30,000 Iranian spies? Library of Congress withdraws report (Mojahdin Khalq terror group web site the only source of the report)
30,000 Iranian spies? Library of Congress withdraws report
(Mojahdin Khalq terror group web site the only source of the report)
... Massoud Khodabandeh, is a former-member-turned-fierce-critic of the Mujahadin-e Khalq (MEK), a small exile group that has long fought the government of Iran and was recently removed from the U.S. government's list of terrorist organizations. The report even includes their pictures.The report's source for the spy claim is a 2007 essay published on a now-defunct website by Rabbi Daniel Zucker, who is chair of a group called Americans for Democracy in the Middle East and has frequently written in support of the MEK.The Zucker piece in turn cites a 2005 post on another now-defunct pro-MEK website called iranterror.com ...
A US Library of Congress report asserting that Iran's Intelligence agency has 30,000 employees has been widely quoted – and criticized. The report has been withdrawn and is now under revision.
An official with the Library of Congress says a widely cited but poorly sourced report his office did on Iran's intelligence ministry has been pulled from circulation.
As we detailed last week, the study's ill-supported claim that the Iranian intelligence ministry has 30,000 employees was picked up by CNN and others. News outlets have also seized on otherassertions in the report.
The report, which was produced on behalf of a Pentagon office, had been posted on a non-public government-only website. It was leaked earlier this month.
"The report was pulled for revisions after the Division staff identified a passage that should have been caveated but was missed in the initial reviews," said Federal Research Division chief David Osborne in an email. "The report will be re-posted when revised."
Osborne declined to specify the passage in question. It might have had nothing to do with the 30,000 figure.
Another section of the report prompted a married couple branded as spies for Iran to consider legal action.
The report flatly claims that a British woman and her Iranian-born husband are operatives for Iran's intelligence ministry. The husband, Massoud Khodabandeh, is a former-member-turned-fierce-critic of the Mujahadin-e Khalq (MEK), a small exile group that has long fought the government of Iran and was recently removed from the U.S. government's list of terrorist organizations.
The Zucker piece in turn cites a 2005 post on another now-defunct pro-MEK website called iranterror.com. That site also states Khodabandeh and his wife are operatives for Iranian intelligence, but does not offer any sources or evidence.
Even though it relied on questionable sourcing, the report effectively extended the imprimatur of the U.S. government to the claim that the couple are spies.
Asked about the various criticisms of the report, Pentagon spokeswoman Anne Edgecomb told ProPublica: "We believe its findings will enrich the discussions and concepts of policy makers."
She declined to comment further.
The MEK's official website seized on the government report this month, publishing an item claiming that "a recent investigative report by [the] Pentagon ... revealed that Anne and Massoud Khodabandeh are agents of the mullahs' Ministry of Intelligence and Security."
Khodabandeh and his wife, Anne, who also worked with the MEK in the 1980s and 90s, were incensed by the government report.
"Everything they've said is just made up," Anne Khodabandeh told ProPublica.
Massoud Khodabandeh wrote a response column on Huffington Post blasting the report for its reliance on pro-MEK sources. The couple, who are based in the United Kingdom, run an anti-MEK website and consider the group a dangerous cult. (That charge that has been echoed by some outside observers but rejected by the MEK.)
The study claims that after Khodabandeh left the MEK in 1996, he and Anne "agreed to work for [Iran's intelligence ministry] and spy on MEK." It claims that the intelligence ministry used threats against Khodabandeh's family in Tehran to compel the couple to cooperate.
Earlier this month, Anne Khodabandeh emailed Osborne, the Federal Research Division chief, saying that "my solicitor would like to know the actual provenance of the report for further action." Osborne responded that the report had been pulled down for (again unspecified) revisions.
"The fact that the document was leaked to [Washington Free Beacon reporter] Mr. Bill Gertz or otherwise publicized is not the fault of the Library of Congress," Osborne wrote Jan. 9. "It is not and will not be posted to any Library of Congress site."
Anne Khodabandeh told ProPublica she and her husband are holding off on legal action at this point because of the potential expense involved, and the fact that the report does not name its author.
Khodabandeh: Mojahedin Khalq a clear threat to the national interest of U.S.
(aka; MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult)
... Now, if Zucker and his ilk can insert this MEK-written propaganda into an apparently official document for the Pentagon -- an easy target, of course, as it is swarming with willing warmongers -- will it be long before such documents reach into higher circles of power -- that is, the people with America's nuclear arsenal at their fingertips. The decision-making clique in a national crisis cannot afford to be swayed by either ideologically biased or un-researched information. When MEK misinformation so blatantly reaches the Pentagon, is it too far-fetched to imagine it reaching The White House? Should a crisis arise, can Americans be confident that those at the top really ...
(Maryam Rajavi directly ordered the massacre of Kurdish people)
The MEK have been very keen to publicize a Library of Congress report called "Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security: A Profile."
On the surface this is understandable, as the MEK is the sworn enemy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, a closer look at the content reveals a murkier truth.
The report is characterized by its mixture of allegation, assertion and allusion, much of which is not substantiated by evidence. The report blends fact and fiction in a manner intended to deceive and mislead. As such, this document is not an attack, it is a defensive act, it is a play on words intended to prevent informed discussion and stop important people being listened to. Indeed, the gratuitous mention of two specific individuals, Anne Singleton and me. We have consistently exposed the aspects of the Mojahedin Khalq which it most wants to hide -- its cult nature, human rights violations, and mercenary relation to foreign agents -- is the strongest possible indication of the provenance of this report.
The other indication is that the source of this specific misinformation is Rabbi Daniel M. Zucker. In a footnote, the article "Disinformation Campaign in Overdrive: Iran's VEVAK in High-Gear" is sourced at Global Politician, September 3, 2007, www.globalpolitician.com/23386-vevak-iran (accessed April 17, 2012). Interestingly, this website can no longer be accessed.
It is known that Zucker, along with his family, visited Maryam Rajavi in Paris and was sufficiently impressed by her glamorous outfits, free dinners and weasel words to become an active advocate of the MEK in America.
However, Zucker's article received a thorough retort back in 2007 from Professor Paul Sheldon Foote.
Reference to the same discredited article in this report can only be done out of ignorance, stupidity or desperation. Do Zucker and his ilk really believe that through defamation they can prevent the truth from emerging? Perhaps the MEK believe this will save their necks in Washington. Certainly Massoud Rajavi is deluded. He really believes that his cultic 'thought-terminating clichés" will work with everyone. In Zucker he has found a like-minded person, willing to place hope over experience. But surely there are people in Washington who are not so willing to be so easily duped.
So, what is it that Rajavi and his supporters are so desperate to hide?
Part of the answer to this question lies in the recent article "Do not Disturb -- Criminals at Work in Camp Liberty" by one of the people named in the report. As time passes and the UNHRC processes the individuals in Camp Liberty for refugee status and relocation, the danger of further exposure of human rights abuses inside the MEK is becoming ever more critical for the cult. More and more exhausted and disillusioned MEK members are scheduled to come to Europe. When they are freed from Rajavi's cultic constraints, what else will they reveal about the cult and its criminal activities?
While the UN is timidly tiptoeing around outside the closed door of Camp Liberty, afraid to intervene for fear of being labelled an 'agent of the Iranian regime,' only three thousand individuals are affected.
But in America the implications behind this report signal a potent threat to the national interest. Behind the self-interested motivations of the MEK and its sponsors there lies real danger for the American establishment. The problem for America is not the fact or fiction of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry's reach into western countries. Instead, it is the reach of the internal enemies of America into its corridors of power which is truly disturbing.
Let us not forget that a similar document, mingling actual fact and unsubstantiated allegations masquerading as fact, became a central piece of evidence which was used in the legal argument to remove the MEK from the proscribed terrorism lists of both the UK and the European Union. Is this not a disturbing precedent?
Now, if Zucker and his ilk can insert this MEK-written propaganda into an apparently official document for the Pentagon -- an easy target, of course, as it is swarming with willing warmongers -- will it be long before such documents reach into higher circles of power -- that is, the people with America's nuclear arsenal at their fingertips. The decision-making clique in a national crisis cannot afford to be swayed by either ideologically biased or un-researched information.
When MEK misinformation so blatantly reaches the Pentagon, is it too far-fetched to imagine it reaching The White House? Should a crisis arise, can Americans be confident that those at the top really have well researched and balanced information on which to base their decisions, or could America be heading for a catastrophic miscalculation?
The loopholes to such a possibility can and should be closed. The MEK may look like friends now, but do not think they won't turn around and bite you in the future.
Do not Disturb – Criminals at work in Camp Liberty
Massoud and Maryam Rajavi accused of sexual cruelty
... The women (several of whom had been appointed to the highest level of the MEK hierarchy – the Leadership Council which directly serves Massoud Rajavi and his wife, Maryam), described a bizarre process of preparation for their sexual encounter with Rajavi which was facilitated by and presided over by Maryam Rajavi, who, they said, procured specific women from the membership for Massoud’s use. The women were made to believe that refusal to participate would result in demotion, humiliation and even worse punishments. Maryam Rajavi invented rituals such as being washed by other women members so as to ‘spiritually purify’ them ...
(Women "rewarded" with pendants and robes after sexual ordeal)
When the US army captured the MEK and confined them to Camp Ashraf in April 2003, they registered 3,800 individuals. Of these, 800 were women.
The figure has remained mostly constant, with some members being trafficked in and out of the camp, and some escaping the cult altogether. (The actual figures are unknown because the Pentagon allowed the MEK to shut the door of the camp and operate Camp Ashraf independently of both national and international law.)
Understandably it is the women who escaped from Rajavi and his cultic abuses who are proving the most problematic. They are very angry and they are proving very difficult to silence.
In the Autumn of 2012 a number of these women, having courageously overcome the stigma attached to such issues, joined together to speak publicly about the sexual abuses they suffered in the MEK. They allege that Massoud Rajavi, the de facto leader of the Mojahedin-e Khalq, not only deceived them into having sex with him but had also instigated a programme of coerced hysterectomies for all women members in order to ‘neutralise their sexuality’. Out of the 800 women registered in Camp Ashraf, they gave the names of 100 who have already become victims of Rajavi’s hysterectomy programme.
The women (several of whom had been appointed to the highest level of the MEK hierarchy – the Leadership Council which directly serves Massoud Rajavi and his wife, Maryam), described a bizarre process of preparation for their sexual encounter with Rajavi which was facilitated by and presided over by Maryam Rajavi, who, they said, procured specific women from the membership for Massoud’s use. The women were made to believe that refusal to participate would result in demotion, humiliation and even worse punishments.
Maryam Rajavi invented rituals such as being washed by other women members so as to ‘spiritually purify’ them, followed by the instruction to dance naked before both the Rajavis to prove they had ‘broken the physical and mental barriers’ to their total submission to Massoud. After these coercive practices, he would choose a bedmate for sex. The women have said that they did not agree to sex with Rajavi out of free will but because they had been coerced through deception into submitting to what they later came to recognise as rape.
