VEVAK agent hoodwinks The Guardian

By Dr. Daniel M. Zucker

About five weeks ago, the once proud and independent British newspaper, The Guardian stooped over and published a yellow journalistic screed by an agent of the Iranian regime, Arron Reza Merat. How do I know that he works for the regime? Simple: no Iranian journalist working inside Iran can be independent. Every Iranian writer must pass a loyalty test to the regime in order to be employed. There is no free, independent press in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Merat works for the regime or loses his job, lands in prison like many of his fellow journalists, and possibly forfeits his life. Transferred to London? Iranians aren’t free to leave if they aren’t given approval to do so by the government. And the Iranian government has ways to keep them on a leash even when abroad.

What about Merat’s concocted story? Following standard disinformation procedures of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS/VEVAK) which learned its techniques from the old Soviet KGB, a mixture of truth and lies is spread—the truths to provide “authenticity” while the lies spread disinformation and slander opponents. Merat follows the pattern carefully, weaving a narrative of facts and lies from one sentence to the next. Examples abound:

Paragraph seven accuses the People’s Mojahadin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) of murdering Americans in the 1970s—a point often leveled against the group, but careful research demonstrates that murders were committed, but by a Marxist splinter group, Peykar,at a time when the MEK leaders were all incarcerated in the shah’s prisons.

Paragraph nine accuses the MEK of armed attacks on the Islamist regime’s leadership without bothering to mention that the MEK only took up arms after Khomeini ordered that live fire be used against a peaceful anti-government demonstration of over 500,000 Iranians in Tehran on June 20, 1981. 50 were killed and hundreds wounded, followed by the indiscriminate arrest of thousands and subsequent execution of hundreds that evening by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

Paragraph eleven accuses the MEK of serving as Saddam Hussein’s avengers to suppress internal dissidents, the accusation usually applied to the 1988 gassing of the Kurds of Halajab. Again, careful research and the testimony of Iraq’s Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, himself a Kurd, confirm that the MEK had nothing to do with the gassing. The MEK in Iraq acted only against the Iranian regime. Indeed, Merat’s distortion of the truth disregards the MEK’s constructive work in 2004 to convince anti-fundamentalist Iraqis of all backgrounds—Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, and Christians, to build a coalition to reform the country. Had the MEK been Saddam’s lackies, no Iraqis would have backed their efforts which garnered close to 5.2 million supporters—nearly half of the Iraqi electorate.

As to the allegations of forced membership, I can personally testify to knowing members of the group who chose to leave for personal reasons and who had no problem doing so. And I think we all know easily one can throw out wild, unsubstantiated allegations of sexual-misconduct, such as those in Merat’s article. Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels taught that to succeed in a propaganda war, you must lie, and lie big.  Merat is doing exactly that by accusing the MEK of all the types of misdeeds that the Iranian regime has repeatedly engaged in since coming to power nearly forty years ago.  Nearly all of my female friends among the Iranian opposition have stories of abuse in prison, including sexual abuse, at the hands of the IRGC or Bassij.

One may criticize the MEK members’ forsaking of marriage;however, the same principle of enforced celibacy has been required by more than one religious movement in Islam, Christianity, and ancient Judaism. It may seem extreme, but it is an accepted method of keeping the “troops” focused on their goal: in the church, bringing about the Kingdom of God; in the MEK, overthrowing the Khomeinist regime and restoring democracy to Iran. That said, everything in the MEK is done voluntarily. Members are highly educated and can decide for themselves what to do and what not to do.

In citing Daniel Benjamin’s suggestion that the U.S. government removed the MEK from the State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations list only to save them from slaughter in Iraq, Merat conveniently neglects mentioning that the State Department had to remove them from the list by order of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Merat’s claims that the MEK is engaged in fake news and cyber warfare against Iran is truly a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Within the last fortnight, 98 false news websites of the Iranian regime have been discovered in twenty-eight countries.

Why would Somayeh Mohammadi accuse her father of serving as an agent of the Iranian regime? Her parents live in Canada, so how can that be? The case of the Khodabandeh family is a good example. Masoud and Abrahim Khodabandeh were both MEK members in the 1980s when they lived in England. In 1996, Massoud left the MEK and sometime later married Anne Singleton who had worked with a pro-resistance Iranian student group in London, but been dismissed on moral grounds. Subsequently, both were recruited by VEVAK, apparently after the agency had coerced the Khodabandeh brothers’ wealthy mother to assist them or lose her extensive property in Tehran. Ebrahim has since recanted his MEK affiliation and now likewise works for VEVAK’s anti-resistance campaign.This is the context in which Somayeh Mohammadi has accused her father of evil intentions.

I could go on. Bottom line: shame on The Guardian for publishing a “hit piece” and not doing enough diligent research to uncover Merat’slies and false allegations, as well as his real employer: VEVAK’s Nefaq (Disinformation) Department.

Rabbi Dr. Daniel M. Zucker founded Americans for Democracy in the Middle-East in 2005, an organization dedicated to teaching the public and our elected officials about the dangers of Islamic radical fundamentalism and the need to develop genuine democratic institutions in the region. He is the author of over one hundred articles on the Middle-East. He serves a congregation in northern New Jersey.

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