Iran’s regime & its lobbies are terrified of even a single Twitter account

On June 9, The Intercept published an article by Murtaza Mohammad Hussain in which he claimed I, being an Iranian dissident/activist, am a “persona” and my Twitter account is managed by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the main Iranian opposition group.

Following the publication, Iranian regime lobbyists abroad and Tehran’s trolls launched an orchestrated attack against me.

Although Iranians in exile and foreign dignitaries strongly supported me, Twitter temporarily suspended my account and reopened after gaining reassurance. As a result, the Iranian regime failed on an international stage in silencing my voice of exposing the mullahs’ crimes.

More than all parties and in an unbelievable capacity, Iranian regime officials – from its UK ambassador to its oppressive entities inside Iran – were cheering The Intercept article and the suspension of my Twitter account.

The Fars news agency, associated to Tehran’s terrorist-designated Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), praised The Intercept as an “investigative platform.”

“This outlet unveiled a famous account and revealed it to be an anti-Iranian project run by the [MEK]. Twitter suspended this account.”

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Fars news agency covering The Intercept hit piece on Heshmat Alavi

Prior to this, Twitter had deleted a network of 2,800 Iran-linked fake accounts on May 28.

Two weeks later, nearly another 4,800 Tehran-associated accounts were also deleted, according to Reuters.

In the span of just two weeks, Twitter deleted more than 7,500 Iran-linked accounts. Some of these accounts played an active role in the campaign against me and other Iranian dissident activists.

However, the question is that why did this “investigative platform” (according to the IRGC’s Fars news agency) not write a single word about the 7,500 fake accounts, yet went the distance through a 3,000-word hit piece to claim my account is fake?

The disgraced Iran lobby group, NIAC, and its operative supporting Murtaza Hussain’s Intercept article is yet further proof of its fake nature and direct association to Tehran. The Intercept article provoked NIAC founder Trita Parsi to such an extent that he threatened to hold accountable credible U.S. outlets, that unlike The Intercept, are not in warm waters with Iran’s regime. Trita Parsi intends to silence the voice of all Iranian dissidents.

Who should be associated to this utter shame? Murtaza Hussain or Trita Parsi?

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NIAC founder Trita Parsi threatening to hold U.S. media accountable on Heshmat Alavi

For those not informed, recently Iranians on Twitter once again voiced their widespread hatred vis-à-vis NIAC. In the past, there was the “#Shut_Up_NIAC” hashtag and now the “#NIACLobbies4Mullahs” was trending in powerful manner.

I have asked myself repeatedly about the objective of The Intercept article that is full of obvious lies, and how it was a completely orchestrated effort with the Iranian regime’s troll cyber army and known Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) agents.

Did they seek to force me to come forward and reveal my true name to have the Iranian regime target me, and my family and friends (especially in Iran)? Or was Tehran and The Intercept thinking Heshmat Alavi is an easy tool to target and victimize in order to deliver a blow to the PMOI/MEK? Maybe both.

It is interesting that neither the Iranian regime, nor its lobbyists in the West, nor The Intercept article, were ever able to debunk the facts and revelations placed forward by me through my Twitter account. Instead, they put all journalism standards aside and attempted to portray me as a “persona.”

If we take a close look at The Intercept’s sources, we realize that Murtaza Hussain “coincidentally” interviewed three known Iranian regime operatives: Hassan Heyrani, Reza Sadeghi and Massoud Khodabandeh!

A simple Google reveals that Hassan Heyrani – cited by The Intercept as a high-ranking MEK defector – actually requested MEK membership and was expelled by this organization on April 10, 2018, “due to intelligence and security concerns.”

A German court also rejected claims placed forward by Der Spiegel – citing Hassan Heyrani as their source – as baseless and lies.

An Iranian proverb goes, “Asked for an eye-witness, the fox offered his tail.”

“Collusion is suspected; or, one witness for his own benefit.”

