Mujahedin-e Khalq's devolution
Attractive prospect for the
American war on terror
March 2, 2005
The Mujahedin-e Khalq's (MEK) advent in 1965 marked
the beginning of an armed paramilitary campaign against Iran, where
collateral damage became a non-issue in their attempts to overthrow
two successive regimes. The Mujahedin-e Khalq is a paradoxical
concept in itself. Defined as "Holy Warrior" in Arabic,
the term "Mujahedin" gained popularity in Iran at the
height of the Industrial Age, when European Imperialism was at
its most rampant form.
It was during this pinnacle stage in Iran's
modern history that revolutionaries, known as the Mujahedin helped
dislodge the heavily corrupt Qajar dynasty and thus, paved the
way for the establishment of the first constitutionally elected
session of parliament in Iran's history. The nationalistic fervour
demonstrated by the latter has no correlational ties with the
contemporary form of the Mujahedin-e Khalq. Based on a cultic Marxist-Islamic
ideology, the MEK depends on fanatical membership and the organization's
military wing to execute its political mandate. This form of
resistance has collectively hindered the MEK's popularity amongst
The MEK seems to have met one of its final crossroads,
especially since the invasion of Iraq by the American led
coalition in 2003. This decaying terrorist organization is declining
to a point where they will never be able to capture a sustained
of Iranian statesmanship after the subsequent overthrow
the current theocratic regime, a far fetched proposition to
Just prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, much of the MEK's expenditures
were subsidized by the Baathist regime under the rule of Saddam
Hussein. He was said to have trusted the MEK more so than his personal
army of bodyguards, the Republican Guard. Iraq was essentially
the organization's last resort. After many of their original leaders
were summarily executed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards soon
after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, scores of the group's subordinates
were exiled to several European states.
France, who was and still
is the chief harbourer of MEK members in the west, also expelled
a large portion of the group's members to Iraq where they were
embraced by the Baathist administration. In exchange for exposing
key military targets in Iran and assisting Iraq's Ground Forces
in critical infantry offensives during the eight year long Iran-Iraq
war, Saddam Hussein offered to maintain and support the Mujahedin-e
Khalq for as long a period as they wanted.
Massoud Rajavi, the
then leader of the MEK, along with the support of all his subordinates,
happily accepted the deal knowing full well he would be pitting
MEK soldiers against their own countrymen. Raises in funding occurred
when the MEK brutally suppressed both the Kurdish and Shi'ite uprisings
after the first Persian Gulf War.
Maryam Rajavi, who assumed the
leadership role of the MEK after a series of years as co-leader
alongside her husband Massoud Rajavi, had the following to say
during a moral-boosting speech to an audience of MEK troops: "Take
the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian
Ambiguous means of raising
revenue by the MEK, such as initiating in direct combat with
Iranian soldiers for increased funding by Iraq's Baathist dictatorship,
has undermined their credibility as both defenders and liberators
of the Iranian people.
The civilian sector has also gotten involved with funding for
the terrorist organization. Instances have increased in recent
years, particularly due to the strengthening of support amongst
diaspora communities and the severing of the cash flow from the
Baathist administration in Iraq to the MEK.
Former Secretary of
State Madeline Albright announced in 1997 that the MEK would be
then added to the list of foreign terrorist organizations. It has
been made explicitly clear by both Albright and her successor,
Colin Powell that any material support gathered
through domestic fundraisers would be deemed illegal in the eyes
of the American judicial system. These decrees have yet to yield
any positive results.
Evidence of the state department's apathetic
attitude towards enforcing this law can be seen in the operational
status of several MEK bases along the Iran-Iraq border. They are
all intact, Camp Ashraf alone houses thousands of MEK troops. The
longevity of the MEK, especially after the 2003 invasion of Iraq
is purely based upon the fiscal support provided by western expatriates.
Recently, there have been multiple seizures executed by the American
federal government against the MEK to try and crack down on illegal
fundraising operations all over the United States. One such case
involved Roya Rahmani and Hossein Afshari, two top officials personally
stationed in the west by Maryam Rajavi to control the activities
of several fundraising efforts.
It has been pointed out in the
December 20th, 2004 publication of the United States vs. Afshari
court case, that they were both conducting fundraising operations
with fellow MEK agents for over 4 years (1997 – 2001). This
timeframe only refers to the period in which the State Department
recognized the MEK as a foreign
terrorist organization, which excludes the years they operated
both in and out of the United States prior the 1997 decree by Albright.
