State Departmemt: It is unlawful to provide support to listed terrorists! - Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) in the new List of Terrorist Organizations
State Departmemt: It is unlawful to provide support to listed terrorists!
Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) in the new List of Terrorist Organizations
... It is unlawful for a person in the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to knowingly provide "material support or resources" to a designated FTO... Representatives and members of a designated FTO, if they are aliens, are inadmissible to and, in certain circumstances, removable from the United States (see 8 U.S.C. §§ 1182 (a)(3)(B)(i)(IV)-(V), 1227 (a)(1)(A)). Any U.S. financial institution that becomes aware that it has possession of or control over funds in which a designated FTO or its agent has an interest must retain possession of or control over the funds and report the funds to the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury ...
Foreign Terrorist Organizations Bureau of Counterterrorism January 27, 2012
Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) are foreign organizations that are designated by the Secretary of State in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended. FTO designations play a critical role in our fight against terrorism and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business.
Current List of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations
Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMS) Al-Shabaab Ansar al-Islam (AAI) Asbat al-Ansar Aum Shinrikyo (AUM) Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army (CPP/NPA) Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) Gama’a al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group) HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement) Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B) Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM) Hizballah (Party of God) Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) (Army of Mohammed) Jemaah Islamiya organization (JI) Kahane Chai (Kach) Kata'ib Hizballah (KH) Kongra-Gel (KGK, formerly Kurdistan Workers' Party, PKK, KADEK) Lashkar-e Tayyiba (LT) (Army of the Righteous) Lashkar i Jhangvi (LJ) Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM) Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) National Liberation Army (ELN) Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) PFLP-General Command (PFLP-GC) al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) al-Qa’ida (AQ) al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (formerly GSPC) Real IRA (RIRA) Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Revolutionary Organization 17 November (17N) Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) Revolutionary Struggle (RS) Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, SL) United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI) Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Jundallah Army of Islam (AOI) Indian Mujahideen (IM) Identification The Bureau of Counterterrorism in the State Department (S/CT) continually monitors the activities of terrorist groups active around the world to identify potential targets for designation. When reviewing potential targets, S/CT looks not only at the actual terrorist attacks that a group has carried out, but also at whether the group has engaged in planning and preparations for possible future acts of terrorism or retains the capability and intent to carry out such acts.
Designation Once a target is identified, S/CT prepares a detailed "administrative record," which is a compilation of information, typically including both classified and open sources information, demonstrating that the statutory criteria for designation have been satisfied. If the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury, decides to make the designation, Congress is notified of the Secretary’s intent to designate the organization and given seven days to review the designation, as the INA requires. Upon the expiration of the seven-day waiting period and in the absence of Congressional action to block the designation, notice of the designation is published in the Federal Register, at which point the designation takes effect. By law an organization designated as an FTO may seek judicial review of the designation in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit not later than 30 days after the designation is published in the Federal Register.
Until recently the INA provided that FTOs must be redesignated every 2 years or the designation would lapse. Under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), however, the redesignation requirement was replaced by certain review and revocation procedures. IRTPA provides that an FTO may file a petition for revocation 2 years after its designation date (or in the case of redesignated FTOs, its most recent redesignation date) or 2 years after the determination date on its most recent petition for revocation. In order to provide a basis for revocation, the petitioning FTO must provide evidence that the circumstances forming the basis for the designation are sufficiently different as to warrant revocation. If no such review has been conducted during a 5 year period with respect to a designation, then the Secretary of State is required to review the designation to determine whether revocation would be appropriate. In addition, the Secretary of State may at any time revoke a designation upon a finding that the circumstances forming the basis for the designation have changed in such a manner as to warrant revocation, or that the national security of the United States warrants a revocation. The same procedural requirements apply to revocations made by the Secretary of State as apply to designations. A designation may be revoked by an Act of Congress, or set aside by a Court order.
Legal Criteria for Designation under Section 219 of the INA as amended
It must be a foreign organization. The organization must engage in terrorist activity, as defined in section 212 (a)(3)(B) of the INA (8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3)(B)),* or terrorism, as defined in section 140(d)(2) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989 (22 U.S.C. § 2656f(d)(2)),** or retain the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism. The organization’s terrorist activity or terrorism must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security (national defense, foreign relations, or the economic interests) of the United States. Legal Ramifications of Designation
It is unlawful for a person in the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to knowingly provide "material support or resources" to a designated FTO. (The term "material support or resources" is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b)(1) as " any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel (1 or more individuals who maybe or include oneself), and transportation, except medicine or religious materials.” 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b)(2) provides that for these purposes “the term ‘training’ means instruction or teaching designed to impart a specific skill, as opposed to general knowledge.” 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b)(3) further provides that for these purposes the term ‘expert advice or assistance’ means advice or assistance derived from scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge.’’ Representatives and members of a designated FTO, if they are aliens, are inadmissible to and, in certain circumstances, removable from the United States (see 8 U.S.C. §§ 1182 (a)(3)(B)(i)(IV)-(V), 1227 (a)(1)(A)). Any U.S. financial institution that becomes aware that it has possession of or control over funds in which a designated FTO or its agent has an interest must retain possession of or control over the funds and report the funds to the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Other Effects of Designation
Supports our efforts to curb terrorism financing and to encourage other nations to do the same. Stigmatizes and isolates designated terrorist organizations internationally. Deters donations or contributions to and economic transactions with named organizations. Heightens public awareness and knowledge of terrorist organizations. Signals to other governments our concern about named organizations.
U.S. State Department country report on terrorism published August 2011 includes Mojahedin Khalq
(aka; MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult)
... MUJAHADIN-E KHALQ ORGANIZATION. aka MEK; MKO; Mujahadin-e Khalq; Muslim Iranian Students’ Society; National Council of Resistance; NCR; Organization of the People’s Holy Warriors of Iran; the National Liberation Army of Iran; NLA; People’s Mujahadin Organization of Iran; PMOI; National Council of Resistance of Iran; NCRI; Sazeman-e Mujahadin-e Khalq-e Iran. Description: The Mujahadin-E Khalq Organization (MEK) was originally designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The MEK is a Marxist-Islamic Organization that seeks the overthrow of the Iranian regime through its military wing, the National Liberation Army (NLA), and its political front, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) ...
Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) are designated by the Secretary of State in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). FTO designations play a critical role in the fight against terrorism and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities.
Legal Criteria for Designation under Section 219 of the INA as amended:
1. It must be a foreign organization. 2. The organization must engage in terrorist activity, as defined in section 212 (a)(3)(B) of the INA (8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3)(B)), or terrorism, as defined in section 140(d)(2) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989 (22 U.S.C. § 2656f(d)(2)), or retain the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism. 3. The organization’s terrorist activity or terrorism must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security (national defense, foreign relations, or the economic interests) of the United States.
