Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Will the New UK National Security Law Curtail IRGC Activities in the UK?

Despite the EU and the UK parliament both voting overwhelmingly in favour of designating Iran’s IRGC (Guardians of the Islamic Revolution)  as a terrorist entity, neither the EU nor the UK governments will be implementing their parliamentary resolutions. 

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said the IRGC can be designated only if an EU court, not the Members of the European Parliament (“MEPs”), determined the IRGC was guilty of terrorism. 

In the UK, it has been the Foreign Office, which has resisted the calls to add the IRGC to the existing UK terror list of 78 organisations. The existing list  includes Hezbollah and HAMAS, whose paymaster happens to be Iran’s IRGC. 

Tom Tugendhat, the Minister of State for Security, and the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, are, however, in favour of designating the IRGC as a terrorist entity and oppose the Foreign Office in this regard.

Until last week the UK Foreign Office had not revealed its justification for its refusal despite the mounting pressure it faced from the parliamentarians, the media and the Iranian expat community. Last week, however, the Foreign Office finally tried to explain its reasoning. This  occurred after a new national security bill became law and an additional new sanctions regime was proposed, which is expected to get parliamentary approval this autumn and be implemented in Spring 2024.

Increasing Pressure on the Government

The Iranian expat community in the UK, who mostly oppose the ruling regime in Iran, have been very vocal after the recent nationwide uprising in Iran that became known as “Woman, Life, Liberty.” By staging repeated protests in the UK and pressuring their MPs,  the Iranian expats have called for the UK government to curtail the Islamic Republic’s activities in Britain  and designate the IRGC as a terrorist entity.

One Iranian activist, Vahid Beheshti, staged a hunger strike outside the Foreign Commonweath and Development Office, (“FCDO”, formerly the “FCO”) for 73 days. His hunger strike received widespread publicity in the British media and the political circles. Just about every UK-based news media covered his hunger strike and why the Iranian expat community is calling for the UK Government to designate the IRGC.

UK’s Minister of State for Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the UN, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, and Tom Tugendhat both met with Vahid Beheshti while he was on the hunger strike, but although they sympathised with him, they failed to tell him what the Foreign Office’s  justification was. 

“Neither of them disagreed with anything I was saying. They both nodded and said they agreed with me but I still didn’t get an explanation from them as to why the UK Government is not putting the IRGC on the terror list,” Beheshti told me after meeting with Lord Ahmad.

Beheshti received the support of many UK parliamentarians who frequently visited him while he was staging his hunger strike. More than 100 UK MPs signed a letter addressed to the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, backing Beheshti’s plea for the IRGC to be prescribed as a terror organisation. In the letter, signatories wrote:

“The Government’s decision to proscribe the Hamas and Hezbollah terror groups were important steps in combating the threat of extremism and terrorism, but the UK can ill afford to stop there.

“The IRGC is, after all, the primary financier, supplier, and trainer of these dangerous groups. It is incumbent upon the Government to go after the parent organisation.”

Four of the MPs who had signed the letter, personally came to see Vahid Beheshti outside the Foreign Office building in King Charles Street next to Westminster, before handing the letter to Rishi Sunak. The MPs were representatives from all UK parties. Labour MP, Steve McCabe, who said he supported Vahid Beheshti’s  campaign stated, “The government has been far too soft for far too long and must finally listen to sense and proscribe Tehran’s terror army once and for all.”

The UK Foreign Office’s refusal to designate the IRGC, along with not providing a justification for its policy, prompted various rumours. Lord Polak, a Conservative Party peer in Britain’s House of Lords, suggested the Foreign Office was acting on behalf of a request by the Biden administration who thought proscribing the IRGC at this stage could jeopardise the ongoing negotiations with Iran. The claim however, was purportedly refuted by the US State Department.

