Adaptation of the concepts and examples of terrorism in customary international law to the violent behavior of MEK terrorist group
In the most common definition, terrorism means creating fear and terror. Countless definitions have been proposed for terrorism which at times are contradictory. However, what most political sciences theorists emphasize is that terrorism is a threat of violence and using it as a strategy or method for achieving a specific goal or changing a particular purpose and their ultimate goal is eliminating, injuring, or intimidating the victim.
More precisely, terrorism refers to a covert organized activity that involves the use of violence in various forms, such as physical harm or threat to human life, and aims to create fear for specific purposes.
For the most part, terrorist acts include killing innocent civilians or the military and government officials, inciting hatred, intimidation, and disturbing the peace and destruction of public property. The following conditions can help us explain and identify the terrorist aspect of the incidents:
• A terrorist act is an organized activity that involves personal and group action with a pre-planned plan. Thus, a political and ideological point of view motivates a terrorist group that distinguishes it from murder, extortion, and theft from individuals with the intent of obtaining property;
• A terrorist act causes death or at least severe physical or mental injuries to a person. However, a number of new sources in international law also consider damaging private and public property for the stated purposes to be a terrorist act. (Such as the negotiations of the United Nations General Assembly on terrorism);
• Terrorists carry out operations with a specific purpose, and a major part of their operation is psychological warfare and spreading fear among the people or certain individuals or groups, officials, or international organizations. (Adapted from S/RES/1566 (2004));
• The prey of terrorists is not necessarily a specific person or group, but in many cases, people are randomly targeted. (Such as bombings in cities, blind armed attacks, and booby traps).
Who is a terrorist?
Any person who violates a law within the framework of the aforementioned concepts and intentionally and consciously targets a specific place or the general public, government buildings, public transport or infrastructure tools with explosives or any other lethal objects with a specific purpose, is defined as a “terrorist”.
Having been disarmed in 2003, the MEK terrorist group tried to cover its violent terrorist history by forming a political opposition serving as its political front. However, the group has not been able to fulfill its subversive ambitions. Consequently, it has been trying to pose itself, during recent years, as an alternative after the Islamic Republic by launching terrorist cells called “insurgent cells” inside Iran by carrying out a series of dramatic actions.
The truth is that the MEK has never abandoned its armed strategy, and developing terror cells, which function as militias, is the only thought that the MEK has in mind. The idea of this group is to create a terror machine and launch a civil war in Iran but seemingly, what they are doing is nothing but a show. From a political perspective, their acts are ineffective and from a legal one, they are true examples of terrorist act. Sabotaging public and private property and inflicting casualties in an organized covert way are perfect examples of violent acts.
The Fifth Round of the so-called Liberation Army’s Founders
After the failure of the terror strategy inside the country, Masoud Rajavi officially announced the formation of the National Liberation Army of Iran in Iraq. Each time this army, which was intended to bring about liberty for the MEK, was on the verge of disintegrating, it would undergo certain changes in different periods of time and receive different titles ranging from First Round to the Fourth Round of the Liberation Army’ Founders signifying that in each round of this fictitious army, new members of a fresh vigor are joining. Formation of the Fifth Round of the Liberation Army’ Founders after Masoud Rajavi’s announcement on June 20, 2021, was in fact the latest act of this group.
This is while, based on investigations on this group, it has undergone no significant changes regarding the structure, approach, or capabilities of the forces. Those who, out of fear of being caught, changed their voices and faces and appeared in front of the camera and introduced themselves as insurgent cells are now, once again, stand before the camera with the same posture calling themselves Fifth Round of the Liberation Army’ Founders. The only difference observed in the behavior of this group is that recently, its members have been holding melee weapons and firearms on camera, and ever since 2003, this is the first time that the MEK is overtly holding guns. This act is rooted in Masoud Rajavi’s message on March 8, 2021, where at the end of that nine-minute audio file, Rajavi, who had been furious at the court hearing on MeK crimes held on the petition of ex-members, revives his terrorist activities in the 1960s again and says, “fire your patriotic arms at the hearts of the renegades!”