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Inconspicuous Affinity between Al-Qaeda and MKO

A careful and close scrutiny of al-Qaeda and MKO’s organizational infrastructures reveals surprising similarities in their theorizing of terrorist operations. That is much because the two nearly show great interest in the same ideological teachings of terrorism theoreticians. It should be pointed out that these outdated and despised teachings attracts no attention today, but at least in two or three past decades they worked as applicable revolutionary approaches especially for the third world revolutionaries. Following the same line, Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization from its very formation in four decades ago adopted militia warfare as the doctrine of its struggle. MKO’s knack to survive out of dire and serious conditions singles it out as a complex terrorist organization that readily adapts itself to global relations because of its ideologically based interest-seeking and pragmatist visions. Thus, it proves to be much harder a task to confront terrorists like MKO compared with al-Qaeda.

The prime problem lies in the fact that MKO cannot be easily compared to and considered as soldiers of fortune, anarchists, or psychopaths who under some melancholic influences engage in violent practices. Mojahedin cannot even be equals to the rebels and insurgents who rise to confront cultural, social, economic, and ethnic discriminations. The problem is that the organization deems it a duty and responsibility when perpetrating atrocious, terrorist operations, and indeed Mojahedin believe in what they do. Here is the proof when they demarcate a rebel from a revolutionary:

A rebel conducts blind insurgency against the ruling regime while a revolutionary element knows well whereto conduct the insurgency. [1]

The main feature that distinguishes MKO from other similar groups is its remarkable potentiality in practice of ideologically justified activities. The revolutionary ideology of the group enables it to develop a revolutionized philosophical world outlook. In an attempt to rationalize the group’s revolutionary ideology, Rajavi in an ideological handbook that represents the main ideological teachings of MKO stated:

Without a revolutionary ideology, it is impossible to have a revolutionary movement, organization and man because ideology works as our source of light and guide to lead us on. I have to assert that ideology is one of the most outstanding manifestations of man’s life. That is to say, man is the only creature that lives with ideology; his life and death relay on a belief and ideology that he is bond to it in all conditions and communes with it. [2]

Forging such a mentality, Mojahedin can not only control their suppressed primitive feelings but also organize them and put them into practice quantitatively and qualitatively whenever and wherever they will. They are ideological terrorists who deliberately parlay democratic approaches to aggravate the tensions and mount obstacles amidst any non-violent dialogue. In theorizing their relation with the world, they divide it into a two-dimensional sphere of black and white, the foes and friends, and develop no comprehension beyond that. Both al-Qaeda and MKO have the opinion that these are inevitable approaches to solve the encountered would-be disputes.

The difference between the two is that al-Qaeda perpetrates its terrorist operations based on the impact of its ostensible ideological inclinations while Mojahedin-e Khalq justify them based on deep interpretation of their ideology. MKO’s methodology before relying on ideology originates from its scientific look at the world. Mojahedin develop the idea that struggle is not necessarily a man-willed drive but is more the result of knowing the laws and evolutionary advance of the history:

To further a successful social revolution one must develop a more optimistic comprehension of the laws governing the general move of the world, society and man which can simply be defined as ideology. [3]

The view point induces that unpredicted parameters and catalysts work as aspects of influential material laws and thus, it is required to advance according to these laws. The practical and fundamental difference between al-Qaeda and Mojahedi-e Khalq is exactly the same difference between a rebel and a revolutionary, that is, to best control, organize and conduct terrorist operations. Parallel to these precepts, Mojahedin, in regulation of their relations with the members, strive to infuse them with ideological teachings rather than engaging them in practical orders. Accordingly, it might be a rightly made claim by Mojahedin that the organization never enforced orders on the members to commit self-immolations in June 2003 following the arrest of Maryam Rajavi in France and they were deliberate actions.

The people who commit these loathsome acts are no doubt the byproducts of MKO’s adopted ideology. Explicitly putting in the words, they are slaves of a deeply imbued ideology that can be put into practice even in the absence of the leaders. As stated by Rajavi when drawing the organization’s ideological principles:

Everybody has to be a legist and interpreter of the given principal cues of principles. [4]

Also asserted in Nechayev’s The Revolutionary Catechism, revolutionary ideology draws the border-line between a rebel and a revolutionary:

The revolutionary is a dedicated man. He has no interests of his own, no affairs, no feelings, no attachments, no belongings, not even a name. Everything in him is absorbed by a single exclusive interest, a single thought, a single passion – the revolution… Hard towards himself, he must be hard towards others also. All the tender and effeminate emotions of kinship, friendship, love, gratitude and even honor must be stifled in him by a cold and single-minded passion for the revolutionary cause. There exists for him only one delight, one consolation, one reward and one gratification – the success of the revolution. Night and day he must have but one thought, one aim – merciless destruction. In cold-blooded and tireless pursuit of this aim, he must be prepared both to die himself and to destroy with his own hands everything that stands in the way of its achievement.[5]

As indicated by Rajavi, al-Qaeda has a formalistic understanding of ideology. Mojahedin believe that although al-Qaeda is on the front line of launching daring operations, but fails to have a good understanding of their impacts and the aftermath essential calculations. Structural similarities between al-Qaeda and MKO regardless of minor differences well expose the global threat of Mojahedin-e Khalq far beyond the potentialities of al-Qaeda. If there are still optimistic people who foster hope that Mojahedin would undergo a radically ideological and structural change, they are under the spell of some ignorance they have to break before it is too late.


Lectures of Mahdi Abrishamchi on the Ideological Revolution in MKO. (1985). Taleghani Publication.

Explining the world -the rules and the concept of evolution: the ideological teachings of Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization, vol. II, 5.

Lectures of Mahdi Abrishamchi on the Ideological Revolution in MKO. (1985). Taleghani Publication.

Explining the world -the rules and the concept of evolution: the ideological teachings of Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization, vol. II, pp.5-7.

Nechayev; The Revolutionary Catechism


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