In the beginning of this month, the UK Government announced it will establish a new sanctions regime against Iran that will give it greater powers to target decision-makers. A new national security law also came into effect on 11th July, to give the intelligence services and the law enforcement forces more power to combat the threats from “hostile states” against Britain, specifically naming Russia, China and Iran. The new national security law received the Royal Assent on 11th July after it was passed by the UK’s House of Commons and approved by the UK’s upper chamber, the House of Lords. 

Why Not Designate the IRGC?

The Foreign Office also finally revealed its reasons why it was against designating the IRGC in the UK terror list. The FCDO argued that since the IRGC controls most of Iran’s economy, if it is designated as a terrorist entity, every company, factory, industry etc. will be on the blacklist. This situation will make it impossible to conduct any trade and negotiation with Iran.  Further, since the EU will not follow suit, Britain will be left on its own. Instead, the UK Foreign Secretary announced plans for a new sanctions regime to hold Iran to account for its hostile and destabilising behaviour around the world. The UK Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly,  claimed “the new sanctions regime will significantly expand the UK’s sanctions powers by creating new criteria” and replacing the current patchwork of benchmarks under which the UK can sanction Iranian officials and organisations like the IRGC.”

The new sanctions regime will provide four separate justifications for sanctions, all targeted at Iran. These are activities undermining peace, stability and security in the Middle East and internationally; using and exporting weapons and weapons technology; undermining democracy, the rule of law and good governance; hostile activities towards the UK and its partners, including threats to people, property or security.

The need for new measures is said to have been prompted mainly by Iran’s non-nuclear “bad behaviour,” and specifically the plans to kill or kidnap British citizens or residents in 2022.

Ken McCallum, the director-general of MI5, said “there had been ten ‘potential threats’ to kidnap or kill British citizens or residents during the course of 2022, with more plots this year.”

In response to the UK Government’s latest announcements, two UK think tanks, Henry Jackson Society (“HJS”) and the Policy Exchange have produced new reports demanding the UK recognise the IRGC as a state sponsor of terrorism. To add more pressure on the UK Government, the Labour Party’s  Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, this week also called for the IRGC to be proscribed, and some Tory MPs are planning a cross bench alliance with Labour and the Lib-Dems  on the issue of IRGC proscription.

On the legality of the issue, Jonathan Hall KC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, argued before the new National Security Act became law that the IRGC or support for the IRGC, could be proscribed through an amendment that gave it power to proscribe state bodies on the basis of their hostile activity. 

The HJS report was unclear as to whether the new National Security Law is equipped enough to  provide the legal basis to proscribe the IRGC.  Similarly, this report did not elucidate what the new law’s shortcomings are. Both the Home Secretary and the Minister for State Security have praised the new law claiming it will make Britain safer against the threats by hostile states, but there remain many unanswered questions until some tangible results are seen. 

The new law has a section on Foreign Influence Register Scheme (“FIRS”) which stipulates any individual or body acting on behalf of a hostile state in the UK must register. Iran has developed a sophisticated network of influence in Britain over the years by exploiting the democratic freedoms in this country. Many people in this network therefore should register with FIRS.

One example within this network is Seyed Hashem Mousavi, the head of the Islamic Centre in Maida Vale, in North London. He is directly appointed by the Supreme Leader of Iran to propagate Iran’s version of political Islam.

Has he registered with FIRS? If so, how can one check this register? And if he has not, is he not breaking the law? And if he is, why has he not been arrested? British Iranian comedian, Omid Jalili, also addressed this question in his tweet.

At an HJS meeting this week held in one of the Committee rooms in the House of Commons, I asked the above questions of the panel. The nonresponsive reply  was, with any new law before it can practically be implemented, manpower must be allocated. New departments must be set up and the right personnel must be recruited before it is possible to implement it.

So it looks like despite the new National Security Law and the proposed new Sanctions Regime bill, likely to be implemented next year, a hostile state like Iran has plenty of time to re-adjust and readapt its modus operandi against the slow bureaucracy of legislating and implementing new measures in a Western democracy like Britain.

