Tehran's Anti-MeK Propaganda Machine
As Iranian-Americans rallied in pro-MeK protests against Ahmadinejad when he spoke at the UN in 2010 and 2011, such well-attended rallies indicate support for the MeK among émigrés, which in turn can be read as evidence of support within Iran. One Iranian specialist who studies the MeK also finds support for the organization in Iran: Patrick Clawson of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy states:
One of the signs that the MEK still has supporters in Iran is that they occasionally provide blockbuster revelations about Iranian clandestine activities. None was more explosive than their revelations about the Iranian nuclear centrifuges at Natanz—revelations that led to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the subsequent unraveling of Iran’s eighteen-year tissue of lies about its nuclear activities, repeatedly condemned by the IAEA and the U.N. Security Council.
More recently, based on similar MeK sources, there was an August 2007 revelation about how the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) dodged international sanctions by using front companies to import nuclear enrichment equipment and take over the Iranian oil and gas sectors, mainstays of the economy. In October 2007, the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on the IRGC.
Another revelation on October 14, 2011, exposed the role of the IRGC-Quds Force (QF) in a plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States and blow up the Saudi Embassy in Washington. That disclosure reinforced additional sanctions Treasury placed on the IRGC-QF three days earlier.
And what is Tehran’s response to evidence of complicity in the assassination plot? The regime blames Israel and the United States and asserts MeK involvement. The State Department promptly denied MeK responsibility and accused Tehran of “fabricating news stories” and spreading “disinformation” to exploit skepticism about the plot.
In its efforts to suppress dissent, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) shapes opinion about the MeK throughout the world. The MOIS also targets the American intelligence community. The ministry plants false stories in the media; then they are used by U.S. intelligence to justify a false narrative against the MeK.
On September 12, 2007, the Mehr News Agency, a MOIS news outlet, announced that before one of the bombings in Karbala, closed-circuit cameras around the Imam Hossein shrine caught a woman and a youngster gathering information from various entrances of the shrine: “After their arrest, it became clear that they had been sent by the Mojahedin Khalq Organization [MeK] to locate ways to sneak into the shrine for terrorist operations, ”states Mehr.
Iran’s Habilian Society, a regime-sponsored group posing as a human-rights organization, published a U.S. Federal Appeals Court’s description of declassified American documents. One carried Iranian stories alleging MeK involvement in Karbala. Several state-run media reproduced the report. On August 14, 2010, Fars wrote:
According to reports recently published by the U.S. intelligence community, the Monafeqin [MeK] maintain their readiness to conduct terrorist attacks and resort to violence; based on recently declassified documents, the U.S. intelligence community emphasized…that…[the MeK] claim regarding having voluntarily renounced violence in 2001 was nothing but a hoax, and this organization maintains its capability to conduct terrorism.
The U.S. intelligence community classified a news account that had been planted in the media by the Iranian regime, allowing it to complete a disinformation cycle—a news-intelligence-news loop. The MOIS plants false allegations in its media, which become classified U.S. documents in the middle and end with Tehran reporting declassified U.S. intelligence as “proof” of MeK involvement in terrorist planning. But during this time period, the MeK in Iraq was under U.S. or Iraqi electronic surveillance. Thus, the MeK could not secretly plan or implement attacks on Karbala without being detected.