nosecone as early as 2000 and replaced it with a completely different design that had a “triconic” or “baby bottle” shape. It made it a missile with very different flight capabilities and was ultimately called the Ghadr-1. Michael Elleman, the world’s leading expert on Iranian ballistic missiles, documented the redesign of the missile in his path-breaking 2010 study of Iran’s missile program.

Iran kept its newly-designed missile with the baby bottle reentry vehicle secret from the outside world until its first test in mid-2004. Elleman concluded that Iran was deliberately misleading the rest of the world – and especially the Israelis, who represented the most immediate threat of attack on Iran – to believe that the old model was the missile of the future while already shifting its planning to the new design, which would bring all of Israel within reach for the first time.

The authors of the drawings that Netanyahu displayed on the screen were thus in the dark about the change in the Iranian design. The earliest date of a document on the redesign of the reentry vehicle in the collection obtained by U.S. intelligence was August 28, 2002 – about two years after the actual redesign had begun. That major error indicates unmistakably that the schematic drawings showing a nuclear weapon in a Shahab-3 reentry vehicle – what Netanyahu called “integrated warhead design” were fabrications.

Netanyahu’s slide show highlighted a series of alleged revelations that he said came from the newly acquired “atomic archive” concerning the so-called “Amad Plan” and the continuation of the activities of the Iranian who was said to have led that covert nuclear weapons project. But the single pages of Farsi language documents he flashed on the screen were also clearly from the same cache of documents that we now know came from the MEK-Israeli combination. Those documents were never authenticated, and IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, who was skeptical of their authenticity, had insisted that without such authentication, he could not accuse Iran of having a nuclear weapons program.

More Fraud

There are other indications of fraud in that collection of documents as well. A second element of the supposed covert arms program given the name “Amad Plan” was a “process flow chart” of a bench-scale system for converting uranium ore for enrichment. It had the code name “Project 5.13”, according to a briefing by the IAEA Deputy Director Olli Heinonen, and was part of a larger so-called “Project 5”, according to an official IAEA report. Another sub-project under that rubric was “Project 5.15”, which involved ore processing at the Gchine Mine.” Both sub-projects were said to be carried out by a consulting firm named Kimia Maadan.

But documents that Iran later provided to the IAEA proved that, in fact, “Project 5.15” did exist, but was a civilian project of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, not part of a covert nuclear weapons program, and that the decision had been made in August 1999 – two years before the beginning of the alleged “Amad Plan” was said to have begun.

The role of Kimia Maadan in both sub-projects explains why an ore processing project would be included in the supposed secret nuclear weapons program. One of the very few documents included in the cache that could actually be verified as authentic was a letter from Kimia Maadan on another subject, which suggests that the authors of the documents were building the collection around a few documents that could be authenticated.

Netanyahu also lingered over Iran’s denial that it had done any work on “MPI” or (“Multi-Point Initiation”) technology “in hemispheric geometry”. He asserted that “the files” showed Iran had done “extensive work” or “MPI” experiments. He did not elaborate on the point. But Israel did discover the alleged evidence of such experiments in a tin-roofed shack in Tehran. The issue of whether Iran had done such experiments was a central issue in the IAEA’s inquiry after 2008. The agency described it in a September 2008 report, which purported to be about Iran’s “experimentation in connection with symmetrical initiation of a hemispherical high explosive charge suitable for an implosion type nuclear device.”

No Official Seals

The IAEA refused to reveal which member country had provided the document to the IAEA. But former Director-General ElBaradei revealed in his memoirs that Israel had passed a series of documents to the Agency in order to establish the case that Iran had continued its nuclear weapons experiments until “at least 2007.” ElBaradei was referring to convenient timing of the report’s appearance within a few months of the U.S. NIE of November 2007 concluding that Iran had ended its nuclear weapons-related research in 2003.