Friday, July 09, 2021

What Right do Facebook and Twitter Have to Deny you Access to Your Previous Posts

 What annoys me most about Facebook and Twitter censorship is not so much them flagging a post or deleting a post. I don't have a problem with that just as I dont have a problem for a restaurant or a private club to turn you away if you are not dressed according to their rules; but what right do the social media platforms have to deny me access to all of my previous posts and images I posted in and the messages I corresponded with my contacts in the last 11 years?

For more than 11 years, I posted pictures and footage on Facebook and Twitter, some of which were family pictures and shared only with close friends. Yet for the sake of one post their fact checkers deemed "against their community standards", all of that history is now gone. They were user generated contents and not Facebook or Twitter's properties, they should have no rights to deny you access to what you posted before. 

A lot of the correspondence was also with Iranian dissidents inside Iran. If anything happens to them, shouldn't the legislators make these non-tax paying tech billionaires responsible? 

What could justify the likes of Nick Clegg, Zuckerburg, Lauren Culbertson, Tedd O'Doyle and the rest of the social media's thought police, to get away with this?! 

Monday, July 05, 2021

When Does Evil Prevail?

"The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing"
This famous quote from the Irish statesmen, Edmund Burke , has been my favourite excerpt and was part of the banner on my Twitter account before it was permanently shut down by Jack Dorsey's thought police.

Since then I have been thinking why do "good men" sometimes do nothing and help evil prevail? The answer is simple: FEAR. 

We all have different levels of courage within ourselves and we all get tested during our lives. Fear silences and it leads to more evil, more silence leads to even more evil and fear and the vicious cycle continues until it gets out of control.

Today, with the ever increasing cancel culture in the West, we are witnessing how evil is prevailing steadily. For me, it all resonates the atmosphere of fear I felt between 1978-1979 in Iran that led to the triumph of one of the most evil, despotic and reactionary regimes in the modern times, the Islamic Republic. 

First people fear being banned from their social media platforms, which leads to one narrative's dominance instead of a free discussion. Then people fear losing their jobs and the silence spreads further and heavier. Then people fear being isolated and this leads to them becoming targets for physical attacks. Then the evil becomes so strong and dangerous that finally people fear for their lives, by which time they realise it is too late and they should have spoken out earlier.

FEAR really is the root of all evil.  It is why ideological dictatorships have prevailed. They instil fear, the Good Men stay silent and the evil prevails.

These Twitter policy makers are some of those preparing that greater evil to come:


And now it seems even more obvious how they are bending over to China too. 

From this morning Times article following Twitter's ban on Professor Anne-Marie Brady:

The Chinese Communist Party does not just decide what its own subjects read and say. It determines your doings too. Yesterday it stopped someone in New Zealand communicating her thoughts to the rest of the world — including me.

Anne-Marie Brady is one of the world’s top China-watchers. Her sardonic, perceptive takes on Beijing’s influence operations and the West’s mostly weak-kneed response have earned her 20,000 Twitter followers. For most of yesterday any outsider trying to visit her at @anne_mariebrady was stopped by a warning screen. Get past that and some recent tweets were “unavailable”. Searches for her drew a blank: she had become a digital unperson. She was also locked out of her account, so she could no longer post any further tweets, message people — or complain to Twitter.

Brady, a professor at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, reckons her “crime” is to have mocked the muted international participation in the party’s centenary celebrations this month. Ten years ago, at the 90th birthday party, foreign leaders showered the regime with praise and congratulations. Almost the only messages this time came from Moscow and Cairo. Among her takes on this was a link to Lesley Gore’s 1963 hit It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.

