Paul Sheldon Foote is a Professor of Accounting at the California State University and an outspoken critic of US neoconservatives. He has done extensive research on Iran’s political and cultural issues. We have the opportunity to ask him questions about the issue of terrorism and the terrorist group Mojahedin Khalq Organization.
Q- What is terrorism and what are the roots of this phenomenon?
A- The following is an honest definition of terrorism:
“terrorism: The calculated use of violence or threat of violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.”
The roots of the use of terrorism go all the way back to ancient history. For an excellent summary of the history of terrorism, everyone should read:
The popular usage of the term terrorism in the American media relates to acts of terrorism by small organizations against large governments. However, as noted in the above cited history of terrorism, French revolutionaries toppled the French monarchy and then instituted systematic state terror against the people of France (including killing some of the supporters of the French Revolution!) in the 1790’s. Professor Claes Ryn has written a book, America the Virtuous, explaining the similarities between America’s evil neoconservatives and the evil Jacobins of the French Revolution. Both the neoconservatives and the Jacobins claimed that they would export democracy to the world. The evil Jacobins viewed as democracy the use of the guillotine to chop off the heads of anyone who disagreed with them. The evil neoconservatives view as democracy the use of sanctions, military invasions, bombs, and of nuclear weapons to punish any country unwilling to have its resources and people controlled by the evil neoconservative totalitarians and empire builders.
The evil neoconservatives lie about Iran. While the Shah of Iran celebrated 2,500 years of monarchy in Iran, intelligent people in Iran and honest researchers elsewhere knew the true history of Iran:
“The 1872 Reuters Concession described by Lord Curzon as ‘the most complete and extraordinary surrender of the entire industrial resources of a kingdom into foreign [i.e. British] hands’ and the 1891 Tobacco Rebellion infuriated Iranians. British and Russian intrigue in Iran eventually led to direct military occupation of the country during the Second World War. Interference in Iran’s internal affairs was further exacerbated during the Mossadegh years, culminating in the 1953 CIA restoration of Muhammad Reza Pahlavi to power. This was followed by 25 years of American support for a regime Amnesty International described as one of the ‘worst violators of human rights’ in the world.”
While many Americans know something about the history of the Persian Empire (with Persians invading other countries), very few Americans know that foreigners have invaded or indirectly controlled Iran for long periods of time. In 1906, while many Europeans had monarchies and Christian theocracies, some Persians attempted to start a Constitutional Revolution. Leaders of Iran’s Constitutional Revolution brought to Iran some Americans to help working in the government. However, very few Americans know any of this history and fewer Americans have read the book by one of the Americas who worked in Persia, W. Morgan Schuster: The Strangling of Persia. America’s greatest contribution to Iranian history was the result of the efforts of a small number of American individuals who went to Persia to help form a new government. Unfortunately, the powerful European monarchies were able to crush Iran’s Constitutional Revolution.
Even different branches of a single country’s government might use different definitions of terrorism. For example, some of the definitions used within the American government are posted at a terrorism research web site as:
“The United States Department of Defense defines terrorism as ‘the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.’ Within this definition, there are three key elements-violence, fear, and intimidation-and each element produces terror in its victims. The FBI uses this: ‘Terrorism is the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.’ The US Department of State defines ‘terrorism’ to be ‘premeditated politically-motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.’”
According to this terrorism research web site (http://www.terrorism-research.com ), it is important analyze terrorism in terms of the parties involved: terrorists, general public, and victims (actual, often innocent, victims killed or hurt and the resulting effects upon the behaviors of the intended victims):
“The phrase ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’ is a view terrorists themselves would accept. Terrorists do not see themselves as evil. They believe they are legitimate combatants, fighting for what they believe in, by whatever means possible. A victim of a terrorist act sees the terrorist as a criminal with no regard for human life. The general public’s view is the most unstable. The terrorists take great pains to foster a ‘Robin Hood’ image in hope of swaying the general public’s point of view toward their cause. This sympathetic view of terrorism has become an integral part of their psychological warfare and needs to be countered vigorously.
The problem throughout the world is that many people and governments use only a partial definition of terrorism. Such uses of a half truth should be exposed as a lie by the general public everywhere in the world.