The women who spoke out all now live in Europe. Other former MEK women members living in Iran and currently in Iraq are also said to be willing to give their testimony. The women described how they were deceived into undergoing spurious hysterectomies in order to fulfill Rajavi’s demand that they ‘divorce from their sexuality’.
In response, former Colonel, Leo McCloskey, Commander of Forward Operation Base in Ashraf until 2008, was featured on the MEK’s websites and media, attempting to denigrate the women and dismiss their claims by labeling them as ‘agents of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence’. Based on what knowledge and expertise did he manage to come up with such a nonsensical counter argument?
What is most disturbing about these revelations is the response from the establishment. I’m sure that everyone reading this article will be at least curious to know whether such outrageous accusations might be true or not. Perhaps those who are more familiar with the MEK’s past known behaviour will be willing at least to give some credence to these allegations. But for responsible bodies like the UN and even human rights organisations, which, over thirty years, have compiled reams and reams of documented evidence of gross abuses committed by the Rajavi cult (let us not forget the MEK victims found in Abu Ghraib prison), to ignore these easily verifiable witness statements because the MEK says they are a ‘plot by the Iranian regime to discredit the opposition’ really beggars belief.
The facts are easily verifiable. The physical evidence of hysterectomy can be found in the women’s bodies. It is a matter of fact, not opinion. And if those who managed to escape the cult have evidence consistent with their accusations, does it not behove those people actually responsible for their welfare to conduct an investigation into the condition of the other named women in the MEK who are trapped incommunicado in (the ironically named) Camp Liberty.
Let us look more closely then at the ‘one size fits all’ label used to denigrate the victims: ‘agent of the Iranian regime’. It is not the first time the label has been used by the MEK, nor will it be the last. After all, in the current reckless Western culture of ferocious Iran-bashing, it is an easy formula to trot out for a willing audience. And what a willing audience!
The phrase arises from the cultic nature of the MEK and of course the concept of ‘thought-terminating clichés’ is familiar among experts in cultic abuse. It describes the technique used by cult leaders to prevent their followers (victims) from using their critical faculties. Whenever the cliché is mentioned, the cult member stops thinking. In this case, the phrase is also linked to another technique ‘cultic phobias’ which is to introduce irrational fears which when triggered arouse a phobic reaction in the victim.
For members of the Rajavi cult, the phrase ‘agent of the Iranian regime’ fulfils both these purposes; they stop thinking and experience an amorphous, pervasive fear. In some cases they can easily resort to violence in response to this reaction. The really despicable aspect of this use of the label is that it is directed at those victims of the cult who have only recently escaped the abuses. For them the phrase stinks of menace and threat; exactly why the Rajavi’s choose to use it.
But for outsiders, clearly many are unable or unwilling to use their minds to think through the absurdity of this phrase. Or, maybe they don’t need to. Leo McCloskey surely wasn’t acting out of the goodness of his heart when he quoted the MEK phrase. In such crass cases, are we wrong to assume that pecuniary benefits most probably apply?
With the deployment of this thought-terminating cliché, Rajavi has effectively hung a ‘Do not Disturb’ sign on the closed door of Camp Liberty, while an apparently awestruck (by Rajavi's genius no doubt) Western world tiptoes outside, afraid it too will be accused of being an 'agent of the Iranian regime'.
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.
Post Delisting, What Are the Mojahedin-e Khalq Up to Now?
(aka; MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult)
... Rajavi's veteran translator Ghorban Ali Hossein Nejad escaped Camp Liberty two months ago. He is now in Baghdad and has exposed the relationship between Rajavi and the Saddam regime. He is also helping UN, EU, U.S. and Iraqi officials by exposing the lies which the MEK are telling them. He has two daughters, one in Iran and one still in Camp Liberty. Neither he nor anyone else has been able to contact his daughter in Liberty without the presence of MEK minders. (He reports that while he was inside the MEK, he had not seen his daughter anyway for twenty years due to the enforced separation of families and friends.) Instead, the MEK brought her ...
Freed from the pretended constraints of being listed as a terrorist entity in the USA, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) has stepped up its financial and money laundering activities in Western countries. The MEK have launched a 'basij' (all-out campaign) in their financial section. Firstly, all members and supporters have been instructed to make supervised contact with their family inside or outside Iran to try to get money from them (a tactic exposed by Al Jazeera's Cult of the Chameleon documentary in 2007).
In the 'charity' street collections in Western countries (called mali-ejtemai), the theme is Camp Liberty. The public is approached and the camp in Iraq is described as a refugee camp whose inhabitants have no access to food or medicine. The public are told that around 1000 women, mostly mothers, must be urgently transferred with their children to Europe. The money donated will be used to rescue the women and children first before then rescuing the men. (Of course, since enforced celibacy was imposed in 1989 there are no children in the MEK.) Sometimes the donor is told of cases in which refugees have been killed or maimed because of the lack of law and order in Iraq. Conveniently ignoring the fact that the MEK are confined to the camp by their own leaders.
It is no secret that the MEK have been funded for years via these bogus charities as large checks and even thousands in cash have been handed over to street collectors from mystery donors. An unusually high proportion of these donors are solicitors. MEK insiders have always known that this money is coming from other benefactors.
In addition to these activities, the MEK have also tasked as many of their supporters in the West who are able to do so to open a company or create spurious associations or societies claiming to support Iranian refugees or promote Iranian culture, etc. The aim of these groups is to target charities and local councils to get money under false pretenses. Again there is an element of money laundering as this is just one more way for MEK paymasters to dive under the radar to fund the terrorist group.
A more sinister activity is the expansion of information gathering and recruitment practices among the Iranian communities. Concerned Iranians in Europe who contacted me directly report that the MEK have opened two Persian language schools in London and Paris which they say is to target the children of Iranian refugees. Through such deceptive activities the MEK gathers lists of names and addresses to demonstrate support, and also to claim that these Iranians are making financial donations. The deeper purpose is to deceptively recruit new members and also -- now that the campaign to be delisted has ended -- to keep the supporters busy with new activities. It must not be forgotten that as a cult, the MEK thrives on the unpaid 'slave' labor of its followers.
Significantly, Massoud Rajavi, the beneficiary of all the MEK's wealth, has for three decades kept his financial dealings in the hands of only a few trusted individuals. In the atmosphere of defections and disturbing questioning which currently govern internal relations in the MEK, the unexpected death of one of Rajavi's key financial personnel in the West sparks deep suspicions among experts in the MEK. This is compounded when we discover that another accidental death has taken place in Paris of one of Maryam Rajavi's inner circle. (After some high ranking defectors exposed the cult nature of the MEK, Massoud Rajavi declared that such defections would never be allowed to happen again.)
In Iraq, the situation has scarcely changed for the members except they have changed location to a UN temporary transit camp Liberty -- a move which both the Government of Iraq and UNAMI had worked for to improve their conditions. Camp Ashraf itself is finished, closed, gone, although just under 100 MEK remain there, confined to Section 209 by the Iraqi army which is now in charge of the territory. Rajavi has declared they will not move until enough money is paid -- basically the last bit of ransom he can extract from the camp.
There continue on a weekly basis to be a small number of individuals who escape Liberty, either during the UNHCR interview process or by other means, and renounce any further involvement with the MEK. Last week two men escaped, each had spent over 20 years with the MEK (one being a former POW from the Iran-Iraq war). They describe a desperate situation inside Liberty as it is being recreated in the image of Ashraf. All the cult aspects are there -- isolation, indoctrination, manipulation, fear, punishments, etc -- in addition, barriers are built to separate the bungalows (ironically, the stretchers originally demanded for medical use are being used to move earth to build dykes). 'Visas' are issued to people if they need to move between separated locations. The Iraqis are not allowed inside the camp and again have no jurisdiction there. The MEK use every opportunity to try to provoke hostility in the Iraqis by throwing stones and swearing at them, and now the UN and other neutral bodies are suffering provocation as the MEK swear at them and insult them, too.
Although the MEK's advocates and lobbyists crassly claim that Liberty is no better than a "concentration camp" -- a description which seriously riles the German born UNAMI chief Martin Kobler -- the situation is not easy for the residents, but not for the reasons they state. There is no shortage of food or water or medicine -- let us remind ourselves this is a camp created by and supervised by the UN. In a country where a 24 hour electricity and water supply are not guaranteed to normal citizens, the MEK enjoy both these facilities. What is not being said is that Massoud Rajavi has decreed that the residents must work for these 'privileges.' Inside Camp Liberty anyone who needs medicine or has other requirements must work for it, that is, they must submit and do as they are told or else they will be punished by having medicine, etc refused or withheld. Again, the MEK don't let the Iraqis approach the people inside the camp to ascertain their welfare or needs.
Since the beginning of 2012 a disturbingly disproportionate number of residents have died because Rajavi has year on year denied them proper or timely medical treatment.
Rajavi's veteran translator Ghorban Ali Hossein Nejad escaped Camp Liberty two months ago. He is now in Baghdad and has exposed the relationship between Rajavi and the Saddam regime. He is also helping UN, EU, U.S. and Iraqi officials by exposing the lies which the MEK are telling them. He has two daughters, one in Iran and one still in Camp Liberty. Neither he nor anyone else has been able to contact his daughter in Liberty without the presence of MEK minders. (He reports that while he was inside the MEK, he had not seen his daughter anyway for twenty years due to the enforced separation of families and friends.) Instead, the MEK brought her on their television channel to swear at him and her sister, claiming they are agents of the Iranian regime. Given the sensitivity of the information being passed to the officials it is possible her life is in danger. (MEK experts have observed that 'accidents' happen to dissidents in Iraq and Europe on a fairly regular basis.)
In spite of rumors that Massoud Rajavi is dead, he is very much alive and keeping tight control over his cult on a daily basis. High ranking escapees say they have seen him in the leadership compound in Camp Ashraf until very recently. According to deserters, Rajavi frequently communicates his indoctrination and messages via audio -- no visuals. But it is clear he has not been stationed in Iraq since the U.S. army handed over responsibility for the MEK in 2009. Instead, based on unconfirmed reports, I belief he moves between safe houses in Jordan associated with Saddam's family and loyal Baathists, without the express permission of the Jordanian government. From his hideout, Rajavi issues his orders. He has told the people in Iraq they should only agree to talk to members of the UN or ICRC on condition that Camp Liberty is designated as a refugee camp (it is actually a UN temporary transit camp). Rajavi has said 'if we work on it we can be accepted to move to Europe collectively, but if not we will never leave Iraq.'
Rajavi has told everyone that 'the Americans will back us to the end because they need us'. However, Rajavi also said to every member that armed struggle is an unchangeable part of the MEK ideology and every Mojahed's belief system and that this, and the logo, will never change. (In other words, don't be worried or concerned by our external propaganda, inside we will never change).
