Aftermath of backing the MKO terrorist cult

The complicated case of the terrorist, cult-like Mujahedin-e- Khalq Organization has been a controversial debate among US politicians for years now. The group’s lobbying campaign including a number of US former officials pushes the US government to delist the group for its further use against Islamic Republic...

The complicated case of the terrorist, cult-like Mujahedin-e- Khalq Organization has been a controversial debate among US politicians for years now. The group’s lobbying campaign including a number of US former officials pushes the US government to delist the group for its further use against Islamic Republic while a large number of critics blame the campaign for their support for a group which has been on the FTO list of the State Department since its formation in 1997. The list also includes terrorist groups like Al-Qaida and Liberation Tigers of Tamil.

The American authorities who oppose the removal of MKO for the blacklist, argue that the group’s terrorist cult-like nature has not changed and it still maintains the capacity and will to commit terrorist acts. They suggest that giving speeches to advocate a terrorist designated group is illegal -- against Material Support for Terrorism Law.

In July 2011, the MKO’s terror designation was testified in a hearing at the US Congress. Ray Takey; Senior fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations of the US House of Representatives presented a testimony on the group’s background and its current isolation among Iranian public. Mr. Takey notifies the group’s basic anti-imperialism ideology. The statement includes:

“The core of MEK’s ideology has apparently 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 MEK 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 Communiqué 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.”[1]

About the MKO's current status in Iranian society particularly inside Iran the testimony reads, “The MEK commands very little support within Iran. Its alliance with Saddam Hussein and its cult-like disposition have alienated even the radical segments of intelligentsia that once found its ideological template attractive”. [2]

On the other side of the issue, dozens of former officials across the political spectrum – from conservative John Bolton to liberal Howard Dean – have been paid tens of thousands of dollars to speak at events organized by supporters of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, or People’s Mujahedin, in the US, according to Financial Times.[3] Whether they are financially motivated to back a terrorist designated group or not, some of the advocates of MKO Cult including John Bolton, the former ambassador to the UN under President Bush, call for military action against IRI and openly support MKO and its removal from the black list. Seemingly, Bolton and other US officials who back delisting of the group are beating the drums of another war in the Middle East by means of the same pattern they used to push the war against Iraq in 2003 based on Chalabi's allegations about Saddam’s Weapons of Mass Destruction which never were proved true.

On June24, Michael Mukasey claimed that Maryam Rajavi is the president of Iran. Even the mujahedin themselves do not call Maryam Rajavi “president of Iran” but they call her ''president of the National Council of Resistance of Iran". His assertion seems to be the consequence of MKO’s deceitful- but booming- propaganda campaign that has long portrayed the group as a democratic movement representing Iranian nation but the cable recently released on Iranian popular attitude towards the MKO verifies the opposite. The report which 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, reveal:

''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.'' [4]

Removing the MEK from the US’s terrorism blacklist would make already frosty relations between Tehran and Washington even icier, believes Michael Theodoulou, foreign correspondent of The National acceptably.

“It also would allow the Mujahedin to receive US funding and become a powerful force in support of war with Iran, just like the Iraqi exiles who deceived us into war with Iraq, Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) warned,” he quotes from Parsi. [5]

Actually if the MKO is removed from the FTO list, it means that the group’s demonization campaign against Islamic Republic and its propaganda to depict itself as Iranians’ prodemocracy movement are capable of manipulating American authorities and leading them to another disastrous war.

“the fact that they [MKO] are against the government in Iran doesn’t make them good” said Gary Sick, an Iran expert in his recent interview with Theodoulou ,”Their support in Iran is very, very limited “,he said.[6]

In October 2007, PBS documentary series on the MKO titled “Showdown with Iran: the Mujahedin –e-Khalq (MEK)" quotes from Richard Armitage, US deputy secretary of State --currently an ardent advocate of the group. "I don’t know about that specifically, but we had discussed the MEK more pointedly after the invasion [of Iraq]. And there were some in the administration who wanted to use Mujahedin-e-Khalq as a pressure point against Iran, and I can remember the National Security adviser, Dr. [Condoleeza] Rice, being very specific about it saying no, a terrorist group is a terrorist group", Armitage said. ''That was exactly the point of view of the State Department as well,” he added.[7]

Besides, in a recently published report by Federal Bureau of Investigation, (FBI) you read: “Los Angeles investigation has determined that the MEK is currently actively involved in planning and executing acts of terrorism.”[8]

August is the time that may result in MKO’s success after its long-time efforts to deceive the hawks at the US administration but the fact is that the MKO’s terrorist cult-like nature never changes weather it is or is not in the list.

Furthermore, unleashing the MKO would result in more complexities in international relations. It would definitely worsens Iran-US relations, it might deteriorate the situation of Camp Ashraf residents in Iraq where the authorities and people are seriously against the presence of a Saddam’s ally in their territory, it would harm US popularity in the international community and mainly, it would violate the rights of American taxpayers who have to pay for cost of another war in the Middle East.


[1] Takey, Ray, Council on Foreign Relations, United States House of Representative


[3] Fifield, Anna, Financial Times, Iranian exiles pay US figures as advocates, July 29, 2011


[5] Theodoulou, Michael, The National, US move to delist MEK as terror group worries Iran's opposition, July 26, 2011


[7] PBS, Frontline, Showdown with Iran , the Mujahideen-e khalq, Oct. 27, 2011