Twitter has not explained what prompted this. Brady received only an automated warning that she may have “violated” the social media platform’s rules. But the decision probably results from a concerted campaign by the Chinese Communist Party’s online agents. Enough complaints usually trigger an automated block. After I had stoked a furore on Twitter and sent umpteen complaints, her account was restored. Less prominent victims of Chinese censorship would have scantier chances of redress. But the episode highlights the way in which the internet, which we once hailed as a haven for free speech, now makes us much less safe.

It is quite right for Twitter and similar platforms to have the equivalent of a fire alarm, allowing other users to highlight child abuse images, say, or threats of violence. It is reasonable for part of the process to be automated. Much of life operates on the principle that it is better to inconvenience the innocent briefly and mildly than to allow villains free rein. However, China and other adversaries exploit that fair-mindedness, and the potential of technology. With minimal cost, effort and risk, thin-skinned dictatorships can unleash a flood of automated complaints that trigger Twitter’s response.

Twitter could punish those who raise false alarms, for example by suspending or blocking their accounts. But that would be too much trouble. The company’s main interest is in protecting itself from lawsuits, by ensuring that potentially illegal material does not get published. Maintaining democratic debate is much less important. Similarly, LinkedIn, which operates in China, puts a local block on users (like me) whose profiles use banned words such as “Tibet” and “Tiananmen Square”.

Brady is undaunted. She is used to harassment from China. This may encourage more people to buy her books, or follow her on Twitter. But the episode highlights a potentially fatal weakness in our system. Our freedoms, the rule of law and safety all depend on technology that is developed and run on murky and selfish lines. Twitter, like Facebook and Google, is banned in China. By contrast, these tech giants flourish in freedom. Their intellectual property and contracts are protected by laws made not by bureaucratic fiat but by elected legislators. These companies vigorously lobby governments and lawmakers on issues such as privacy regulation. They ventilate their grievances in the media (good luck with that in China). They readily go to court to defend their interests too (ditto). But these behemoths do not exert themselves to protect the system that enables their success. They choose convenience, growth and profit instead.

We already see the consequences of that in the epidemic of petty fraud perpetrated via misleading text messages and emails. This works only because our banks, phone companies and internet companies allow it. They could spend money on ensuring that anomalous payments go through extra checks. They could investigate those opening the accounts used by fraudsters. They could make it impossible to buy bogus web addresses or make phone calls that seem to come from reputable numbers. Such measures would be costly and cumbersome, they maintain. True — but a much greater cost lands on us, the victims of the frauds that they enable.

Democracy may be next. We rely on emails, websites, search engines, mobile phones and social media at all levels, from national campaigns to private messaging. But these systems are wide open to attack, be it disruption, fakery or snooping. Someone has recently been using “deepfakes” — synthetic audio and video — to impersonate, very convincingly, an aide to the jailed Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny. The caller then tricked politicians in the Baltic states and Ukraine into giving away confidences and making embarrassing remarks. A prank? Maybe. But eastern Europe is a testing ground for such tactics. They will be deployed here soon.

The endemic weaknesses in our technology put us all at the mercy of mischievous and malevolent outsiders. They can spy on us, distort our perception of reality, and shape our decision-making. We have perilously little time left to change this, and our foes will strive to ensure that we fail.

Thursday, July 01, 2021

Thank You Rudi Bakhtiar


Rudi Bakhtiar, the American-Iranian journalist has backed me against Twitter and I am extremely grateful to her.

Rudi is petite and beautiful but most importantly she has the heart of a lioness. She has reported from some of the most dangerous situations and the word fear is not part of her vocabulary. 

Rudi and I, may not always share the same political views but we both have a common trait; we can not stay silent when we see something wrong.

Last night she called me and expressed her outrage at Twitter's Thought Police closing my account.

Rudi is not going through easy times at the moment and I am not at liberty to talk about her current predicament until she permits me, making me even more indebted to her kindness, fairness and courage.

Thank you Rudi Bakhtiar.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Is Twitter Banning to be PC or Has it Been Influenced by the Islamic Republic of Iran?