U.S. Government Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations
Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMB) Al-Qa’ida (AQ) Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) Al-Shabaab (AS) Ansar al-Islam Asbat al-Ansar Aum Shinrikyo (AUM) Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) Communist Party of Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) Gama’a al-Islamiyya (IG) Hamas Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami (HUJI) Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B) Harakat ul-Mujahideen (HUM) Hizballah Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) Jemaah Islamiya (JI) Jundallah Kahane Chai Kata’ib Hizballah (KH) Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LT) Lashkar i Jhangvi (LJ) Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM) Mujahadin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) National Liberation Army (ELN) Palestine Liberation Front – Abu Abbas Faction (PLF) Palestine Islamic Jihad – Shaqaqi Faction (PIJ) Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) Real IRA (RIRA) Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Revolutionary Organization 17 November (17N) Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) Revolutionary Struggle (RS) Shining Path (SL) Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC)
ABU NIDAL ORGANIZATION
aka ANO; Arab Revolutionary Brigades; Arab Revolutionary Council; Black September; Fatah Revolutionary Council; Revolutionary Organization of Socialist Muslims
MUJAHADIN-E KHALQ ORGANIZATION
aka MEK; MKO; Mujahadin-e Khalq; Muslim Iranian Students’ Society; National Council of Resistance; NCR; Organization of the People’s Holy Warriors of Iran; the National Liberation Army of Iran; NLA; People’s Mujahadin Organization of Iran; PMOI; National Council of Resistance of Iran; NCRI; Sazeman-e Mujahadin-e Khalq-e Iran
Description: The Mujahadin-E Khalq Organization (MEK) was originally designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The MEK is a Marxist-Islamic Organization that seeks the overthrow of the Iranian regime through its military wing, the National Liberation Army (NLA), and its political front, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
The MEK was founded in 1963 by a group of college-educated Iranian Marxists who opposed the country’s pro-western ruler, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The group participated in the 1979 Islamic Revolution that replaced the Shah with a Shiite Islamist regime led by Ayatollah Khomeini. However, the MEK’s ideology – a blend of Marxism, feminism, and Islamism – was at odds with the post-revolutionary government, and its original leadership was soon executed by the Khomeini regime. In 1981, the group was driven from its bases on the Iran-Iraq border and resettled in Paris, where it began supporting Iraq in its eight-year war against Khomeini’s Iran. In 1986, after France recognized the Iranian regime, the MEK moved its headquarters to Iraq, which facilitated its terrorist activities in Iran. Since 2003, roughly 3,400 MEK members have been encamped at Camp Ashraf in Iraq.
Activities: The group’s worldwide campaign against the Iranian government uses propaganda and terrorism to achieve its objectives. During the 1970s, the MEK staged terrorist attacks inside Iran and killed several U.S. military personnel and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran. In 1972, the MEK set off bombs in Tehran at the U.S. Information Service office (part of the U.S. Embassy), the Iran-American Society, and the offices of several U.S. companies to protest the visit of President Nixon to Iran. In 1973, the MEK assassinated the deputy chief of the U.S. Military Mission in Tehran and bombed several businesses, including Shell Oil. In 1974, the MEK set off bombs in Tehran at the offices of U.S. companies to protest the visit of then U.S. Secretary of State Kissinger. In 1975, the MEK assassinated two U.S. military officers who were members of the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group in Tehran. In 1976, the MEK assassinated two U.S. citizens who were employees of Rockwell International in Tehran. In 1979, the group claimed responsibility for the murder of an American Texaco executive. Though denied by the MEK, analysis based on eyewitness accounts and MEK documents demonstrates that MEK members participated in and supported the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and that the MEK later argued against the early release the American hostages. The MEK also provided personnel to guard and defend the site of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, following the takeover of the Embassy.
In 1981, MEK leadership attempted to overthrow the newly installed Islamic regime; Iranian security forces subsequently initiated a crackdown on the group. The MEK instigated a bombing campaign, including an attack against the head office of the Islamic Republic Party and the Prime Minister’s office, which killed some 70 high-ranking Iranian officials, including Chief Justice Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, President Mohammad-Ali Rajaei, and Prime Minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar. These attacks resulted in an expanded Iranian government crackdown that forced MEK leaders to flee to France. For five years, the MEK continued to wage its terrorist campaign from its Paris headquarters. Expelled by France in 1986, MEK leaders turned to Saddam Hussein’s regime for basing, financial support, and training. Near the end of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War, Baghdad armed the MEK with heavy military equipment and deployed thousands of MEK fighters in suicidal, mass wave attacks against Iranian forces.
The MEK’s relationship with the former Iraqi regime continued through the 1990s. In 1991, the group reportedly assisted the Iraqi Republican Guard’s bloody crackdown on Iraqi Shia and Kurds who rose up against Saddam Hussein’s regime. In April 1992, the MEK conducted near-simultaneous attacks on Iranian embassies and consular missions in 13 countries, including against the Iranian mission to the United Nations in New York, demonstrating the group’s ability to mount large-scale operations overseas. In June 1998, the MEK was implicated in a series of bombing and mortar attacks in Iran that killed at least 15 and injured several others. The MEK also assassinated the former Iranian Minister of Prisons in 1998. In April 1999, the MEK targeted key Iranian military officers and assassinated the deputy chief of the Iranian Armed Forces General Staff, Brigadier General Ali Sayyaad Shirazi.
In April 2000, the MEK attempted to assassinate the commander of the Nasr Headquarters, Tehran’s interagency board responsible for coordinating policies on Iraq. The pace of anti-Iranian operations increased during “Operation Great Bahman” in February 2000, when the group launched a dozen attacks against Iran. One attack included a mortar attack against a major Iranian leadership complex in Tehran that housed the offices of the Supreme Leader and the President. The attack killed one person and injured six other individuals. In March 2000, the MEK launched mortars into a residential district in Tehran, injuring four people and damaging property. In 2000 and 2001, the MEK was involved in regular mortar attacks and hit-and-run raids against Iranian military and law enforcement personnel, as well as government buildings near the Iran-Iraq border. Following an initial Coalition bombardment of the MEK’s facilities in Iraq at the outset of Operation Iraqi Freedom, MEK leadership negotiated a cease-fire with Coalition Forces and surrendered their heavy-arms to Coalition control. Since 2003, roughly 3,400 MEK members have been encamped at Ashraf in Iraq.
In 2003, French authorities arrested 160 MEK members at operational bases they believed the MEK was using to coordinate financing and planning for terrorist attacks. Upon the arrest of MEK leader Maryam Rajavi, MEK members took to Paris’ streets and engaged in self-immolation. French authorities eventually released Rajavi.
Strength: Estimates place MEK’s worldwide membership at between 5,000 and 10,000 members, with large pockets in Paris and other major European capitals. In Iraq, roughly 3,400 MEK members are gathered at Camp Ashraf, the MEK’s main compound north of Baghdad. As a condition of the 2003 cease-fire agreement, the MEK relinquished more than 2,000 tanks, armored personnel carriers, and heavy artillery.
Location/Area of Operation: The MEK’s global support structure remains in place, with associates and supporters scattered throughout Europe and North America. Operations have targeted Iranian government elements across the globe, including in Europe and Iran. The MEK’s political arm, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, has a global support network with active lobbying and propaganda efforts in major Western capitals. NCRI also has a well-developed media communications strategy.
External Aid: Before Operation Iraqi Freedom began in 2003, the MEK received all of its military assistance and most of its financial support from Saddam Hussein. The fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime has led the MEK increasingly to rely on front organizations to solicit contributions from expatriate Iranian communities.
... According to the FBI. A recently disclosed FBI report from 2004 reveals Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult) continued to plan terrorist acts years after they claimed to renounce terrorism. The State Department has documented the MEK's disturbing record: killing Americans and Iranians in terrorist attacks; fighting for Saddam Hussein against Iran and assisting Saddam's brutal campaign against Iraq's Kurds and Shia; its "cult-like" behavior; the abuses and even torture it commits against its own members; and its support for the U.S. embassy takeover and calls for executing the hostages ...
US State Department claims no popular support for Mojahedin Khaq (MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult) among Iranains
... A U.S. State Department document released in May 2011 under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act says the MEK has no popular support inside Iran and “to the extent Iranians know about this group they are far more likely to oppose it than support it.” It added, “Any U.S. support for MEK would extremely damage its reputation amongst Iranians and would increase anti-American sentiments in Iran.” The State Department cables quoted defectors as describing MEK as a cult that punishes former members. The cables said the MEK leadership ordered the execution of all attempted defectors ...