Netanyahu pointed to a series of documents on the screen as well a number of drawings, photographs and technical figures, and even a grainy old black and white film, as evidence of Iran’s nuclear weapons work. But absolutely nothing about them provides an evidentiary link to the Iranian government. As Tariq Rauf, who was head of the IAEA’s Verification and Security Policy Coordination Office from 2002 to 2012, noted in an e-mail, none of the pages of text on the screen show official seals or marks that would identify them as actual Iranian government documents. The purported Iranian documents given to the IAEA in 2005 similarly lacked such official markings, as an IAEA official conceded to me in 2008.

Netanyahu’s slide show revealed more than just his over-the-top style of persuasion on the subject of Iran. It provided further evidence that the claims that had successfully swayed the U.S. and Israeli allies to join in punishing Iran for having had a nuclear weapons program were based on fabricated documents that originated in the state that had the strongest motive to make that case – Israel.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian on U.S. national security policy and the recipient of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. His most recent book is Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, published in 2014.

May 4, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Who Are the Leading State Sponsors of Terrorism?

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 28.12.2017

As 2017 draws to a close, it is difficult to be optimistic about what will be coming in the new year. The American President, whose margin of victory was certainly based on his pledge to avoid unnecessary wars, has doubled down on Afghanistan, refuses to leave Syria even though ISIS has been defeated, and is playing serious brinksmanship with a psychopathic and unpredictable regime in Pyongyang. The White House has also bought into the prevailing largely fabricated narrative about a Russia and has decided to arm Ukraine with offensive weapons, which has already resulted in a sharp response from Moscow and will make détente of any kind between the two leading powers all but impossible in the upcoming year.

But, as I have observed before, the red hazard light that continues to be blinking most brightly relates to Washington’s relationship with Iran, which has unnecessarily deteriorated dramatically over the past year and which brings with it collateral problems with Russia and Turkey that could trigger a much wider conflict. I say unnecessarily because all the steps taken to poison the relationship have come out of Washington, not Tehran. The Trump administration refused to certify that the Iranians had been in compliance with the nuclear agreement negotiated in 2015 and has since escalated its verbal attacks, mostly at the United Nations, claiming that the regime in Tehran is the major source of terrorism in the world and that it is seeking hegemony over a broad arc of countries running westward from its borders to the Mediterranean Sea.

The only problem with the allegations being made is that none of them is true and, furthermore, Iran, with limited military resources, poses no serious threat to gain control over its neighbors, nor to attack the United States or Europe. The invective about Iran largely derives from Israel and Saudi Arabia, which themselves have hegemonic ambitions relating to their region. Israel’s friends in the US Congress, media and White House have not surprisingly picked up on the refrain and are pushing for military action. Israel has even threatened to bomb any Iranian permanent presence inside neighboring Syria.

A recent detailed analysis by former US intelligence officers has demonstrated just how the claim that Iran is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism is almost completely fabricated. The analysis explains how these false narratives are contrived and how they become part of the Washington background noise. The White House’s recent National Security Strategy Report for 2018 stated that “Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, has taken advantage of instability to expand its influence through partners and proxies, weapon proliferation, and funding.” But another US government report, the annual Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 cites no actual terrorist incidents initiated by Iran in that year. In fact, the most recent terrorist incident attributed to Tehran was in 2012, and that was retaliatory against Israel, which was at the time assassinating Iran’s scientists and technicians and attacking its computer systems.

America’s UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s has recently claimed that it is hard to find a “terrorist group in the Middle East that does not have Iran’s fingerprints all over it.” But in reality, the overwhelming majority of terrorist groups in the region, to include ISIS, Al-Qaeda and al-Nusra, are Sunni Muslims, who believe Iran’s Shi’ism is heretical, and are both tied to and funded by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United States. The Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) is indeed an ethnic Iranian terrorist group, but it has been funded and supported by Washington and Tel Aviv to carry out attacks inside Iran.

The reality is that terrorism, defined by the United Nations as “criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public,” is most employed at the state level by the United States and its allies Israel and Saudi Arabia, not by Iran. All have used violence directed against civilians in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon, and all three have supported organizations that fit the definition of terrorists. Iran may indeed be guilty of actions that much of the world disapproves of, but it is not the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism as has been alleged.