No one knows who the individuals who ban the Twitter accounts are. But whoever they may be, are they acting on misguided political correctness zeal or have they been influenced by the Islamic Republic agents?

Many of the BigTech employees with Iranian backgrounds were photographed by protesters as they were taking part in Iran's sham elections throughout European and American cities. 

One thing is for sure, there is no logic or consistency in who they decide to ban. Legislation to regulate social media platforms is very much needed. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Twitter and Facebook Ban Me Permanently


When I left Iran for good, I was under the impression that I will now be able to speak out against political Islam extremism without any fear for the consequences of what I say. 

For many years that was the case. It is how this blog was started and it was an exhilarating feeling that I could be the voice of many victims of political Islam without fearing for what will happen as a result of what I say.

Things are changing however. A generation of indoctrinated youngsters in the West with no life experience and understanding of Islamic extremism, have been employed by the major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, to monitor free speech. A task they do assiduously but inconsistently when they decide what they ban and there is no independent body to monitor these Gestapo pretenders.

After several temporary bans, Twitter and Facebook both banned me for life. Above is the screenshot of the tweet I posted on Twitter that led to my permanent ban. 

I posted the tweet after the Würzburg knife attack that led to the murder and serious injuries of several innocent people. An unprovoked attack by an Islamist "knifeman on a personal jihad" who killed an 82 year old pensioner and a 24 year old mother who was murdered by him while she tried to protect her young daughter. The attacker shouted “Allahu akbar. I realised my personal jihad,” after he was shot and arrested by the German police.

Any fair person can see that my tweet was in no way promoting violence against anyone. I was merely criticising the European politicians who have neglected the proper vetting of who can settle in Europe. Those politicians in my view have let down their own citizens. I was always taught, actions have consequences. Many innocent people have been killed because the European politicians have neglected their duty to protect their own people, but they are facing no consequences for their neglects. 

The tweet that criticised the EU politicians led the Twitter Thought Police, which remind me of Iran's Minister of "Guidance",  to ban me permanently from tweeting. In doing so, they can take pride in banning a dissident voice against the Islamic Republic of Iran while all the repressive figures of the regime continue to spread their disinformation and their tweets of hate and poisoned ideology unhindered.

It is ironic that my pinned Tweet on my account was my question to Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, at an Oxford Union debate, asking him if the social media platforms should allow tyrants and those who restrict free speech to use their platforms? Absurdly it has turned out that those tyrants and despots remain on these social media platforms and I am banned:

I have come to learn that behind every cloud there is a silver lining. My ban from Twitter and Facebook does not diminish my arguments against political Islam nor my warnings about the unholy alliance between the Left and the Islamists, it is a further proof of what I have been saying about the social media's control of narratives. My ban has proved that Twitter and Facebook exercise thought control in favour of the extremists and murderers.

It has also been a real opportunity to see who stands by me when I need their support. It is always good to be reminded who is a true friend: [see links below]

I thank all those who did not fear Twitter's thought police and tweeted in my support. Anyone who wants to follow me can subscribe to my Telegram App channel: where there is still no Thought Police. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Twitter's Thought Police Find Nothing Wrong with Child Porn!!

Twitter is facing a lawsuit in the Northern District of California, because its Thought Police repeatedly refused to remove child porn videos saying they found nothing that violated their rules and policies!

Not only Twitter refused to remove the disgusting videos which were going viral, Jack Dorsey's company made money off the clips as well, according to the New York Post article!

Those of us who have had experience of the inconsistencies and duplicities of Twitter's Thought Police, including me, can very well believe Dorsey's Kapos are capable of such hideous acts.

In a previous post, I published screenshots of how Twitter did not consider the threats to rape my family members, including my children, as "violating their rules and policies".

I sincerely hope the courts will handout the punishment Dorsey deserves. He is a threat to democracy, free speech and also to the basic moral decency. The BigTech billionaires should not be allowed to get away with their control of public opinion.