Murtaza Hussain “coincidentally” cites two other Iranian regime operatives.

Reza Sadeghi was an MOIS operative who joined the PMOI/MEK from Canada and relocated to Camp Ashraf, the organization’s former main base in Iraq. Following his expulsion from the PMOI/MEK in 2005, he returned to Iran.

In March 2008, he received a passport from the MOIS and ordered to begin his anti-MEK activities. He returned to Iraq and was arrested by Iraqi police near Camp Ashraf.

Being expelled from the MEK back in 2005, how could Sadeghi have information about an issue relating to the years between 2014 – when I launched my Twitter account – and 2019?

The Intercept says Jebeli lives in Canada. Iranians in Canada have informed me he is so utterly disgraced that years ago he was accused of child abduction.

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Reza Sadeghi (Jebeli) accused of child abduction in Canada

Massoud Khodabandeh is the third source cited by The Intercept. This individual is a known MOIS operative with a history of cooperating with Tehran going back to more than 20 years.

The Library of Congress issued a Pentagon-requested report describing Khodabandeh and his wife, Ann Singleton, as figures recruited by the MOIS in the 1990s who are now and have been involved in publishing fake news about the MEK.

Veteran Col. Wesley Martin, former Anti-terrorism/Force Protection Officer of all Coalition forces in Iraq, writes this about Khodabandeh – who describes himself as “director of Middle East Strategy Consultants,” which is nothing but a cloak:

“The Middle East Strategy Consultants seemed bogus from the onset and an investigation of its public records reveals it existed for a very short time before dissolving in 2013. The Huffington Post continues to name Masoud Khodabandeh as the entity’s director.

“It is worth noting that all websites used by Khodabandeh, such as mesconult.com, Iran-Interlink and khodabandeh.org are hosted by Ravand Cybertech, an entity run by the Iranian regime, as reported by Stand for Peace, a Jewish-Muslim interfaith organization.”

Due to Murtaza Hussain’s pro-Iranian regime approach, of course using historically disgraced “sources” with known pasts linked to Iran’s MOIS against Tehran’s dissidents is probably very satisfying and not shameful at all.

Especially since the Iranian regime used these very individuals to justify its foiled terrorist plots in 2018 in Albania and France against the MEK.

Murtaza Hussain is also active in Twitter promoting the Iranian regime’s talking points. He specifically describes Hassan Rouhani, the regime’s president, as a “moderate.”

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Murtaza Mohammad Hussain is quite fond of Iranian regime President Hassan Rouhani

Interesting how Murtaza Hussain never refers to this horrific reality that over 3,800 individuals have been executed to this day during the tenure of the “moderate” Rouhani.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rightfully said:

“Here in the West, President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif are often held apart from the regime’s unwise terrorist and malign behavior. They are treated somehow differently… The West says: ‘Boy, if only [Rouhani and Zarif] could control Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Qasem Soleimani, then things would be great.’”

Iranians are very familiar with such methods. When dictators reach the end of their lifespan and become desperate, they always demonize their dissidents as fake or unreal. And there are always “reporters” who presell their dignity to repeat such ridiculous claims.

During the 2009 uprising in Iran, former Iranian regime president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described the millions of protesters pouring into the streets as mere “riff-raff.”

People were heard chanting the next day in their demonstrations:

“Doktor-e Kapshen pareh, khashak ke pa nadare!”

(Doctor with a torn overcoat, riff-raff doesn’t walk!)

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Iranians to former regime president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: “Doktor-e Kapshen pareh, khashak ke pa nadare!” (Doctor with a torn overcoat, riff-raff doesn’t walk!)

Forty years ago, during the last days of the Shah’s dictatorship, due to the imposed martial law people would go to their rooftops at nights to chant anti-regime slogans.

General Azhari, the Shah’s last prime minister, referred to these chants as cassette tapes and not real protesters.

In response, people demonstrating in the streets chanted:

“Azhari Goosaleh, Bazam migi navare? Navar ke pa nadareh!”