A U.S. State Department document released in May 2011 under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act says the MEK has no popular support inside Iran and “to the extent Iranians know about this group they are far more likely to oppose it than support it.” It added, “Any U.S. support for MEK would extremely damage its reputation amongst Iranians and would increase anti-American sentiments in Iran.” The State Department cables quoted defectors as describing MEK as a cult that punishes former members. The cables said the MEK leadership ordered the execution of all attempted defectors.
IRANIAN POPULAR ATTITUDES TOWARDS THE MEK
Summary Showing a unanimity rare among Iranians, anecdotal information gleaned from both ordinary Iranians living inside Iran and abroad and from Iran analysts strongly indicates that the ‘Mujahedin-e Khalq’ (MEK) opposition group has not significant popular support inside Iran. To the extent that Iranian respondents are familiar with the MEK they express severe dislike for this group, primarily due to its alliance with Saddam Hussein during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war. All Iranians queried tended to disbelieve the MEK’s expressed allegiance to the ideals of human rights and democracy, with even hardened Iranian oppositionists and persecuted religious minorities such as the Iranian Baha’i saying they would prefer the current Iranian government to an MEK-affiliated one. Many Iranian respondents believe that any indication of USG support for the MEK would seriously harm USG popularity among ordinary Iranians, even among those Iranians who oppose the current Iranian government, would fuel anti-American sentiment, and would likely empower Iranian hardliners. END SUMMARY
******* THIS IS A COMBINED MESSAGE ****** SUBJECT: IRANIAN POPULAR ATTITUDES TOWARDS THE MEK
1. (SBU) NOTE: The following cable is based on input from State Department Iran-watchers and consular interviewing officers in the main posts that interact with Iranians on a regular basis, i.e. ANKARA, BAKU, BERLIN, DUBAI AND ISTANBUL. END NOTE.
2. (SBU) SUMMARY: Showing a unanimity rare among Iranians, anecdotal information gleaned from both ordinary Iranians living inside Iran and abroad and from Iran analysts strongly indicates that the ‘Mujahedin-e Khalq’ (MEK) opposition group has no significant popular support inside Iran. To the extent that Iranian respondents are familiar with the MEK they express severe dislike for the group, primarily due to its alliance with Saddam Hussein during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war. All Iranians queried tended to disbelieve the MEK’s expressed allegiance to the ideals of human rights and democracy, with even hardened Iranian oppositionists and persecuted religious minorities such as the Iranian Baha’i saying they would prefer the current Iranian government to an MEK-affiliated one. Many Iranian respondents believe that any indication of USG support for the MEK would seriously harm USG popularity among ordinary Iranians, even among those Iranians who oppose the current Iranian government, would fuel anti-American sentiment, and would likely empower Iranian hardliners. END SUMMARY.
3. (SBU) MEK – BACKGROUND (see Appendix): Originally a 1960s Islamic-Marxist group dedicated to violent overthrow of the Pahlavi regime, the ‘Mujahedin-e Khalq’ (MEK- a.k.a. ‘The People’s Warriors’) was one of the main popular organizations to emerge in the early days of the 1979 Revolution. The increasing ascendancy by clerical elements supporting Ayatollah Khomeini after the revolution let to this group’s gradual elimination from the ruling coalition and its eventual flight from Iran in the early 1980s. Using Iraq as its base, the MEK mounted attacks against Iranian military during the latter stages of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, then after the 1988 Iran-Iraq cease-fire it continued attacks against Iranian leadership until it was forced to stand down its Iraq-based operations as a result of ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ in 2003. Currently, MEK supporters claim the group has renounced violence as a tool and seeks a secular, democratic Iran, while its detractors claim it is more a cult of personality centred on a leadership unchanged since 1979 than a popular-based political movement. Its membership in its ‘Camp Ashraf’ base in Iraq consists of a few thousand rank-and-file members, mostly either older original ‘first generation’ members from the 1970s or younger Iranians from poorer ethnic minorities such as Iranian Baluch. Since deprived of Iraq government funding since 2003 the MEK has increasingly relied on fundraising in Europe under various front organizations that use popular antipathy towards the Islamic Republic to solicit money. END BACKGROUND.
4. (SBU) In January and February 2011 State Department Iran-watchers and consular offices in the main posts that interact with Iranians on a regular basis (Ankara, Baku, Berlin, Dubai and Istanbul) asked Iranian contacts and visa applicants their opinions on the MEK.
5. (SBU) In speaking to hundreds of Iranians both in the preceding two months and before, ordinary Iranians were almost uniformly dismissive of the MEK, reacting with either disdain or apathy, their responses strongly indicating a lack of any significant popular support for the MEK among Iranians living in Iran. Among older Iranians this lack of support was largely due to MEK support of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war. Among younger Iranians (i.e. most of the population) this lack of support was derived from both the MEK’s ‘treasonous acts’ in supporting Iraq during the war and also from a near–total lack of information due to the absence of any MEK influence inside Iran.
6. (SBU) The following direct quotes reflect what was heard from ordinary Iranians both inside Iran and abroad:
--- “The MEK are detested among the young and old in Iran, although many young Iranians don’t know much about them, and to the extent they do it is in relation to their pro-Iraqi activities during the Iran-Iraq war. Many young Iranians familiar with the MEK’s lack of any support inside Iran wonder why this group is so well-supported abroad and in international organizations.”
--- “They are hated among Iranians, since their hands are stained with the blood of their fellow countrymen.”
--- “I’m an Iranian Bahai (i.e. the most persecuted religious minority in Iran) and I can tell you that even Bahais in Iran would much prefer the current Iranian government to any MEK government.”
--- “We are scared of them because we think they want power. They are like Fidel Castro in Cuba. They will turn Iran into a North Korea or Cuba. It’s not correct to call them a terrorist group THOUGH: THEY JUST WANT POWER. THEY DO NOT HAve the support of the majority of people. They are not democratic just because they appointed a lady as ‘President of Iran’.”
---“They were supported and loved during the Revolution, especially among young people. We loved them. They were beautiful people. But their Marxist-Islamic ideology has passed away. The group’s ideology is far away from the people now.”
---“Aside from their cooperation with Saddam against Iran, their leadership is immoral – Massoud Rajavi has forced himself on many women, with Maryam’s awareness, and in their camp in Iraq they separate children from their parents. I had a distant relative who joined the MEK and once he did so the rest of the family disowned him.”
---“Nobody likes them.”
---“They have no support in Iran.”
---“The group is not popular. People hate them, and they are terrorists. They killed many people.”
---“Once they fought for what they believed in and they had some support but now we don’t really know who they are and what they do.”
---“They are a terrorist organization.”
---“The MEK is a joke.”
---“They are a bunch of #@$*!” [From a young Iranian male]
---“They MEK under the leadership of Massoud Rajavi and President Maryam Rajavi are meaningless in the domestic Iranian political spectrum and totally marginalized. They try however, with great effort, to create the impression that they are the most significant Iranian exiled opposition group.”
ANALYSTS ON MEK
7. (SBU) The above-cited characterization of the MEK by ordinary Iranians was replicated in feedback from political analysts focused on contemporary Iran, all of whom were Iranian by birth. Without exception these analysts said that the MEK lacked any significant popular support inside Iran, with Iranian popular reactions to the MEK varying from rank ignorance (mostly among the young) to extreme aversion (to those more familiar with their history).
