Iranian dissident 'Resistance Units' take control of servers, security cameras in Tehran

Operation comes as anti-government protests continue across Iran
Iran protester

A network of Iranian dissidents linked to Iran's largest and most prominent opposition group took control Thursday of servers and security cameras across capital city Tehran, using their access to post and send hundreds of thousands of anti-government messages.

So-called "Resistance Units" associated with the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK) conducted an extensive operation, planned months in advance, in which they controlled and took down over 5,000 closed-circuit cameras installed at government centers, other key sites and in Tehran's streets, according to the MEK.

The offices of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, President Ebrahim Raisi, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the State Security Force Command use and have access to the security cameras, which are controlled at a headquarters in Tehran's Municipality.

The network of cameras has been used to identify and detain protesters demonstrating against the Islamist regime as part of its surveillance and suppression of the Iranian people.

Anti-government protests have erupted across Iran in recent weeks. The rising cost of food and other staples earlier this month sparked sporadic unrest in several Iranian provinces. The demonstrations quickly turned political, with protesters decrying the regime – in many cases calling for its downfall – in addition to the higher prices.

A tragic building collapse in Iran, which resulted in at least 34 deaths, has also prompted protests, with Iranians blaming the authorities, accusing them of negligence and corruption.

Iran's theocratic regime has responded to the recent demonstrations with a brutal crackdown in a so-far-unsuccessful effort to quell the unrest.

As part of Thursday's operation, Iranian dissidents also took over more than 150 websites and platforms of Tehran's Municipality, posting slogans decrying the regime and praising Maryam Rajavi, ‌president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a coalition of Iranian opposition groups.

The servers were used to send nearly 600,000 phones the message: "Damned be Khomeini, death to Khamenei and Raisi, Hail to Rajavi."

Thursday's operation also occurred on the eve of the anniversary of the death of former Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini, who founded the Islamic Republic of Iran in the wake of the 1979 Iranian revolution.

This isn't the first time "Resistance Units" associated with the MEK have taken control of regime servers and security cameras to broadcast dissident messages.

"Targeting 150 Tehran Municipality websites and taking down more than 5,000 security cameras and hundreds of their servers, used to suppress the uprisings, is the fourth of its kind in the string offensive measures that the Resistance Units affiliated with the [MEK] inside Iran, have undertaken since late January to shatter the wall of censorship, propaganda, fear, and intimidation by the ruling theocracy, encouraging and emboldening the Iranian people to defy and resist the mullahs' regime," said Ali Safavi, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, in which the MEK is a member organization.

In March, dozens of websites belonging to Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance were defaced to cross out pictures of Khamenei and show images of Iranian opposition leaders.

Two months earlier, a similar disruption occurred at a dozen Iranian state-run TV and radio stations.

"The actions today attest to the MEK's increasing effectiveness and prowess and its ability to effect change inside Iran," Safavi said Thursday.