As though to prove this point, the Iraqi authorities report that the MEK are desperate to have greater connections with al Qaeda and Saddamists in Iraq and beyond. The MEK especially want new connections, since their main backer was convicted of terrorism charges and escaped Iraq. The MEK leaders are demanding greater freedom of movement to come and go and to bring people into the camp. But then the Iraqis knew all about their former connections with these groups while they were protected by the U.S., and this was why they curtailed their activities after 2009. It remains to be seen whether the delisting of this known terrorist group in the USA will have the necessary reach to reverse for its backers what appears to be the rapid and inevitable demise of the group as its members are being rescued by humanitarian agencies.
Iran ties Reformists to Washington backed Mojahedin Khalq terrorists
(aka; MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult)
... However, the events of Khordad 60 [June 1981, when a major campaign started against the Mojahedin-e Khalq] put an end to the life of the Hypocrites and forced them to turn to the servitude of the ill-fated Saddam. The gang-leader of the Hypocrites mini-group officially admitted that his mini-group had been involved in inciting the riots on Ashura 88 in Tehran. Maryam Rajavi, the wife of the gang-leader of that terrorist mini-group, said: "This came about as the result of necessary coordination among all those who do not believe in the role of velayat-e faqih." She also claimed: "The Green Movement that was formed in protest...
Iran daily criticizes reformists for their alleged interest in system change
Text of commentary entitled: "The seditionists' melancholy delusion of participating in elections" by Iranian newspaper Resalat on 28 November.
One of the most important aspects of the philosophy of holding mourning ceremonies on an annual basis for Aba Abdullah al-Husayn [Imam Husayn] (peace be upon him) and his faithful friends and the members of his family (peace be upon them) is to engage in a careful pathology [analysis] of the political and social situation that resulted in bringing about the great tragedy of Ashura [the tenth day of Muharram, the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn]. When we review those events it is in order to understand what really happened that only 50 years after the passing of the Great Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) the Islamic community reached a point that the son [the grandson] of the Prophet of Islam was sacrificed in the most tragic manner for the sake of the political and economic interests of a number of seemingly Muslim people.
After the passing of the Great Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him), as the society had distanced itself from the Islamic values, the Muslims turned again to following their own base instincts and to distort religious values; and the attitudes of pride, racism, materialism, and love of luxury dominated the Islamic society. As a result, the wounds of the Age of Ignorance [Jahiliyya, the period prior to Islamic revelation], such as hypocrisy, ignorance, calumny, treachery and ... [ellipses as published] that had not yet fully healed opened up again. The sermon delivered by Her Holiness Zeynab [Imam Husayn's sister who allegedly when taken to Caliph Yazid bin-Mu'awiyya after Imam Husayn's martyrdom delivered a passionate sermon denouncing the caliph and defending Imam Husayn] (peace be upon her) in Kufa and the sermon of His Holiness Sajjad [Imam Husayn's son and the fourth Shi'a Imam] (peace be upon him) in the mosque in Damascus [Sham] acted as means of analyzing the revolutions that had been brought about by the Prophet and by Imam Ali.
The latter sermon was a reprimand to those who during the period of sedition [the battle against Imam Husayn, but also a reference to the protests and demonstrations that followed 2009 presidential election in Iran that is often referred to as Sedition] did not distinguish between truth and falsehood, who stood against truth, or who did not act in keeping with their historic responsibilities. In a quote from that sermon by His Holiness Ali Ibn al-Husayn [Imam Sajjad] (peace be upon him) that was delivered at the mosque in Damascus we read that he turned his face towards Yazid and said: "O Yazid! Is the Prophet my grandfather or yours? If you say that he was your grandfather, you are lying; but if you admit that he was my grandfather, then why did you kill my father in such a cruel way, why did you plunder his wealth and why did you take the members of his family as captives?"
After saying these words, he tore his shirt, wept and said: "I swear by God that if there is anyone on earth whose grandfather was the Prophet of God it is me, so why did he [Yazid] kill my father and took us captives as the Byzantines!" He continued: "O Yazid! You committed that crime and you still say that Muhammad is the Prophet of God, and you still turn towards the Qibla! [the black stone in Mecca towards which Muslims turn during prayers] Woe unto you! On the Day of Judgment, my grandfather and my father will be your enemies." At that point Yazid shouted and called on the Mu'adhin [the person who recites the Adhan [or azan, the call to prayer] to call for prayer! There was a great uproar among the people, and some of them left the mosque without saying their prayers.
The practices of Her Holiness Zeynab (peace be upon her) and His Holiness Ali Ibn al-Husayn (peace be upon him) in dissecting the reasons for various seditions provide a big lesson to Islamic societies in all ages. The pathology of the revolutions brought about by the Prophet and by Imam Ali carried out by His Holiness Sajjad (peace be upon him) and Her Holiness Zeynab (peace be upon her) shook the Shi'is and created a wave of hatred towards the government of the Umayyads among the people. It was after those events that a wave of Islamic awakening swept through the Islamic society and paved the way for the uprising of the Tawwabin [those who repented], the uprising of Hurrah [the so-called Free Ones who rose against the government], the revolt in Hejaz, the uprising in Iraq, and the uprising of Mukhtar Ibn Abi-Abdullah Thaqafi, and the uprising of Ali Ibn al-Husayn (peace be upon him) in Karbala. In fact, were it not for the sermons of the Great Zeynab (peace be upon her) and the enlightening speeches of Ali Ibn al-Husayn (peace be upon him), Karbala would have remained in Karbala [would have been forgotten] and...
Islamic societies have never been free from seditions, and the seditions in the Last Days [before the return of the Hidden Imam, which is allegedly near] will be even more complex. This is why, like Zeynab and Sajjad, we should constantly address the seditionists and ask them why they engaged in the sedition, why they lied, why they did not assist the front of truth, why they deceived the people, why they remained silent, why when the Imam [Imam Husayn famously asked "is there anyone who would help me", but here presumably the Imam also refers to Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i] raised his voice and asked if anyone would go to his assistance they all crept to their holes, and...
After the glorious [presidential] election on 22 Khordad 1388 [ 11 June 2009] a great sedition erupted against the Islamic system. In the course of that sedition, the front of hypocrisy with all its capabilities and resources and with material and political support by foreigners tried to initiate an innovation [bid'a, which is innovation but also blasphemy, presumably by questioning the validity of the election] and to prevent the people from distinguishing between truth and falsehood. By raising the call of O Husayn, in reality they waged war against the Husayn of the age [Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i]. By making use of the color [of green] that is associated with the Imams (peace be upon them) they started to fight against the true representative of the Lord of the Age (may God hasten his noble advent), and by claiming that they were the followers of the line of Imam [Khomeyni] they stood up against the virtuous successor of His Eminence Imam Khomeyni (may he rest in peace) [all references to Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i].
By copying the slogans of the revolution and by marginalizing the logic of Imam Khomeyni (may he rest in peace), in the words of the esteemed leader of the revolution, they "tried to set up a fraudulent republic" against the true Islamic Republic, which is the precious and true legacy of Imam Khomeyni (may he rest in peace); but of course their fraudulent republic did not possess any of the blessed characteristics of the Islamic system. It was only an empty facade, which was inclined towards the glitter of secular systems.
On the Ashura of the year 88, under the direct leadership of the Hypocrites, the Seditionists insulted Aba Abdullah al-Husayn's mourning groups, the [Koran] reciters and the mourners. The disturbing events of Ashura of the year 88 took place under the direct leadership of the Hypocrites, and they have also accepted responsibility for those events. The Hypocrites already had the experience of celebrating and dancing on the day of Ashura in their black file. However, the events of Khordad 60 [June 1981, when a major campaign started against the Mojahedin-e Khalq] put an end to the life of the Hypocrites and forced them to turn to the servitude of the ill-fated Saddam. The gang-leader of the Hypocrites mini-group officially admitted that his mini-group had been involved in inciting the riots on Ashura 88 in Tehran. Maryam Rajavi, the wife of the gang-leader of that terrorist mini-group, said: "This came about as the result of necessary coordination among all those who do not believe in the role of velayat-e faqih." She also claimed: "The Green Movement that was formed in protest against the cheating in the election is now being replaced with a dee per movement, which tries to bring about the downfall of the Iranian regime."
Musavi, the candidate of the 88 election, who has lost out both in this world and the next, in his statement not only did not condemn that insult, on the contrary, he even supported the disgusting behavior of those groups and called them "God-seeking people"! Of course, he was not prepared to condemn the impudence and the insult of that group of the Hypocrites regarding the Ashura mourning ceremonies. In his statement, he attacked the system, the revolution and the people even more boldly than he had done in the past. Many of those belonging to the reformist movement who today claim that they wish to take part in the next election, kept silent in the face of those ugly events, and the echo of their silence is still ringing in the ears of the mourners of Imam Husayn.
The actions of the Seditionists and their meaningful silence in the face of those clear violations of sanctities were the last nails in the coffin of their political life, and as the result of those actions they left the arc of the Islamic system forever. The events of 18 Tir 1378 [ 8 July 1999, student demonstrations that were brutally suppressed], the sit-in organized by the Second Khordad Majles deputies in the year 1382 [the year that started on 20 March 2003], the actions of the Seditionist Movement in 1388 [ 2009] are examples of two decades of activities for undermining the structures [of the regime]. How can they today take part in a system to which they are not committed and which they do not believe in! How could they take part in the elections and ask for people's votes, while they rejected people's votes in the year 88, and even rebelled against both the republicanism and the Islamism of the system?
Today, the Seditionists are suffering from some kind of melancholic delusion. As they are afraid of being held accountable for their record during the past two decades, they are constantly speaking of their wish to take part in the next election. Their false assumptions and their fear of confronting their indefensible past have forced them to feel anxious and to ask for some form of political involvement. The leaders of the reformist movement know very well that both the people and the system have moved beyond the Green Movement, because the Green Movement had moved beyond them. They have travelled on the same path that the Freedom Movement [a reformist movement prior and during the revolution led by Mehdi Bazargan, the first prime minister in the transitional government after the revolution] had travelled on, but today their position is much more serious than that of the Freedom Movement.
The Seditionists and all those who kept quiet during the Sedition of the year 88 are politically and socially isolated. They know better than anyone else that they cannot agree over a single candidate, because they have destroyed the foundations of the reformist movement due to their ineptitude, silence and treachery. The fact that the Seditionists have left the arc of the system gives us the glad-tidings of the start of a new era in political and electoral fields in Iran, when the true voices of the people could be heard from the mouths of their genuine parties and representatives. The voices of the people are not represented by Westoxicated [gharbzadeh, or afflicted by the West] intellectualism that is in awe of America and Europe. People's leanings are not towards liberal capitalism. People's voices are not represented by compromising murmurs and whispers with the West. People's voices are not represented by the hesitant stuttering of some Western educated intellectuals. People's voices can only be raised from the loudspeakers of a civil society that has emerged from among the people.
