The ‘Greater Albania’, a safe shelter for international jihadism

By Margherita Furlan
Jan.23, 2019

The Albanian government has expelled two Iranian diplomats, Ambassador Gholamhossein Mohammadnia and Mohammed Roodaki, an official at the embassy in Tirana, accused of being undercover members of Iranian intelligence. According to The Independent, the two were part of a cell whose task was to organize “a plot to strike the Iranian opposition in Albania”. The move would be implemented following talks with “interested” countries, including Israel and United States. It is no coincidence that the administration of Washington immediately congratulated the Albanian executive for the action taken.

The news released by The Independent hasraised the focus on a scenario so far little studied and remained however out of the range of international attention. Scenario in which United States has entrusted Albania with a central role, and whose goal (one of the ends) appears to increase destabilization of the entire Balkan area.

The protagonist of the whole operation is the so-called Islamic organization of Mujaheddin e-Khalq (MEK) which now has a large base in the Albanian territory. The arrival in Albania of the MEK command is preceded by a very long and tortuous history that deserves to be told in detail.

Mujaheddin e-Khalq were born in 1963, in Iran, with the aim of opposing Western influence in the country and as bitter adversaries of the Shah regime. In 1979 Mek participated in the revolution led by Khomeini but the ideology that characterized itwas a singular combination of Marxism, feminism and Islamism. As such it is completely incompatible with that of the Shiite ayatollahs and the Mek is forced to disperse, while its headquarters moved to Paris in 1981. In this periodMEK “changes skin”, as well as ideologists and financiers and, five years later, it reappears in Iraq, precisely at Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad. It stands out as an autonomous armed formation – some thousands of well-trained fighters, with accompanying families – which supports Saddam Hussein against Iran and appears actively in numerous episodes of the crackdown on Iraqi Kurds. MEK strangely survives the fall of Saddam Hussein and, in 2003, is transferred, by the American winners, literally “weapons and luggage”, in another large military camp that will take, not surprisingly, the name of Camp Liberty. Numerous terrorist attacks and actions of diversion and boycotts against Iran branch off from that outpost. Formally “disarmed” by the US military, included in the list of international terrorist organizations, MEK continues to carry out an intense war and propaganda action against Tehran. Always under the leadership of the headquarters of Paris and always left free to act by the American, Israeli, French secret services. The ambiguity of its location does not prevent it – indeed it helps it – to collect the more or less explicit support of Western political exponents. For example, that of the former mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, along with that of John Bolton, former US representative to the United Nations and current national security adviser. Even former European Commissioner Emma Bonino faces some of her “humanitarian” initiatives. OnNew York Times, in 2012, a list of supporters will appear, including several members of the American Congress, but also R. James Woolsey and Porter J. Goss, former directors of CIA, Louis J. Freeh, former director of FBI, Tom Ridge, former Secretary of Homeland Security under the presidency of George W. Bush, former Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey and former national security adviser, General James L. Jones, under Obama. The US newspaper also illustrated how the ex Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, “cleared Mek, removing it from the” black list “(organization was considered terrorist not only from Iran and Iraq, but also from European Union, Great Britain, USA and Canada). And so we find the MEK in Albania.

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Again with “arms and luggage”. Very expensive business, which has certainly required a substantial airlift and large settlement costs for thousands of people. The organizers of such an exodus were, without any doubt, the American secret services. But why in Albania? And with which tasks?

Someone went to ask that to several Albanian politicians and he was heard, without any embarrassment, something like: “America gave us Kosovo, now we have to give something in return”.

The interview recently released at the Balkans Post by Olsi Jazexhi, a Canadian-Albanian historian specializing in the history of Islam in South Eastern Europe, is interesting: “America is transforming Albania into a safe shelter for international jihadism”.

MEK is an unprecedented presence in Albania, which has also hosted many Islamic fighters before and during the war against Yugoslavia. When US brought the first group of Iranian jihadists to Albania, Iranian government protested publicly and vigorously. At the time, Prime Minister Sali Berisha assured Iranians that the Mek would be hosted in Albania only for humanitarian reasons and no action against Iran would be permitted by the Albanian government. “However, time has shown, – explains Jazexhi – that the Iranian mojahedeen came to Albania not only to seek asylum, but with the intention of transforming Albania into a second Afghanistan, in the heart of Europe”. The mechanism would essentially be the same with which, in the 1980s, Afghan mojahedeen were supported and financed by the Americans to fight the USSR.

And it’s not about indiscretions. In 2016 the same Voice of America announced that Albania would accept 2.000 mojahedeen in exchange for 20 million dollars. Also with US dollars a new camp would be built between Tirana and Durazzo where, according to the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Bojko Borisov, groups of ISIS fighters fleeing from Syria, transported by US Airforce planes, will be displaced.Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, immediately denied.

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In the field of Manza, about 4.400 members of MEK would be “hosted”, living in almost complete isolation, unable to go out, even to have contacts with their families, evidently camped nearby. Something similar to a sect, with strict moral and religious norms to be respected. What happens from those parts is not easily verifiable given the very close surveillance surrounding the camp. But you do not waste time. A recent al-Jazeera documentary revealed the existence of a large group of militants who were trained in the techniques of information-communication diversion: something that could be defined as “cyber-jihad”, ie false news and cyberattacks, both directed against Iran, both for the European public to grow Iran’s fear, to influence the European media in view of a breakdown of relations with Tehran.

In the last year several positions were taken in favor of Mek also by representatives of Italian political scene. An official delegation of Italian Radical Party and the “Nessuno tocchi Caino” association visited the Albanian mujaheddin headquarters, in support of the human rights struggle against the Iranian government. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Monti government, Giulio Terzi, has been distinguished in this direction, flying into one of MEK bases in Albania to announce “unconditional support”, to define its militants as “freedom fighters”, assuring them that “a large part of Italian society is convinced that being on your side means being on the right side of history”. Finally – it is always the words that Giulio Terzi would have pronounced on that occasion, according to the Guardian -: “The mullahs have to leave, the ayatollahs have to leave and must be replaced by a democratic government under the leadership of Mrs. Rajavi, leader of the Mek “. A textbook design of “regime change”: overthrow of a government and subsequent “export of democracy”. Movies already seen in abundance.

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Meanwhile, while the border between Albania and Kosovo is disappearing and Edi Rama, in the name of European standards, and with the applause of Brussels (the same of EU and the same of OTAN), works because the “single window” is adopted also at the border with Macedonia, Montenegro and Greece. Serbia must be isolated and excluded, waiting to be definitively subjected. Great Albania is preparing to become a weapon focused on what will remain of Europe.