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Iranian opposition exposes Tehran’s spies plotting against MEK in Albania

Ashraf 3, MEK complex in Albania and home to 3,000 of its members.
Ashraf 3, MEK complex in Albania and home to 3,000 of its members.

Reporting by PMOI/MEK

Iran, August 11, 2020—In a statement on August 10, the Security and Counterterrorism Committee of the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) revealed how the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) works in Albania against the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the cornerstone NCRI member, after the Albanian government expelled Iranian diplomats from its soil.


In January, the Albanian government expelled two of Iran’s diplomat-terrorists, Mohammad Ali Arz Peyma and Ahmad Hosseini Elsat, for carrying out activities and establishing communications with their agents indirectly from Tehran, the Balkans and Western European countries.


How the Iranian regime’s intelligence services operate in Albania


According to the NCRI’s statement, two MOIS local agents, Gjergji Thanasi and Olsi Jazexhi, are in daily contact with the regime’s London-based MOIS agents Massoud Khodabandeh and his wife Anne Singleton. Thanasi and Jazexhi work with the MOIS to recruit MEK defectors in Albania, including Hassan Heyrani. Heyrani runs a café in the Fresco area of Tirana where Iran’s spies coordinate their espionage activities. He also pays the rent and other necessary costs for the operations.


“The MOIS is organizing its mercenaries through two defectors, Hassan Heyrani and Gholamreza Shekari, who are posing as ‘former members’ or ‘separated members’ of the MEK. Another operative, who was exposed by the NCRI Security and Counterterrorism Committee, has been placed under house arrest in a closed camp since August 2019. During this period, he received money and resources through other regime agents,” the NCRI statement continued.


From left, London-based MOIS agents Massoud Khodabandeh and his wife Anne Singleton, local agents Gjergji Thanasi and Olsi Jazexhi, and Hassan Heyrani, Gholamreza Shekari and Ehsan Bidi in Albania, participate in coordinated measures aiming to demonize the MEK and to justify the Iranian regime’s terrorist activities.

Top row (from left to right): London-based MOIS agents Massoud Khodabandeh and his wife Anne Singleton, local agents Gjergji Thanasi and Olsi Jazexhi. Bottom row: Hassan Heyrani, Gholamreza Shekari and Ehsan Bidi in Albania. These agents participate in coordinated measures aiming to demonize the MEK and to justify the Iranian regime’s terrorist activities.


“From time to time, the MOIS deposits money into the accounts of intermediaries in Albania, and they deliver the funds in cash to Heyrani and Shekari to be distributed among other operatives. Sending money directly from inside Iran is another way of providing money to these mercenaries. For example, on several occasions, Maria Shekari, Gholamreza Shekari’s sister, an intelligence affiliate in Kermanshah (western Iran), transferred money to her brother’s account in Albania, and he distributed the money among other mercenaries according to the list,” the statement indicated on how the regime funds its agents.


These mercenaries have been put in contact with other MOIS agents in other European countries to participate in coordinated attempts to demonize the MEK and to justify terrorist activities.


Some of those agents include Khodabandeh, Singleton, Mohammad Karami, Mohammad Hossein Sobhani, Ghorban-Ali Hosseinnejad, Ali-Akbar Rastgoo, Reza Jebli, and Davood Baghervand. In collaboration with Heyrani, Sobhani publishes articles under the pretext of “ex-members” on an MOIS-affiliated website called “the Nejat Association.”


The necessity to shut down the mullahs’ embassies in Europe


The NCRI Security and Counterterrorism Committee reiterated in its statement the need to prosecute and expel the Iranian regime’s intelligence and IRGC agents from Europe, and to implement the 29 April 1997 decision of the European Union Council of Ministers.


At the third online meeting of the Iranian Resistance’s annual event, the “Free Iran Global Summit,” held on Monday, July 20, in Ashraf 3, former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge underlined that the Iranian mullahs are the central banker of global terrorism and that their embassies in many countries have become branches of these banks.

Governor Ridge explained that it is within those embassies that logistical support for spies and terrorists are provided and the regime stimulates chaos and anti-government activity, and certainly anti-Western activity in other areas around the world.

“We need to ask these countries where they’ve established these embassies to rid themselves of their diplomatic corps, particularly in those countries where we can identify terrorist activity, much of it built and designed to undermine those governments in and of themselves,” Governor Ridge added.

“All of the mullahs’ embassies, which they use as bomb factories and launch pads for terror attacks, must be immediately closed,” said Struan Stevenson, former MEP and president of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14), at the same event.


Regime’s terrorist measures against the MEK in Albania


The U.S. State Department mentioned in its annual Country Reports on Terrorism 2019 that “the terrorism threat in Albania consists of FTFs returning from Iraq and Syria, Albanian youth being radicalized to terrorism, and Iran’s plotting against the resettled Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK).”


Ashraf 3, MEK complex in Albania, second day of the Free Iran Global Summit at Ashraf 3—July 19, 2020.

Ashraf 3, MEK complex in Albania, second day of the Free Iran Global Summit at Ashraf 3—July 19, 2020.


The Iranian regime has been targeting Albania far more recently in the past few years in its effort to carry out terrorist bombings and other plots against the MEK.


In 2018, Albanian authorities thwarted an attempt by the Iranian regime to bomb an MEK celebration gathering near the capital city of Tirana. The attempt led to the expulsion of a senior Iranian diplomat from Albania. Two other diplomats were expelled earlier this year and an educational center run by the Iranian regime was shut down after it was unveiled as a cover for Tehran’s espionage activities against the MEK.


Gholamhossein Mohammadnia, the regime’s ambassador to Albania, and Mostafa Roudaki, the MOIS station chief in the country, both senior MOIS officials, were expelled on January 15. Mohammadnia was the MOIS representative in the delegation headed by the regime’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarifv during the talks that led to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).


On July 22, an Iranian individual, Danial Kasraie, was designated by Albanian authorities as persona non grata (unwelcomed element) for his actions against the PMOI/MEK in Albania, and subsequently expelled from the country.


According to reports issued by Albanian anti-terrorism agencies, Kasraie is classified as a dangerous figure who endangers public security. Danial Kasraie, 29, has time and again been seen near Ashraf 3, the MEK complex located west of Tirana. He has on behalf of the Iranian regime attempted to recruit current and/or former MEK members.


Also, on August 4, Albania extradited a Tajik native, accused of membership in an Islamic State terrorist cell, to Germany for prosecution, according to the Associated Press citing German authorities. German federal prosecutors issued a statement saying this individual was apprehended immediately after entering Frankfurt’s airport.