The “cybernetic” narrative – is it Iran after the attack on Albania?

On July 14, Hamid Noori, a former Iranian official, was sentenced to life in prison by a Swedish court for war crimes related to the mass executions of political prisoners in Iran in 1988.

Noori was arrested in November 2019 after getting off a flight arriving at Stockholm airport from Iran. The Swedish police took action on the basis of a criminal complaint based on the testimony of former political prisoners.

According to the court, Hamid Noori, 61, played a significant role in the murders of political prisoners between July and September 1988, when he was an assistant prosecutor at Gohardasht prison in Karaj (Iran).

Most of the murdered political prisoners Noori is accused of belonged to the Mojaheddin e-Khalq (MEK) group and a small portion to the Iranian left. The order for their execution came from the then leader of the Islamic Republic, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, following an attack during the Iran-Iraq War by six members of the MEK.

Secret tribunals known as the ‘Death Committee’ interrogated and sentenced thousands of prisoners to death. Current Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was one of four judges who sat in the courts, although he denies any involvement in the murder.

The MEK, also known as the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), was founded in Iran in 1965 by a group of radical students who combined Marxism and Islam.. The founders are three students: Mohammad Hanifnejad, Said Mohsen and Ali Asghar Badizadegan. Massoud Rajavi became the leader of the movement years later and remained so until 2003, when all traces were lost, leaving behind him the mystery.

Members of the MEK were among the first to wage an armed war against the Shah and the many Americans present in the country at the time. They widely supported the bombing of the United States Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and strongly opposed the decision to release the hostages in 1981.

Between 1980 and 1981, Iran experienced a political season of real terror, marked both by the purges of the nascent regime and by the targeted attacks and assassinations of Iran by the Mujahideen.

In 1981, an MEK attack annihilated the leaders of the Islamic Republic: 70 officers were killed, including Iranian President Mohammad-Ali Rajai and Prime Minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar. The current Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, would be seriously injured in this assassination attempt and would lose the use of his right arm.

After this episode, the leaders of the Mujahideen, including leader Masoud Rajavi, took refuge in Paris, where they founded the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the political umbrella behind which the MEK stands.

In 1986, France expelled Rajavi and the MEK, who took refuge in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, then at war with Iran. From there, the Mujahideen will take part in the war alongside Saddam, helping the Iraqi regime identify Iranian targets to strike by staging actual attacks across the border.

The MEK remains in Iraq as a guest of Saddam, which gives them money, weapons and military equipment, until 2003, the year of the fall of the regime. Even after 2003, the Mujahideen headquarters remained in Iraq, at Camp Ashraf and then from 2011 at Camp Huriyah.

In 2012, the United States removed the group from the terrorist list and, through the UNHCR, reached an agreement with the Albanian government to welcome its 3,500 members to Albania, on the basis of special status. .

But let us return to Hamid Noori, accused by the Swedish courts of having taken part in the mass executions of Gohardasht and, as such, “of having intentionally killed a large number of prisoners who sympathized with the Mujahideen and, moreover, of having inflicted severe torture on prisoners, which is considered torture and inhuman treatment”.

Noor’s defense team claimed he was the victim of mistaken identity. Iran’s Foreign Ministry said: “Iran is absolutely certain that Noori’s conviction was politically motivated and has no legal validity.”

On July 18, shortly after the sentencing, a prominent conservative Iranian politician, Mostafa Mir-Salim, announced that his son was in prison and serving a 5-year sentence for his links with the Mujahideen Organization (MEK) based in Albania. The news is somewhat surprising first because Mir-Salim was culture minister and presidential candidate, as well as chief of staff to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei when he was president.

And second, her son was reportedly arrested in July 2019 and sentenced to five years in prison in February 2020 for acting against national security in collaboration with the MEK. He was incarcerated in Evin prison in February 2021, but his father announced the news only a few days ago and only after Noor’s life sentence in Stockholm.

Meanwhile, on July 15, in Tirana, after an operation by the Special Prosecutor’s Office (SPAK), Anti-Terrorism and State Police, 20 people, former members of the MEK, were escorted and interrogated . Under the mandate of the Prosecutor, their homes, cars and computers were checked.

According to the investigation file, those arrested were planning to carry out an attack in Albania against MEK members, based in Manez, who were collecting information on members, leaders and their homes for the Iranian government. The former MEK members interrogated, according to the Prosecution, were funded by the Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards-volunteers of an Iranian paramilitary organization engaged in protecting the order established with the 1979 Islamic Revolution against internal enemies and foreigners) and the Iranian government.

Thus, on July 19, a group called “Homeland Justice” published on the social network “Twitter” threatening information against the Albanian National Agency and Information Society (AKSHI).

“The National Information Society Agency (AKSHI) will soon be struck with a heart attack!”

— Homeland Justice (@homelandjustice) July 19, 2022

According to them, they did not want and do not want to harm the interests of the Albanian people. But “As for the corrupt government and politicians of Albania, it is another story. Albania is not the country of terrorists and fraudsters”, writes the anonymous site.

Among the hashtags used by “Homeland Justice”, we find those of Manëz and Durrës (places where the mojaheddin live in Albania).

The logo used by the hackers features an eagle holding the Star of David in its claws, a clear reference to the flag of Israel.

All public online services and websites in Albania have been shut down.

In the official statements of the Albanian government and Prime Minister, Edi Rama, the pirates did not ask for any reward. But, on the other hand, Rama pointed out that another state is behind the cyberattack and is definitely not “a digital gang dealing with fines”.

Therefore, the Prime Minister did not deny, but neither did he claim that Iranian hackers were behind the attack.

“After extraordinary work, 96 hours without rest, by the team of engineers and IT experts at AKSHI, with the help of the Microsoft DART team (Detection and Response Team) and partners of “Jones Group International, “we are returning to normality,” the prime minister’s announcement noted.

July 21, Edi Rama again announced that the cyber-attack had been repelled and the platform was back up and running, repeating that hacking suspicions are directed at both countries.

“First, the attack is not an attack by ordinary hackers. It is a state-organized aggression.”

“These techniques have been used in Ukraine, Germany, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Belgium and other countries in the region,” he continued.

Of course, there is still no official proof, while a series of facts point us in one direction: the Islamic Republic of Iran is most likely behind the cyber attack on Albanian government institutions.

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