The fourth decade of the revolution will be represented by political competitions that go beyond the bipolar system of principlism or the rejection of the system. It will be a new age for dealing with the genuine demands of the people, and for establishing justi ce and development in the country. The election of the ninth Majles with the participation of 60 per cent of the people showed that there would emerge new dualities that can represent people's views much better than in the past. This duality [competition] will be between Ayatollah [Mohammad Reza] Mahdavi-Kani, and Ayatollah [Mohammad Taqi] Mesbah [-Yazdi], with the same political and ideological duality that exists between Imam Sadeq (peace be upon him) University [led by Ayatollah Mahdavi-Kani] and Imam Khomeyni (may he rest in peace) Institute [led by Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi], or the same duality that exists today between the two Majles fractions of the Followers [Rahrovan] of Velayat, and Steadfastness [Front, Paydari], which compete with one another over the most important issues that concern the people and which are the most satisfactory forms of duality for competition.
Today, no advanced democracy in the world holds elections over its own life or death. During the past two decades the reformists have shown that their only aim is to bring about the downfall of the system. If they imagine that the system is on its way down and will tolerate their participation in the next election, they are suffering from a big delusion that only serves to keep them occupied.
Source: Resalat website, Tehran, in Persian 28 Nov 12
Kaleme: Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK); The symbol of Treason, Violence and Terror in Iran
... In the modern history of Iran, there is no organization, no party and no cult more infamous than the MEK amongst the Iranian nation. The Iranian people are yet to forget how their beloved children were terrorized and martyred in the worst ways possible. And, thousands of family members and children of those murdered are still alive and witnesses to these crimes. The Iranian nation does not forget how this organization, along with Saddam Hussein, craved for the lives and honor of Iranians and assisted him in the suppression and massacre of the people of Iran and Iraq ...
I am saying, as someone who cares, the MEK with betrayals and crimes committed are considered dead. You, [the leaders of the government] don’t bring them back to life for the sake of scoring points and taking revenge.” – Mir Hossein Mousavi, Statement no.17
In the modern history of Iran, there is no organization, no party and no cult more infamous than the MEK amongst the Iranian nation. The Iranian people are yet to forget how their beloved children were terrorized and martyred in the worst ways possible. And, thousands of family members and children of those murdered are still alive and witnesses to these crimes. The Iranian nation does not forget how this organization, along with Saddam Hussein, craved for the lives and honor of Iranians and assisted him in the suppression and massacre of the people of Iran and Iraq. Iranians are proud of the years they stood against the MEK and Saddam and on any opportunity possible they praise the hundred thousand martyrs of the Iraq-Iran war. Iranian people know very well that this organization used unlawful and illegal sources, which initially belonged to the Iranian and Iraqi people. They are well aware that the MEK owes its remaining financial power and its limited existence to the support which Saddam Hussein provided them during the war against our country.
Mojahedin-e Khalq is the symbol of “violence and terror” in Iran and the slightest mention of this word [MEK] and the remembrance of this organization is needed to remind the Iranian audience of the violence, terror, and treason they caused. As long as the groundwork of this organization is cult-like behavior, the only solution for them is to submit to foreigners in order to stab its own people in the back. Any country that supports this organization defames itself among the Iranian people and remains infamous for defending violence and betrayal.
Leaders who are deceived into supporting the MEK are only making the wall of mistrust between the nations taller and are bringing back to life the bitter memories of anti-Iranian policies, such as 1953 coup.
Mojahedin-e Khalq are outcasts of the Iranian people; even before being the outcast of the government. To invigorate the ominous name of the MEK is only the wish of sinister enemies of democracy and rule of the people in Iran. Seekers of violence whether by MEK’s side or against them would be happy to see them empowered since violence creates violence.
The presence of this terrorist group in any part of the world could become an excuse for those in power in Iran to have unlawful confrontations with critics and protesters. They [those in power] would be the only group welcoming the official presence, even if they pretend to be their enemies.
Mojahedin-e Khalq is the symbol of violence, animosity, submission, and reliance on foreign powers. Thus, the organization is illegal and is the reminder of the most bitter of betrayals. Today, Iranian people who have become the example for nonviolent resistance, anti-dictatorship and independence for other countries, do not accept “violence and submission” and do not look kindly on the support of any government that relies on violence and submission.
In supporting the great Green Movement, we continue to consider Mojahedin-e Khalq hypocrites who “with betrayals and crimes committed are considered dead.” And we repeat Mir Hossein Mousavi’s warning by saying “No nation should bring them back to life for the sake of rewards and if they do so, they will remain infamous in the memory of the Iranian people
Don't be fooled: Mojahedin Khalq (MKO,MEK, Rajavi cult) is a terrorist group
... Kaleme, a publication closely associated with Iran's true "main opposition," the Green Movement, warned last week that delisting the MEK would be devastating to Iran's democracy and human rights movement. Such a move would bring back "bitter memories of anti-Iran policies, such as the 1953 coup" that toppled Iran's first democratically elected prime minister. A U.S. delisting of the MEK would also send a signal that we have turned our backs on the nonviolent democratic movement in order to back a violent group.Many fear that a delisted MEK would help the regime taint the Green Movement while ...
Editor's note:Jamal Abdi is the policy director of the National Iranian American Council, the largest grassroots organization representing the Iranian-American community in the United States. He previously worked in Congress as a policy adviser on foreign affairs issues. He is based in Washington.
(CNN) -- Is it possible that a terrorist organization that has killed Americans and tortures its own members could organize a massive lobbying campaign to manipulate U.S. national security decisions?
It's happening before our very eyes.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to decide soon whether the Iranian Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) should remain on the State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations or be delisted and free to raise taxpayer support for their operations.
The State Department says that throughout the 1970s, the MEK staged terrorist attacks inside Iran, and killed several U.S. military personnel and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran. It also says MEK members participated in the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
But while the MEK remains designated as a terrorist group, it has managed to leverage a caustic political environment in the United States, a humanitarian crisis in Iraq for which it bears significant responsibility and bundles of cash to pull off one of the most insidious pressure campaigns Washington has seen.
Recently, it came to light that many of about 33 former U.S. officials who have advocated delisting the MEK have been paid to speak at events sponsored by Iranian groups that want it off the list. Some of the officials have since quietly backed away, professing ignorance about the group that had presented itself innocuously as an "Iranian opposition movement."
Others, like Michael Mukasey and Howard Dean, have redoubled their efforts in the midst of criticism and recalibrated their message to urge for delisting on humanitarian grounds. But while there is certainly a humanitarian crisis for MEK members, the organization's leadership is directly culpable.
While the MEK's core leadership is based comfortably in Paris, some 3,400 of its rank-and-file members are based in the organization's Iraq compound, Camp Ashraf, along the Iranian border. There, they are held hostage to the MEK leadership's efforts to gain international support.
MEK advocates who claim support for the group on humanitarian grounds have not answered key questions about the group's inhumane practices, outlined by Human Rights Watch, including MEK's repeated threats of suicide as a negotiating tactic, according to a RAND Corp. study.
The study, commissioned for the Pentagon, says that 70% of the people at Camp Ashraf joined after the group moved to Iraq, and a "substantial number of these MEK members were lured to Iraq under false pretenses or did not have a clear understanding of the group's goals and methods of operation -- particularly with respect to its cult behavior -- and many have been forced to remain against their will."
But the MEK leadership has cleverly leveraged its antagonism with the Iranian regime to exploit U.S.-Iran enmity and convince policymakers that the "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." In so doing, they have largely managed to deflect attention away from the MEK's shadowy practices and human rights abuses in Ashraf.
The MEK leadership in Paris has seized on deplorable actions by the Iraqi government, which views the MEK warily because of its close ties it had with Saddam Hussein, to argue for delisting.
Under pressure from Iran, Iraq has waged incursions into Ashraf that have resulted in shameful losses of life -- up to 34 killed. But instead of pursuing a true humanitarian solution, MEK leadership cynically used these events as public relations tools while obstructing serious proposals, because they would likely address MEK's own abuses.
Ultimately, the driving force behind the MEK's campaign in the U.S. has come from the same circles that championed supposed dissidents such as Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress to build a groundswell of support for the U.S. to invade Iraq. Like those Iraqi exiles, the MEK enjoys no domestic legitimacy, yet claims to be Iran's "main opposition." Most of the officials who repeat this have no idea that the MEK is among the most reviled groups in Iran.
Kaleme, a publication closely associated with Iran's true "main opposition," the Green Movement, warned last week that delisting the MEK would be devastating to Iran's democracy and human rights movement. Such a move would bring back "bitter memories of anti-Iran policies, such as the 1953 coup" that toppled Iran's first democratically elected prime minister. A U.S. delisting of the MEK would also send a signal that we have turned our backs on the nonviolent democratic movement in order to back a violent group.
Many fear that a delisted MEK would help the regime taint the Green Movement while shifting competition with Iran's government from one of popular legitimacy -- where the nonviolent democracy movement is strong -- into a competition of violence, where the MEK prefers to operate but where the regime is strongest.
Any doubts about this violent agenda were dispelled last week at a pro-MEK conference that revealed in starkest terms yet how a delisted MEK would be used. "We need a very active tit-for-tat policy," said Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney. "So every time they kill Americans, they have an accident in Iran."
"I know that may sound too militaristic," agreed former CIA official John Sano, "but you have to go with what your enemy understands."
Clearly, delisting the MEK has little to do with humanitarian concern or support for a democratic Iran but is instead a push for another disastrous war of choice in the Middle East.
The opinions in this commentary are solely those of Jamal Abdi.
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.
Ray Takeyh testimony on Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, ...)
House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Hearing
... All this is not to suggest that Iran-Iraqi relations will ever degenerate into the hostility and tensions of Saddam's period, but nevertheless, a competitive relations is more likely than an alliance of unequals. The one issue that has brought Tehran and Baghdad together is their mutual antipathy to the MEK presence in Iraq. As mentioned, the roots of Iraqi regime's hostility to MEK stem from its intimate ties with Saddam's regime. In essence, the Iraqi government has its own legitimate reasons for seeking to evict the MEK from their sanctuary. To be sure, such an act would garner Iraq further Iranian goodwill, but the core motivation for the conduct of Baghdad lies in MEK's own checkered history within Iraq ...
