Iran: Desperate to dupe Europe
On 30 October 2019, six strange tweets appeared on the internet which read, “Secretary-General of the French Presidency announced that the (opposition) People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, PMOI/MEK, will soon be expelled from France”
The French news agency AFP wrote that tweets by @Alexis_Kohler_ had been interpreted as though they reflected the position of France. However, when asked by the AFP, Élysée denied that and said, “This is not his twitter account. What’s more, he (Kohler) does not have a twitter account.” The fake account was soon suspended by the Twitter.
Who were behind these tweets? What did they seek to achieve?
The tweets were spread through well-known websites belonging to Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security and its operatives citing a fake twitter account under the name of Alexis Kohler. These operatives were too dabbler to realize that tweets of Élysée officials are posted at office hours and not 4:06 a.m.
Iran has done this before. Over the past year alone, 11500 completely fake and deceptive twitter accounts related to the Iranian regime were closed.
The demonization campaign against the Iranian opposition was accelerated after several Iranian terror plots in Europe including in Villepinte of France in July 2018 failed.
Villepinte Hall, outside Paris, was the venue for the large annual gathering of the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) with tens of thousands of participants and dignitaries from around the world. On June 30, 2018, two would-be bombers were detained by Belgian police en route to the gathering. Subsequently it was revealed that the 500 grams of TATP explosive in the operatives’ possession had been provided to them by Assadollah Assadi, Iran’s “diplomat” stationed in Vienna, who was arrested in Germany on July 1.
Assadi is currently in jail in Belgium awaiting a trial. While he was identified as the mastermind of the plot, the MEK claimed that information from its sources inside the Islamic Republic showed that the terror plan had been approved by Iran’s Supreme National Security Council chaired by the “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani. This would make Rouhani’s friendly outreach to European leaders more as a convenient illusion.
Unable to whitewash the government’s direct involvement in the Villepinte terror plot, Iran’s apologists now spread false news that the terror plot was designed by MEK itself! However, such fake news have already been ruled out by the Belgian authorities. BuzzFeed News reporter from Brussels quoted a Belgian police official on July 11, 2018: “There was a meeting in Luxembourg that was under surveillance and everyone worked together quickly to discover the bomb and arrest Assadi. It seems like the [Iranian] regime hoped a bombing would be seen as an internal MEK matter, which would be a plausible theory except we caught their guy in the act.”
Belgian media reported that the Iranian terrorist couple involved in the bomb plot had been living in Belgium as a “sleeper cell” for fifteen years.
In July 2019, a large number of political personalities from western countries were invited to a five-day event at MEK’s newly built compound named “Ashraf 3” outside Tirana. The event amazed many observers by the strength of the Iranian opposition, as they had only relocated there from Iraq less than 3 years ago. The Albanian Prime minister recently expelled Iran’s ambassador over terror plots against Iranian dissidents in his country.
The Iranian authorities who seem very bothered by the activities of the opposition are spending enormous sums in Europe in a massive demonization campaign focusing on the MEK in Albania.
In Brussels, an attaché of a political group in the European Parliament has been busy in the past decade to do Tehran’s bidding.
Eldar Mamedov started working in the European Parliament as an adviser for the Socialist group in 2007. Mamedov’s family who migrated to Lavtia from Azerbaijan, have their roots in the city of Talesh in northern Iran. Mamedov had previously worked at the Latvian embassy in the United States but was expelled and ordered to leave his post by the American government for “security reasons,” according to a former Latvian diplomat who was working in the embassy at the time.
A former member of the Iranian diplomatic corps now in exile showed this author a memo by Iranian foreign ministry in 2013 indicating that Mamedov is “actively working to lobby and defend the Islamic Republic.” The memo states: “He has a very positive attitude to the Islamic Republic of Iran and it is easy to pursue our line with him especially in confronting the MKO (MEK) in European Parliament.”
Mr. Mamedov has travelled to Iran many times. He coordinated the visit of European Parliament’s Socialist group delegation to Iran in October 2013. He also participated in other EP visits to Tehran in December 2013 and November 2017.
In a recent article, Mamedov has tried to give a spin to Iran’s fake tweets in an attempt to deceive the EU politicians into believing that French authorities intend to expel the Iranian opposition from France.
With a new European Parliament, Tehran would be desperate to dupe Europe with fake news to infiltrate European policy circles. Lawmakers however should stress that any progress with Iran is only viable if accompanied with clear improvement of human rights.
On 19 November 2019, Amnesty International reported that as many as 200 protesters could have been killed in cities all over Iran in the latest wave of nationwide protests that erupted on 15 November sparked by a hike in fuel prices. Two weeks earlier the organization had called on the world to condemn Iran for “horrific execution rates”, “relentless persecution of human rights defenders, rampant discrimination against women and minorities, and ongoing crimes against humanity.”
International rights organizations expect the EU to send a strong and clear message to the Iranian authorities that its shocking disregard for human rights will not be tolerated. So the question remains how Iran’s operatives continue to work for EU institutions.
Political Writer David N. Neumann got his MA in political science in United States. He lives in Berlin and writes freely on a variety of topics on domestic and global issues.