The US government's favorite anti-Iran columnist Heshmat Alavi, whose articles have been used by Washington to push President Donald Trump's anti-Iran agenda, is an imaginary character spawned by the notorious terror group the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO), according to a new report.
American news outlet The Intercept made the explosive discovery after reaching out to Hassan Heyrani, a high-ranking defector from the group.
“Heshmat Alavi is a persona run by a team of people from the political wing of the MEK,” said Heyrani, who noted he had direct knowledge of the operation. “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.”
— Holly Dagres (@hdagres) June 10, 2019
According to Heyrani, a team of MKO propaganda writers have been managing the fake character from the terrorist outfit's base in Albania, one of the many European countries hosting MKO members.
The Intercept wrote that in the buildup to Trump's decision to leave the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, the White House specifically tried to sway The Washington Post and other skeptical press by providing one of Alavi's contributions to Forbes as a "source."
“Iran’s current budget is funded largely through ‘oil, taxes, increasing bonds, [and] eliminating cash handouts or subsidies’ for Iranians, according to an article by a Forbes contributor, Heshmat Alavi, sent to us by a White House official,” read an article by Post reporters Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly.
Heyrani’s views on Alavi were confirmed by Sara Zahiri, a Farsi-language researcher who focuses on the MKO.
Zahiri, citing her sources among Iranian cybersecurity officials, said Tehran considers Alavi as a “group account” run by a team of MKO members and the person is nothing but a figment of their imagination.
This imaginary character, who identifies himself as “an Iranian activist with a passion for equal rights,” has also made similar contributions to The Hill, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, Saudi-owned al-Arabiya English, and many other outlets.
Interestingly, Alavi refused to respond to The Intercept’s requests for comment via Twitter or the Gmail address he used to correspond with the media.'
Read more: Anti-Iran writer quoted by Trump turns out to be fake