The United States Department of State designated the MKO (MEK, PMOI, NCRI, Rajavi Cult, or Pol Pot of Iran) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) on October 8, 1997, during the administration of former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat. In spite of intense political and contribution campaigns in America, the MKO has remained on the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list during the administration of President George W. Bush, a Republican.
The American State Department publishes short explanations of why an organization is on the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The exact wordings change over time. The following is one example of an explanation:
“Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK): The MEK, a largely Iranian group, mixes Marxism, nationalism, and Islam. The MEK was formed in the 1960s and was expelled from Iran after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Since the late 1980s, its primary support came from the former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. The MEK conducted anti-Western attacks prior to the Islamic Revolution. Since then, it has conducted terrorist attacks against the interests of the clerical regime in Iran and abroad.”
Such a short description of the MEK does not even begin to portray the terrorism inflicted by the Rajavi Cult upon Iranians, Iraqis, Americans, and even upon some of its own members.
The New York Times has a long history of promoting communist leaders, such as Fidel Castro’s takeover of Cuba. However, Elizabeth Rubin concluded in her article, “The Cult of Rajavi”:
“…. After all, the Rajavis sold out their fellow Iranians to Saddam Hussein, trading intelligence about their home country for a place to house their Marxist-Islamist Rajavi sect. While Mujahedeen press releases were pouring out last month, taking undue credit for the nightly demonstrations, many antigovernment Iranians were rejoicing over the arrest of Maryam Rajavi and wondering where Massoud was hiding and why he, too, hadn’t been apprehended. This past winter in Iran, when such a popular outburst among students and others was still just a dream, if you mentioned the Mujahedin, those who knew and remembered the group laughed at the notion of it spearheading a democracy movement. Instead, they said, the Rajavis, given the chance, would have been the Pol Pot of Iran. The Pentagon has seen the fatal flaw of hitching itself to volatile groups like the Islamists who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan and, more recently, the Iraqi exile groups who had no popular base at home. It seems dangerously myopic that the US is even considering resurrecting the Rajavis and their army of Stepford wives.”
–Elizabeth Rubin, “The Cult of Rajavi”, New York Times Magazine, July 13, 2003
So, the truth is that terrorists resort to terrorism because they have little or no support. This is certainly the case with the Iranian Communist MKO terrorists. Any honest researcher knows that the Rajavi Cult has little support inside Iran or anywhere in the world. For example, in the book The Iranian Mojahedin, Professor Ervand Abrahamian concluded:
“The Mojahedin had formulated its own vision of the forthcoming new revolution: according to this vision, the Islamic Republic would inevitably collapse because of mass unpopularity; the people of Iran would then pour into the streets with the slogan ‘Iran is Rajavi, Rajavi is Iran’, and miraculously the Mojahedin would be able to establish the Democratic Islamic Republic. Clearly by 1988 very few outside the inner circles of the true believers accepted such a far-fetched notion of the future. As the New Revolution took on the shape of the Second Coming, the Mojahedin became increasingly a world unto itself.”
Anyone who is unfamiliar with Pol Pot of Cambodia or of the history of communist terrorism should see the film “The Killing Fields” and read the book: The Black Book of Communism. Most Americans do not understand that many in the American media and in the American government promoted Pol Pot’s rise to power in Cambodia. The people of Cambodia need to thank the communist government of Vietnam for Vietnam’s opposition to the communist Pol Pot in Cambodia.
Q- What factors contribute to the spread of terrorism?
A- As noted previously, a major factor in the success of terrorism is the ability to maintain a perception among the general public that the terrorist leader is a good person. For example, liars in the American media promoted Mao in China as an agrarian reformer and Fidel Castro as the “George Washington of Cuba”.
On April 14, 2005, the Daughters of the American Revolution permitted the MKO terrorists to hold a convention in its convention hall. Some of American’s worst traitors described Rajavi as the “George Washington of Iran”.
Instead of doing their own research, most Americans still believe the lies of the major American media.
Donations of money and of resources contribute to the spread of terrorism.