(Azhari, you [idiot], still think it’s tape? Tapes don’t walk!”)

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Iranians to the Shah’s last prime minister who accused them of being fake: “Azhari Goosaleh, Bazam migi navare? Navar ke pa nadareh!” (Azhari, you [idiot], still think it’s tape? Tapes don’t walk!”)

Iran oppressing dissident voice

The signs of a campaign that resulted in my Twitter account being suspended shows the organized and coordinated nature of an effort by the regime in Iran, its apologists/lobbyists in the West and supporters of the Tehran appeasement policy.

This, first and foremost, makes it clear that the Iranian regime – relying on execution, torture and crackdown to oppress the Iranian nation – is resorting to assassinations and political terror to silence all dissident voices abroad, especially on social media. This is parallel to the regime’s filtering of the internet and social media platforms inside Iran.

Many Iranians have contacted me, supporting my efforts and posted many tweets calling on Twitter to open my account and also shed light on the Iranian regime’s malign measures. These Iranians consider my voice as a source revealing the truth about Iran’s regime.

In these circumstances, revealing Tehran’s crackdown of its dissidents is of the utmost importance. That is exactly why I am continuing my efforts and will not back down or be silenced. I ask everyone in support of free speech and democracy to support the cause  of the oppressed people of Iran.

#WeAreAllHeshmat

#FreeAlavi

#HeshmatAlavi

My Twitter account has been suspended

You know you’re doing something right when Iran’s regime launches an army of apologists/lobbyists and fake accounts/bots against you. Twitter has suspended my account after a highly biased article in The Intercept against me that raised false allegations.

I was not provided any explanation by Twitter on why my account is being suspended and not provided the chance to reply to this article and the accounts raising allegations against me.

I kindly ask you to raise your voice and have @Twitter and @jack open my account so I can reply and debunk this article.

The mullahs are so utterly terrified of being exposed that they are accusing me of being fake.

Firstly:

No, I will never reveal my real identity or photograph. Not as long as the mullahs’ regime is in power. No activist in his/her right mind would do so. That would place all of my family, friends and myself, both inside & outside of Iran, in complete danger.

Secondly:

I will not reply to any emails or messages of any kind from The Intercept because their intentions are obvious as a biased, left-wing outlet.

They don’t deserve my reply.

Let’s begin with a claim made by the Intercept citing The Washington Post.

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-No one can prove WaPo’s claim of a White House official actually sending them my Forbes article.

-The notion is actually quite flattering. And also, considering the fact that I have cited Iran’s own state outlets, I am right about the IRGC. Another reason why Tehran is after me.

The Intercept’s next claim:

“Heshmat Alavi is a persona run by a team of people from the political wing of the MEK,” said Hassan Heyrani, a high-ranking defector from the MEK who said he had direct knowledge of the operation.

The source:

Heyrani claims to be a “high-ranking defector.” A simple Google search reveals how he is parroting Tehran’s talking points to known Tehran apologists writing in a variety of left-wing propaganda outlets, including the Independent, The Guardian & Al Jazeera English.

This I am damn proud of:

“The body of work published under Alavi’s name takes a consistently hawkish line toward the Iranian government and President Hassan Rouhani.”

The Intercept cites “Reza Sadeghi” who is said to have left the MEK back in 2008, but claims to know who launched the “Heshmat Alavi” account. Interesting how The Intercept itself cites the fact that my Twitter account was launched in 2014.

So how could have Sadeghi known about Alavi back in 2008?

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Looking deeper into The Intercept article citing an unnamed “source.”

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The article then cites Massoud Khodabandeh.

