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Visiting the PMOI/MEK in Albania

MEK residential compound near Tirana, Albania
MEK residential compound near Tirana, Albania

Inspired by a Washington Times report by L. Todd Wood


September 21, 2018 - Iran’s regime is currently facing a surge in domestic and international crises. As a result, the mullahs desperately need to decrease this mounting pressure. As seen before, their measures mainly focus on launching false rhetoric campaigns aiming to demonize their main opposition, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

L. Todd Wood of The Washington Times recently visited the PMOI/MEK residential compound – still under construction – located 45 minutes outside of Tirana, the capital of Albania, and wrote about his experience.

“… I had no idea what to expect upon reaching the sprawling facility which is the new home for approximately 3,200 of the Iranian resistance movement’s personnel, after being forced out of Iraq by violence from the Iranian-backed government… The MEK sees a real chance to force regime change from inside Iran, without needing the use of expensive and already overextended American military force.

“With the eventual fall of the mullahs, the MEK wants to finally install a democracy. It was against this backdrop that I visited Ashraf 3 in Albania.” he explains at first.

Acknowledging the fact that the Iranian regime considers the MEK as “an existential threat,” the mullahs’ have scrambled in “reckless ways to counter what it sees as its real opposition, even if is all the way in Albania.”

This evaluation can be confirmed in a recent tweet by Iranian regime Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif literally begging Twitter to take some kind of action against the PMOI/MEK members in Tirana who are involved in internet activities informing people inside Iran and across the globe about the Iranian regime’s human rights violations, support for terrorism, malign ballistic missile program and very suspicious nuclear drive.

L. Todd Wood also refers to the Iranian regime’s terrorist measures against the PMOI/MEK, specifically mentioning the “foiled bomb attempt at the Free Iran Gathering 2018 in Paris last June, where an Iranian diplomat was arrested, and the recent arrest and indictment of two Iranian spies in Washington, D.C., looking to target resistance officials in the United States.”

Tehran’s activities have also expanded to Albania itself, allocating a significant line-up of senior officials to its embassy in Tirana.

“Iranian intelligence agents have been active in Albania, recruiting former MEK members for propaganda purposes and attempting to stain the reputation of the group within the eyes of Albania’s people,” he added.

Indicating his “open mind” approach, Wood provides a detailed explanation about his initial experience inside the newly built site, praising the PMOI/MEK for doing “remarkably well in such a short period of time.”

“What struck me initially was the openness that I encountered. Multiple attempts at journalistic hit pieces had culminated in a recent drone flyover by an adversarial news group from the UK, most likely funded by someone who doesn’t want the MEK to be successful in its quest.

“As the members of the camp knew that I had promised to keep an open mind, I was met most graciously. I asked many questions during my two-day visit. All of the questions were answered in-depth, sometimes with other members being brought in to give a more detailed and complete answer. I was not prevented from seeing or requesting anything. I asked about life at the camp, those who had left the movement, even about the MEK’s alleged involvement in the Iranian Hostage Crisis decades before. All questions were met with complete answers.”

Emphasizing on the PMOI/MEK’s “openness,” Wood explains his ability to sit down and talk with a variety of members representing people from all walks of life in Iran’s vast society.

“In addition to being exposed to many of the day-to-day locations members would frequent, I also had the chance to talk and interview probably 50 members from all walks of life within the movement… Many pundits have described the MEK as a cult. I would describe it as a fanatically committed group of individuals who have given their lives for an idea: a free Iran. Each and every one of them spoke about their people, and how they wanted a better life for the Iranian population. This was especially prevalent among the young men and women I met…”

PMOI/MEK members have dedicated decades, if not their entire lives, to the struggle aimed at establishing freedom and democracy in Iran. And their determination is undeniable.

“The ideal of freedom is a powerful one and permeated throughout Ashraf 3. It is utmost on everyone’s mind. It is something bigger than themselves. Most of the people I met were highly intellectual and successful in their previous lives. They could have been living anywhere in the West, but they chose, at a personal sacrifice, to join this movement. The younger members know nothing but the regime and are hellbent on destroying it. I saw a remarkable level of focus and determination. All of the members of the group had a job to do and were singularly focused on its completion.”

Debunking a series of allegations, lies and misinformation drives launched by the Iranian regime against the PMOI/MEK, Wood sheds light on what he has learned first-hand and his plans for the future in this regard.

“Each person I spoke with knew exactly why and for what he or she was fighting for and why they had given up so much of their own lives to fight the regime.

“Albania has nothing to fear from this group. I did not see any weapons or military training. They want to become good citizens of Albania and to build a life in the former communist country. In fact, it is the MEK who has to be worried about violence. The regime has shown it will stop at nothing to destroy them. Iranian Ministry of Intelligence agents are active in Albania. They are the ones the Albanian public has to fear, not the people in the camp.

“There has been much disinformation purposefully spread about the PMOI/MEK. I hope to confront most of it by writing from personal experience from my interactions with the Iranian resistance. This is the first of many reports on the subject.”