December 28, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Rise of MEK/NCRI in Washington: Pay Off The Right People and You Are No Longer A Terrorist

Maryam Rajavi- Rudy Giuliani and Senator Joe Lieberman at the free Iran Gathering – 1 July 2017. Image credit: Maryam Rajavi/ flickr)
By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | October 30, 2017

If you want to change a group of terrorists who have killed Americans overseas into something that appears to be much more benign, all you have to do is pay off the right people in Washington. With enough money, you can even open a nice plush lobbying office on Pennsylvania Avenue in the District of Columbia, not too far from the White House and Capitol Hill.

One-time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been rightly blamed for the ill-conceived and badly bungled “regime change” in Libya in 2011 that eventually led to her mishandling of the resulting blowback in Benghazi, but one of her greatest failings just might have involved the piece of paper she signed when she removed the Mujaheddin e Khalq (MEK) group from the State Department list of “designated terrorist organizations” in September 2012.

How is it possible that the bad judgment demonstrated in the Libyan fiasco that created a failed state, a humanitarian disaster, a migrant crisis, armed terrorists and ultimately produced the murder of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans compares with a signature on a piece of paper? It is because that signature put in place one of the elements that will most likely in the near future lead to a far more disastrous war for the United States than was Libya. MEK, now labeled the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), has become a principal voice of the war party that is now seeking to attack Iran, a role similar to that played by Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress in his disseminating of lies in the lead up to the catastrophic invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The tale of the rehabilitation and rise of MEK/NCRI is a subset of the ongoing corruption of America’s political culture, best illustrated by the fact that even national security is now up for sale, enabling a terrorist group to transform itself into a “resistance movement” and eventually be labeled “freedom fighters.”

How did this happen as MEK was on the State Department roster of foreign terrorist organizations since the list was established in 1997? Its inclusion derived from its having killed six Americans in the 1970s, its participation in the U.S. Embassy hostage-taking and from its record of extreme violence both inside and outside Iran since that time. When I was a CIA trainee our course included a simulation of the horrific attack on U.S. Air Force Officers in Tehran in 1973 that killed two colonels.

MEK is widely regarded as a terrorist cult headed by a bizarre husband and wife team Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. Its members are required to be celibate and are subjected to extensive brainwashing, physical torture, severe beatings even unto death, and prolonged solitary confinement if they question the leadership. One scholar who has studied them describes their beliefs as a “weird combination of Marxism and Islamic fundamentalism.”

With the sharp turn of the Trump Administration against Iran, NCRI is now finding an audience, telling the American public that Iran is “cheating” on the nuclear deal.  It also tells us that “Iran’s nuclear weapons program has far from halted” and has claimed to identify four major sites that “with a high degree of certainty” have been involved in various aspects of the allegedly ongoing nuclear weapons project. This has led Jillian Mele of Fox News to declare, falsely, that “It appears [Iran’s nuclear] weapons program is fully operational.”

The CIA has in the past recruited MEK/NCRI agents to enter into Iran and report on nuclear facilities, but Israel’s Mossad is the group’s principal employer. Agents, recruited and trained by Israel, have killed a number of Iranian nuclear scientists and officials. The group appears to have ample financial resources, places full page ads in major US newspapers, and is also known to pay hefty fees to major political figures who are willing to speak publicly on its behalf. The group claims to want regime change in Iran to restore democracy to the country, an odd assertion as it itself has no internal democracy and is loathed by nearly all Iranians.

Because MEK/NCRI is a resource being used by Tel Aviv in its clandestine war against Iran, it is perhaps inevitable that many friends of Israel in the United States actively campaigned to have the group removed from the terrorism list so that it could, ironically, have a free hand to continue to terrorize Iran. Indeed, neocons at their various think tanks and publications as well as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee all recommended delisting the group and continue to support it. Prominent American Jews to include Elie Wiesel and Alan Dershowitz have been advocates for the group in spite of its record of terrorism.

