Learn from the past; Don’t harbor MKO terrorists

The West used to support notorious killers—Saddam Hussein and the Taliban—because they had the same enemy. And now, in an attempt to disrupt Iran, the West is befriending and supporting the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MKO). The West should learn from their disastrous experiences. The Arabic proverb "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" offers a seemingly innocuous short term logic which the US and Europe has bought into—but banding together with militant radicals to demolish a common enemy doesn’t work. And the West simply doesn’t get it. What’s distressing is that while US legislators are supporting the MKO, the MKO has been clashing with the US-backed Iraqi forces. [1] The MKO is no friend.

The West has seen its fair share of backfires. In the case of Saddam Hussein, Matthew Partridge of The Guardian asserts that "the decision by the US and UK to permit arms sales to Saddam Hussein ended with the promotion of the notorious Baath regime and enabled Saddam to subsequently invade Kuwait."[2] (This decision also strengthened Saddam enough to be able to fully arm the MKO.) He also points out that in WWII Anglo-American support for the Soviet war effort led to victory on the Eastern front, which led to the fall of Hitler but the rise of Soviet power, which later turned out to be a diplomatic nightmare for the US. Partridge explains that “US support for anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan during the 1980’s was one of the decisive factors behind the unraveling iron curtain." [3] But even though US support lifted the iron curtain, it also led to the rise of the Taliban and Al-Qaida. Partridge emphasizes that similar “diplomatic overtures to the Taliban in the late 1990’s not only failed to detach [the Taliban] from Al-Qaida, but it meant that the Clinton administration largely stood by while they brutally repressed the Afghan population.” [4] It was not enough for Partridge to call attention to these disastrous attempts at maintaining US power and control abroad. He also warns that there is a bad relationship forming, which is gearing up to go head to head with Iran; Partridge cautions that the former mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, and the former advisor of homeland security, Tom Ridge are lending their support to the MKO, even though the MKO is a designated terrorist group, as outlined by the Department of State. Partridge writes that “their suggestion that [MKO] be both tolerated and supported is wrong."[5]

Andrew Belonsky a human rights blogger and journalist recently wrote an article about the MKO and their American supporters for Death and Taxes. In his critique he stresses that “most Republicans would do anything to take down Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Iranian regime. And for Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin, that means embracing a ‘terrorist group’ and Wikileaks, respectively. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, yes, but the only winner here remains Iran.” [6] Belonsky furthers that the “regime’s defiance proves so tenacious and irksome, Western leaders end up grasping at straws, leaving Ahmadinejad to laugh as his enemies squabble among themselves, aware that he has them backed into a corner, clearly so desperate that they’re willing to erode their own positions simply to destroy him.” [7] Belonsky says that "those who support the [MKO] simply want the group to launch a proxy war against Iran, yet haven’t considered the potentially dangerous consequences." [8]

The leaders of the MKO are thrilled to have new support and they will embrace any relationship which gets them closer to their ambition to take over the Iranian government, which has been their aim since the early years of the movement. In the early 1970’s, in a desperate attempt to gain recognition for their movement, they disturbed peace and began a more aggressive retaliation campaign against the government. In order to strengthen their small movement they made a decision to take up arms. It was then that they connected with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, who trained them in terrorist activities. As they reinforced their cause, with PLO support, they targeted Iranian civilians and officials for assassination. They also targeted American civilians, contractors and military personnel. A number of these assassination attempts were successful, and are well documented by the US intelligence. Despite their terror, they gained no ground, and that is when the MKO’s opportunistic nature kicked in. When an Iranian majority began supporting the Ayatollah Khomeini, there was a massive movement against the Shah. The MKO decided to join the movement in an attempt to influence it enough to gain political standing, but their attempt failed. After the Islamic revolution and the takeover of the US Embassy in 1979, when the MKO realized they couldn’t find a part in the Islamic Republic's ruling system, they clashed with the government and began their terror campaign once again. When they realized their effort would be unsuccessful they began an official “armed struggle” and started to assassinate Iranian civilians who supported Ayatollah Khomeini. This of course resulted in Khomeini turning against the MKO. Many of the MKO went into hiding, others fled the country. Leaders sought support overseas. The Iranian government identified the MKO as a terrorist cult and a major threat to civilians and their terrorist activities against Iran and Iranian citizens are well-documented around the world. And now the MKO is partnering up with those who hate Iran’s influence in the Middle East. It’s clear that the MKO is on no one’s side—only their own.

In late 2010 when the Iranian nuclear scientist Dr. Majid Shahriari was assassinated in his car, RichardSilverstein.com published an article titled "Mossad and Mujahedin–e-Khalq Partners in Assassination Campaign." [9] Silverstein unveiled how the MKO was the Mossads’ operational hand in Iran and writes that “the assassination campaign would indicate a ratcheting up of the relationship between Mossad and MEK. Instead of being satisfied with passing on bogus intelligence to the U.S. in hopes of fomenting a military strike against Iran, Israel is now using the MEK to execute high-value targets within the regime.” [10] The blogger furthers that “what is ironic about these marriages of convenience is that they so often blow up in the faces of those who devise them (cf. Reagan era support for the Afghan Mujahadeen which morphed into the Taliban). No doubt, Israel would be delighted if the [MKO] overthrew the Iranian regime as a number of powerful neocons have advocated.”

But would an [MKO] dictatorship be any friendlier to Israel than the mullahs?”

And does the Mossad think that an [MKO] regime wouldn’t pursue nuclear weapons with the same or greater zeal as its predecessors?” [11]

The MKO are not heroes and a partnership with them will backfire. They are hypocrites who don’t stand for peace or democracy, and they don’t belong in Iran.


[1] Belonsky, Andrew. "How GOP Leaders Allow Iran to Shape Their Policy." dt death+taxes 24 December 2010: Web. 15 Feb 2011.

[2] Partridge, Matthew. "Britain and America should beware supporting the Mujahideen-e-Khalq: The west must get tough with Iran – but supporting groups such as MEK would be morally and strategically wrong." Guardian 09 January 2011: Web. 15 Feb 2011.

[3] ibid

[4] ibid

[5] ibid

[6] Belonsky, Andrew. "How GOP Leaders Allow Iran to Shape Their Policy." dt death+taxes 24 December 2010: Web. 15 Feb 2011.

[7] ibid

[8] ibid

[9] Silverstein, Richard. "Mossad and Mujahadeen e-Khalq, Partners in Assassination Campaign." Tikun Olam: Making the World a Better Place. Essays on politics, culture and ideas about Israeli-Arab peace and world music, 01 December 2010. Web. 15 Feb 2011.

[10] ibid

[11] ibid