Background On Participants
Compiled by: Anglo-Iranian Community in Greater London 8 November 2005
Who is Iran-Interlink?
"Iran-Interlink" identifies itself as: Iran Interlink is a pressure group / support organisation which provides a point of contact for families and friends of members of the Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq. It informs about the real nature of the Mojahedin as a religious/personality cult; exposes the Mojahedin’s abuse of its members’ fundamental human rights; pinpoints responsibility for the terrorist actions and human rights abuses of the Mojahedin on leader, Massoud Rajavi; helps individuals who wish to leave the Mojahedin to find refuge; assists those who leave the Mojahedin come to terms with their experiences within and re-establish themselves in the wider community; and reunites people who leave the Mojahedin with their family and friends. Iran Interlink is based in Leeds. Massoud Khodabandeh and his British wife Ann Singleton run the site from their home in Leeds. Both were formerly associated with the dissident Iranian Mojahedin. Singleton was never a member it seems. She became affiliated with Mojahedin supporters in London in the late 80’s and eventually tagged along with some supporters to go to Iraq to visit the Iranian opposition’s National Liberation Army camp for a two month period in the early 90’s. The NLA was in Iraq since 1986 for the purpose of offering viable resistance to the Iranian regime from the only neighbouring state that was possible. Singleton left Iraq after finding herself out of place in a struggle she really didn’t believe in. Khodabandeh was with the Mojahedin until 1996 when he decided to quit the struggle of his own free will and associated with supporters for a brief period after that. Both had disassociated themselves from the organisation quite freely after finding that a life of struggle against the mullahs in Tehran was too difficult. The two married sometime after that. Little was it known that the Iranian MOIS would make an offer that they couldn’t refuse. A short period after leaving the Mojahedin, Khodabandeh was recruited by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) in a covert operation run by the Elteghat (Eclectic) directorate of the MOIS in Tehran. The aim of this operation was to entice, cajole, and bribe former members of the resistance who had quit the struggle to turn against their former comrades-in-arms. They would initially provide intelligence for assassination attempts on resistance activists on European soil and would later lead a vast disinformation campaign to demonise the Mojahedin and ostracise them within Europe and the US where they had a large following. It should be noted that possibly hundreds of former members and supporters have left the ranks of the Mojahedin in its 40 year history for personal reasons. But most still continue to support the Mojahedin by attending protest actions, providing financial support, and participating in grass-roots activities to raise awareness about the issue of democracy in Iran. The Khodabandehs however decided, like a handful of former members, to cast their lot with the Iranian regime and get involved in the MOIS covert operation. Khodabandeh has a busy schedule making expensive trips to France, Netherlands, Belgium, Malaysia and other places. He uses the trips to militate against his former colleagues and present them as terrorists, brainwashers, murderers, torturers, and a host of other unproven allegations. In the political struggle between the Iranian opposition and the Iranian regime of the ayatollahs, Khodabandeh likes to strike a neutral tone, never offering any criticism of his government’s support for terrorism, its support of fundamentalist groups, its irresponsible policy of pursuing nuclear weapons, nor of the regime’s human rights violations in Iran. Most would however say that his fervent attacks on the Mojahedin belie his skewed political sympathies and question his expensive lifestyle of jetting to various countries to attack a group which in the general balance of power offsets the mullahs' murderous rule over Iran. The motive behind Iran-Interlink is even more suspect to Iranian dissidents when it is learnt that Singleton travelled to Tehran in winter 2002, prior to launching the website. On arrival at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport, she met with Intelligence Ministry agents who were interested in her background. It seems Singleton volunteered to help save her new brother-in-law, Mr. Ebrahim Khodabandeh, who was later arrested and extradited to Iran by Syrian authorities while in Syria on the eve of the Gulf War. Ebrahim Khodabandeh has since recanted and is actively engaged in a propaganda war against the PMOI. During her month-long visit to Iran, Ms. Singleton met her mother-in-law and asked her to exert pressure on her son (Ebrahim) to leave the Mojahedin. Ebrahim’s mother later admitted to him that the regime allowed her to leave Iran for a visit to the UK to see Ebrahim the previous year on condition that she would “help” him leave the resistance and return to Iran. Ebrahim Khodabandeh had while in London filed an affidavit in court proceedings confirming that Ann Singleton and his brother had setup Iran-Interlink at the behest of MOIS.