President Woodrow Wilson’s administration provided Trotsky with an American passport to return to Russia. European and American governments or wealthy interests provided millions of dollars to Lenin to return to Russia to start the Russian Revolution. If you search the web site of The Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, you will not find even one document mentioning Trotsky. Instead, you will find an article about the release of Haleh Esfandiari from Iran.
Honest, intelligent Americans would not work for or support any center or politician promoting Wilsonian democracy.
Unfortunately, uninformed American voters and corrupt American political leaders have had a long history of supporting communist, fascist, or other totalitarian takeovers of countries.
Everyone should read the books of Professor Anthony C. Sutton:
Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution
Wall Street and FDR
Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler
For truthful accounts of America’s corrupt history of foreign policies, everyone should read:
James Perloff: The Shadows of Power
John A. Stormer, None Dare Call It Treason … 25 Years Later
If the people outside of America want to end the reign of terror of the neoconservatives (neo-Trotskyites or neo-Jacobins), then they need to follow the example of Iran’s Press TV in publishing internationally the views of researchers opposed to the neoconservatives.
Q- What are the criteria by which we can categorize a group as a terrorist organization?
A- As noted in the answer to question one, readers may find a long answer to this question posted at:
The short answer is that terrorists produce terror. However, the general public needs to understand the distinction between the victim and the intended victim. While the MKO has robbed and killed large numbers of Iranians, the intended victim was supported for the current form of government. The general public needs to understand that terrorists use terrorist methods because the terrorists lack popular support in a country. If a foreign power places a terrorist organization in power in a country, the result has been the deaths or displacements of hundreds of millions of people.
It is important to understand that terrorists are not always small groups fighting against governments. Governments can be terrorists, too. Some surveys have shown that many people in the world believe that America is the most dangerous terrorist in the world today.
Q- What makes Iran’s MKO a terrorist group?
A- Iran’s MKO has a long history of terrorist acts. Starting in Iran, the MKO’s initial terrorist acts were against Iranian political leaders, government employees, the general Iranian public, American military officers, and Rockwell International employees.
In 1981, Islamic leaders succeeded in driving out of Iran Massoud Rajavi and the MKO. Unfortunately, France welcomed and supported the MKO. Later, one French government ousted temporarily the MKO from France.
Unfortunately, Saddam Hussein welcomed the MKO into Iraq. Saddam Hussein provided the MKO with military camps and billions of dollars worth of military armaments. There are no free gifts. The Iranian MKO became the terrorist enforcers of Saddam Hussein’s repressive regime. The MKO committed major atrocities in Iraq against the Kurds and Shiites. For example, Rajavi ordered the MKO in Iraq not to waste their bullets on the Iraqis. Instead, the MKO killed large numbers of Iraqis by lining them along roads and running over them with armored personnel carriers or other heavy vehicles. If the America military ever leaves Iraq, the Iraqi people will write truthful articles and books and produce films about the MKO’s terrorist activities in Iraq.
The MKO has committed terrorist acts in many cities in the world, including in New York City.
Q- Please, tell us about the history of the MKO.
A- Many neoconservatives in America have spread the lie that the MKO started in 1979 to fight against the Islamic leaders.
The truth is that the founders of the MKO started the organization in the 1960’s to overthrow the Shah of Iran. Massoud Rajavi was not one of the founders of the MKO. Massoud Rajavi became the leader of the MKO only because the Shah of Iran executed or killed the founders of the MKO but bowed to international pressure and spared the life of Massoud Rajavi. After Americans and British intelligence services helped to oust Mossadeq in 1953 and return the Shah of Iran to power, many Iranians concluded that the traditional approaches of the Iranian Communist Tudeh Party and of other political groups opposed to the Shah of Iran would not succeed in the future. The Tudeh Party had failed for many reasons, including its support for Stalin and its opposition to religion. The founders of the MKO were aware that the godless Soviet Union model of communism would not succeed in Iran because so many Iranians were religious Muslims. The founders of the MKO were aware of the success of communists using different approaches around the world, including the use of liberation theology to dupe the general public in Christian countries.
At the start of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the MKO worked closely with other groups seeking to topple the Shah of Iran. The MKO attempted to spread the perception among the Iranian general public that the MKO was the most anti-American, anti-Western, anti-imperialist, and anti-capitalist group in Iran. For example, while some Iranians wanted to hold Americans hostage at the American Embassy, the MKO called for the execution of American hostages.
