The Iranian regime has a long history of targeting the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) with disinformation campaigns aimed at discrediting and demonizing the group. The regime has used various tactics, including spreading false information and propaganda through state-controlled media, paid social media trolls, and using front organizations to launch smear campaigns against the PMOI.
On May 11, the regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its terrorist Quds Force disseminated false information via their media outlets, alleging that the PMOI, has carried out an attack on a school in Ahvaz, located in southwest Iran, using makeshift homemade.
According to an article published by the Tasnim news agency, which is associated with the Quds Force, the PMOI launched homemade mortars at a school in Ahvaz over the past few days as part of an effort by dissident groups to perpetuate the crisis in the country’s schools. However, due to the lack of accuracy of these mortar rounds, they missed the school and instead struck a nearby residence.
A PMOI spokesperson refuted these accusations, stating that the organization did not launch makeshift mortar rounds in Ahvaz or target any school and that no residence near a school had been hit. The spokesperson characterized these false reports as ridiculous and fabricated news stories in response to a campaign by courageous youths throughout the country who have been targeting the IRGC and the regime’s repressive apparatus. This campaign also includes the recent disruption and takeover of the regime’s Foreign Ministry websites and applications by these brave individuals, further exposing the regime’s illicit activities.
One of the leaked documents from the Foreign Ministry, which was published by the “Ghiam Sarnegouni” Telegram channel, reveals that a Political Committee was established by the Secretariat of the Supreme National Security Council to counter the MEK. Other committees were defined to utilize the full capacity of all entities in this regard. However, the MOIS was the main entity responsible for countering the MEK and implementing the necessary measures.
The committee held six meetings from January 9, 2019, to February 4, 2021, and was chaired by the Foreign Minister’s Deputy in Political Affairs, with representatives from various entities, including the MOIS, the Quds Force, IRGC Intelligence, the State Security Forces, Interpol Police, the Attorney General, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, and all relevant Foreign Ministry departments.
During the first four meetings, the committee focused on monitoring and reporting the MEK’s activities and understanding their nature correctly. This discrediting was to be done in all fields, not just politics. The Political Committee was responsible for the political aspect of this discrediting campaign, while other committees were responsible for other matters.
In the fifth and sixth sessions, the committee specified the necessary methods to discredit the MEK and made certain decisions. The report provides details of the MEK’s measures and strategies, along with the necessary solutions to discredit the MEK.
Part of the report from the second session of the Foreign Ministry’s meeting to counter the MEK states: “The [MEK] possesses intelligence capabilities and power. They can also recruit and establish contact with certain individuals and political figures in Europe. The [MEK] can deal political, economic, and prestige blows to the Islamic Republic of Iran up to a certain point. They have been very active in identifying the country’s elements that are involved in circumventing sanctions… Therefore, they should be considered a serious threat.”
The report of the third session states: “Unlike the monarchists, the [MEK] have unity and organized ranks. They have also announced that they aim to overthrow [the regime] by forming Resistance Units. The [MEK] are not an alternative, but they are the only organization that has an agenda to become one. Therefore, the [MEK] are both a dissident group aiming to overthrow the regime and a persistent alternative… In general, the [MEK] have certain capabilities, including gathering intelligence, having centralized leadership, and possessing economic and social abilities.”
The regime has a long history of systematically spreading misinformation against the MEK. One of the most common tactics used by the Iranian regime is to portray the PMOI as a terrorist organization. The Iranian regime has also sought to portray the PMOI as a cult, using propaganda to spread false information about the group’s leadership and activities. In recent years, the Iranian regime has increased its efforts to target the PMOI, both within Iran and abroad.
The campaign in question speaks not only about the regime but also about the opposition, particularly considering the increasing fury of the ongoing protests and resistance of the Iranian people. The ruling clerics have devised a sophisticated and intricate system of deception to fabricate information about the PMOI.
Although these fabrications were revealed and disclosed by former regime officials as part of an MOIS-led campaign against the PMOI, state media has continued to propagate and expand upon these falsehoods repeatedly.
The regime has a substantial intelligence network that includes a specialized division dedicated to countering the PMOI, known as the Nefaq Division, which is overseen by the MOIS. The term “Nefaq” or “Monafeq” is derived from the Quranic expression for hypocrisy and was a label used by the regime’s former Supreme Leader Khomeini to undermine the organization and hinder its increasing popularity within Iran.