An Iranian-American activist is accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “empty words” and “cliché” over the federal government’s handling of alleged Iranian agents operating on Canadian soil.
Masih Alinejad, a Brooklyn-based journalist and women’s rights activist, told The West Block host Mercedes Stephenson that the Canadian government must do more to address threats against Iranian Canadians from the Islamic republic’s agents.
“Iranian-Canadians in Canada, we love Canada. We love peace and security and democracy. We love Canada to be a shelter for, you know, decent people. And you’re putting the lives of Canadians in danger,” Alinejad said in an interview at the Halifax International Security Forum.
“That’s what I can say, because otherwise he’s going to come up with a lot of empty words saying that you stand with the people of Iran. Now, please sit down and make decisions. How to protect human rights, how to protect democracy in Canada. That’s very important.”
An investigation by Global’s current affairs program The New Reality – which spoke to Iranian Canadians, security and intelligence sources, and legal experts – suggested that there were upwards of 700, possibly more, of potentially dangerous Iranian-regime-connected individuals in Canada.
It also documented threats and intimidation of Iranian Canadians, allegedly conducted by individuals in Canada connected to Tehran.
Alinejad knows firsthand what that intimidation – and worse – looks like.
‘You will be shocked’: How Iran’s regime is threatening Canadians here at home
Alinejad fled Iran in 2009 following a disputed presidential election and subsequent crackdown, and has been targeted by its theocratic regime since.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) thwarted an alleged kidnapping plot against the journalist in 2021, and an alleged assassination attempt the following year. The New Reality reported that the FBI allege both foiled plots were linked to the Iranian regime.
Police said they found a loaded AK-47 in the car of one of the suspects, Khalid Mehdiyev, who had “repeatedly” visited Alinejad’s Brooklyn home.
“I remember the day when, yeah, the FBI showed me the text messages between the killers, one in New York, the (other) one in Iranian intelligence service, saying that as soon as she came out, the show is over,” Alinejad said.
The Global News investigation revealed the FBI, who protected Alinejad 24 hours a day, subsequently told her to avoid traveling to Canada. If she was going, it would take months to come up with a plan to ensure her safety.
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Alinejad is pushing the Canadian government to add the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) as a terrorist entity, which would impose penalties on people and organizations dealing with the IRGC in Canada and bar members of the military branch from entering Canada. The U.S. labeled the IRGC a terrorist group in 2019.
The federal Liberals have sanctioned members of the IRGC, but has so far resisted calls to officially designate the organization a terrorist group under Canadian law.
“We continue to watch and make sure that we’re able to do everything we can that is responsible against the impact of the IRGC,” Trudeau told reporters Tuesday in Maple Ridge, B.C.
“As I have said many, many times, the Iranian regime responsible for shooting down of PS-752, the killing of its own citizens and killing of Canadian citizens, its sponsorship of terror around the world, means that we will continue to do everything necessary both to hold that regime to account … and to protect Canadians.”
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre was more direct.
“To learn from (Global’s) report that (there is) 700 (regime-connected individuals) was staggering, and it requires immediate action to kick them out,” Poilievre said in an interview last week.
The Conservative leader said he wants to see the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. listed as a terrorist entity in Canada, more sanctions against Iran, and the creation of a foreign agent registry.
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The year-long The New Reality investigation uncovered upwards of 700 regime-linked associates operating on Canadian soil and threatening the lives of some Canadians.
In a statement, the RCMP acknowledged it received “reports of foreign interference being committed by or at the direction of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
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