8. (SBU) The following direct quotes from prominent analysts of contemporary Iran, all of whom are Iranian by birth, reflect the feedback received:
---“Right after the 1979 revolution the MEK had considerable support in Iran, especially among the youth. Even after the MEK began its campaign of assassination of official figures in June 1981 and the regime responded by executing several thousand of MEK supporters, there was still sympathy. But then MEK leadership left Iran and went first to France and then Iraq, began collaborating with Saddam Hussein’s regime, and acting as its spies. This turned the tide against the MEK, and the Iranian people began despising MEK for its support of Saddam, for its revealing information about Iran, and for still continuing its campaign of assassination while the nation was involved in a long war.
That has not changed, and in fact it has become stronger, since all sorts of horror stories have been told to the public by former MEK members who had become disillusioned with the leadership and wanted to leave Iraq and Camp Ashraf but were tortured and then delivered to Saddams intelligence as Iranian spies. It was also revealed that the MEK had a direct role in putting down the Shiites uprising in southern Iraq and the Kurdish uprising in northern Iraq right after the first Persian Gulf War. The fact that MEK revealed some information about Iran’s nuclear program also angered a lot of people, because they consider it treason. The net result is that, with losing thousands of its members to executions and consistent opposition to the IRIG, the MEK has no significant base of support in Iran. Given that 70 percent of the population is under 35, they do not even know who the MEK are.
Iranians who know about the MEK consider it nothing but a religio-political cult. MEK has the same power structure as does the IRIG; It has a “Supreme Leader”, Massoud Rajavi; a “President”, Maryam Rajavi, and it demands absolute obedience of the leadership. So, as we say in Persian, “as chaale dar biyaam to chaah biyoftim?” (We are getting ourselves out a small ditch in order to fall down in a deep well?)”.
---“The trick used by MEK is to approach the “simple man on the street” or politicians with little expertise on Iran and convince them that they are collecting signatures or money to protest human rights violations in Iran. These signatures are then used by the organization as proof of support for the organization’s broader political agenda. The organization works under a number of PSEUDONYMS. THE RECENT PROTEST MOVEMent in Iran that followed the 2009 elections showed quite clearly that the MEK has no noticeable support inside Iran and is isolated amongst exiled Iranians as well.”
---“Generally speaking I encountered two things concerning the MEK from living in Iran. The older generations’ has a disdain for the MEK because of their belief that MEK contributed mightily to the radicalism and violence of the early years of the revolution and for its siding with Saddam in the Iran-Iraq war. This disdain was not merely based on the fact that the government held MEK responsible for the bombings of the early revolutionary years. In addition, many liberal and/or secular people whom I know still hold MEK responsible for the radical Islamist turn of the revolution that was then manipulated by more established clerics. The younger generation’s views on the MEK are characterized by apathy and lack of basic knowledge about the group, its leadership, and its political positions. I have not found any evidence that MEK has been able to fire the imagination of a single university or high school student in Iran. Believe it or not, the few students who express interest in radical politics, instead of reform, were much more interested in Marxism than MEK”.
---“Outside Iran, a handful of groups and individuals have sought to emerge as centers of opposition. Among these groups is the MEK. It has no political base inside Iran and no genuine support on the Iranian street. The MEK, an organization based in Iraq that enjoyed the Baathist regime’s support, lost any following it may have had in Iran when it fought on Iraq’s behalf during the 1980-1988 war. Widespread Iranian distaste for the MEK has been cemented by its numerous terrorist attacks against innocent Iranian civilians and Iranian government officials. Since Saddam Hussein’s fall, the MEK now depend almost entirely on the goodwill of the United States, which placed it on its list of foreign terrorist organizations and, at most, seems prepared to use it as a source of intelligence and leverage in its dealings with Iran.
The most prominent international human rights organizations-- including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International -- have determined the MEK to be undemocratic, with a cult-like organizational structure and modus operandi that belies its claim to be a vehicle for democratic change.
During my time living and working in Iran, it became quite clear that the MEK is not at all popular among the Iranian people. Of the literally hundreds of people I interviewed and/or spoke with in Iran about the MEK, not one had anything positive to say about it. When Iran’s (2009) post-election turbulence commenced, the MEK quickly sought to join the frenzy of brewing opposition to the current government inside Iran. But by claiming links to this indigenous opposition, the MEK connected their name to genuinely disenfranchised voters, thereby providing the Iranian government with yet another excuse to “discredit” and crackdown on peaceful protesters.
Increased U.S. government support for the MEK will empower Ahmadinejad and other hardliners in Iran, thereby increasing their (Ahmadinejad and the other hardliners) overall domestic support exponentially. Never has the level of cohesion among regime “insiders” been so low (but) supporting the MEK will provide Iranian government insiders with a foreign-based treat that can be exploited to heal fractures within the regime, increase the number of Iranians that rally around the flag, and eliminate indigenous political opposition -- thereby hurting the very people that America seeks to help. Ironically, if the U.S. wants to help Ahmadinejad and the hardliners cement a long-term dictatorship in Iran, support for the Mojahedin is the way to do it. It will significantly reduce any chance of real rapprochement with the Iranian government, and severely curtail indigenous democratic progress in Iran. The Iranian people won’t forgive or forget this -- particularly given the history surrounding U.S. policies toward Mossadegh and the Shah. And this is one of the cardinal sins poisoning U.S. – Iran relations to this day. It is worth noting that increasing American support for the MEK is a step that the Bush administration—even at the height of its openly hostile Iran policy -- wasn’t willing to take. Even they understood that increased support for the MEK will exacerbate all of the challenges and problems that Iran policy currently poses to the USG.”
--- “The MEK is a dead political group in Iran, even if its specter is not anymore haunting the Iranian people. The MEK has no considerable support in the country, either among the elites or among the ordinary people, whether in the capital Tehran or in the PROVINCES. WHILE IRANIANS FOLLOW ON A DAILY BASIS different opposition websites, the MEK website is one of the poorest regarding the amount of its viewers (this fact is easily provable by checking the traffic the website has comparing to others). The truth is the MEK is one of the most hated political groups in Iran. If Iranians would be asked to choose between MEK and IRGC – Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – they would definitely go for the latter. The MEK is mostly known as a terrorist group in Iran; people are afraid of the group’s obsolete ideology, its aggressive and vengeful rhetoric and its authoritarian leadership.
The Iranian regime is aware how notorious the MEK is and takes advantage of this in certain political situations. During the 2009 unrests, the MEK’s support of the Iranian protestors was a gift for the regime, as it led many people hesitate to come anymore to the streets evidently afraid of their paving the path for MEK to take advantage of the situation. Regardless, the government accused the MEK of initiating terrorist attacks and gunning down people in the streets.
Any U.S. support for MEK would extremely damage its reputation amongst Iranians and would increase anti-American sentiments in Iran. People would regard such an act not as animosity towards the regime but towards the nation. They would assume that the U.S. intentions are not to promote freedom and democracy in Iran, but simply to spoil the country. The Iranian regime would definitely take advantage of such a situation, showing it as a proof of its claims of calling Americans as the enemy of the nation.”
---“The MEK are an Islamist-Socialist cult whose membership numbers in the thousands. Their popular support in Iran is negligible. Over a four year period living in and travelling to Iran I never met anyone who expressed any affinity for them. On the contrary they are widely perceived as brainwashed traitors who fought alongside Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. The U.S. government should stay as far away from them as possible. Even (former NSC head) general Jones recent interactions with them have spurred concerned rumors among Iranian democracy activists that Washington may be flirting with the MEK.”