List of Participants and their Background
Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, MEP, Chair of the press conference
Baroness Nicholson on a trip to Iran
The Baroness has for more than twelve years cooperated with Iranian authorities and received direct and indirect funding and support from the Iranian government for her efforts to supposedly provide humanitarian aide to refugees from Iraq who fled to Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. However, it seems that the refugees mostly formed Iranian funded groups such as Hakim’s force, who took refuge in Iran and were trained and funded by Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Iranian regime’s extra-territorial Qods Force, believed responsible for coordinating parts of the insurgency in Iraq today. There is a serious conflict of interest, therefore, in her claims against Iranian opposition forces who seek to change the regime in Iran. As an MEP she has actively lobbied for Iranian interests with European governments and political parties. The Baroness played an instrumental role in brokering the inclusion of the PMOI in the EU terror list as part of a bargain with Tehran. In a meeting in Brussels on 19 March 2002, held on the initiative of the clerical regime and attended by then Tehran’s deputy foreign minister, Emma Nicholson said that she would ask the EU to declare the PMOI as a terrorist group. Baroness Emma Nicholson was quoted in Tehran on 13 February 2003, on one of her numerous trips to Iran, as saying: “Here, our debates on Iraq have been attended by known members of the MKO recently… The MKO have thousands of members inside Iraq and thousands outside… These people are a threat to world security. Their organization strikes silently and with lethal impact. This is Saddam's private, international terrorist army, working against us all… For the sake of our citizens' and for global safety I urge far greater security attention is paid to the MKO. War or no war, the criminals who make up the MKO kill and destroy the innocent.” The Baroness has never criticised the Iranian government for its many abuses of human rights; nor for its support of terrorism throughout the Middle East and beyond; nor for its illegal pursuit of nuclear weapons in secret for 18 years; nor for its suppression of the Iranian people (ethnic, religious and dissident political groups); nor for its hateful words of threats to other UN member states recently. Baroness Nicholson is a famed apologist of the Iranian regime, and a self-proclaimed “good friend” of some top officials in the Iranian government. In a debate in the House of Lords on 22 June 1999 she defended Iran’s leaders against charges of violating the human rights of women, a fact attested to by 51 UN condemnations of Iran’s human rights violations: “Women in Islam have traditionally and historically had more rights than women in Christianity. I refer particularly to the rights of widows in Islam.
But women in Iran had rights before and after the revolution of 1979…. Two successive presidents have done a great deal to strengthen the position of women in Iran. I understand that the current president had a very widespread vote from women, as did the previous president, whose daughter heads the women's organisation in Iran. She has been a friend of mine for a little while and has assisted me in finding women to set up a women's group of Europeans and women from a number of Islamic nations. The Iranian women who worry me most strongly both inside and outside Iran are members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organisation, the antigovernment terrorist group. It consists of 10,000 women who train in camps inside Iraq.” Baroness Nicholson issued a press release on 3 February 2003, on the eve of the Gulf War and claimed to have passed evidence to Hans Blix that Iraqi WMD were being hidden in “MKO bases.” Claims of WMD in Iraq later proved to be totally false, but Baroness Nicholson was adamant at the time that her “impeccable sources” had provided clear information on the find, part of a string of allegations, that set the stage for the bombing of neutral Iranian resistance bases in the course of the war, and led to the death of scores of innocent Iranian dissidents. Baroness Nicholson in an interview with Radio Farda on 18 April 2003, openly and hatefully engaged in incitement for the wholesale killing of Mojahedin members and dissidents in Iraq on the eve of the Gulf War: “I welcome bombing the bases of MKO by coalition forces and I warn the world that this group should be destroyed, otherwise they’ll start their activities from another place in the world.” Emma Nicholson will chair the press conference that will demand Iranian dissidents face trials and be “brought to justice” for their opposition to the one of the most brutal regime’s in the world.