Fortunately, in 1981, the Islamic supporters were able to oust Massoud Rajavi and the MKO from Iran. If Massoud Rajavi (“Pol Pot of Iran”) had defeated the Islamic supporters, then the Rajavi Cult would have murdered millions of Iranians and there would probably still be a Soviet Union today.
Unfortunately, a French government welcomed and provided material support for the MKO in France. Later, another French government expelled temporarily the MKO from France. Saddam Hussein welcomed the MKO to Iraq for many reasons. The Iranian MKO wanted to invade Iran and kill Iranians during the Iran-Iraq War. The Iranian MKO was willing to terrorize Kurds and Shiites in Iraq in return for military camps and armaments.
In 1988, at the end of the Iran-Iraq War, Massoud and Maryam Rajavi waved from the safety of Iraq as their MKO terrorists invaded Iran. Rajavi had told the cultists that they could march to Tehran without firing a single shot. Rajavi predicted that a million Iranians would march with them to Tehran. Instead, Iranian military forces crushed quickly the MKO.
For details of this history, everyone should read the books of former MKO members who have written about what really happened inside the Rajavi Cult:
Anne Singleton: Saddam’s Private Army
Masoud Banisadr: Masoud
After the crushing defeat of the MKO in 1988, the leaders of the MKO focused upon terrorizing MKO members. Rajavi told the cult members that they had failed because they did not love him enough. Rajavi instituted bizarre cult practices described by Anne Singleton and by Masoud Banisadr, such as:
(a) mandatory divorces to destroy all family ties
(b) assignment of wives as rewards to top leaders
For example, Massoud Rajavi took away from an MKO member his wife. Maryam Rajavi became the third wife of Massoud Rajavi.
(c) no sexual relations, activities, or thoughts for lower-level members of the cult…
(d) pledges to burn themselves to death to show love for Massoud and Maryam Rajavi
In June 2003, some MKO members in France and elsewhere burned themselves to protest the arrest in France of Maryam Rajavi and of approximately 160 MKO cultists.
In America, in spite of being placed by the American State Department on the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, the MKO succeeded in obtaining signed statements of support for the MKO from large numbers of members of Congress (Democrats and Republicans). Some Iranian-American MKO supporters have contributed money or free trips to many members of the American Congress.
On September 12, 2002, the White House published a background paper for President George W. Bush’s remarks to the United Nations: “A Decade of Deception and Defiance”. As a major pretext for the forthcoming Iraq War, the White House listed Saddam Hussein’s support for international terrorism, including:
“Iraq shelters terrorist groups including the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO), which has used terrorist violence against Iran and in the 1970s was responsible for killing several US military personnel and US civilians.”
In 2003, shortly after the start of the Iraq War, American and coalition forces attacked the MKO terrorists at Camp Ashraf, Iraq. Instead of placing the MKO terrorists on trial (as was done to Germans at the end of World War II) for their atrocities, the American neoconservatives ordered the American military to protect America’s terrorist enemies at Camp Ashraf, Iraq. There are posted claims that the American intelligence and military organizations have been using some of the MKO terrorists to gather intelligence or to commit terrorist acts inside Iran.
The American government raided the home of Alireza Jafarzadeh and removed boxes of documents. The American government closed the office of the MKO front, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), in the National Press Building in Washington, DC. However, the American government did not deport or place on trial Alireza Jafarzadeh and the other NCRI employees. Instead, Alireza Jafarzadeh became a foreign affairs analyst for the Fox News Channel. Alireza Jafarzadeh has announced a new television program for the Fox News Channel to convince American dupes to go to war with Iran: “Iran: The Ticking Bomb”.
America’s political leaders claim that America has freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and academic freedom. Most Americans know nothing about the MKO because the major American media does not have as guests the people who know and will tell the truth about the MKO. The ability of Alireza Jafarzadeh to be involved with the production of war propaganda television programs in America is testimony to the ignorance of the general American public.
Q- Why does the US still harbor the MKO members in Iraq?