9. (SBU) COMMENT: The results of this admittedly unscientific polling of contacts and ordinary Iranians concerning the MEK confirms what those familiar with Iran already assumed to be the case: regardless of whether the USG deems it a terrorist organization, the MEK lacks any significant popular support in Iran, and to the extent Iranians know about this group they are far more likely to oppose it than support it. The pro-human rights and democratic ideals which the MEK now claims to espouse are ones which the USG also emphasizes in our own Iran policy. But one does not need to support the MEK to promote these goals, and indeed it seems to be the case that any increased show of USG support for this group will not help the cause of freedom and democracy in Iran, but will only adversely impact popular perceptions of the USG among ordinary Iranians, and could also strengthen support for Ahmadinejad and other hardliners. END COMMENT
APPENDIX: MEK HISTORY
1965: MEK Founded on Islamic-Marxist ideology by former members of Iran’s nationalist “Freedom Movement of Iran”.
1970s: MEK engaged in ideological work combined with armed struggle against the Pahlavi regime, to include terrorist killings of US military and civilian personnel in Iran.
1975: MEK splits in to two groups, Marxist and Islamist, with the Marxist group changing its name to “Paykar”.
1979: Massoud Rajavi assumes MEK leadership, and MEK becomes one of the main political groups active during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. MEK supports US Embassy takeover in November 1979.
1979-81: Like Iranian nationalists and leftists elements, MEK influence in government slowly eliminated by the clerical elements supporting Ayatollah Khomeini.
Early 1980: As IRIG moves against MEK, MEK elements inside Iran mount massive assassination campaigns against the IRIG leadership, killing approximately 70 high-ranking IRIG officials in one June 1981 bombing, with another MEK bombing two months later killing the IRIG President and Prime Minister. Hundreds of MEK supporters and members either arrested or killed. Massoud Rajavi forced to flee Iran in 1981, and majority of MEK relocates in France.
1981-1986: Using France as base of operations, MEK continues campaign of violence against Iranian government figures.
1986-1988: In 1986 due to improved Iran-France relations MEK relocates headquarters to Iraq, relaying on Iraq for basing, financial support, and training. During Iran-Iraq war its “NATIONAL LIBERATION ARMY” UNDER CONTROL OF THE IRAQI MILITary mounts attacks against the Iranian military, causing it to lose massive support among the Iranian people.
1988: Mass execution of MEK prisoners inside Iran by IRIG.
1989-2003: MEK continues assassination attacks against IRIG officials, receiving major financial support from Saddam Hussein, to include:
--1992 (April): MEK conducts near-simultaneous attacks on Iranian embassies and installations in 13 countries.
-- 1999 (April): MEK assassinates key Iranian military officers, to include deputy chief of the Iranian Armed Forces General Staff, Brigadier General Ali Sayyaad Shirazi.
-- 2000 (February): MEK launches series of attacks against Iran, to include a mortar attack against a major Iranian leadership complex in Tehran.
--2000-01: MEK conducts regular mortar attacks and hit-and-run raids against Iranian military and law enforcement personnel, as well as government buildings near the Iran-Iraq border.
1991: MEK assists Iraqi Republican Guards in crackdown on anti-Saddam Iraqi Shia and Kurds.
2001: FBI arrested seven Iranians in the United States who funneled $400,000 to an MEK-affiliated organization in the UAE which used the funds to purchase weapons.
2003: At start of Operation Iraqi Freedom MEK leadership negotiated a cease-fire with Coalition Forces and voluntarily surrenders their heavy-arms to Coalition control.
2003: French authorities arrest 160 MEK members at operational bases they believed the MEK was using to coordinate financing and planning for terrorist attacks.
Post -2003: High level MEK leave MEK’s “Camp Ashraf” in Iraq, relocating in various European capitals.
American-backed Mojahedin Khalq Terrorists In Iran
(aka; MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult)
US State Department tells bold lies regarding the latest assassination in Iran as it harbors MEK terrorists in Iraq
... The M.E.K. has been on the State Department’s terrorist list for more than a decade, yet in recent years the group has received arms and intelligence, directly or indirectly, from the United States. Some of the newly authorized covert funds, the Pentagon consultant told me, may well end up in M.E.K. coffers. “The new task force will work with the M.E.K. The Administration is desperate for results.” He added, “The M.E.K. has no C.P.A. auditing the books, and its leaders are thought to have been lining their pockets for years. If people only knew what the M.E.K. is getting, and how much is going to its bank accounts ...
However, the US State Department complicated what would have otherwise been plausibly denied, by claiming no US involvement "in any kind of act of violence inside Iran." This is a verified lie. The US has indeed conspired to carry out a campaign of covert violence against Iran and is on record already beginning operations against the Islamic Republic even before Obama came into office. These operations have continued up until present day with the US harboring, arming, funding, training, and providing diplomatic support for a US State Dapartment listed "foreign terrorist organization," the Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK).
Image: US State Department lists MEK as a "Foreign Terrorist Organization." This page has since been taken down and replaced with this .pdf list.
Who Is MEK and Why is the US Funding Terror?
The best profile of MEK is given to us by the Fortune 500 funded Brookings Institution in their report, "Which Path to Persia?" In their report, they also openly conspire to use what is an admitted terrorist organization as a "US proxy" (emphasis added):
"Perhaps the most prominent (and certainly the most controversial) opposition group that has attracted attention as a potential U.S. proxy is the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran), the political movement established by the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq). Critics believe the group to be undemocratic and unpopular, and indeed anti-American.
In contrast, the group’s champions contend that the movement’s long-standing opposition to the Iranian regime and record of successful attacks on and intelligence-gathering operations against the regime make it worthy of U.S. support. They also argue that the group is no longer anti-American and question the merit of earlier accusations. Raymond Tanter, one of the group’s supporters in the United States, contends that the MEK and the NCRI are allies for regime change in Tehran and also act as a useful proxy for gathering intelligence. The MEK’s greatest intelligence coup was the provision of intelligence in 2002 that led to the discovery of a secret site in Iran for enriching uranium.
Despite its defenders’ claims, the MEK remains on the U.S. government list of foreign terrorist organizations. In the 1970s, the group killed three U.S. officers and three civilian contractors in Iran. During the 1979-1980 hostage crisis, the group praised the decision to take America hostages and Elaine Sciolino reported that while group leaders publicly condemned the 9/11 attacks, within the group celebrations were widespread.
Undeniably, the group has conducted terrorist attacks—often excused by the MEK’s advocates because they are directed against the Iranian government. For example, in 1981, the group bombed the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party, which was then the clerical leadership’s main political organization, killing an estimated 70 senior officials. More recently, the group has claimed credit for over a dozen mortar attacks, assassinations, and other assaults on Iranian civilian and military targets between 1998 and 2001. At the very least, to work more closely with the group (at least in an overt manner), Washington would need to remove it from the list of foreign terrorist organizations."
It should be noted that both the Brookings Institution and the RAND Corporation note that Iran, even upon possessing nuclear weapons is unlikely to use them or proliferate them to non-state actors. This is based on observations made of Iran's long standing chemical and biological arsenals that have been under strict control for decades.
There is also recognition of the fact, that despite the propaganda found throughout the corporate-media, Iran does indeed value self-preservation and conducts its foreign-policy aggressively but not irrationally. The real danger of Iran's possession of nuclear weapons, as stated by the Brookings Institution (page 24 & 25), is that they may attempt to then subvert American allies and emboldened by the inability for the US to retaliate, allow them to overturn the Middle Eastern status quo, as currently dictated by Wall Street and London. In other words, it is not American or Israeli national security that is at risk, but rather their unchecked and unwarranted hegemony throughout the region.
It then seems that US support for MEK becomes all the more indefensible when one realizes it is for extraterritorial hegemony, not national security that America is sponsoring bonafide terrorists.
