Albania expels Iranian terror diplomats

In a surprising move, the Albanian government announced on Wednesday, 19 December that it had expelled Iran's ambassador, Gholamhossein Mohammadnia, and another diplomat for "damaging its national security."  The Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq, (MEK), said last February that Iran's ambassador, Mohammadnia, was a high-ranking official of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).

In March 2018, a car bomb attack targeting a gathering of MEK members in Tirana, the capital of Albania, was foiled.  Two Iranians were temporarily detained and expelled from Albania.  On 19 April, Prime Minister Edi Rama, in an interview with the Albanian Vision Plus TV, referred to the threat posed by the Iranian regime's terrorist attacks.  The Albanian arrests were referenced in the U.S. Department of State's fact sheet on the Iranian regime's terrorism in Europe on 5 July.

The U.S. embassy in Albania, on 20 December released a letter from President Donald Trump thanking Edi Rama for "steadfast efforts to stand up to Iran and its destabilizing activities and efforts to silence the dissidents around the globe."

President Trump's letter and further remarks by the Albanian interior minister, Mr. Sander Lleshi, leave no doubt that the expulsions were made due to the Iranian regime's malignant activities against the MEK in Albania.

In an interview with the Albanian Vision Plus TV, on Thursday evening, Mr. Lleshi said, "If you have closely followed the latest developments in Europe, there has been similar evidence in other European countries where MEK members have been threatened by the Iranian security services[.] ... We have welcomed them as friends.  We do not consider them as a risk or threat to our security, because otherwise we would not have accepted them to Albania.  This is the stance of the Albanian government, the Albanian police and other security authorities towards these individuals."

Flag of Albania.

John Bolton and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani have visited the group in Albania.  Since all the MEK members relocated from Iraq to Albania in 2016, distinguished European and U.S. politicians frequently visit them in Albania, where they built a big camp near the village of Manze on the Adriatic Sea.  The late Senator McCain and a number of ranking U.S. senators including Senator Blunt also visited and supported them in 2017.  The Albanian media reported earlier this week that former congressman Patrick Kennedy, participating in a large gathering of MEK and Albanian citizens in Ashraf in Manze last weekend, coincidentally called on the Albanian government to expel the Iranian ambassador for the country's anti-MEK terrorist activities.

For the purpose of this article, Hassan Mahmoudi, a human rights analyst who writes extensively on Iran and opposition issues, said the expulsion of the Iranian ambassador from Albania for terrorism-related matters and Mr. Lleshi's remarks that the Albanian authorities do not consider the MEK a risk or threat to the security of Albania have foiled two years' efforts of the Iranian regime's fake news campaign in international media to demonize the MEK as a terrorist military cult in Albania.  This is the usual pre-terrorist operation tactic of the Iranian regime to prepare grounds for bombings and assassinations of the MEK victims.

Albania has not yet announced the name of the second diplomat expelled, but sources close to the authorities expressed that he is Mostafa Roodaki, first secretary of the Iranian embassy in Albania.  He was, before moving to Albania, responsible for intelligence stations in all European countries based in Austria.  Security sources said that by paying money, Roodaki used an MEK ex-members to carry out the MOIS conspiracies against the MEK.

The Iranian embassy and MOIS agents in Tirana have also deployed a number of Albanian-language websites and nationals such as Habilian and Gazeta Impakt to demonize the MEK as its pre-terrorist operation tactic. Habilian is run from Iran, but Gazeta Impakt is edited by an Albanian, Olsi Jazexhi.  To escape a lawsuit, Gazeta Impakt does not reveal the name of its editor.  Olsi Jazexhi, at an Iranian website,, frantically attacked the decision to expel the Iranian ambassador and referred to the government of Albania being used as a prostitute.  Olsi Jazexhi is despised in Albania as an advocate of the Iranian regime and an Islamic extremist, regularly attacking Albanian heritage and national heroes such as Skanderbeg, who liberated Albania in the 15th century from the Ottoman Empire.

According to confidential security reports, Roodaki through Olsi Jazexhi organized public meetings in Albania in November 2017, and some MOIS agents, such as Anne Singleton, were invited to misinform the media against the MEK.

report commissioned by the Pentagon and released by the Library of Congress introduces Singleton and her husband, Massoud Khodabandeh, as recruited agents who run the Iran-Interlink website on behalf of the MOIS.  Iran-Interlink is hosted by Ravand Cybertech, an entity run by the Iranian regime, as reported by The American Enterprise Institute.

The Khodabandeh couple introduced themselves as advisers to the Iraqi government.  Colonel Wes Martin (U.S.), former anti-terrorism and force protection officer of all coalition forces in Iraq, writes that their relations with Iraq are nothing but continuous efforts by the Khodabandeh couple to legitimize seven massacres carried out by Iran-backed Iraqi forces against MEK members in two camps outside Baghdad – Ashraf and Liberty.

Although Albania is safer following the expulsion of the Iranian diplomats, the danger is not gone yet.  Apart from deploying Albanian nationals for its end, Iran has established a number of so-called cultural and educational centers in the Balkans as a cover to pursue its terrorist agenda.  One such centers in Albania is the Saadi Foundation, which the Albanian government must shut down, as France did with the Iran-linked Center Zahar last October at the same time that the French authorities took action against the Iranian regime's diplomats for their involvement in terrorism.

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