There have been posted reports that American intelligence and military organizations have been using some of the MKO terrorists at Camp Ashraf, Iraq for spying and terrorist activities inside Iran. The MKO terrorists are Iranians and are native speakers of Persian.
The neoconservatives tried to impose Ahmad Chalabi as the new leader of Iraq. Some of the neoconservatives would like to impose Massoud Rajavi as the next leader of a communist totalitarian Iran.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has extended an invitation to MKO members who have not committed atrocities to return to Iran. Many MKO members have returned to Iran from Camp Ashraf, Iraq. However, it is not easy for MKO members to escape from Camp Ashraf. The MKO has tortured and killed some of the MKO members who attempted to escape from the camp. Approximately 200 MKO members who escaped from Camp Ashraf do not want to return to Iran. The American military protects them at Camp Freedom, Iraq. However, it is very difficult for these MKO members to leave Iraq because most countries are not interested in accepting as new immigrants persons whose employment background includes being a terrorist. It is likely that large numbers of the remaining MKO members at Camp Ashraf, Iraq would like to find a way to escape from Iraq and from the MKO.
Q- Is the US seeking to use the MKO as leverage to undermine the Islamic Republic?
A- Many of the neoconservatives (neo-Trotskyites or neo-Jacobins) want to use American military power to impose the totalitarian regime of the MKO communist terrorists upon the people of Iran. All decent persons anywhere in the world should be condemning America’s neoconservatives and the dupes who support them.
Q- Why does the West sometimes ease restrictions on the group and at other times tighten them?
A- As in any country, there are political factions fighting amongst themselves. My favorite example of this political infighting was the support for opposing, warring factions in Saudi Arabia by different organizations of the British government following World War I.
Currently, the American government has an on-going court case against seven MKO supporters who duped large numbers of persons at Los Angeles International Airport into contributing money for the MKO’s terrorist activities. At the same time, the American government permits Alireza Jafarzadeh and many other MKO supporters to continue their work supporting the goals of the MKO.
The presidential debates have started in America. Some of America’s candidates for President are strong supporters of the MKO. For example, Congressman Tom Tancredo (Republican-Colorado, infamous for suggesting that America bomb Mecca and Medina, and a chickenhawk who avoided military service in Vietnam using a mental excuse) is the co-chairperson of the Iran Caucus in the House of Representatives with Congressman Bob Filner (Democrat-California, son of a communist party candidate for Congress). The MKO paid for Filner’s trip to Paris, France earlier this year to speak at an MKO rally. Filner is also a supporter of Kurdish communist terrorists (PKK).
Q- Do you believe that the West and particularly the US have adopted a double standard approach to the issue of terrorism?
A- In the past, some of Iran’s leaders have criticized correctly that America’s political leaders make a distinction between good terrorists and bad terrorists. There can never be a good terrorist.
There are many posted reports about Saudi Arabia’s funding of terrorism against America, including some reports that some Saudis have contributed recently to the MKO. Yet, America’s political leaders claim that Saudi Arabia is an ally and that Iran is an enemy.
If Americans really want to win the war on terrorism, they must:
1. Vote out of office all Democrats and Republicans who support the MKO, PKK, and other terrorist organizations.
2. Deport or place on trial all MKO terrorist members in America, including those employed by the Fox News Channel.
3. Stop being an occupying force in Iraq. When the American military leaves Iraq, the Kurds, Shiites, and the Iraqi government will know how to deal with the MKO terrorists at Camp Ashraf, Iraq. If the Allies in World War II were able to hold trials of Germans, then why do these same Allies prevent the government of Iraq from conducting war crime trials against the MKO at Camp Ashraf, Iraq?
If everyone else wants to see an end to terrorism, then they need to oppose the support of terrorists everywhere. On September 11, 2001, terrorists gave America’s neoconservatives (neo-Trotskyites or neo-Jacobins) the opportunity they needed to start endless wars and to pass laws taking away the freedoms of Americans.
America’s worst enemies are the neoconservatives who support the MKO and endless wars. However, decent, patriotic Americans will not be able to defeat the evil neoconservatives if foreign terrorists continue attacking America.
Professor Paul Sheldon Foote, Press TV, October 06, 2007