FYI:

UK MP Sir David Amess: “Mr Khodabandeh and his wife, Ann Singleton, have long engaged in attacks and defamation campaigns against the PMOI.”

https://t.co/p2AExfQvAW

“The Pentagon-commissioned report claims that Mrs. Singleton and her Iranian husband, Massoud Khodabandeh, 56, agreed to work for the regime in return for saving the life of his jailed brother…” https://fas.org/irp/world/iran/mois-loc.pdf …

“Anne Singleton, a British citizen, and Mr Massoud Khodabandeh, have been denounced for their activities in support of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence & Security (MOIS), especially via their http://Iran-interlink.org  website.”

https://t.co/geFguoKEBS

This thread about a @tparsi article sheds more light on Massoud Khodabandeh.

https://twitter.com/HeshmatAlavi/status/1042360480327716864

Now let’s look at some of the people (Iran regime apologists/lobbyists) running The Intercept’s talking points.

 

Why is @Sanam24 angry at me?

I’ve debunked her pro-Iran work.

https://twitter.com/HeshmatAlavi/status/1062435408376676353 

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Why is @_merat angry at me?

I’ve debunked his pro-Iran work.

https://twitter.com/HeshmatAlavi/status/1060982493392920576

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Why is @Cirincione angry at me?

I’ve debunked his pro-Iran work.

https://twitter.com/HeshmatAlavi/status/1048256959500242944

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Why is @Azodiac83 angry at me?

I’ve debunked his pro-Iran work.

https://twitter.com/HeshmatAlavi/status/1079829052414984192

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Why is @asiehnamdar angry at me?

I’ve debunked her pro-Iran work.

https://twitter.com/HeshmatAlavi/status/1123688787496849411

https://twitter.com/HeshmatAlavi/status/1121844211719049219

 

Why is @Ali7azdeh (@Jedaaal) angry at me?

I’ve revealed his true nature.

https://twitter.com/HeshmatAlavi/status/1100089780405178370

https://twitter.com/HeshmatAlavi/status/1115337914915991553

 

Why is @tarakangarlou angry at me?

I’ve promoted a thread by @RJBrodsky debunking her.

https://twitter.com/HeshmatAlavi/status/1130815954965979138

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Here’s another reason why this group are angry at me.

I’ve exposed how @YasmineTaeb, a member of @NIACouncil, a pro-Iran lobby group in DC, is seeking election in the Virginia Senate.

https://twitter.com/HeshmatAlavi/status/1137407953861062658

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The Intercept also cites @geoffgolberg.

His work on the MEK was easily debunked by

https://twitter.com/anakin_ww/status/1086679212885532672

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The list goes on.

The target of this article is not me. It’s the Iranian opposition group MEK.

Why do I support the MEK?

1) They have an organization.

2) They have an agenda.

3) They are serious and dedicated.

That’s another reason why Iran’s regime wants me dead.

 

While The Intercept accuses me of being fake and Twitter has wrongfully suspended my account, here’s a look at some of the bots trolling me.

 

 

Thank you!

I will.

 

My request is for everyone who can to raise their voice to Twitter. They have wrongfully suspended my account without providing any explanation and after a highly biased article full of lies and allegations against me.

Twitter should open my account and allow me to reply.

ANALYSIS: How Iran’s regime views the internet

Al Arabiya

For a short while Iran’s cyber security threats and its use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter came under the spotlight. This is good, but more is needed.

Iran runs a cyber-army and what has been unearthed recently is just the tip of the iceberg. According to Facebook, an important portion of this network was linked to an internet organization associated to the regime’s state-run TV/radio apparatus.

Reuters reports how this network is active in 11 languages across the globe, busy spreading fake news and pro-Iran political propaganda on the web. This grid, however, is only a small portion of the Iranian regime’s cyber-army, mostly directed by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and Bassij paramilitary force.

Dual approach

In recent years, the IRGC has also launched numerous cyber attacks targeting various banks, scientific centers, economic and industrial facilities in the United States, hacking their internet networks in the process. US officials have in response sanctioned individuals associated to this network.