"The M.E.K. has been on the State Department’s terrorist list for more than a decade, yet in recent years the group has received arms and intelligence, directly or indirectly, from the United States. Some of the newly authorized covert funds, the Pentagon consultant told me, may well end up in M.E.K. coffers. “The new task force will work with the M.E.K. The Administration is desperate for results.” He added, “The M.E.K. has no C.P.A. auditing the books, and its leaders are thought to have been lining their pockets for years. If people only knew what the M.E.K. is getting, and how much is going to its bank accounts—and yet it is almost useless for the purposes the Administration intends.”
Incredibly, US forces in Iraq had provided MEK's main camp with security, and with the recent "withdrawal" of US troops from Iraq, the US State Department and even the UN have been scrambling to find a new safe haven for the US listed terrorist organization. Even more unimaginable is the fact that many of the foremost fearmongers and proponents of the "War on Terror" are engaged in desperate lobbying efforts to get MEK delisted. In October of 2011, a full page ad was taken out in the Washington Post on MEK's behalf.
Image: Full-page treason - US politicians, many the most prominent proponents of the "War on Terror," appeal to the President of the United States to delist MEK as a terrorist organization. While hand-wringing humanitarian concerns are cited, what the ad fails to mention is that MEK has long been sought after to serve as an armed US-proxy to be turned on Iran and carry out a campaign of terror, as stated clearly in the Brookings Institution "Which Path to Persia?" report. (click image to enlarge)
Among those signing the statement made in the ad were John Bolton, Howard Dean, Rudy Giuliani, Ed Rendell, and Tom Ridge. When reading the statement, it must be kept in mind that the Brookings Institution already confirmed that MEK was a terrorist organization and that it had verifiably killed US military personal and civilians. Also keep in mind that Brookings admitted that MEK's targets in Iran included political and civilian targets. With MEK's specialty being among other things, assassinations, they are also likely suspects behind the recent spat of targeted killings of Iranian scientists.
The US State Department's recent claim that it is not involved "in any kind of act of violence inside Iran," is clearly false. The US is committing acts of violence inside of Iran to the extent of using not only special forces as noted by Hersh's 2008 article, but also by using terrorists with a long history of attacking political and civilian targets in Iran.
... Mr. Dean’s speech stunned me. But then came Rudolph W. Giuliani saying virtually the same thing. At a conference in Paris last December, an emotional Mr. Giuliani told Ms. Rajavi, “These are the most important yearnings of the human soul that you support, and for your organization to be described as a terrorist organization is just simply a disgrace.” I thought I was watching The Onion News Network. Did Mr. Giuliani know whom he was talking about? Evidently not. In fact, an unlikely chorus of the group’s backers — some of whom have received speaking fees, others of whom are inspired by their conviction that ...
A version of this op-ed appeared in print on August 14, 2011, on page SR5 of the New York edition with the headline: An Iranian Cult and Its American Friends, Elizabeth Rubin is a contributor to The New York Times Magazine, where her article "The Cult of Rajavi" appeared in July 2003.
A FEW weeks ago I received an e-mail from an acquaintance with the subject line: Have you seen the video everyone is talking about?
I clicked play, and there was Howard Dean, on March 19 in Berlin, at his most impassioned, extolling the virtues of a woman named Maryam Rajavi and insisting that America should recognize her as the president of Iran.
Ms. Rajavi and her husband, Massoud, are the leaders of a militant Iranian opposition group called the Mujahedeen Khalq, or Warriors of God. The group’s forces have been based for the last 25 years in Iraq, where I visited them shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein in April 2003.
Mr. Dean’s speech stunned me. But then came Rudolph W. Giuliani saying virtually the same thing. At a conference in Paris last December, an emotional Mr. Giuliani told Ms. Rajavi, “These are the most important yearnings of the human soul that you support, and for your organization to be described as a terrorist organization is just simply a disgrace.” I thought I was watching The Onion News Network. Did Mr. Giuliani know whom he was talking about?
Evidently not. In fact, an unlikely chorus of the group’s backers — some of whom have received speaking fees, others of whom are inspired by their conviction that the Iranian government must fall at any cost — have gathered around Mujahedeen Khalq at conferences in capitals across the globe.
This group of luminaries includes two former chairmen of the joint chiefs of staff, Gens. Hugh H. Shelton and Peter Pace; Wesley K. Clark, the former NATO commander; Gen. James L. Jones, who was President Obama’s national security adviser; Louis J. Freeh, the former F.B.I. director; the former intelligence officials Dennis C. Blair and Michael V. Hayden; the former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson; the former attorney general Michael B. Mukasey, and Lee H. Hamilton, a former congressman who was co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission.
Indeed, the Rajavis and Mujahedeen Khalq are spending millions in an attempt to persuade the Obama administration, and in particular Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, to take them off the national list of terrorist groups, where the group was listed in 1997. Delisting the group would enable it to lobby Congress for support in the same way that the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 allowed the Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi to do.
Mrs. Clinton should ignore their P.R. campaign. Mujahedeen Khalq is not only irrelevant to the cause of Iran’s democratic activists, but a totalitarian cult that will come back to haunt us.
When I arrived at Camp Ashraf, the base of the group’s operations, in April 2003, I thought I’d entered a fictional world of female worker bees. Everywhere I saw women dressed exactly alike, in khaki uniforms and mud-colored head scarves, driving back and forth in white pickup trucks, staring ahead in a daze as if they were working at a factory in Maoist China. I met dozens of young women buried in the mouths of tanks, busily tinkering with the engines. One by one, the girls bounded up to me and my two minders to recite their transformations from human beings to acolytes of Ms. Rajavi. One said she had been suicidal in Iran until she found Ms. Rajavi on the Internet.
At Camp Ashraf, 40 miles north of Baghdad, near the Iranian border, 3,400 members of the militant group reside in total isolation on a 14-square-mile tract of harsh desert land. Access to the Internet, phones and information about the outside world is prohibited. Posters of Ms. Rajavi and her smiling green eyes abound. Meanwhile, she lives in luxury in France; her husband has remained in hiding since the United States occupied Iraq in 2003.
During the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the group served as Mr. Hussein’s own private militia opposing the theocratic government in Tehran. For two decades, he gave the group money, weapons, jeeps and military bases along the border with Iran. In return, the Rajavis pledged their fealty.
In 1991, when Mr. Hussein crushed a Shiite uprising in the south and attempted to carry out a genocide against the Kurds in the north, the Rajavis and their army joined his forces in mowing down fleeing Kurds.
Ms. Rajavi told her disciples, “Take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.” Many followers escaped in disgust.
So the Rajavis then began preying on Iranian refugees and asylum seekers in Europe to fill their ranks. The Rajavis promise them salaries, marriage, family, freedom and a great cause — fighting the Iranian government. Then the unwitting youths arrive in Iraq.
What is most disturbing is how the group treats its members. After the Iran-Iraq war, Mr. Rajavi orchestrated an ill-planned offensive, deploying thousands of young men and women into Iran on a mass martyrdom operation. Instead of capturing Iran, as they believed they would, thousands of them were slaughtered, including parents, husbands and wives of those I met in Iraq in 2003.
After my visit, I met and spoke to men and women who had escaped from the group’s clutches. Many had to be deprogrammed. They recounted how people were locked up if they disagreed with the leadership or tried to escape; some were even killed.
Friendships and all emotional relationships are forbidden. From the time they are toddlers, boys and girls are not allowed to speak to each other. Each day at Camp Ashraf you had to report your dreams and thoughts.
If a man was turned on by the scent of a woman or a whiff of perfume, he had to confess. Members had to attend weekly ideological cleansings in which they publicly confessed their sexual desires. Members were even forced to divorce and take a vow of lifelong celibacy to ensure that all their energy and love would be directed toward Maryam and Massoud.
