Why the US State Department doesn’t trust the MEK

…in radio broadcasts of the "Voice of Mojahed," [circa 1990s] which are transmitted into Iran from Mojahedin bases in Iraq, the MKO has claimed responsibility for internal violence throughout Iran…A number of these self-described operations included attacks against clearly civilian targets, such as automobiles, highways, government buildings open to the public, businesses....


A clearer picture of what US leaders really think of the MEK can be found in earlier assessments of the group by the US government—at a time when MEK’s connections in Western governments weren’t as extensively developed. Today the MEK propaganda efforts mentioned in this report are showing their effects.

Excerpts from 1992 report by Congressional Research Service addressed to Lee H. Hammilton, Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives (1993–1995). (Note: in this report NCR=PMOI=MKO=MEK=…)

1. We want to be clear that our conclusions about the Mojahedin do not in any way imply support for the behavior of the current regime in Iran.

2. Despite Mojahedin assertions that the group has abandoned its revolutionary ideology and now favors a liberal democracy, there is no written or public record of discussion or debate about the dramatic reversals in the Mojahedin's stated positions. Moreover, the Mojahedin's...record of behavior does not substantiate its capability or intention to be democratic.

3. The intellectual contradictions between Shi'a Islam and Marxism... caused the Mojahedin to split in 1975. The organization broke down into Marxist and Muslim factions. But the religious disagreement between the secular and Islamic factions of the MKO did not undermine their fundamental agreement on the issue of imperialism, nor their strategy of armed struggle against …American interests in Iran.

4. Like their dedication to armed struggle, the Mojahedin's emphasis on propaganda reflects the influence of other revolutionaries, who sought both adherents and supporters through indoctrination, since its inception, the group has made drafting and disseminating propaganda a priority.

5. … it [MEK 1979 manifesto] recommended that Iran cancel all agreements with "racist" state of Israel.

6. The Mojahedin are known to have assassinated the following Americans in Iran during the 1970s:

Lt. Colonel Lewis L. Hawkins Killed: June 2, 1973

Air Force Colonel Paul Schaeffer Killed: May 21, 1975

Air Force Lt. Colonel Jack Turner Killed: May 21, 1975

Donald G. Smith, Rockwell International Killed: August 28, 1976

Robert R. Krongrad, Rockwell International Killed: August 28, 1976

William C. Cottrell, Rockwell International Killed: August 28, 1976.

7. The very day that 400 university students overtook the U.S. embassy, the Mojahedin issued a proclamation headlined, "After the Shah, it's America's turn."

8. [After release of US embassy hostages] the next issue of "Mojahed" [MEK publication] reminded readers that "the Mojahedin-e Khalq were the first force who rose unequivocally to the support of the occupation of the American spy center," and further noted that Mojahedin members spent "days and weeks," "in heat and cold," in front of the embassy in an effort to ensure that the occupied embassy was "an active and zealous anti-imperialist center." It described the release of the hostages as a "retreat" and "surrender" and warned that resumption of diplomatic relations with the United States would be "treason to the people and to the blood of our martyrs."

9. …in radio broadcasts of the "Voice of Mojahed," [circa 1990s] which are transmitted into Iran from Mojahedin bases in Iraq, the MKO has claimed responsibility for internal violence throughout Iran…A number of these self-described operations included attacks against clearly civilian targets, such as automobiles, highways, government buildings open to the public, businesses.

10. After the flight of the Mojahedin leadership from Iran in 1981, the group internationalized its propaganda to gain new adherents and attract Western supporters…Rajavi commenced a campaign of public relations that developed into the formidable Mojahedin outreach program currently operating.

11. The NCR also solicits the support of prominent public figures, and practices a determined lobbying effort among Western parliamentarians.

12. To conduct its propaganda campaign, the group has established offices throughout Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and the Middle East. These offices are responsible for coordinating the public relations effort and through their activities have established the Mojahedin as the best organized Iranian opposition group. They sponsor public demonstrations and marches. Other types of publicity measures include television programming and musical concerts that feature prominent Iranian musicians. The Mojahedin claim the audiences for these performances are indicative of MKO support.

13. The organization also transmits unsolicited faxes and mail of its publications to various U.S. government offices, including the State Department, on a regular basis.

14. The Mojahedin focus their public relations efforts on the objectionable activities of the Iranian government…After the war, the Mojahedin stepped up its campaign to publicize the Iranian regime's dismal record on human rights.

15. Another common practice of the group is to collect statements issued by prominent individuals. Western governments, the E.U and the U.N condemning Iranian government abuses and to reissue them as a package under the Mojahedin name -- although the Mojahedin are not a factor in the Western condemnations. Likewise, the Mojahedin collect Western press reports that describe objectionable behavior by the Iranian government and re-publish them in Mojahedin documents.

16. Mojahedin publications tend to mirror concurrent Western public diplomacy…Through such efforts, the Mojahedin attempt to transform Western opprobrium for the government of Iran into expressions of support for themselves.

17. "By keeping on good terms with enough journalists, they hope to transform their public image in America from terrorists to Freedom fighters." The major objective of the MKO's public relations campaign is to posit the Mojahedin as the alternative to the current Iranian government, or in their words, the "face of Iran to be," and in so doing gain both new adherents and Western political and financial support. To achieve these objectives, they must ensure their organization and its espoused principles appeal to Western audiences and Iranian expatriates.

18. Current Mojahedin publications assert the group's advocacy of specific guidelines for a future provisional government, including: "democracy," "peace," "love, friendship, and unity," "separation of church and state," and "recognition of private ownership and a market economy…"

19. [But] these claims present a revolutionary departure from the substantial written record of Mojahedin ideology. Examples of such reversals include the switch from revolutionary Islam to separation of church and state and from nationalization to private ownership. Yet the changes in MKO ideology occurred without any public debate, and there is no public record of discussion or review of Mojahedin principles. It is also unclear when each change in policy occurred, and what internal factors motivated each shift. The absence of dialogue about this critical issue of ideology contrasts markedly with the group's earlier history of discourse.

20. Nor are these new claims substantiated by the record of the Mojahedin's activities throughout... Mojahedin organizations do not follow the principles outlined in their revised propaganda. In particular, the Mojahedin have never practiced democracy within their own organization…

21. The Mojahedin's own publications further suggest the insincerity of their ideological alteration…the Mojahedin have begun to appropriate Iranian national symbols for use in their publications. One…journal is named "The Lion and the Sun" in reference to two symbols used by the monarchy throughout Iranian history. Yet the Mojahedin worked to overthrow the Shah's monarchy and today refuse to work with monarchist oppositionists…. Similarly, the Mojahedin have abandoned their original flag, whose symbols include a Quranic verse, sickle, and Kalashnikov, in favor of the royal flag used during the Sah's rule.

22. The Mojahedin have also begun incorporating the "Mossadeq" name into their publications. "The Lion and Sun" journal, for example, contains report on "The Rising that Restored Mossadeq." In fact, the Mojahedin rejects the nonviolent, constitutional opposition exemplified by Mossadeq. The political party that was the heir to Mossadeq's policies, the National Front, refused in 1981 to work with the NCR because of the Mojahedin's revolutionary Islamic ideology. These cosmetic modifications appear to be aimed at expatriate Iranian audiences, among whom these symbols would resonate.

23. The Mojahedin's credibility is also undermined by the fact that they deny or distort sections of their history... It is difficult to accept at face value promises of future conduct when an organization fails to acknowledge its past.

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