Multi-million dollar contracts with Washington lobbying firms experienced at “working” congress backed up by handsome speaking fees have induced many prominent Americans to join the chorus supporting NCRI. Prior to 2012, speaking fees for the group started at $15,000 and went up from there. Former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell reported more than $150,000 in honoraria. Rudy Giuliani has been paid generously for years at $20,000 per appearance for brief, twenty-minute speeches. Bear in mind that MEK was a listed terrorist group at the time and accepting money from it to promote its interests should have constituted material support of terrorism.

The group’s well-connected friends have included prominent neocons like John Bolton and ex-CIA Directors James Woolsey, Michael Hayden and Porter Goss as well as former Generals Anthony Zinni, Peter Pace, Wesley Clark, and Hugh Shelton. Traditional conservatives close to the Trump Administration like Newt Gingrich, Fran Townsend and Elaine Chao are also fans of NCRI. Townsend in particular, as a national security specialist, has appeared on television to denounce Iran, calling its actions “acts of war” without indicating that she has received money from an opposition group.

The emergence of NCRI at this time is just another fool’s game with the usual Washington crowd queuing up for a bad cause because they are both lining their pockets and thinking they are helping Israel by punishing Iran. In any event it is a poor bargain for the rest of us, but that hardly seems to matter anymore.

October 30, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tehran Was Always America’s and Thus the Islamic State’s Final Destination

By Tony Cartalucci – New Eastern Outlook – 10.06.2017

Several were left dead and many more injured after coordinated terror attacks on Iran’s capital of Tehran. Shootings and bombings targeted Iran’s parliament and the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini.

According to Reuters, the so-called “Islamic State” claimed responsibility for the attack, which unfolded just days after another terror attack unfolded in London. The Islamic State also reportedly took responsibility for the violence in London, despite evidence emerging that the three suspects involved were long-known to British security and intelligence agencies and were simply allowed to plot and carry out their attacks.

It is much less likely that Tehran’s government coddled terrorists -as it has been engaged for years in fighting terrorism both on its borders and in Syria amid a vicious six-year war fueled by US, European, and Persian Gulf weapons, cash, and fighters.

Armed Violence Targeting Tehran Was the Stated Goal of US Policymakers

The recent terrorist attacks in Tehran are the literal manifestation of US foreign policy. The creation of a proxy force with which to fight Iran and establishing a safe haven for it beyond Iran’s borders have been long-stated US policy. The current chaos consuming Syria and Iraq – and to a lesser extent in southeast Turkey – is a direct result of the US attempting to secure a base of operations to launch a proxy war directly against Iran.

In the 2009 Brookings Institution document titled, “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran,” the use of then US State Department-listed foreign terrorist organization Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) as a proxy for instigating a full-fledged armed insurgency not unlike that which is currently unfolding in Syria was discussed in detail.

The report explicitly stated:

The United states could also attempt to promote external Iranian opposition groups, providing them with the support to turn themselves into full-fledged insurgencies and even helping them militarily defeat the forces of the clerical regime. The United states could work with groups like the Iraq-based National council of resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its military wing, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK), helping the thousands of its members who, under Saddam Husayn’s regime, were armed and had conducted guerrilla and terrorist operations against the clerical regime. although the NCRI is supposedly disarmed today, that could quickly be changed.

Brookings policymakers admitted throughout the report that MEK was responsible for killing both American and Iranian military personnel, politicians, and civilians in what was clear-cut terrorism. Despite this, and admissions that MEK remained indisputably a terrorist organization, recommendations were made to de-list it from the US State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization registry so that more overt support could be provided to the group for armed regime change.

Based on such recommendations and intensive lobbying, the US State Department would eventually de-list MEK in 2012 and the group would receive significant backing from the US openly. This included support from many members of current US President Donald Trump’s campaign team – including Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, and John Bolton.