This case centers in on one particular instance where both Rahmani
and Afshari raised funds from the Los Angeles International Airport
under organizational guises such as the "Committee for Human
Rights." These crimes were allegedly committed after Secretary
Albright's labelling of the MEK as a foreign terrorist organization.
behind the protection of seemingly benevolent names such as the "Committee for Human Rights," "Iranian
Refuge Society," and "Women's Association",
literally proves the illegitimacy of the MEK in Iranian society;
for cowering behind invalid front organizations that hypothetically
promote humane causes, is the only way they can increase their
profit projections. When these front organizations gather together
in a convention type setting, that's when they are most potent
and successful in raising revenue.
On the 24th of January, 2004,
there was a huge fundraising convention established in Washington
D.C. for the collection of 'paid' donations, which was said to
have been used for the Bam relief effort (Bam was the location
of a devastating earthquake that ravaged the ancient city in Iran
during the latter end of 2003). In actual sense, this "Night
of Solidarity" was set for raising funds for the MEK, not
the victims of the Bam earthquake. Many non-profit organizations
like the Red Cross withdrew their support of the event because
of the apparent political connotations.
In a rare announcement
by a member of congress, House Administration Chairman Robert Ney
(Republican from Ohio) proclaimed that "the MEK is [was]
hiding behind earthquake victims." Overall, seventeen of the
twenty-three organizations were known to have direct ties with
the MEK, and
that over $140,000 was raised that night. The malevolent
measures in which the MEK takes to raise revenue for both military
and political expenditures in the Western world has also discredited
their reputation amongst most Iranians.
In an unorthodox move, Richard Perle, an extremely influential
neo-conservative hawk visited the "Night of Solidarity" convention
as one of his book tour stops. Many questions were tossed around,
questioning the motivations behind his attendance at a terrorist
sponsored charity event. Many conclusions were drawn upon but in
retrospect, Perle is in favour of regime change in Iran and he
believes the MEK has the capacity to enforce their vision of democracy
upon the Iranian population.
Like Perle, many Western
(Americans in particular) law-makers are servile to the ideological
manipulations of the MEK. Behind the pro-democratic tenets preached
by influential figureheads such as Maryam Rajavi, there is a bleak
cultic ideology only MEK members in Iraq are exposed to. Notwithstanding
these truths, many Western law-makers have obliged themselves into
siding with the MEK cause and to some extent, promoting their pseudo-ideology.
Pentagon hardliners who are the key moulders of the Bush administration's
foreign policy, have expressed their satisfaction with the MEK's
resistance efforts against the Islamic Republic of Iran, and that
they should be removed from the State Department's list of foreign
terrorist organizations. The MEK, whose main office is just walking
distance away from the White House, also has the overwhelming support
of the Congress and the House of Representatives behind them.
following statistics agree with this notion: On July 1st, 1999,
100 congressmen united in calling on Secretary of State Albright
to support the MEK as the only predominate " democratic opposition" that
threatens the Iranian totalitarian regime. 130 members of the U.S.
House of Representatives requested Secretary Albright to restart
the lines of communication with the MEK, who they generalized as
being the "Iranian opposition."
Also on this day, Florida
Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen herded 220 congressmen into protesting
MEK's designation as a foreign terrorist organization in 1998.
This speaks volumes of the MEK's ability to lobby in the U.S.
capital. Their propagandist organs are always on the offensive,
trying to capture all the support they can, anyway they can.
Mujahedin-e Khalq is an extremely attractive prospect for the
American war on terror. Their apparent belief in the democratic
promotion of feminism, symbolized by Maryam Rajavi, and a pro-Western
attitude fits the quintessential candidate for a next Iranian
The MEK also has an apparent habit of leaking highly classified
information about Iran to the state's enemies. This snitching prerogative
landed the United States Intelligence with important information
regarding the relationship between Ahmad Chalabi and the Iranian
government, and vital developments concerning Iran's nuclear program
What antagonizes Iranians the most is the conscious act
of divulging information of high-priority to the enemy; more so
than the actual contents registered within these relays. A senior
Department of Defense official speaking for the entire department
refused to acknowledge that the American government is having any
bilateral relations with the MEK, totally downplaying the idea
of the MEK as being an ally of the United States. Weak arguments
such as this do not stand firm against the large body of evidence.