Karim Haqi, MOIS ringleader in Europe
Karim Haqi has collaborated with the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) since 1995. In the past ten years, he has been involved in a campaign of disinformation and intelligence gathering operations by the clerical regime against Iranian dissidents and activists, particularly sympathizers of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) in Europe. In 1991, during the first Persian Gulf War, Karim Haqi, requested to leave the PMOI for personal health reasons. He stated that he could no longer continue the struggle in the ranks of the PMOI and asked to be transferred to Baghdad.
In a letter in November 1992 written to the PMOI, his wife, Mohtaram Baba'i, confirmed this, saying: "As you know, after the bombing raid on Camp Ashraf, the PMOI transferred me, my husband and our child to Jalalzadeh building in the heart of Baghdad for greater protection. During this period, in addition to all the accommodations that all combatants and members of the PMOI received, we were given special treatment and added accommodations. We
were also provided with an exclusive apartment, a car to commute in Baghdad, and a monthly allowance of 1,000 dinars." In this letter, Haqi’s wife requested to be sent to the United States. In a letter dated 28 October 1992, Haqi wrote: "I ask that until the arrangements are made for me and my family to go to the United States, and in order to prevent the clerical regime and its agents from exploiting my decision to leave the ranks of the Resistance, I be allowed to return to work at Camp Ashraf camp for a six-month period." Ultimately, in January 1993, the PMOI assisted Karim Haqi and his family to relocate to France, where his living expenses were paid by the PMOI. He received a sum of about $10,000 in stipends over a period of several months. He decided to go to the Netherlands and apply for asylum there. Haqi lived in the Netherlands independently since May 1993. Until 1995 Karim Haqi had not uttered a word against the PMOI. In the spring of 1995, after having lived in Europe and having had no contact with the PMOI for three years, he suddenly claimed that he had been imprisoned and tortured by the PMOI in Iraq and began to churn out a variety of allegations that were actually part of the MOIS disinformation operation that had begun. Haqi has travelled to Malaysia and Singapore often, a popular meeting place for undercover MOIS operatives who would not want to be seen going to Tehran. He also has no trouble funding his publication Peyvand, his travels, and his lavish personal lifestyle since changing his tune to fervently attack the PMOI as the main opposition to the Iranian regime. A long way since he was receiving support from the organisation in France. In late 1996, Haqi and a number of MOIS operatives went to see the United Nations Human Rights Commission's Special Representative on the situation of human rights in Iran, Prof. Maurice Danby Copithorne, in Geneva and claimed that they had been imprisoned and tortured by the PMOI. They unsuccessfully tried to convince him to devote part of his report to the violations of human rights by the PMOI. Haqi also led a dozen likeminded persons in similar meetings in Europe with representatives of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch in Germany to dissuade these organisations from focusing on the Iranian regime’s violations and instead asking them to condemn the movement who had lost tens of thousands of members and supporters to the regime’s firing squads. Haqi operates out of an outfit called “Payvand” which it has emerged is a front organisation for the Iranian MOIS in the Netherlands. A fellow MOIS agent, Jamshid Tafrishi who was a family friend of Karim Haqi, later revealed, "In April 1996, Karim Haqi met with Saeed Emami (leader of the serial murders in Iran and notorious MOIS leader) in Singapore and Peyvand publication was used as a cover to receive money for members of the network. After releasing the first issue of Peyvand in July 1997, Amir Hossein Taqavi (the European General Director of the Intelligence Ministry who was in charge of the general office of the special operations who directly guided the terrorist operations abroad) contacted me and asked for my views on the publication.” It seems that Haqi’s extensive contacts with the MOIS even drew attention from Dutch internal security. They interviewed him on several occasions and warned him about his contacts and receiving money from the MOIS. Haqi describes one such encounter in Peyvand: "On Tuesday, 1 February 2000, around 4:30 pm, a Dutch undercover security agent went to Karim Haqi’s residence in the Elst Township… After reading a list of names, the agent added: ‘All of you have ties with the Iranian regime and have formed a large network…’ The security agent said: ‘We have sufficient information that you have relations with the [Iranian] regime and it [the regime] pays for your publication. We also
