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Biden admin walks tightrope amid Albanian police raid on Iranian dissidents that killed one, injured dozens

The State Department has found itself in a precarious position after dozens of Iranian dissidents seeking safe haven in Albania were reportedly injured Tuesday and one allegedly killed in a camp raid by state police after the inhabitants were accused of plotting cyberattacks against the Albanian government. 

An alleged 1,000 Albanian police officers from the Special Prosecution against Corruption and Organized Crime unit descended upon the Ashraf-3 and Ashraf-4 camps located in Maneza in western Albania, which is home to at least 3,000 Iranian oppositionists from the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) – an Iranian resistance group that supports the establishment of a new government in Tehran.

According to reporting by the Albanian Daily News, the situation was initially described as “calm” as police officials looked for people they suspected of being “infiltrators of the regime of Iran.”

Albanian police clash with Iranian dissidents

Iranian dissidents clash with Albanian police during a raid on the Ashraf-3 and Ashraf-4 camps on June 20, 2023, in pursuit of suspects tied to cyberattacks. (National Council of Resistance of Iran)

ALBANIAN COURT CONVICTS IRANIAN MAN OF TERRORISM-RELATED CHARGES

The individual killed was 65-year-old Ali Mostashari, an activist during the Iranian revolution and a senior MEK member, according to Ali Safavi a member of the NCRI’s Foreign Affairs Committee based in Paris. 

The circumstances around Mostashari’s death remain unclear. 

Iranian dissident killed

The individual killed was 65-year-old Ali Mostashari, (NCRI)

“He escaped death several times when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the clerical regime’s security forces tried to apprehend him in the early 1980s. By murdering him, the Albanian police has done what the Iranian regime could not accomplish,” Safavi told Fox News Digital Tuesday. 

Albania Iran raid

Iranian dissidents injured in Albanian raid in the Ashraf-3 and Ashraf-4 camps on June 20, 2023. (National Council of Resistance of Iran)

The U.S. sits in a precarious position when it comes to the aggressive raids Tuesday as it has supported the Iranian dissidents abroad since at least 2009 when it led efforts to remove the oppositionists from Iraq after the Iraqi government became hostile toward the MEK.

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At the time, the U.S. still designated the MEK as a terrorist organization over its militant campaigns that opposed the U.S.-backed shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, along with the killing of U.S. citizens in Iran in the 1970s, followed by an attack on U.S. soil in 1992. 

Iran Albania raid

Iranian dissidents pepper sprayed in Albanian raid in the Ashraf-3 and Ashraf-4 camps on June 20, 2023. (National Council of Resistance of Iran )

Tehran was blamed for the attack and diplomatic relations were severed. 

But the tensions between Albania and Iran over the cyberattack have also put pressure on the dissident community residing within Albanian borders.

Albanian Minister of Interior Bledar Cuci on Tuesday rejected any accusation of wrongdoing and claimed the actions taken were in line with a decision made by Albania’s Special Court against Corruption and Organized Crime.

The minister also denied there were any fatalities or injuries as a result from the day’s raid and said that, according to state police officials, “there was resistance within the camp against the work of the State Police, which goes against the procedural framework of law enforcement.”

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