After the American-led invasion of Iraq, the MEK was protected
from international scrutiny by the physical presence of the 4th
Infantry Division who in-essence protected them from being prosecuted
by an international tribunal for war crimes. The initial Governing
Council in Iraq wanted the MEK to be removed from Iraqi territory
but due to persistent lobbying, protection provided by coalition
armies, along with the support within the confines of the U.S.
government, the Americans passively bypassed the request, letting
the MEK continue to use its pre-existing bases.
The MEK's requests to be taken off the list of foreign terrorist
organizations might be granted in the near future by both the American
Department of State and the European Union, due to the growing
strength of the lobbyist bulwark. All this might sound well and
good for the average Westerner but to Iranians, the MEK's prompt
segregation from regional issues to the concentration on Western
support demonstrates where their true allegiances lie; within the
West and the acquisition of power without the consent of the Iranian
Iranians have personally acquainted themselves with the
cultic ideology the MEK is based upon, and are not ignorant in
that particular context, the way Western supporters of the MEK
are. The rare confrontation with the Islamic Republic results in
decreased internal support and therefore, the depreciated chances
of the Mujahedin-e Khalq ever capturing Iranian statesmanship.
The Mujahedin-e Khalq has accomplished its goal of attracting
Western, and especially, American attention. Several federal
directly involved in communications with MEK lobbyist groups have
conformed to the wishes of the MEK and American neo-conservatives.
The approach they are opting for is a possible military incursion
of Iranian held territories, a role in which the MEK has voluntarily
nominated itself for.
A senior U.S. administration official has
been quoted as saying that Defense Department hardliners have "toyed
with the idea of rearming the MEK as a proxy force against the
Islamic regime" (Pound). Questions of how far the MEK had
actually disarmed after the 2003 capitulation to the 4th Infantry
Division of America will be analyzed further. Any attempts at a
sustained military campaign against Iran, by the MEK, have and
will continue to be sidetracked due to a number of both internal
and external factors.
The embodiment of the MEK in Iraq is its main body of loyal personnel.
In its entirety, the MEK currently has approximately 3,800 soldiers
and technicians stationed at Camp Ashraf where they are isolated
by the 4th Infantry Division. Membership
levels were much higher prior the fragmentation of the group due
to splintering ideological beliefs, and the eight year-long Iran-Iraq
Near the end of the war, as Iraqi armies started
withdrawing back into their mainland, The MEK attempted to exploit
Iran's fragile state by initiating in guerrilla combat around the
south-western city of Khorramshahr. Coined as operation "Eternal
Light," it was anything but bright for the MEK forces. Of
the approximately 7000 invaders, 200 were killed, and hundreds
more were captured by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. The MEK
was forced to retreat back into Iraq, suffering tremendous losses.
In June of 2002, Massoud Rajavi held a meeting in the Al-Karakh
district of Baghdad. Just over 6000 members attended the audience.
As time went along, internal strife ravaged the structure of the
MEK, resulting in the defections of hundreds of soldiers.
Most of those who remain in Iraq encompass the most loyal members.
These are the ones who joined the Mujahedin-e Khalq at the very
outset of its creation during the 1960's.
Aside from the hastening biological degeneration of the MEK's
manpower, its equipment also shows signs of aging as well. The
mainstay of the MEK's arsenal is the battle tank. Most of their
armoured or mechanized units were captured from Iranian regiments
during the Iran-Iraq war, and others were provided by Saddam Hussein
in efforts to quell the Kurdish and Shi'ite uprisings after the
first Persian Gulf War.
Some examples include Brazilian
Cascavel tanks, Russian BMP armoured vehicles, British Chieftains,
rocket trucks. Most of these brands have discontinued production
decades ago. Like the rest of the international community, the
MEK has limited resources to exactly pinpoint the topographic features
of Iran's western frontier; something which must be acquired in
order to be successful in any military engagement.
drone missions which have been illegally executed into Iranian
airspace have been claimed by American administration officials
to be targeting such sites as nuclear reactors. If you think about
these activities in context to the MEK, these spy drones may be
providing key technical information
to them, data which is extremely useful from a logistical standpoint.
