Tom Squitieri, Talk Media News, 5 September 2018
WASHINGTON — The U.S. has charged two alleged agents of Iran of collecting intelligence on Iranian-Americans linked to a political organization that wants to see the current Iranian government overthrown, with the likely goal to “fix, track and neutralize” the individuals, court papers said.
“The Iranian regime is highly threatened. They are extending the arm of terrorism to wherever (opposition is located)…and now extending it to the United States,” Alireza Jafarzadeh, of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, U.S. Representative Office, told Talk Media News in an interview.
Jafarzadeh is one of the individual targeted by the accused agents of Tehran, according to court documents. His revelations about Iran’s nuclear sites in August 2002 triggered the first inspections in Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran is the political front for the resistance group known as MEK or Mujahideen-e-Khalq (the People’s Mujahedin of Iran), comprised of individuals opposed to the 1979 Iranian revolution.
Ahmad Reza Doostdar, 38, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen born in Long Beach, Calif., and Majid Ghorbani, 59, who has lived and worked in Costa Mesa, Calif., since he arrived in the United States in the mid-1990s, are charged with acting as illegal agents for Tehran, according to the court papers. Ghorbani, who denies the charges, became a legal permanent resident of the United States in 2015.
A court hearing in the case is set for Thursday.
Their arrests follow high-profile attempts by Iranian agents to bomb Iranian opposition events in Albania and Paris earlier this year. Both attempts were thwarted by law enforcement. An Iranian diplomat and members of what authorities described as an “Iranian sleeper cell” were among those arrested in breaking up the two plots, law enforcement officials said at the time.
The two alleged agents also conducted surveillance of Israeli and Jewish facilities in the United States. Most of the spying detailed in the court documents, however, focused on the MEK. The MEK is banned in Iran and was listed as a terrorist organization by the State Department until 2012.
According to the court papers, during a Dec. 10, 2017, car ride with Doostdar, Ghorbani mentioned Jafarzadeh by name and says how he has tracked him, is a leading opponent and “needs one — one shot” to take him out.
Among other incidents outlined in the court papers, in September 2017, Ghorbani allegedly attended a MEK rally in New York City where he photographed people protesting against the current Iranian government. The photographs had handwritten notes identifying individuals in the photos. These photographs, along with a receipt for $2,000, were found concealed in Doostdar’s luggage as he changed planes in the U.S. on his return to Iran in December 2017.
Another incident occurred in May, when Ghorbani attended the MEK-affiliated 2018 Iran Freedom Convention for Human Rights in Washington. During the conference, Ghorbani appeared to photograph speakers and attendees, according to the court papers.
“This shows how desperate they are, willing to take any risk necessary to keep themselves in power,” Jafarzadeh told TMN. “They feel the only way for them to survive is delivering a major blow to the opposition.”
Jafarzadeh said Tehran now is focusing on critics “and members of this movement with the obvious objective of hurting them.
“They are at the point of no return,” Jafarzadeh said. “The population is so determined to change.”