Mr. Hamilton and Generals Jones and Clark have been paid speakers’ fees by front groups for Mujahedeen Khalq and have spoken in support of the group in public conferences. They claimed ignorance of how the group treated its members.
“I don’t know a lot about the group,” Mr. Hamilton told me over the phone last week. But in 1994, when he was chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Hamilton received a report describing the group as a violent cult with a distinct ideology synthesizing Marxism and messianic Shiism.
At a February conference in Paris, Mr. Dean praised the group’s extraordinary “bill of rights.” And General Jones said to Ms. Rajavi: “It is time for those of us from the United States who have come to know and admire you and your colleagues and your goals to do what is required to recognize the legitimacy of your movement and your ideals.” When I asked General Jones last week if he knew that some considered the group a totalitarian cult, he replied, “This is the first time I’ve heard anything about this.”
He said he’d checked with military and F.B.I. officials. “I wanted to make sure we weren’t supporting a group that was doing nefarious things that I don’t know about,” he said. “Nobody brought it up, so I didn’t know what questions to ask.”
IN fact, a 2004 F.B.I. report on the group detailed a joint investigation by the American and German police, which revealed that the group’s cell in Cologne, Germany, had used money from a complex fraud scheme to buy military equipment. The group used children with multiple identities to claim multiple benefit checks from the German government. Evidence also showed that the group had obtained money in Los Angeles to purchase GPS units to increase the accuracy of planned mortar attacks on Tehran.
It is possible that such plots do not bother General Jones and other supporters of the group. But Iraq will no longer tolerate its presence. Its government wants the Mujahedeen Khalq out of the country by the end of the year. In April, Iraqi forces attacked Camp Ashraf. General Jones and other supporters of the group were outraged.
They are right that we should have compassion for those trapped inside the camp. A 2009 RAND Corporation study found that at least 70 percent of the group’s members there were being held against their will. If the group’s American cheerleaders cared for those at the camp half as much as they did for the Rajavis, they would be insisting on private Red Cross visits with each man and woman at Camp Ashraf.
American officials who support the group like to quote the saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” By this logic, the group’s opposition to the Tehran theocracy justifies American backing. But there is another saying to consider: “The means are the ends.”
By using the Mujahedeen Khalq to provoke Tehran, we will end up damaging our integrity and reputation, and weaken the legitimate democracy movement within Iran.
As a senior State Department official told me, “They are the best financed and organized, but they are so despised inside Iran that they have no traction.” Iranian democracy activists say the group, if it had had the chance, could have become the Khmer Rouge of Iran.
“They are considered traitors and killers of Iranian kids,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Mujahedeen Khalq’s status on the terrorist list is under review. “They are so unpopular that we think any gesture of support to them would disqualify and discredit us as being interested in democratic reform.”
If the group is taken off the terrorist list, it will be able to freely lobby the American government under the guise of an Iranian democracy movement.
Recent history has shown that the United States often ends up misguidedly supporting not only the wrong exile groups in the Middle East, but the least relevant ones. We cannot afford to be so naïve or misguided again.
Paul Sheldon Foote: Terrorist groups exist because someone wants them to
(US, UK, Israel use Mojahedin Khalq, PJAK terrorists)
... They have existed throughout those regions for a number of reasons: one is strong American support. Even though the American government denies it, it's been reported by Seymour Hirsch in The New Yorker; it's been reported by Laura Rosen in the War and Peace Blog. They can deny it all they want, but we do strongly support it -- independent journalists have gone through the region and videotaped all these communist terrorist groups and they all admit they are working with the American government. They also of course have strong support from Israel. What the American media doesn't bother to report is ...
Terrorist groups exist because someone wants them to. The US, England, France, Israel and Saudi Arabia finance, train, house and protect them.
Press TV talks with Paul Sheldon Foote, Professor of California State University from Irvine who provides an outline of the extent of involvement both the US, Israeli and Saudi Arabian governments and intelligence services have with terrorist group PJAK that targets Iran, Turkey and Syria. Following is a transcript of the interview.
Press TV: Would you please explain who PJAK is and what their goals are?
Paul Sheldon Foote:PJAK as was mentioned in your report is a branch of communist terrorists that includes the PKK -- same leadership; the only difference is one attacks Iran, one attacks Turkey and one attacks Syria.
They have existed throughout those regions for a number of reasons: one is strong American support. Even though the American government denies it, it's been reported by Seymour Hirsch in The New Yorker; it's been reported by Laura Rosen in the War and Peace Blog. They can deny it all they want, but we do strongly support it -- independent journalists have gone through the region and videotaped all these communist terrorist groups and they all admit they are working with the American government.
They also of course have strong support from Israel. What the American media doesn't bother to report is that one of the two branches of the Kurdish groups is a Jewish branch. There is a large Jewish population of Kurds both in Iraq and in Israel. There used to be a pipeline that went from Iraq to Israel.
And so the Israelis have had Mossad members on the ground in Kurdistan. They have even tried to create a central bank in Kurdistan and they have been manning the terrorist attacks and directing the terrorist workers and providing weapons. And so there's a very strong Israeli element in all of this.
Press TV: Can you describe the strength of the MKO inside Iraq? The Iraqi government doesn't appear to be doing what should be done to counter the MKO in many respects. And how does PJAK have complete control of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, which is almost autonomous?
Paul Sheldon Foote: This goes back to December of 2002 when former US President Bush spoke at the UN and they issued a background paper specifically mentioning the Mujahidin-e Khalq (MKO) as a pretext for whenever we needed to go to war with Iraq. In 2003 American coalition forces attacked Camp Ashraf Iraq and killed some of the terrorists there. They quickly settled and they turned around and started using them to go inside Iran to kill Iranians.
We have been using them as terrorist tools -- the only question is who they work for. Terrorists exist because someone wants them to exist. Their headquarters is in Paris, France because the French government wants them to exist. They have broadcasting facilities in England because England wants them to exist.
Terrorism only exists because someone's paying the bills and that includes America, France and England.
Press TV: We have the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia -- all are trying to push, through financing and training, this group to militarily get engaged and cause instability inside Iran. Does not Iran therefore have the right to defend itself?
Paul Sheldon Foote: Yes of course. I can give you an example of this Saudi financing. You could get Massoud Khodabandeh on a future show -- he owns a website called www.iran-interlink.org. Last time I was in London he told me that when he was at Camp Ashraf, Iraq in a very high position in the Mujahidin-e Khalq he personally supervised the receipt of a large shipment of gold bars from Saudi Arabia to the MKO.
The agreement they made with the Saudis is that they had to shave off the insignia and markings on the gold bars so no one could know where the gold came from. You can verify he was there at their head quarters at Camp Ashraf Iraq and a large shipment of gold came in. The Saudis fund every terrorist organization they can imagine in the region.
Press TV: Do you think if there wasn't this interference by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia that this problem would perhaps have been resolved regionally along with the neighbors of Iran, let's say Turkey and Syria along with the local governments there in Baghdad?
Paul Sheldon Foote: Absolutely. There is no reason for these problems. A large percentage of Iraqis are actually Iranians who have been living in Iraq for more than 100 years.
The borders of the Middle East were imposed on the Middle East after WWI by France, England and the rest of the world. These are artificial lines. My wife has relatives buried in Iraq and she is from Iran. Who's to say that anyone outside the region should be defining the lines and imposing these kinds of conflicts on the region? The only objection to Iran is that Iran finally has a government independent; that stands up and will not tolerate having its oil stolen as it was under the Shah.
