Terror threat cancels Iranian opposition’s summit in Albania

Jul 22, 2022, 1:40 AM | Updated: 1:48 pm
Members of the Ashraf-3 camp wave Iranian flags during the speech of former U.S. Vice President Mik...

Members of the Ashraf-3 camp wave Iranian flags during the speech of former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at the Iranian opposition headquarters in Albania, where up to 3,000 MEK members reside at Ashraf-3 camp in Manza town, about 30 kilometers (16 miles) west of Tirana, Albania, Thursday, June 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Franc Zhurda)

(AP Photo/Franc Zhurda)

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Iranian dissidents in Albania on Friday said they had canceled a summit following warnings from local authorities of a possible terrorist threat.

Some 3,000 Iranian dissidents from the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, best known as MEK, live at Ashraf 3 camp in Manez, 30 kilometers (19 miles) west of Albania’s capital, Tirana.

They had planned to hold at their camp the Free Iran World Summit July 23-24 with the participation of U.S. senators and congressmen and other former personalities from Western countries to “call on the Biden administration to adopt a decisive policy against the Tehran regime.”

A statement from the camp said the summit was “postponed until further notice upon recommendations by the Albanian government, for security reasons, and due to terrorist threats and conspiracies.”

Albanian authorities did not respond to questions on the threat.

The U.S. Embassy in Tirana warned its citizens that it was “aware of a potential threat targeting the Free Iran World Summit” calling on its citizens “to avoid this event.”

Shahin Gobadi, the Iranians’ spokesman based in Paris, also mentioned “the plot to bomb the grand gathering of Free Iran on June 30, 2018, in Paris by one of its active diplomats, Assadollah Assadi.”

Last year Assadi was convicted to 20 years in prison in Belgium of masterminding a thwarted bomb attack against the MEK exiled Iranian opposition group in France.

The Mujahedeen-e-Khalq began as a Marxist group opposing the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It supported the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but soon had a falling out with Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and turned against his clerical government, carrying out a series of assassinations and bombings in the Islamic Republic.

The MEK later fled into Iraq and backed dictator Saddam Hussein during his bloody eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s, leading many people in Iran to oppose the group. Although now largely based in Albania, the group claims to operate a network inside Iran.

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Terror threat cancels Iranian opposition’s summit in Albania