However, despite these efforts, MEK was not capable then or now of accomplishing the lofty goal of instigating full-fledged insurrection against Tehran, necessitating the use of other armed groups. The 2009 Brookings paper made mention of other candidates under a section titled, “Potential Ethnic Proxies,” identifying Arab and Kurdish groups as well as possible candidates for a US proxy war against Tehran.

Under a section titled, “Finding a Conduit and Safe Haven,” Brookings notes:

Of equal importance (and potential difficulty) will be finding a neighboring country willing to serve as the conduit for U.S. aid to the insurgent group, as well as to provide a safe haven where the group can train, plan, organize, heal, and resupply.

For the US proxy war on Syria, Turkey and Jordan fulfill this role. For Iran, it is clear that US efforts would have to focus on establishing conduits and safe havens from Pakistan’s southwest Balochistan province and from Kurdish-dominated regions in northern Iraq, eastern Syria, and southeastern Turkey – precisely where current upheaval is being fueled by US intervention both overtly and covertly.

Brookings noted in 2009 that:

It would be difficult to find or build an insurgency with a high likelihood of success. The existing candidates are weak and divided, and the Iranian regime is very strong relative to the potential internal and external challengers.

A group not mentioned by Brookings in 2009, but that exists in the very region the US seeks to create a conduit and safe haven for a proxy war with Iran, is the Islamic State. Despite claims that it is an independent terrorist organization propelled by black market oil sales, ransoms, and local taxes, its fighting capacity, logistical networks, and operational reach demonstrates vast state sponsorship.

The Ultimate Proxy, the Perfect Conduit and Safe Haven

The Islamic State reaching into Iran, southern Russia, and even as far as western China was not only possible, it was inevitable and the logical progression of US policy as stated by Brookings in 2009 and verifiably executed since then.

The Islamic State represents the perfect “proxy,” occupying the ideal conduit and safe haven for executing America’s proxy war against Iran and beyond. Surrounding the Islamic State’s holdings are US military bases, including those illegally constructed in eastern Syria. Were the US to wage war against Iran in the near future, it is likely these assets would all “coincidentally” coordinate against Tehran just as they are now being “coincidentally” coordinated against Damascus.

The use of terrorism, extremists, and proxies in executing US foreign policy, and the use of extremists observing the Islamic State and Al Qaeda’s brand of indoctrination was demonstrated definitively during the 1980’s when the US with the assistance of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan – used Al Qaeda to expel Soviet forces from Afghanistan. This example is in fact mentioned explicitly by Brookings policymakers as a template for creating a new proxy war – this time against Iran.

For the US, there is no better stand-in for Al Qaeda than its successor the Islamic State. US policymakers have demonstrated a desire to use known terrorist organizations to wage proxy war against targeted nation-states, has previously done so in Afghanistan, and has clearly organized the geopolitical game board on all sides of Iran to facilitate its agenda laid out in 2009. With terrorists now killing people in Tehran, it is simply verification that this agenda is advancing onward.

Iran’s involvement in the Syrian conflict illustrates that Tehran is well aware of this conspiracy and is actively defending against it both within and beyond its borders. Russia is likewise an ultimate target of the proxy war in Syria and is likewise involved in resolving it in favor of stopping it there before it goes further.

China’s small but expanding role in the conflict is linked directly to the inevitability of this instability spreading to its western Xianjiang province.

While terrorism in Europe, including the recent London attack, is held up as proof that the West is “also” being targeted by the Islamic State, evidence suggests otherwise. The attacks are more likely an exercise in producing plausible deniability.

In reality, the Islamic State – like Al Qaeda before it – depends on vast, multinational state sponsorship – state sponsorship the US, Europe, and its regional allies in the Persian Gulf are providing. It is also sponsorship they can – at anytime of their choosing – expose and end. They simply choose not to in pursuit of regional and global hegemony.

The 2009 Brookings paper is a signed and dated confession of the West’s proclivity toward using terrorism as a geopolitical tool. While Western headlines insist that nations like Iran, Russia, and China jeopardize global stability, it is clear that they themselves do so in pursuit of global hegemony.

June 10, 2017 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment