Congressional Research Service, October 05 2016:… On September 28, 2012, maintaining there had not been confirmed acts of PMOI terrorism for more than a decade and that it had cooperated on the Camp Ashraf issue (below), the group was removed from the FTO list as well as from the designation as a terrorism supporter under Executive Order 13224. However, State Department officials, in a background briefing that day, said “We do not see the [PMOI] as a viable or democratic opposition …
Iran: Politics, (Persian) Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs
August 19, 2016
Congressional Research Service
Opposition Group: People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK, PMOI)
The best-known exiled opposition group is the Mojahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MEK), also known as the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI). Secular and left-leaning, it was formed in the 1960s to try to overthrow the Shah of Iran and has been characterized by U.S. reports as attempting to blend several ideologies, including Marxism, feminism, and Islam, although the organization denies that it ever advocated Marxism. It allied with pro-Khomeini forces during the Islamic revolution and, according to State Department reports, supported the November 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The group was driven into exile after it unsuccessfully rose up against the Khomeini regime in September 1981. It has been led for decades by spouses Maryam and Massoud Rajavi but in 2011 Ms. Zohreh Akhyani was elected as MEK Secretary-General. Maryam Rajavi is based in France but the whereabouts of Massoud Rajavi are unknown.
The State Department designated the PMOI as an FTO in October 1997—during the presidency of the relatively moderate Mohammad Khatemi. The NCR was named as an alias of the PMOI in October 1999, and in August 2003, the Department of the Treasury ordered the groups’ offices in the United States closed. State Department reports on international terrorism for the years until 2011 asserted that the members of the organization were responsible for: the alleged killing of seven American military personnel and contract advisers to the former Shah during 1973-1976; bombings at U.S. government facilities in Tehran in 1972 as a protest of the visit to Iran of then-President Richard Nixon; and bombings of U.S. corporate offices in Iran to protest the visit of then Secretary of State Kissinger.
The reports also listed as terrorism several attacks by the group against regime targets (including 1981 bombings that killed high ranking officials), attacks on Iranian government facilities, and attacks on Iranian security officials. However, the reports did not assert that any of these attacks purposely targeted civilians. The group’s alliance with Saddam Hussein’s regime in contributed to the designation, even though Saddam was a U.S. ally during 1980-90.
The PMOI challenged the FTO listing in the U.S. court system and, in June 2012, the Appeals Court gave the State Department until October 1, 2012, to decide on the FTO designation, without prescribing an outcome. On September 28, 2012, maintaining there had not been confirmed acts of PMOI terrorism for more than a decade and that it had cooperated on the Camp Ashraf issue (below), the group was removed from the FTO list as well as from the designation as a terrorism supporter under Executive Order 13224. However, State Department officials, in a background briefing that day, said “We do not see the [PMOI] as a viable or democratic opposition movement…. “
The NCR-I reopened its offices in Washington, DC, in April 2013. The State Department has been meeting with the MEK since its removal from the FTO list, including in Iraq.
Camp Ashraf Issue
The de-listing of the group has not resolved the situation of PMOI members in Iraq. U.S. forces attacked PMOI military installations in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom (March 2003) and negotiated a ceasefire with PMOI elements in Iraq, according to which the approximately 3,400 PMOI members consolidated at Camp Ashraf, near the border with Iran. Its weaponry was placed in storage, guarded first by U.S. and now by Iraqi personnel. In July 2004, the United States granted the Ashraf detainees “protected persons” status under the 4th Geneva Convention, although that designation lapsed when Iraq resumed full sovereignty in June 2004. The Iraqi government’s pledges to adhere to all international obligations with respect to the PMOI in Iraq has come into question on several occasions: on July 28, 2009, Iraq used force to overcome resident resistance to setting up a police post in the camp, killing 13 n residents of the camp. On April 8, 2011, Iraq Security Forces killed 36 Ashraf residents; the State Department issued a statement attributing the deaths to the actions of Iraq and its military.
In December 2011, the Iraqi government and the United Nations agreed to relocate Ashraf residents to the former U.S. military base Camp Liberty, near Baghdad’s main airport. The relocation was completed by September 17, 2012, leaving a residual group of 101 PMOI persons at Ashraf. The group asserted that conditions at Liberty are poor and the facility is unsafe. On February 9, 2013, the camp was attacked by rockets, killing eight PMOI members; the Shiite militia group Kata’ib Hezbollah (KAH) claimed responsibility. A rocket attack on the camp took place on June 15, 2013. On September 1, 2013, 52 of the residual Ashraf residents were killed by gunmen that appeared to have assistance from Iraqi forces. Seven went missing. All survivors of the attack were moved to Camp Liberty, and Ashraf has been taken over by Iran-backed Shiite militias. An October 29, 2015, rocket attack on the Camp killed 24 residents and a rocket attack on July 4, 2016, did not kill any residents, but wounded some. The FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 114-92) calls for “prompt and appropriate steps” to promote the protection of Camp residents.
