Head of the Iranian Army’s Strategic Studies says members of the terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) are conducting espionage activities against Iran by contacting the country from Australia, Europe and the U.S.
“I do not think anyone is as skilful as the Monafiqeen in phone espionage,” Brigadier General Ahmadreza Pourdastan said on Sunday, using the term Monafiqeen, which literally means “the hypocrites”, to refer to members of the MEK.
Pourdastan made the remarks at a ceremony to mark the 31st anniversary of Operation Mersad, 26–30 July 1988, which was the last major military operation of the Iran–Iraq War, involving a successful counterattack against a July 1988 military incursion from Iraq, by a military force of about 7,000 members of the MEK.
The MEK was established in the 1960s to express a mixture of Marxism and Islamism. It launched bombing campaigns against the Shah, continuing after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, against the Islamic Republic. Iran accuses the group of being responsible for 17,000 deaths.
Based in Iraq at the time, MEK members were armed and equipped by Iraq to fight against Iran alongside the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during a war which lasted for 8 years.
“During Operation Mersad, the Iraqi Army provided air support and opened the road to Sarpol-e Zahab for the Monafiqeen,” Pourdastan said, adding that the MEK militiamen were then faced with a large number of people who delayed their advance, hence providing the Iranian Army with an opportunity to counter the aggression.
“Thanks to God, the Monafiqeen failed due to the commanders’ acumen and the people’s resistance,” he explained.
The general noted that the Iraqi Army’s eavesdropping became much more powerful after the MEK had joined them.
“The Monafiqeen eavesdropped all of our conversations and were familiar with the key words our warriors used,” he remarked.
Pourdastan then compared the MEK with the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group, saying Daesh is the new version of the MEK, arguing that “we should not depict the enemy as weak and pathetic in our movies.”
On Sunday, government spokesman Ali Rabiei also marked the anniversary of Operation Mersad in his press conference, hailing the victory of the Iranian Army, led by then-Ground Force Chief Brigadier General Ali Sayyad Shirazi, against the MEK.
Sayyad Shirazi was assassinated in 1999 while serving as the deputy chief of the armed forces. The MEK claimed responsibility for the assassination, which it said was in revenge for Operation Mersad.
Rabiei said, the Islamic Republic’s democracy has “foiled the plots hatched by the Monafiqeen and ill-wishers, who both wrongly assumed that the Iranian people would not support the establishment.”
He was drawing a parallel between the MEK’s false belief, before launching the attack, that it had social support in Iran, and the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement last year, which President Rouhani has attributed to Washington’s false belief that the Iranian people were fed-up with the system.
Rabiei then pointed to Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic Republic, saying, “What we see today of U.S. sanctions and measures by the establishment’s ill-wishers closely resembles Monafiqeen’s aggression at the time of Operation Mersad.”
The MEK’s affiliation to the U.S. government attracted attention in 2012 when the latter removed the former from its list of foreign terrorist organizations.
The link became more overt after U.S. President Donald Trump assumed office in 2017. Trump’s associates, including his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his national security advisor John Bolton have attended the MEK’s meetings and praised the group as “democratic alternative” to the Islamic Republic.