Interesting is how the Iranian regime has a double standard approach in regards to the internet, considering it both an opportunity and a threat. Tehran takes advantage of the internet as a medium to promote its reactionary mentality, “export revolution” (read extremism) and also post fake news about its dissidents.

On the other hand, it’s quite interesting how the regime deprives the Iranian people of free access to the internet and its officials describe the internet as a threat for the regime in its entirety, going the distance to limit access.

A closer look

The Iranian regime’s cyber army is mainly controlled by the IRGC, centrally based in Tehran and commanded by an IRGC division stationed in the capital.

Ghasam.ir is the main website of this entity and more than 2,500 other sites are actively controlled through this medium, according to senior IRGC cyber-army officials.

Tehran’s IRGC cyber-army battalions are designed based on the regime’s needs in cyber-warfare and responses to cultural issues. At least one cyber-army battalion is established for each section of the large Iranian capital.

According to the regime’s terminology, these websites are responsible for launching “currents” on international, cultural and economic issues. IRGC Bassij members involved in social media and creating “currents” are literally creating fake news and/or behind special propaganda campaigns involving complete lies. A large number of the personnel active in this field of work are official reporters of the Bassij Press network.

Bassij cyber-army battalions have throughout the years expanded in various cities across Iran. The IRGC and Bassij have also embedded cyber-army units in all government and state entities, most importantly the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).

The technical and communications means available in this entity allow the IRGC cyber-army to expand its activities across the globe.

The IRIB cyber unit consists of seven such battalions and 1,200 personnel, according to the IRGC-associated Youth Journalists Club. The IRIB has also launched other cyber units to confront “the enemy’s soft war” against the regime and “present to the world the objectives and goals sought through the Islamic revolution,” according to Iranian officials talking to state media.

Iran has also established cyber units in a variety of other sectors, including the country’s important colleges and universities, religious schools and even the “Cyber Hizbullah,” in charge of organizing the cyber activities of IRGC Bassij and other such units.

A religious scholar sporting rings and holding his worry beads types on a computer at a school in Qom on 18 February 2000. (AFP)

 

Controlling the internet

The Iranian regime also uses all means provided by the internet to limit the Iranian people’s access to the world wide web. Tehran’s clerics understand very well that with the free flow of information the entire crackdown apparatus imposed on the Iranian people will begin to fissure.

As a result, the regime’s ideological pillars will weaken and Iranians across the country will gain knowledge of this regime’s corruption and economic bankruptcy. This literally represents an existential threat for the mullahs’ regime.

Iran’s 2009 and the recent Dec/Jan uprisings showed how protesters use social media networks such as Twitter, Telegram and Instagram to organize anti-regime demonstrations. In response, the Iranian regime has a tendency to block or limit the people’s access to the internet and social media platforms at times of crises.

Tehran’s clerics are also known to pursue plans to launch a “national internet network” aimed at completely blocking off the Iranian people from the internet and social medial networks. This, however, has become an impossible hurdle due to the regime’s technological and financial weaknesses.

The Iranian regime’s concerns about Telegram, a popular messaging app used by over 40 million people inside Iran, is a very clear indication.

“In a discussion with [Iranian President Hassan] Rouhani we emphasized if Telegram’s vocal service is launched we will not be able to control anything,” said Hossein Nejat, deputy of the IRGC Intelligence Organization and in charge of the crackdown and arrest of cyber activists.

The Iranian regime has also failed to completely block Telegram. Senior regime officials have continuously encouraged people to use Iran-made messaging apps, only to prove a failure. The Iranian people simply don’t trust any indigenous software, knowing their information will be at the Iranian regime’s disposal immediately.

Iran’s concerns of people fully accessing the internet indicates the clerical regime’s political and intellectual failure and inability in confronting the modern world and the Iranian people’s protest movement against their reactionary apparatus.

The international community can easily stand shoulder to shoulder with the Iranian people by both sanctioning Iran’s IRIB and providing free and unhindered internet access to the Iranian people.