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Terror Follows Slander: How to Decipher the Timing and Intensity of Tehran’s Psychological Warfare

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Vahid Salemi

Recently, I was surprised when I heard from a friend about one of the latest attempts against the Iranian opposition and myself by the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). He shared the link of a dubious website, poorly designed, that was meant to raise doubts and undermine my credibility and the organizations to which I am affiliated.


It was indeed an inconsistent zigzag of allegations from financial dependency on India’s prime minister, Modi, to associations with a colorful array of political and business-related personalities that are supposedly working for ‘Team Safavi’ on a cross-Atlantic fashion.

Showing the regime's incredibly shallow take on domestic U.S. politics, the main slogan for this webpage is "Make Iran Great Again"! For obvious reasons, it has falsely associated the U.S. and Israel Iranian Resistance. The MOIS's hilarious PR project claims that Team Safavi is the "most trusted, most respected," and - wait for it - "most wanted!"

The fake website in my name is not the only example. The MOIS had also contacted some Iranian academics who had discredited a bogus poll about Iranian public opinion vis-à-vis the opposition.

Although comical in practice, the message that comes through is dead serious: Inside Iran, a cornered and paranoid regime is on the defensive and smear campaigns are always followed by terror plots.

In June 2018, a desperate Iranian regime sent one of its official diplomats to bomb a huge gathering of the Iranian opposition in the heart of Europe. The plot failed miserably after authorities in Europe arrested four agents, including the veteran diplomat. Last year, the detained "diplomat" was officially sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Belgian court for the plot to bomb the rally of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) near Paris. If successful, hundreds of prominent international dignitaries and western citizens in attendance would have either died or sustained serious injuries.


Assadi is the first sitting diplomat of the regime to be tried on terrorism charges in Europe since Iran's 1979 revolution. Tehran's mullahs were so afraid of more leaks and further disgrace that they even ordered the diplomat to avoid appealing the verdict.

On the brink of this year's large rally, scheduled for July, Tehran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the MOIS have marshaled their agents and cyber army to harass opposition members, collect intelligence, and propagate misinformation. At the same time, intelligence agents have contacted opposition members to conduct espionage and to attack their personal electronic devices.

Several members of the NCRI have also been the targets of phishing messages by MOIS agents in recent weeks. And the regime's campaign has also included violence, with a rally of Iranian Resistance supporters in Brussels coming under attack in May by the operatives of the regime and a ridiculous exhibit in Stockholm in June.

The embattled regime's desperation to attack the organized resistance comes at a time when nationwide protests are on the rise and the MEK's Resistance Units have significantly expanded their activities to overthrow the religious tyranny.

Throughout 2021, Resistance Units carried out 2,230 operations against the regime, disrupting government websites, taking over surveillance systems, and organizing protests across the country. Inflation and unemployment are skyrocketing and internationally, the regime has little or no viable occasion to escape crippling sanctions.


Despite all this, the NCRI will hold its annual summit in July calling for a free Iran. It is expected that, as was the case on previous occasions, hundreds of international dignitaries will deliver speeches in support of the NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi's will offer a Ten-Point Plan for a free, secular, non-nuclear and democratic republic in Iran.

As the Resistance's breathing space continues to expand at an impressive rate, the Iranian regime continues to suffocate at home and internationally. That should provide at least some immediate stimulus to correct western policy toward Tehran by prioritizing decisiveness over appeasement.

The MOIS and the IRGC certainly continue to pose threats and want to scare off Iranians and their organized resistance. We on the other side, though vigilant and alerted, continue to be dangerous for the regime and regardless of the stakes, they can never diminish our resolve for regime change.


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