Since 2011, the U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has sought to resettle PMOI members outside Iraq. About 600 have been resettled so far: 450 to Albania; 95 to Germany; 95 to Italy; 15 to Norway; and 2 to Finland. The United States reportedly might resettle 100 or more, but the U.S. requirement that those resettled disavow the group has apparently held up implementation of that program. About 200 have returned to Iran; a few of them reportedly have been imprisoned and/or mistreated.
Rajavi’s lobbyists demand Mojahedin Khalq terrorist cult in Iraq be re-armed rather than removed
Anne Khodabandeh (Singleton), Iran Interlink, January 14 2015:… Whether delusional or corrupt, this gang – listed below and now posing as the International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ) – says the residents of Camp Liberty should have their “personal protection weapons returned to them for self-defence following serious threats and attacks [sic] as the …
Rajavi’s lobbyists demand Mojahedin Khalq terrorist cult in Iraq be re-armed rather than removed
It is surely ironic that the same bunch of people who lobbied hard and at great expense to have the Mojahedin Khalq terrorist cult removed from European and American terrorist lists (the flimsy claim they had renounced terrorism was only possible because in 2003 the US army captured, disarmed and confined them to a single camp in Iraq), is now lobbying to have them re-armed.
Whether delusional or corrupt, this gang – listed below and now posing as the International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ) – says the residents of Camp Liberty should have their “personal protection weapons returned to them for self-defence following serious threats and attacks [sic] as the Iranian regime’s intervention in Iraq grows”. But has neglected to inform their English speaking audience that the MEK leader, Massoud Rajavi, has demanded the MEK be re-armed with heavy weapons as well as small arms.
In any case, anyone who knows anything about the situation of Camp Liberty knows that the residents are deliberately imprisoned incommunicado inside the camp by the MEK leaders, that the greatest danger these residents face is from these MEK leaders, and that small arms are wanted in order to impose greater control over these captives as they become more and more desperate to escape the tyranny of the cult.
The ISJ statement should certainly not be read without context: Since attaining sovereignty in 2009, each successive government of Iraq has designated the MEK as a terrorist entity which must, under the Constitution, be entirely removed from Iraqi territory. The demand for re-arming rather than removing this group is doubly insulting for a country still swarming with Western spawned terrorist groups.
Perhaps the most ironic ‘complaint’ of the Committee is that the government of Iraq is not investigating the September 1, 2013 attack on Camp Ashraf in which fifty three people died. How is this possible when forty two key eye witnesses – survivors of the attack – have been incarcerated by the MEK inside Camp Liberty so that no investigator in the world has access to them?
Instead of demanding the MEK be re-armed ready to utilize violence again – the raison d’etre of the terrorist cult – this gang should be demanding from Massoud and Maryam Rajavi that each resident of Camp Liberty be given the opportunity to make contact with their families in privacy and to freely leave the camp if they desire. Then we would see how quickly and efficiently these people can be resettled.
List of members of the ISJ according to the MEK:
Alejo Vidal-Quadras, former MEP; Patrick Kennedy, former Congressman; Günter Verheugen, former member of the EU Commission; Nicole Fontaine, former MEP; General Hugh Shelton former US military; David Kilgour, former Canadian Secretary of State; Ingrid Betancourt; Raymond Tanter; Horst Teltschik; Colonel Wesley Martin, former US military; Senator Lucio Malan, Italian Senate; Alessandro Pagano MP; Antonio Razzi, Italian Senate; Gérard Deprez MEP; Ryszard Czarnecki, MEP; Tunne Kelam MEP; Lord Carlile, UK; Lord Clarke, UK; Lord Maginnis, UK; Lord Dholakia, UK
An Unfinished documentary for my daughter – Trapped in Rajavi cult, Mojahedin Khalq
Paulo Casaca, Struan Stevenson and Alejo Vidal-Quadras lost their seats as MEPs over support for terrorism
European MEK Supporters Downplay ISIS Role in Iraq (aka Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, NCRI, Rajavi cult)
MEPs support for MEK terrorists undermines human rights pressure on Iran (letter to Federica Mogherini)
Massoud Khodabandeh, Middle East Strategy Consultants, London, December 09 2014:… By publishing an article directed by the MEK, a group of MEPs has played directly into the hands of Iran’s hardliners. The MEPs Gérard DEPREZ, Tunne KELAM, Ryszard CZARNECKI EP Vice-President, Eduard KUKAN, José BOVÉ, Julie WARD, and Rina Ronja KARI are …
MEPs support for MEK terrorists undermines human rights pressure on Iran
Open Letter to Federica Mogherini, the new EU foreign policy chief
As you are aware the Iranian Mojahedin Khalq terrorist group works through the “Friends of a Free Iran” in the European Parliament. This parliament is to give a platform today (December 10) to the second-in-command of this group Maryam Rajavi (a private room has been hired in the buildings by one of the MEK’s lobbyists purely for lobbying purposes). Not only that, a group of MEPs has boldly written to you demanding you change your policy to suit this woman. What possibly can be their motive? As a European citizen and an expert in the field of cults and terrorism, I cannot agree that you ignore such a presence in the parliament. It cannot be in the best interests of the European Parliament as a home to democracy to give a platform to for what is an undemocratic stance toward the people of Iran.