Testimony by Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations - July 7, 2011
The Mujahidin-i Khalq (MEK) was founded in Iran in the early 1960s, as one of the many opposition groups that were agitating against the Shah's monarchy. Early on the MEK quickly distinguished itself from other dissident forces by the discursive nature of its ideology that sought to somehow amalgamate Islam and Marxism. Islam was supposed to provide the values while Marxism offered a pathway for organizing the society and defeating the forces of capitalism, imperialism and feudalism. The MEK's foundational philosophy stressed that Islam's ideal society was an egalitarian one that had been corrupted over time by class division. To reclaim God's original mandate one had to mobilize the society against the prevailing order. In essence, MEK's ideology is a curious mixture of seemingly incompatible dogmas. From Shiite Islam, they appropriated the powerful symbol of martyrdom; from Marxism they claimed various stages of historical development; from Lenin they embraced the importance of a vanguard party committed to mass mobilization, and from Third World revolutionaries they took the primacy of guerrilla warfare and violence as indispensible agents of political change.
The core of MEK's ideology has always been anti-imperialism which it has historically defined as opposition to U.S. interests. The MEK opposed the Shah partly because of his close associations with the United States. MEK's anti-American compulsions propelled it toward embracing an entire spectrum of radical forces ranging from the Vietcong to the PLO. Given its mission of liberating the working class and expunging the influence of predatory capitalism, the United States has traditionally been identified as a source of exploitation and injustice in MEK literature. As the organization has lost its Iraqi patron and finds itself without any reliable allies, it has somehow modulated its language and sought to moderate its anti-American tone. Such convenient posturing should not distract attention from its well-honed ideological animus to the United States.
Terror has always been a hallmark of MEK's strategy for assuming power. Through much of its past, the party exulted violence as a heroic expression of legitimate dissent. One of the central precepts of the party is that a highly-dedicated group of militants could spark a mass revolution by bravely confronting superior power of the state and assaulting its authority. Once, the masses observe that the state is vulnerable to violence, than they will shed their inhibitions and join the protest, thus sparking the larger revolution. Thus, the most suitable means of affecting political change is necessarily violence. Although in its advocacy in Western capitals, the MKE emphasizes its commitment to democracy and free expression, in neither deed nor word has it forsworn it violent pedigree.
During the 1970s, at the height of its revolutionary ardor, the MEK was fairly indiscriminate about its targets of violence. Among the victims of MEK terror have been American installations and military personnel. The MEK's Communique Number 3 stressed that violence against the United States was permissible given America's suppression of legitimate revolutionary movements in Palestine and Vietnam. The first such attack came in May 1972 on the occasion of President Richard Nixon's visit to Iran. To derail that visit, the MEK bombed the U.S Information Office and targeted American companies such as General Motors and Pan-American airways. That same year, the party attempted to assassinate General Harold Price, the Chief of U.S.
Military Mission in Iran. Although General Price escaped his assassins, the MEK did tragically succeed in murdering Colonel Lewis Hawkins, the Deputy Chief of Military Mission outside his house.
It must be stressed that throughout the 1970s, the MEK did have a following among the Iranian intelligentsia and the working class. Its revolutionary message and its resistance to the Shah's regime proved alluring to many university students. The MEK was part of the revolutionary coalition that overthrew the Shah only to find itself increasingly on the margins of power. The critical year for the changing fortunes of MEK seems to be 1981. On June 28, 1981 a massive bomb destroyed the headquarters of the Islamic Republican Party, killing more than 100 individuals, including four cabinet members, six deputy ministers and twenty-seven members of the parliament. The episode sparked the internal war that destroyed the last remnants of the left-wing opposition. Pitched battles in the streets, summary executions of MEK guerrillas and closure of all critical press became the order of the day. Before the year was over, the regime had executed approximately six thousand of its opponents. In one of its more gruesome displays, the pictures of those executed were exhibited in the front pages of the newspapers. In the end, the Islamic Republic's superior fire power and sheer brutality allowed it to triumph and effectively end popular dissent. The MEK's political infrastructure in Iran was effectively subdued. However, a series of decisions by the MEK leadership itself ensured that the party would never reclaim its place of influence in Iran.
As it went into exile, MEK's willingness to side with Saddam's Iraq against Iran in the Iran-Iraq war disturbed its already diminished cadre. During a key 1983 meeting between Masud Rajavi and Tariq Aziz, an alliance was forged. The MEK personnel often fought alongside of their Iraqi counterparts and were used in some of the war more daring missions. Given the highly nationalistic nature of the Iranian populace such an act was viewed as a betrayal of the homeland and not just a legitimate act of opposition against the regime. The MEK would go on to behave as Saddam's Praetorian Guard, as they were employed by him to repress the Iraqi Shia uprising of 1991. Given the fact that the Shia community is having a leading role in the future of Iraq, such miscalculation has alienated the MEK from the rulers of Iraq. The Baghdad regime's hostility to the MEK cannot be seen as a function of its ties with Tehran, but as a legacy of MEK's alliance with Saddam.
During its prolonged exile, MEK steadily transformed itself from a political movement into a cult-like organization. The movement no longer cultivated other opposition parties or attempted to broaden its appeal beyond its narrow constituents. Militancy and ideological discipline have displaced political pragmatism. The daily life of the members reflected this change as they had to submit themselves to the authority of the party and renounce all their previous ties. In the end, all that was left of a movement that appealed to a segment of the Iranian population is a cult-like party with a discursive ideology and a disturbing legacy of terror.
Despite its activism in Western capitals, the MEK commands very little support within Iran. Its alliance with Saddam and its cult-like dispositions have alienated even the radical segments of intelligentsia that once found its ideological template attractive. The main opposition force in Iran remains the Green Movement that features not just liberal activists but clerical dissidents, and middle class elements chaffing under the theocracy's repressive rule. The Iranian populace is seeking ways of liberalizing its society and not embracing yet another ideological movement with totalitarian tendencies.
Iran-Iraq Relations and the MEK
During its seven-decade monopoly of power, Iraq's Sunni minority dismissed and relegated the Shiites to the margins of the society. The Ba'athist regime would go on to extract a cruel revenge for any signs of Shiite political agitation and demands for representation commensurate with its demographic power. The esteemed men of religion would be persecuted, the Shiites' southern habitat would be subject to a man-made ecological disaster, and the ancient shrine cities reduced to squalor. The Ba'athist malevolence was nowhere more evident than in its treatment of the Shiite uprising of 1991. The Ba'athist retaliation was brutal: summary executions, the razing of cities and massive deportations became the order of the day. The fact that the MEK is implicated in that act of violence is not lost on Iraq's current leaders.
The fortunes of history rarely change with the rapidity that confronted the Sunni minority in 2003. The American invasion accompanied by expectations about "democratic transformation" irrevocably altered Iraq's political landscape. The Shiites, confident of their numerical majority, viewed the democratic process with optimism and proved patient with the vicissitudes of the postwar order. The remarkable aspect of Iraq was how the Shiite clerical estate had managed to preserve its essential infrastructure of influence. Despite the Ba'athist onslaught, the quietism of the Ayatollahs allowed them to maintain their seminaries and mosques. At a time when all organized political activity was viciously suppressed, the clerical class would assume prominence. Ironically, Iraqi society had undergone decades of forced secularization, but the Shiite political parties that now emerged would be either led by clerics or men of religious devotion. The United States had to adjust and deal with religiously-oriented parties that did not always share its views.
As the Islamic Republic contemplated its policy in Iraq it has to content with a number of difficult positions. The overarching objective of Tehran is to prevent Iraq from once more emerging as an ideological and strategic threat. Thus, it is critical for the theocratic regime to ensure the Shiites' political primacy. However, Iran must also guard against any civil war that could threaten Iraq's territorial cohesion. Dismemberment of Iraq into three fledging states at odds with each other would confront Iran with more instability in its immediate neighborhood. In the meantime, Iran desires a withdrawal of American forces, as its hegemonic aspirations can never be ensured so long as a sizeable contingent of U.S. troops remains in the area. To pursue its competing goals, Iran has embraced a contradictory policy of pushing for elections and the accommodation of responsible Sunni elements while at the same time subsidizing Shiite militias who are bend on violence and disorder.
To a great extent, Iran's policy today is driven by its own prolonged war with Saddam's Iraq. Iran is a country that lives its history. The war is far from a faded memory--it is debated in lecture halls, street gatherings and scholarly conferences. After more than two decades of reflection, a relative consensus has finally emerged within Iran's body politic that suggests that the cause of Iraq's persistent aggression was the Sunni domination of its politics. The minority Sunni population sought to justify its monopoly of power by embracing a radical pan-Arabist foreign policy that called for Iraq to lead the Middle East. Thus, the Sunnis were ruling Iraq not for crass parochial purposes but for the larger cause of Arab solidarity. Such a posture inevitably led to conflicts between Iraq and its neighbors. One of the primary victims of the Sunni misadventures was the Islamic Republic. However, Iraq is a land of sectarian divisions and contrasting identities. The Shiites and Kurds also possess a foreign policy orientation, but one that calls for a better relationship with Iraq's non-Arab neighbors.
Iran's model of operation in Iraq is drawn from its experiences in Lebanon in the early 1980s. At that time, Iran amalgamated a variety of Shiite parties into the lethal and popular Hezbollah. Since the removal of Saddam, Iran has similarly been busy strengthening the Shiite forces by subsidizing their political activities and arming their militias. Iran hopes that the Shiites will continue to exploit their demographic advantage to solidify their gains. Nonetheless, as Iraq moves toward its democratic path, it is likely to have serious disagreements with Tehran. The scope of Iranian interference in Iraqi politics is beginning to alienate even the most pliable Shiite parties. The Iraqi populace that spent decades seeking relief from Saddam's rule is unlikely to acquiesce to such external interventions in their politics. The overarching theme of Iraqi politics today is a desire for restored sovereignty and genuine independence. Baghdad would like to have friendly and formal relations with Iran, but it is unlikely to submit to Iranian mischievousness in its internal affairs. The notion that Iraq and its Shiite government are mere subsidiaries of Iran is spurious and utterly without foundation.
In the long-run, Iraq represents important economic challenges to Iran. As Iraq's oil facilities rehabilitate and its production increases, it is likely to further damage Iran's prospects. A democratic Iraq is a far better place to attract international investments than a theocratic tyranny at odds with the international community over its nuclear aspirations. Although the global demand for oil is likely to remain high, the coming Iraqi production will diminish the appeal of Iran with its dilapidated petroleum facilities and truculent leadership. All this is not to suggest that Iran-Iraqi relations will ever degenerate into the hostility and tensions of Saddam's period, but nevertheless, a competitive relations is more likely than an alliance of unequals.
The one issue that has brought Tehran and Baghdad together is their mutual antipathy to the MEK presence in Iraq. As mentioned, the roots of Iraqi regime's hostility to MEK stem from its intimate ties with Saddam's regime. In essence, the Iraqi government has its own legitimate reasons for seeking to evict the MEK from their sanctuary. To be sure, such an act would garner Iraq further Iranian goodwill, but the core motivation for the conduct of Baghdad lies in MEK's own checkered history within Iraq.