know that Mr. Shams Haeri is connected with the [Iranian] Intelligence Ministry and his brother is the contact person…’ The security agent said: ‘We want a calm Netherlands and are not interested in demonstrations and clashes here. It would suit you better to stop this kind of work and go after your normal business and think about the future of your children." Karim Haqi was an organizer of a seminar on 18 April 2003 against the Mojahedin in Paris, which was later revealed to be at the behest of the MOIS. During Mrs. Rajavi's detention in Paris, he was involved in a coordinated campaign to present false allegations against the organization to prop up an openly flimsy case for the prosecution. Last month, Haqi accompanied another colleague, Behzad Alishahi, to Paris to introduce him as a former official of the PMOI and to join with him in attacking the Mojahedin. Three months earlier, in July, he had also joined another MOIS agent, Javad Firouzmand, in Paris for the same.
Javad Firouzmand, notorious MOIS agent
Firouzmand left a Mojahedin headquarters in Iraq on 15 July 2001 and attempted to go to the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad with false identification papers. He had stolen three weapons, walkie-talkies, a car and a large amount of cash. He was arrested by the Iraqi police on his way to the Iranian Embassy. Consistent with Iraqi law, the police referred the case to the courts to prosecute Firouzmand on espionage charges. He expressed remorse and pleaded with the Mojahedin to allow him to return. The PMOI appealed to Iraqi police to release him to the organization’s custody to prevent his prosecution and punishment and gave him the choice of going to Iran to live a normal life. Firouzmand insisted that he wanted to stay at PMOI camps. On April 28, 2004, in the course of interviews conducted by a team from the U.S. Department of State at Camp Ashraf, Firouzmand left for the exit facility controlled by U.S. forces. He was repatriated to Iran on 9 March 2005. His contact with the Iranian regime’s embassy in Baghdad spanned several years and it emerged that his MOIS handler in Tehran was named Mohammad Alavi. After the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Firouzmand was tasked to track down Mr. Massoud Rajavi and carry out Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's order to assassinate him (PMOI statement, 14 April 2003). The MOIS and the Revolutionary Guards Corps' Qods (Jerusalem) Force which directed the assassination of Mr. Rajavi's elder brother Prof. Kazem Rajavi in April 1990 in Geneva, blatantly boasted of such a plan on 6 July 2005 on the websites affiliated with the Ministry.
Behzad Alishahi, Recruited by MOIS and despatched from Tehran
Behzad Alishahi, was among those who left Camp Ashraf 15 months ago, on 4 July 2004, two days after the PMOI personnel were recognized by the Multi-National Force-Iraq as protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention. In a statement on 24 July 2004, the NCRI Secretariat reported the departure of a group of individuals, who given a choice of staying in Ashraf or leaving to pursue a normal life, had decided to leave. He was handed over by US forces to the Iranian regime on 28 February 2005 at the Khosravi border crossing. A representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross oversaw the transfer. He is listed at number 7, in the document sent to Tehran from Kermanshah when these individuals entered Iranian territory . After recanting he was recruited by the MOIS. Alishahi carried out several missions in Iran for six months. He accompanied MOIS henchmen on visits to Mojahedin and NCRI family members to intimidate and coerce them to abandon their anti-regime activities. Eventually, the MOIS decided to dispatch Alishahi to Germany this summer and more recently to France to participate in its disinformation campaign against the Mojahedin.