By publishing an article directed by the MEK, a group of MEPs has played directly into the hands of Iran’s hardliners. The MEPs Gérard DEPREZ (ALDE – Belgium), Tunne KELAM (EPP – Estonia), Ryszard CZARNECKI EP Vice-President (ECR – Poland), Eduard KUKAN (EPP – Slovakia), José BOVÉ (Greens – France) Julie WARD (S&D – UK) and Rina Ronja KARI (GUE/NGL – Denmark) are members of the MEK’s ‘Friends of a Free Iran’ in the European Parliament.
The article starts with the claim that Ban Ki Moon said people should hold their governments to account. He did not say that the EP should interfere in the internal affairs of another country. Certainly these MEPs have no mandate to hold another country’s government to account in this way. It is not their elected government, but that of a sovereign nation with its own electorate. It is certain Ban Ki Moon was referring to this electorate when he made this statement.
However, let us allow that Iran’s human rights record, like that of every other country of the world, should come under proper scrutiny. The proper bodies to conduct such research are those quoted by these MEPs – the UN – in particular the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran – Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International. The reports of these bodies are public knowledge and widely available.
(Interestingly, in addition to all these human rights bodies, there is hardly a group or organisation or government, and not a single Iranian opposition group inside or outside Iran which has not condemned the Mojahedin Khalq for its human rights abuses time and time again.)
Now, if the MEPs do indeed see fit to challenge Iran over this issue on International Human Rights Day, is it not proper to do so directly, through dialogue, communication and diplomacy, rather than a futile rant. A rant which, in addition, quotes the second-in-command of the Mojahedin Khalq terrorist group, Maryam Rajavi. This group of MEPs has been persuaded – somehow – to have her words put into their mouths as though they cannot make their own statements or figure out their own political arguments. (The MEK shoehorned one of their favourite words, ‘embolden’, into the piece but didn’t manage to get another favourite, ‘appeasement’ in.)
As a result they stupidly allow themselves to say such things as “Tehran has also been the center [sic] for the expansion of terrorism and fundamentalism throughout the region, endangering world peace and security.” The article cannot and does not present any evidence for this opinion. Indeed, most sensible people anywhere would point first to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States as the source of increased terrorism and fundamentalism in the region. But then, the MEK are known advocates of ISIS and other terrorist groups.
Relying on this argument, these MEPs are demanding less dialogue with Iran, not more. Again, back to the ‘let’s bomb Iran or at least disrupt dialogue’ narrative.
Such nonsense has delighted Iran. The semi-official Fars News Agency has immediately translated the article for distribution among Farsi speakers in Iran and worldwide. What better argument could the hardliners have that the issue of human rights is being politicised than to have the leader of a notorious terrorist group put their words into your mouth.
These MEPs really need to get to grips with the fact they are being manipulated into pursuing an agenda not of their own making, which ultimately serves to worsen human rights in Iran and to help crush any indigenous opposition movements and activities. Any Iranian not associated with the MEK terrorist group – on any side of the argument – will tell them this.
Holly Dagres, Huffington Post, December 12 2014:… Maryam Rajavi’s marriage to one of the original founders of the MEK symbolized the transformation from an organization to a “cult of personality.” With the money provided by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein–they formed an alliance due to a deep disdain for the Iranian regime–to “construct self-sufficient camps” …
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, Foreign Policy Journal, November 08 2014:…In addition to the “Iran experts”, Washington has found itself other sources of ‘intelligence’, foremost; the Mojahedeen Khalg (MEK) terrorist cult. This group feeds Washington information provided them by Israel. Previous to this assignment, the cult was busy fighting alongside Saddam …
Anne Khodabandeh (Singleton), Iran Interlink, November 01 2014: … When a supporter of ISIS sits in the French parliamentary building and attacks President Obama, the cracks are seriously beginning to show in the West’s approach to resolving the whole Middle East situation. Observers may not be sufficiently informed to tell Western governments what to do in …
Azar Hossein Nejad, Hossin Nejad weblog, January 01 2015:… I am contacting you to ask for your help regarding the situation of my sister, Zeinab Hossein Nejad, a 36 years old woman who is living in Camp Liberty in Baghdad, Iraq. I never saw my parents or sister during my childhood and youth as all of them had to run for their lives. They left Iran along …
Farideh Farhi, Lobelog, April 22 2014: … members (some of them with links to the exiled Iranian opposition group, the Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (MEK), such as Spanish EPP member Alejo Vidal-Quadras and British ECR member Struan Stevenson) proposed amendments deleting the call for an opening of the EU office in Tehran, fully in line with the position of their supposed enemies — Iranian hardliners …
Nejat Association reporting from , Ashraf news, April 21 2014: … Massoud Rajavi has ordered the officials of the Camp to intensify the limitations against women especially after the revelations by Batoul Soltani and other dispatched members who bravely exposed the internal affairs especially the sexual scandals of the cult leader such as ‘Salvation dancing’ …