The question that continues to bedevil the MEK debate is what to do with the residents of Camp Ashraf. It would be wrong and immoral to forcefully repatriate inhabitants of the camp back to Iran. Given the fact that the Islamic Republic lacks even the basic rudiments of impartial justice system, they are likely to be met with certain death. Nonetheless, the international community under the auspices of the United Nations should begin to search for new homeland for the MEK personnel today stuck in a country that does not want them. The MEK cadre cannot remain in Iraq and cannot be returned to Iran. The question then becomes an internationally-mandated search for a new home for them.
"Supporting Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, NCRI ,Rajavi cult), kiss of death for Green Movement"
... First and foremost among such groups is Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an organization that has been designated by the U.S. government as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). But despite its obvious threat to global security, the MEK could be taken off the State Department's Terror List within the next week. If this happens, it promises to spell disaster for the pro-democracy movement in Iran, and will be a devastating setback in the country's attempts to move forward... It is highly unlikely that other U.S.-designated FTOs, such as al-Qaida, would enjoy this astonishing degree of latitude in the corridors of the U.S. military, and within its executive and legislative branches ...
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Right: supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi listen to his speech at a demonstration in Tehran on Thursday June, 18, 2009
(Mohsen Kadivar, left and Ahmad Sadri, right)
As Tunisians and Egyptians work through their respective political transitions, the Iranian government increasingly detaches itself from the realities of its restive population. The longer it resists meeting public demands, the shorter its lifespan becomes.
At the same time, within the Iranian Diaspora, some have sought to usurp leadership of Iran's indigenous pro-democracy movement. This has alarmed the leaders of the Green Movement in Iran. Mir Hossein Mousavi warned against "international surfers" seeking to wield their own axe in the furnace of the Green movement in his last communiqué that was issued before he was put under house arrest on Feb. 29.
First and foremost among such groups is Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an organization that has been designated by the U.S. government as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). But despite its obvious threat to global security, the MEK could be taken off the State Department's Terror List within the next week. If this happens, it promises to spell disaster for the pro-democracy movement in Iran, and will be a devastating setback in the country's attempts to move forward.
The MEK has no political base inside Iran and no genuine support on the Iranian street because it was long based in Iraq under Saddam Hussein's patronage. It lost any semblance of credibility it might have had inside Iran due to its opposition to the Shah's regime when its troops fought on behalf of Iraq toward the end of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. Hence, it would behoove U.S. policymakers to be skeptical of the boasts of MEK lobbyists regarding the extent of this group's popularity inside Iran.
Since Saddam Hussein's ouster in 2003, the MEK has been depending almost entirely on the uneven enforcement of existing U.S. laws concerning designated foreign terrorist organizations. Surprisingly, the MEK military compound in Iraq enjoys de-facto "protected persons" status, and its activities at the U.S. congress have long been unchecked. It is highly unlikely that other U.S.-designated FTOs, such as al-Qaida, would enjoy this astonishing degree of latitude in the corridors of the U.S. military, and within its executive and legislative branches.
Countless first-rate analysts, scholars and human rights organizations -- including Human Rights Watch -- have determined that the MEK is an undemocratic, cultlike organization whose modus operandi vitiates its claim to be a vehicle for democratic change.
Most importantly, MEK activities in Washington could be causing irreparable damage to Iran's home-grown opposition. When post-election turbulence commenced inside Iran, the MEK quickly sought to join the frenzy of brewing opposition to the current government. The Ahmadinejad government promptly connected the Green Movement to the MEK in an effort to discredit the pro-democracy movement. Opposition leaders such as Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karrubi immediately pushed back. Rahnavard pointedly said, "the Green Movement is a people's movement that is alive and dynamic and holds a wall between itself and the MEK." Opposition leaders in Iran have good reason to erect and maintain such a wall. They see the MEK as an organization capitalizing on U.S.-Iran enmity to shed its terrorist designation and subsequently receive U.S. government funding -- effectively becoming the Iranian version of Ahmed Chalabi's infamous Iraqi National Congress.
As Washington policymakers seek new ways to pressure their counterparts in Tehran to yield on nuclear developments, they must refrain from actions that would harm the long-term prospects of trust and friendship between the two peoples.
Removing the MEK from the FTO at this juncture would embolden Iran's hardliners to intensify their repression and discredit the Green Movement by implying that it is somehow connected to the widely detested MEK terror group. Furthermore, supporting the MEK would provide the Iranian government with the specter of a foreign-based threat that could be exploited to heal key fractures within the system, increase the number of Iranians who would rally around the flag, and facilitate the suppression of the indigenous political opposition.
For all of its mistakes in the Middle East, the Bush administration -- even at the height of its aggressive foreign policy -- understood that delisting the MEK from the State Department's terrorist list would be a dangerous gambit. It would trigger a huge loss of U.S. soft power in Iran, damage Iran's democratic progress and help Iranian hardliners cement a long-term dictatorship. The Iranian people won't forgive or forget such cynical moves. Bitter memories associated with U.S. policies toward the Shah and Mohammad Mossadegh, the prime minister overthrown with covert American assistance in 1953, continue to linger and poison U.S.-Iran relations to this day. We urge the U.S. government to avoid committing this critical mistake at a time when the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people hang in the balance.
Mohsen Kadivar, a leading figure in the Green Movement, is visiting professor of religion at Duke University. Ahmad Sadri is professor of sociology and James P. Gorter chair of Islamic world studies at Lake Forest College.
... Today, the MKO is active in toppling both regimes ruling Iran and Iraq. On the other hand, the governments of Iran and Iraq are closely cooperating with each other. In recent months, some very influential politicians and political circles in the US have been actively supporting Mrs. Rajavi – as president – and strive to use the force at Ashraf Camp to change the Iranian regime. During the last three months alone, six important conferences were held in this regard and all six looked at this force as the agent of change in Iran... As these conferences began and progressed, it was clear that the Iranian and Iraqi regimes would not tolerate General Jones’s proposals ...
A group of prominent Iranian human rights activists and intellectuals have responded to the horrendous killings of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization members by publishing an open letter condemning the killings. The moderate and peaceful spirit of the letter is commendable and deserves support.
Harm to MKO members was feared from the day Saddam Hussein’s regime came to its end. Iranian freedom-lovers knew that in view of the nature of the new regime in Iraq the MKO would have difficulty in maintaining its camp, Ashraf Camp and organization. The new political realities would one day come bring their status to a dead-end. It was clear from many years ago that it was prudent for MKO leaders to decide to that its members should migrate to other countries.
When the US handed over Iraq’s complete sovereignty to the Iraqi government concerns amplified about the imminent catastrophe. Many Iranian organizations, including Etehade Jomhurikhahan Iran (The Union of Iranian Republicans) rightfully stressed the need for the MKO to immediately depart Iraq while also emphasizing governments to encourage the MKO to do this.
Unfortunately the leadership of the MKO spent its greatest and most effective resources on a campaign whose goal was to attain the right to remain at Ashraf Camp.
In view of the political goals and policies of the MKO today vis-à-vis the governments of Iran and Iraq, it is clear that attempts to maintain the MKO in Ashraf Camp will only lead to more violence and clashes. When the Mojahedin settled in Iraq Saddam Hossein ruled over Iraq and the war between his government and the Islamic republic of Iran was in full swing. The MKO too wanted to continue their war with the Islamic republic. Because of this, they received the full support of the Iraqi government and at the least their security was completely provided to them. Saddam’s relations with the MKO were very cordial while those with the Shiites and the Kurds were deeply inimical.
Today, the MKO is active in toppling both regimes ruling Iran and Iraq. On the other hand, the governments of Iran and Iraq are closely cooperating with each other.
In recent months, some very influential politicians and political circles in the US have been actively supporting Mrs. Rajavi – as president – and strive to use the force at Ashraf Camp to change the Iranian regime. During the last three months alone, six important conferences were held in this regard and all six looked at this force as the agent of change in Iran.
At these conferences US general James Jones, Obama administration’s former national security advisor is the key driver.
As these conferences began and progressed, it was clear that the Iranian and Iraqi regimes would not tolerate General Jones’s proposals regarding Iran. At the time I wrote a piece explaining that a new game had begun which was another source of danger for the country and the region.
The condemnation of the tragedy that took place on the morning of April 8 in Ashraf Camp is the least and simplest response that Iranian pro-democracy activists can undertake. But our responsibility goes further. We have a deep responsibility towards the 3,500 individuals who are trapped in the neo-conservatist policies of the US and Israeli dreams for Iran. The policy of staying and preparing itself for the eventual outcome pursued by the MKO cannot last. Pressure and insistence of the neo-conservatists for using this force as a pressure against the Iranian regime must end.
Before the tragedy repeats itself, now is the time to approach the MKO and its powerful international supporters and press for the organization to submit its request to the UN Secretary General to resettle the group and its members in a secure country, while at the same time condemning any killing or bloodshed by the Iraqi army and to press the Iraqi government to announce a moratorium on the MKO.
I specifically request of the MKO, General Jones, John Bolton, Mrs. Mary Robinson, and Messrs. Howard Deen and Patrick Kennedy who are the most influential supporters of keeping the MKO and recognizing it as the alternative to the Iranian regime to facilitate the departure of this group from Iraq and set a specific date for this. At the same time, the Iraqi government should provided assurance that it would not enforce its sovereignty over Ashraf Camp until the departure of the MKO.
Iran’s internal opposition succumbs to a dose of poisoned soup
Washington backed Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, NCRI, Rajavi cult) kills the Green Movement
... Sadly, no one could have been in any doubt, including – perhaps especially - the MEK’s backers, that people would disappear from the streets once terrorists backed by foreign powers were thrown into the pot. And it is not only in Iran but in demonstrations held in London, Paris, Brussels and Washington that this phenomenon shows itself. The destruction of Iran’s internal opposition, the so-called Green Movement’ simply cannot be all blamed on the IRI. It should be clear that those who greedily and imprudently contribute the fatal ingredients to the mix are more than any culpable of poisoning the Ash ...
Today, March 2, Iran’s Majles issued its report on the 14 February demonstrations. Its reading had been delayed in order to assess the outcome of yesterday’s demonstration which had been called by the opposition.
The result was disappointing for the organisers. Not many people turned out. And this poor turnout has now unfortunately given a clear indication that after one year during which the IRI has manoeuvred to separate Mousavi and Karoubi from their support base among people inside Iran, the time has now come to deal with them. The report from Majles makes it clear what the next steps will be.
But the poor turnout cannot be attributed to a lack of will on the part of the opposition as many, many ordinary Iranians are known still to strongly oppose their government. Neither can the poor turnout be laid exclusively at the door of the IRI which, contrary to predictions, did not strike with disproportionate force; unpleasant as the use of tear gas and beatings are for demonstrators anywhere in the world.