Despite the importance of this revelation, if it were true, the
MEK would still have great obstacles to overcome in dislodging
the Iranian military apparatus, which has enough resources to gather
a force of approximately 20,937,348 military personnel.
The disarmament procedures resulting
in the complete capitulation of MEK forces took place under the
supervision of the 4th Infantry Division via Central Command. The
April 18th 2003 cease-fire, required the terrorist paramilitary
force to disarm all weapons which may be deemed as a risk to Iraqi
national security; this included all assault rifles and armoured
It seems that both sides of the treaty agreed to compromise on
a few articles of importance. There have been instances
where international correspondents have witnessed MEK forces armed
to the brink after the cease-fire. Lt. Col. Mark Young
of the 4th Infantry division concluded that after the full capitulation
of MEK forces, enough equipment was turned over to arm a small
army, but then why is it
that there is still a presence of heavy weaponry in Camp Ashraf?
In a recent MEK military parade, there were four artillery pieces
involved in the ceremony marking the 26th anniversary of the
armed resistance campaign against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
July 13, 2003 New York Times article, Elizabeth Rubin has an
interview with several MEK members in Iraq. She asked one of
the female soldiers
what she was currently involved in, and the soldier responded
by saying she was attending artillery classes.
Why would she
a subject where the practical value of field exercises is not
available? If they are available and ready to mobilize in live
the status of these forces has been heavily concealed by both
the MEK and Central Command. Despite the conspiratory connotations
regarding the notion of an American backed MEK military force,
it can be a determining factor in the United State's unilateral
policy towards Iran, but the repercussions involved in an MEK
of Iran would cripple the group render less.
This is only the surface of the MEK's drawbacks. Sinister methods
by which they recruit members, specific evidence pertaining to
the cultic foundations of the organization, the execution of multiple
terrorist acts committed against the citizens of Iran, and many
other unfavourable characteristics. With this said, the Mujahedin-e
Khalq is facing its demise but it is reluctant to capitulate. Radical
devotion to this Marxist-Islamic cult is the only thing keeping
the grinding gears afoot.
One thing is for certain however, Iranians
have collectively denounced the MEK, typecasting the organization
as both illegitimate representatives of the Iranian population
and evil heretics. The question is, are the members of the
Mujahedin-e Khalq willing to accept their fate?
-- Abedin, Mahan. Middle East Intelligence Bulletin. "The
MKO and the War on Iraq". March 2003. 5 Feb. 2005.
Information Web. "Statement
by Tom Casey, Acting Spokesman". 15
Aug. 2003. 2 Feb. 2005.
plan D.C. Fundraiser". The Hill. 21
Jan. 2004. 1 Feb. 2005.
not Friends: Iraq and Iran after the Gulf Wars.
New York: Routledge, 2001. Iran-e Azad. "Brief on Iran: No.
1179." 2 July 1999. 5 Feb. 2005.
-- Iran-Interlink. "Mojahedin's
Aliases Exposed". 29 Aug.
2003. 5 Feb. 2005.
now: Are the two old enemies cutting a deal now?" The
Economist. 20 Dec. 2003. Academic Search Premier. 4 Feb. 2005.
-- Pound, Edward T. "A
Most Peculiar Kind of Alliance". U.S.
News & World Report. 22 Nov. 2004. Academic Search Premier.
4 Feb. 2005
-- Raimondo, Justin. AntiWar.com. "Richard
Perle Supports Terrorism". 28
Jan. 2004. 2 Feb. 2005.
-- Rubin, Elizabeth. "The Cult of Rajavi". New York
Times on the Web. 13 July 2003. 2 Feb. 2005.
States. Central Intelligence Agency. The
World Factbook: Iran.
10 Feb. 2005. 13 Feb. 2005.
-- United States. Department
of State. Patterns of Global Terrorism: Appendix B: Background
Information on Designated Foreign Terrorist
Organizations. 29 Apr. 2004. 4 Feb. 2005.
States. Military: The 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized). Mujahedin-E
Khalq Update. 22 May 2003. 6 Feb. 2005.
-- United States of Appeals
for the Ninth Circuit: United
States v. Afshari. 20 Dec. 2004.
5 Feb. 2005.
Using Drones to Check on Iran" The
Washington Post. 13 Feb. 2005. 13 Feb. 2005