US President Donald Trump has retweeted a post in praise of his belligerent anti-Iran policy from a fake account apparently run by the highly notorious Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO) terror group.
Repeating his threats against Tehran, Trump on Wednesday shared a tweet from Heshmat Alavi, a persona who praised the US president for his harsh stance towards the Islamic Republic, according to American news outlet The Intercept.
Sleepy Joe thought this was OK. Not me! https://t.co/VgIlA4fJKF— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2020
Citing former MKO sources, The Intercept reported last June that Alavi was not a real person but was in fact a persona created by members of the US-backed terrorist cult.
The 2019 Intercept report said that the account was run by a “team of people” with the US-backed terrorist cult, citing an MKO member named Hassan Heyrani, who helped manage the Alavi persona in Albania.
“They write whatever they are directed by their commanders and use this name to place articles in the press. This is not and has never been a real person,” the high-ranking defector from the group said.
Heyrani said that three members and a commander from the group were running the Alavi ruse. He provided the website with the four individuals’ names and details.
One reason, Heyrani said, they preferred to hide behind the fake name was because “the MEK leadership would not look kindly on the fluent English speakers who operate the persona writing under their own names,” according to the report, using another acronym to refer to the terrorist organization.
In a blog post published after The Intercept article, the Alavi account admitted for the first time that there was no real Heshmat Alavi, claiming instead to be using a pseudonym.
“No, I will never reveal my real identity or photograph,” the account wrote. “No activist in his/her right mind would do so. That would place all of my family, friends and myself, both inside & outside of Iran, in complete danger,” it claimed.
The account was briefly suspended following The Intercept’s report. However, a source familiar with Twitter told the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya news that, after temporarily being banned, the Alavi account was reactivated after being deemed a “credible use of pseudonymity.”
The MKO-owned account has columns in right-leaning news outlets such as Forbes, The Hill, The Federalist and The Daily Caller and Voice of America’s Persian website as well as on the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya.
Following The Intercept’s revelation last year, publications like Forbes, the Daily Caller, and The Diplomat that had published articles by Alavi either removed or updated them to reflect his nonexistence as a person.
US left wing news media called the name as “fake,” saying American media never check names out.
Social media companies have been under increasing criticism for getting misinformation out to the public, as in Alavi’s case, said The Intercept's Wednesday report, adding, “Today, Alavi’s account still exists and is still producing superhuman amounts of content.”
The Trump administration has cited Alavi as a source in the past, most notably in 2018 when an article by Alavi published in Forbes was used to make the point that the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal had helped the country increase its military budget.
Trump then went on to withdraw the US from the multilateral deal signed between Iran and major world powers, marking a beginning of an escalation in US policy against Iran.
Trump has been adamant about maintaining US sanctions and financial restrictions against Iran, refusing to lift them and even adding new measures even as the Islamic Republic is fighting the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
The MKO has conducted many assassinations and bombings against Iranian officials and civilians since Iran’s Islamic Revolution four decades ago. It notoriously sided with former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during his 1980-88 war on Iran.
Out of the nearly 17,000 Iranians killed in terrorist assaults since the Revolution, about 12,000 died in MKO’s acts of terror.