Instead it is probable that Iran’s internal opposition is being slowly murdered with a dish of poisoned Ash prepared with a fatal mix of ingredients; the pot provided by the hardliners in Iran and the fire provided by Israel, the chickpeas and beans provided by the neoconservatives, the herbs provided by American foreign policy and the salt and pepper of the dish was the addition over the last few months by warmongers and regime change pundits who liberally sprinkled ‘support for terrorism’ into the dish. This added seasoning was of course the overt American and Israeli support for the terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq working against the interests of the Iranian people.
The Iranian government chefs have proved themselves professional enough to use the ingredients to poison the soup. It’s not that people didn’t want to come out, and not that the regime had to use force; people didn’t come to the streets because they didn’t want to be associated with violent activists linked to the MEK.
Sadly, no one could have been in any doubt, including – perhaps especially - the MEK’s backers, that people would disappear from the streets once terrorists backed by foreign powers were thrown into the pot. And it is not only in Iran but in demonstrations held in London, Paris, Brussels and Washington that this phenomenon shows itself. The destruction of Iran’s internal opposition, the so-called Green Movement’ simply cannot be all blamed on the IRI. It should be clear that those who greedily and imprudently contribute the fatal ingredients to the mix are more than any culpable of poisoning the Ash.
... Under federal law, advocates for foreign organizations are required to register as lobbyists and provide details about their clients and income. But the MEK supporters have not registered, which would require disclosing the amounts they are paid and the identities of officials with whom they meet. The supporters argue that they are acting legitimately to facilitate U.S. policy decisions, which could make them exempt from registration requirements.But scholars of lobbying regulations say the contacts with administration officials easily meet the definition of lobbying under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, a law that has sometimes led to criminal charges ...
Joby Warrick and Julie Tate, Friday, July 6, 2:45 AM
A well-financed lobbying campaign by prominent U.S. politicians and former officials on behalf of a designated terrorist organization is focusing new attention on the group and its influential advocates.
Supporters of the Iranian opposition group Mujaheddin-e Khalq, or MEK, have met with senior Obama administration officials to push for the organization’s removal from the State Department’s terrorist list and better treatment of its members at a camp in Iraq.
In recent weeks, new questions have been raised about whether private meetings, conference calls and other contact with officials at the State Department and elsewhere in the administration over the past year require the advocates’ registration as lobbyists or agents of a foreign entity.
Under federal law, advocates for foreign organizations are required to register as lobbyists and provide details about their clients and income. But the MEK supporters have not registered, which would require disclosing the amounts they are paid and the identities of officials with whom they meet.
The supporters argue that they are acting legitimately to facilitate U.S. policy decisions, which could make them exempt from registration requirements.
But scholars of lobbying regulations say the contacts with administration officials easily meet the definition of lobbying under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, a law that has sometimes led to criminal charges.
“The law applies to anyone engaged in political or lobbying activity — or even propaganda — on behalf of a foreign ‘principal,’ a term that is defined broadly,” said David Cole, a professor and expert on criminal and constitutional law at Georgetown University Law School. “It’s a very low bar.”
The MEK has been campaigning for years to get off the terrorist list, including buying advertisements in The Washington Post and other publications. A federal appeals court has given Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton until October to make a decision on whether to remove the group.
At the same time, the MEK and its advocates have been clashing with the Iraqi government over efforts to relocate 3,300 MEK members living in exile at a former Iraqi military base since the mid-1980s.
The MEK has enlisted some of the biggest names in U.S. politics and national security. In addition to Giuliani, Rendell and Jones, the group’s advocates have included former homeland security secretary Tom Ridge, former Vermont governor Howard Dean, former U.S. attorney general Michael Mukasey, former FBI director Louis Freeh, former Joint Chiefs chairman Hugh Shelton, former U.N. ambassadors John Bolton and Bill Richardson, and Mitchell Reiss, a former State Department official who has been among Republican president candidate Mitt Romney’s top foreign policy advisers since 2008.
Rendell, Giuliani and Mukasey were among 16 prominent former U.S. officials who flew to Paris for a pro-MEK rally last month. Also in Paris was Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and Republican presidential candidate. In a video, Gingrich is seen bowing to the MEK’s co-founder. Afterward, Gingrich appealed for “decisive action” by the United States on the group’s behalf.
The MEK and its umbrella group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, denied asking anyone to lobby for them
The dissidents “have not asked anyone in the United States to advocate for them, nor do they have any agents or lobbyists in that country,” said Shahin Gobadi, a spokesman. He said State Department officials had asked U.S. supporters to intervene to prevent a “humanitarian catastrophe” at the MEK’s Iraqi camp, and noted that more than 100 U.S. lawmakers have co-sponsored legislation to remove the MEK from the terrorist list.
Still, some of the MEK’s prominent surrogates have acknowledged accepting travel expenses from MEK-allied groups as well as speaking fees of $10,000 to $40,000 per engagement. Rendell has acknowledged accepting more than $150,000 in expenses from MEK supporters. Before he began speaking on their behalf, he says, he knew very little about the MEK.
The supporters, some of whom have acknowledged intervening on the MEK’s behalf with U.S. officials, say their motives are humanitarian. They say pro-Iranian elements in the Iraqi government have attacked the group’s followers since U.S. troops who had protected them left Iraq.
“A number of us are working with the State Department to facilitate the removal of the Iranian dissidents” from the MEK’s base in Iraq, Dean said in an e-mail response to a Post query. “Since this is an effort to facilitate U.S. government policy, it does not require any form of registration.”
None of the other participants responded to requests for comment.
Federal lobbying law defines a foreign “agent” as someone who acts “at the order, request, or under the direction or control, of a foreign principal, or of a person any of whose activities are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed, or subsidized in whole or in part by a foreign principal.” It covers activities that include acting as a publicity agency or political consultant or representing the interests of the foreign group “before any agency or official of the government of the United States.”
“The only defense would be if you can claim that you’re doing it on your own, unpaid,” said a retired senior U.S. official and expert on lobbying law, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss hypothetical cases covered by the statute. “But if you’re getting money from the same group to make speeches, it’s pretty hard to make the case.”
Although the foreign agents act is often flouted in practice, “the fact that it’s a criminal statute shows how the government regards this kind of activity,” the former official said.
In addition to meeting with the MEK supporters, State Department officials have acknowledged that they have used them to relay messages directly to the MEK leadership to try to resolve what has become a dangerous standoff over the closing of Camp Ashraf, the former Iraqi army base northeast of Baghdad that has served as the group’s home in exile since 1986.
With the Iraq government vowing to close the camp by July 20, U.S. and U.N. officials are seeking to relocate its 3,300 residents to the grounds of what was once Camp Liberty, the former U.S. military base near Baghdad’s airport.
The controversy over lobbying is the latest wrinkle in an ongoing dispute over U.S. policy toward the MEK, whose name translates as “People’s Holy Warriors of Iran,” befitting its self-described status as the leading Iranian opposition group dedicated to overthrowing the country’s ruling mullahs.
Founded by Iranian students in the 1960s as a Marxist-Islamist movement, the group is accused of killing six Americans in terrorist attacks in the 1970s during its struggle to topple the U.S.-backed shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Some of its members participated in the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 before the MEK broke with Iran’s new Islamic rulers and began attacking the regime with suicide bombings and assassinations. Many of the group’s leaders were captured, tried and executed.
MEK officials sought exile abroad, first in France and later in Iraq, where the group found common cause with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The dictator provided the movement with a sanctuary — later dubbed Camp Ashraf — as well as weapons, tanks and other equipment. MEK troops fought against their countrymen during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war.
Connections to Iraq
MEK leaders officially renounced terrorism in 2001, but ties to the Iraqi dictator earned the group the hatred of Iranians and many Iraqis. In 2003, the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq left the group without its powerful sponsor and with few appealing prospects, unable to return to Iran and detested by the new Iraqi leadership. No other countries offered refuge to a group that, in addition to the terrorism stigma from the 1970s, had gained a reputation for cultlike behavior — MEK members at Camp Ashraf wear military clothing and adhere to a doctrine that requires mandatory divorce for married members as well as celibacy, enforced separation of the sexes and unquestioned allegiance to the MEK’s leadership.
“I see them as a cross between Hezbollah and the Branch Davidians,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It is legitimate to debate whether the MEK meets the Justice Department’s legal definition of a terrorist organization. But it is outright false to claim that they are a legitimate, democracy-minded opposition group with a wide base inside Iran.”
The group did possess two attributes that would eventually allow it to build a network of allies and friends. One was an extensive cash reserve, some of it donated by wealthy Iranians in the West, and the rest acquired from still-unknown sources, something MEK leaders decline to discuss. The other was a deep antipathy for the Iranian government, a view widely shared by many conservative Republicans as well as more hawkish Democrats.
The MEK’s appeal as a potential partner against Iran sharpened in 2002 when the group exposed the existence of a secret uranium-enrichment plant near the Iranian town of Natanz. Slowly, a small band of influential Americans began advocating direct U.S. support for the dissidents as a tool for undermining Iran’s theocratic government.
“What’s the answer? Regime change,” said Ridge, the former homeland security secretary, in a speech on behalf of the MEK in late May. “The heart of this effort, we all believe, is to recognize democratic opposition — it is the MEK.”
Rendell and other MEK supporters also have acknowledged that their advocacy has attracted the attention of federal prosecutors. Since the spring, Treasury Department officials have interviewed several of the group’s supporters to determine whether they violated U.S. law by providing support to an organization on the U.S. terrorist list. A Treasury spokesman, John Sullivan, said the department does not comment on “potential investigations.” Other U.S. officials familiar with the group said the inquiry remains essentially on hold while awaiting a formal decision on the MEK’s terrorist status.
“The MEK is a designated terrorist group,” Sullivan said. “Therefore, U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with or providing services to this group.”
State Department view
Depending on events at Camp Ashraf, the MEK could soon lose its terrorist label. Clinton told Congress in May that the State Department would look favorably toward delisting the group if it complies with U.N. efforts to relocate its members in Iraq to new temporary quarters.
More than half the members have completed the move, but transfers of the remaining 1,200 have stalled amid complaints from the MEK about poor conditions and mistreatment by Iraqi officials. MEK leaders are balking at sending additional convoys to Camp Liberty, having apparently calculated that their Washington advocates can secure better terms for them.
In recent days, tensions between Iraqis and MEK officials have escalated, raising fears that the situation could turn violent if the exiles refuse to vacate Camp Ashraf by the July 20 deadline, U.S. officials say.
“The great tragedy is that people who say they want to help the MEK have instead emboldened their sense of entitled status, and that could get them into serious trouble,” said a senior State Department official involved in MEK policy discussions. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.
“If the supporters want to save lives, they could do the MEK a great service by getting them to focus on real issues and not stage extravagant provocations,” the official said.