Iran exile group should stay on terror list, say experts
(Joint Experts’ Statement on the Mujahedin-e Khalq)
... “Removing the MEK from the foreign terrorist organisation list and misconstruing its lack of democratic bona fides and support inside Iran will have harmful consequences on the legitimate, indigenous Iranian opposition,” the 37 experts say in the letter. “By attempting to claim credit for Iran’s democracy movement, the MEK has aided the Iranian government’s attempts to discredit the green movement and justify its crackdown on peaceful protesters by associating them with this widely detested group.” The signatories include ...
The letter is an attempt to counter an aggressive lobbying campaign by supporters of the Mujahedin-e Khalq, or People’s Mujahideen of Iran, to be taken off the list a decade after it renounced violence.
The experts contend that delisting the MEK would be a huge blow to the pro-democracy “green movement” that formed in Iran during the 2009 presidential election, which Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad is widely viewed as having stolen. Months of protests followed but the movement has since lost its momentum.
“Removing the MEK from the foreign terrorist organisation list and misconstruing its lack of democratic bona fides and support inside Iran will have harmful consequences on the legitimate, indigenous Iranian opposition,” the 37 experts say in the letter.
“By attempting to claim credit for Iran’s democracy movement, the MEK has aided the Iranian government’s attempts to discredit the green movement and justify its crackdown on peaceful protesters by associating them with this widely detested group.”
The signatories include John Limbert, head of Iranian affairs in the state department until recently and one of the diplomats held hostage during the 1979 siege of the US embassy in Tehran; Paul Pillar, a former US intelligence agent now at Georgetown University; Trita Parsi, head of the National Iranian American Council; and Hadi Ghaemi of Human Rights Defender.
The state department is expected to rule this month on whether the MEK will be removed from the list, which also includes al-Qaeda and Hizbollah.
The UK removed the MEK from its list in 2008 and the European Union in 2009 after courts found no evidence of terrorist actions since the MEK renounced violence in 2001. It won more than 20 battles in courts across Europe as it sought to be delisted there.
A Washington DC court last year ruled that the MEK had been denied due process during its last appeal to the Bush administration to be taken off the list and ordered the state department to reconsider the request.
But many US analysts agree with the signatories that delisting the MEK would be a setback for Iran’s grassroots opposition.
The MEK presents itself as Iran’s main opposition group but is widely reviled in the country for supporting Saddam Hussein during the 1980s Iran-Iraq war and his crackdowns on the Shia population in Iraq.
“The MEK has halted all military activity since 2001, renounced violence and condemned terrorism in all its forms in 2004, handed over all its weapons voluntarily to the United States in 2003,” said Ahmad Moein, executive director of the Iranian American Community of Northern California, a group that supports the MEK.
The MEK could now lead a viable alternative to the current Iranian regime, he said. “We support the aims of MEK for the establishment, through the electoral process of a democratic, secular, non-nuclear republic that is at peace with all its neighbours,” Mr Moein said.
We the undersigned would like to convey our concern regarding the potential delisting of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) from the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization list, and its false claims to be “Iran’s main opposition” with a base of popular support in Iran.
The MEK has no political base inside Iran and no genuinesupport among the Iranian population. The MEK, an organization based in Iraq that enjoyed the support of Saddam Hussein, lost any following it had in Iran when it fought on Iraq’s behalf during the 1980-1988 war. Widespread Iranian distaste for the MEK has been cemented by its numerous terrorist attacks against innocent Iranian civilians. Since Saddam Hussein’s ouster, the MEK’s ability to maneuver in Washington and Iraq now depends almost entirely on the uneven enforcement of existing U.S. laws concerning Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
Prominent human rights organizations – including Human Rights Watch – have determined the MEK to be a cult-like organization with a structure and modus operandi that belies its claim to be a vehicle for democratic change. When Iran’s post-election turbulence commenced in 2009, the MEK quickly sought to associate itself with the wave of popular opposition inside Iran. By attempting to claim credit for Iran’s democracy movement, the MEK has aided the Iranian government’s attempts to discredit the Green Movement and justify its crackdown on peaceful protesters by associating them with this widely detested group. When the MEK began its efforts to claim the mantle of being “Iran’s main opposition,” genuine Iranian opposition leaders such as Mehdi Karroubi and Zahra Rahnavard immediately pushed back. Karroubi pointedly said, “The Iranian Government is trying to connect those who truly love their country (the Green Movement) with the MEK to revive this hypocritical dead organization.”
Removing the MEK from the Foreign Terrorist Organization list and misconstruing its lack of democratic bona fides and support inside Iran will have harmful consequences on the legitimate, indigenous Iranian opposition. We urge the U.S. government to avoid conflating a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization with Iran’s Green Movement as the Iranian people continue their struggle for democracy and human rights.
1. Prof. Ervand Abrahamian, Author of The Iranian Mojahedin
2. Prof. Ali Ansari, University of St Andrews
3. Reza Aslan, Author of No God but God
4. Prof. Shaul Bakhash, George Mason University, author of Reign of the Ayatollahs
5. Prof. Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Syracuse University
6. Prof. Juan Cole, University of Michigan
7. James Dobbins, former Assistant Secretary of State
8. Prof. Farideh Farhi, University of Hawaii at Manoa
9. Dokhi Fassihian, Human Rights Defender
10. Hadi Ghaemi, Human Rights Defender
11. Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, former reformist member of Parliament
12. Kevan Harris, Johns Hopkins University
13. Prof. Nader Hashemi, University of Denver
14. Prof. Ramin Jahanbegloo, former political prisoner in Iran
15. Prof. Mohsen Kadivar, Duke University
16. Prof. Mehran Kamrava, Georgetown University
17. Prof. Stephen Kinzer, Author of All the Shah’s Men
18. Amb. John Limbert, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and hostage in Iran
19. Prof. Scott Lucas, University of Birmingham
20. Firuzeh Mahmoudi, United4Iran
21. Reza Marashi, Former Iran Desk officer, US Department of State, NIAC Research Director
22. Azadeh Moaveni, Author of Lipstick Jihad
23. Prof. Rasool Nafisi, Strayer University
24. Sahar Namazikhah, Journalist
25. Dr. Trita Parsi, Author of Treacherous Alliance - The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the US
26. Prof. Paul Pillar, Georgetown University
27. Prof. Nasrin Rahimieh, University of California, Irvine
28. Prof. R. K. Ramazani, University of Virginia
29. Jason Rezaian, Iran-based journalist
30. Prof. Ahmad Sadri, Lake Forest College
31. Prof. Mahmoud Sadri, Texas Woman’s University
32. Prof. Muhammad Sahimi, University of Southern California
33. Elaheh Sharifpour-Hicks, Human Rights Expert
34. Sasan Shoamanesh, managing editor of Global Brief, Canada’s leading international affairs magazine
35. Prof. Gary Sick, Columbia University
36. John Tirman, Executive Director, MIT Center for International Studies
37. Wayne White, Middle East Institute, former Deputy Director of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence
RT: Lobbyist in Capital Hill with pockets stuffed with MEK’s money
(aka; Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, Rajavi cult)
... The Alyona Show on RT – Russian English –Language news Channel suggests the US media focus on the “Lobbyist in Capital Hill with pockets stuffed with MEK’s money”, on July 9th. The show criticizes US officials’ hypocrisy and double-standard sell the cause of terrorists. Comparing MEK with Al-Qaida the show poses the question that how a terrorist designated organization can be debated in a hearing held in the US congress ...
The Alyona Show on RT – Russian English –Language news Channel suggests the US media focus on the “Lobbyist in Capital Hill with pockets stuffed with MEK’s money”, on July 9th. The show criticizes US officials’ hypocrisy and double-standard sell the cause of terrorists. Comparing MEK with Al-Qaida the show poses the question that how a terrorist designated organization can be debated in a hearing held in the US congress.