Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO) a.k.a. Mujahedin-e Khalq, the National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA, the militant wing of the MEK), People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), National Council of Resistance (NCR), Organization of the People's Holy Warriors of Iran, Sazeman-e Mujahedin-e Khalq-e Iran, Muslim Iranian Student's Society (front organization used to garner financial support)
Description: Formed in the 1960s by the college-educated children of Iranian merchants, the MEK sought to counter what it perceived as excessive Western influence in the Shah's regime. Following a philosophy that mixes Marxism and Islam, has developed into the largest and most active armed Iranian dissident group. Its history is studded with anti-Western activity, and, most recently, attacks on the interests of the clerical regime in Iran and abroad.
Activities: Worldwide campaign against the Iranian Government stresses propaganda and occasionally uses terrorist violence. During the 1970s the MEK staged terrorist attacks inside Iran and killed several US military personnel and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran. Supported the takeover in 1979 of the US Embassy in Tehran. In April 1992 conducted attacks on Iranian embassies in 13 different countries, demonstrating the group's ability to mount large-scale operations overseas. Recent attacks in Iran include three explosions in Tehran in June 1998 that killed three persons and the assassination of Asadollah Lajevardi, the former director of the Evin Prison.
Strength: Several thousand fighters based in Iraq with overseas support. Most of the fighters are organized in the MEK's National Liberation Army (NLA).
Location/Area of Operation: In the 1980s the MEK's leaders were forced by Iranian security forces to flee to France. Most resettled in Iraq by 1987. In the mid-1980s did not mount terrorist operations in Iran at a level similar to its activities in the 1970s. In recent years has claimed credit for a number of operations in Iran.
External Aid: Beyond support from Iraq, the MEK uses front organizations to solicit contributions from expatriate Iranian communities.