Diyala Governor: Human Rights, Deporting MEK, Imposing the Laws, non negotiable
... Massoud Khodabandeh heading the delegation thanked the Government of Iraq and asked the Governor of Diyala and the General to help inform the people trapped inside about their rights and to counter the lies given to them by the hostage takers and cult leaders. Ms Abdollahi on behalf of the families asked for help and for care to be taken when dismantling the camp to institute particular safeguards to protect the relatives of the picketing families. Ms Sanjabi, (formerly a member of the MEK Leadership Council), who managed to escape some months ago, explained ...
A meeting was held on Monday 21 November between officials of the Diyala province and family representatives of the people trapped in Camp Ashraf.
The Governor of Diyala, Dr Abdul–Nasser Al-Mahdwe stated clearly that:
1- There will be no compromise on the decision to deport the MEK.
2 - There will be no compromise on imposing national and international laws
3 - There will be no compromise on respect for human rights laws and agreements and therefore they will not be forcefully returned to Iran.
He said that the overall decisions will rest with central government but as far as Diyala is concerned there is no room for the MKO anywhere inside the province. This has been announced repeatedly by practically all the leaders of tribes and local officials. Dr Al-Mahdwe dismissed completely the MEK propaganda in which they claim they have some support and said that to claim, after what they have done, that the MEK have even a small percentage of support in the province is simply a lie and is purely fictitious.
General Abdol Amir Al-Zeidi, is the commander of the regional army and responsible for the protection of the camp. He said that he has met many escapees from the camp. The last one was a woman who had to drag herself out and crawl for about half a kilometer before reaching the Iraqis. He said the leaders are the problem not the trapped people and if given order we are prepared to transfer them out of the camp with the utmost dignity and care and respect for their wellbeing. He said this can be checked by reporters and human rights organisation who wish to observe the operation.
The General said that in the event they receive the order to evacuate the camp, they will try their utmost to stop the leaders killing the hostages and the disaffected members as they did before. According to the General most of the people who were killed in April 2011 were in opposition to the leadership and had been shot in the heart or in the head. But the leaders tried to cover up such facts even though the evidence is unequivocal. He said reports will be handed over to the authorities to deal with the cases of murder of these people at the hands of the hostage takers.
Massoud Khodabandeh heading the delegation thanked the Government of Iraq and asked the Governor of Diyala and the General to help inform the people trapped inside about their rights and to counter the lies given to them by the hostage takers and cult leaders.
Ms Abdollahi on behalf of the families asked for help and for care to be taken when dismantling the camp to institute particular safeguards to protect the relatives of the picketing families.
Ms Sanjabi, (formerly a member of the MEK Leadership Council), who managed to escape some months ago, explained the latest developments inside the camp and gave some ideas about how the leaders may try to plan and execute violent resistance.
Mr and Mrs Mohammady from Canada who have been trying since before 2003 to rescue their daughter from the camp, presented some documents including copies of the arrest warrants for some leading members of the MKO inside the camp which the General received and promised to follow up.
Other delegation members including Mr. Azizi a Human rights activist from Netherlands Mr Sadeghi, one of the few people who managed to escaped from the camp during the time of Saddam Hussein, Mr Ghashghavi who spent years in Abu Ghraib, where he was sent by Rajavi, Mr. Ferydouni who managed to escape a few weeks ago and Ms Mahdian whose husband, a registered POW, is trapped inside the camp also participated in the meeting.
Press and media were present and the Governor and the General gave a media briefing following the meeting which was broadcast live through official and national media.
... Mr Adnan Al-Shahmani, head of the Parliamentary Committee to oversee the expulsion of the MEK announced in the Conference that the deadline would not be extended and that the camp will be closed by the end of the year. He also explained that the Iraqi Judiciary had issued its final verdict that the camp should be closed... Mr Al- Shahmani also criticized the West for its silence toward the crimes committed by the group against civilians, and asked international communities not to remain silent in the case of the abuse of the rights of the families of the victims of the MEK ...
A Conference in Baghdad University on Friday 25 November was organised by Al-Edalat Al-Iraqi Society, headed by Dr Nafe Al-Isa, which represents the families of 25,000 Iraqi victims of the MEK.
The Conference was held in Al-Hakim Conference Centre in Baghdad University and hundreds of tribal leaders, University lecturers, Governmental representatives and officials, NGOs and media representatives filled the salon. Although Camp Ashraf and the MEK is an issue specific to the government and citizens of Iraq, the Conference organisers made sure to invite Western agencies, such as the UN, EU and diplomats who have claimed or expressed an interest in Camp Ashraf. Unfortunately, however, any such invitees were apparently unable to leave the Green Zone to attend the Conference and talk to the delegates.
Opening the Conference, Dr Nafe, speaking on behalf of the families of victims of MEK violence, asked that those MEK leaders who were responsible for this violence be brought to justice before their deportation.
Speakers from the government and NGOs all emphasized that the deadline for deportation must be strictly adhered to and that Iraqi and international law against terrorism and crime must be upheld. Other speakers, in particular the tribal leaders spoke about the MEK’s crimes which they have witnessed in recent years in Diyala province. They were highly critical of the failure of the American military to dismantle the camp after 2003, and were scathing of the continued American backing which allowed the camp to be used for training and inciting terrorism against Iraqis.
On this theme, Jasem Al- Ebadi, Member of Parliament and member of the parliamentary Human Rights Commission used his speech to criticise EU efforts to keep the terrorist group intact and their opposition to the deportation process. He commented that if they are so in love with this terrorist group, why don't they take them to their own countries?
(Mr. Al- Shahmani, MP)
Mr Adnan Al-Shahmani, head of the Parliamentary Committee to oversee the expulsion of the MEK announced in the Conference that the deadline would not be extended and that the camp will be closed by the end of the year. He also explained that the Iraqi Judiciary had issued its final verdict that the camp should be closed and the land handed back to the original owners.
Mr Al- Shahmani also criticized the West for its silence toward the crimes committed by the group against civilians, and asked international communities not to remain silent in the case of the abuse of the rights of the families of the victims of the MEK.
(Mr. Al- Shahmani, meeting families)
Mr Al-Shahmani also met with the representatives of the families of hostages inside Camp Ashraf and the delegation from European countries who are campaigning to ensure a peaceful outcome to the standoff at the camp.
Massoud Khodabandeh, from Middle East Strategy Consultants which is working with the Iraqi government to resolve the situation at Camp Ashraf, introduced his book ‘The Life of Camp Ashraf – Mojahedin-e Khalq Victims of Many Masters’ to the Conference. The book places the MEK in the context of its foreign ownership and concludes that these owners have invested heavily in the MEK’s ability to commit acts of violence and terrorism, and that this is the reason for western resistance to closing the camp. The book particularly highlights the MEK’s refusal to allow residents of the camp to have contact with their immediate families as a fundamental human rights abuse of every person in the camp.
Ms Abdollahi represented the families and asked for help to release the hostages (including her own son) from the camp. Ms Abdollahi reminded the Conference that the families’ struggle to find their relatives had been going on since 2003 and that a permanent picket had been established two years ago. She stressed that when searching for a solution the families of course have the security and safety of all the residents as their utmost priority. The families have the simplest and easily granted request – to visit their loved ones who are in the camp. This does not depend on the removal of the MEK from Iraq and would be simple to do. The only barrier to this request is the order of the MEK leaders Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. They can easily resolve this issue by ordering that the families of MEK members be allowed to have free and unfettered contact with their loved ones.
Ms Sanjabi is an ex-member of the MEK’s women only Leadership Council. She managed to escape from Camp Ashraf very recently, and explained the dire situation of the women inside the camp, detailing disturbing and shocking human rights abuses which are currently being carried out against the residents by the MEK leaders.
Ms Mahdian, whose husband is a hostage inside the camp, explained how Saddam’s Intelligence services gave her husband to the MEK as a slave, even though he had been and is still a registered POW, captured at the start of the Iran-Iraq war. Ms Mahdian explained that her son has not seen his father for the past 25 years and the MEK would not allow this visit even after two years of picketing.
Mr Sadeghi from Germany, who is one of the few members who managed to run away from the camp successfully during the time of Saddam Hussein, presented and explained evidence of recent MEK interference in the internal affairs of Iraq, their collaboration with Saddamists and other terrorist groups, and the MEK’s active role in intensifying the insurgency.
Mr Ghashghavi also from Germany, served eight years without trial in Saddam’s prisons including Abu Ghraib for refusing to carry out Massoud Rajavi’s orders to commit criminal acts. Mr Ghashghavi explained how Rajavi and Saddam would force people to either kill others or be sent to the torture chambers themselves and be killed.
(Mr. Ezati and Ms. Sanjabi)
Another ex-MEK member, Mr Ezati who now lives in the Netherlands, gave interviews to the media explaining the situation inside the camp and the constant abuse of human rights of the victims. Mr Ezati strongly criticized the unfortunate media silence over these human rights abuses which he ascribed to the pervasive influence of the MEK’s powerful backers who regard the MEK as “good terrorists”.
Tens of ex-MEK members who work with Nejat Association in Iran, also attended the Conference and were interviewed by the media. They explained that Nejat Association, which works closely with the families of the hostages, now has the capacity to help those survivors who wish to do so, to go back to their country under the amnesty which was granted by the Iranian authorities in 2003 (which is based on the understanding that the MEK members have been subjected to the coercion and control of cult leaders) and which to date has been upheld under the supervision of the ICRC.
Conference attendees were particularly interested in the testimony of three recently escaped camp residents who gave full and detailed explanations to the media about the harsh reality of being a captive inside Camp Ashraf. They spoke about the total information blackout and social and emotional isolation they experienced there. They emphasized that the leaders and the hostage takers lie constantly to the residents so that the captives have no idea about the outside world. They are made to believe that the MEK leaders are directly supported by the Americans and that if they tried to escape the camp they would be immediately shot, or now, after being tortured by the Iraqis they would be handed over to Iran to be executed without trial. They said that if they were given the true facts and information, there is not one person in the camp who would still want to stay in the desert of Iraq nearly nine years after disarmament. They urged international organizations, especially the US representatives and UNAMI, who are the only organizations with close relations with the hostage takers, to take advantage of their weekly meetings inside Camp Ashraf with the hostage takers, to persuade them to open up the flow of information and convince them to give people the right to family visits as well as normal means of communication such as writing and telephones, etc.
These recently escaped hostages also urged UNAMI not to present the hostage takers as the representatives of the hostages in the media outputs. Instead they should be clear that Rajavi is no one’s representative and as long as the negotiators have not met with the hostages without the presence of the MEK commanders - the hostage takers - outside the camp, they have no right to claim anything on their behalf. They said they believe that UNAMI and the American backers of the cult are in breach of international law for siding with the terrorists as these are people who have abused the human rights of over 3000 people for decades. The survivors of Camp Ashraf are now taking legal advice to claim compensation for their suffering and losses from the MEK leaders.