Terrorists living among us: The Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) – Also called MEK by Iranians
MKO was founded in September 1965, by three graduates of Tehran University involved in religious-nationalist political activism, namely: Mohammad Hanifnezhad, Saied Mohsen and Asghar Badizadegan.
The central ideology of MKO was based on revolutionary armed struggle as being the only viable opposition against the U.S. backed and supported government of the Shah in Iran. Their ideology relied heavily on an interpretation of Islam as a revolutionary message compatible with modern revolutionary ideologies of Marxism.
The Mojahedin-e Khalq (also known as MEK inside Iran) means People’s Advocates, yet more than 90% of their intended targets and almost 95% of their casualties have been Iranian civilians.
After completing its primarily efforts on developing a revolutionary ideology and training its members in urban guerilla warfare, thirteen MKO members traveled to Jordan and Lebanon in 1970, and received 4 months of military training inside Palestinian Liberation Organization camps.
Prior to carrying out any armed activities, the MKO planned to develop its ideology further and built an infrastructure and train new recruits. However, this strategy was thwarted by the emergence of a competing Marxist guerilla group, the Fadaian Khalq Organization.
On February 8, 1971, members of the Fadaian launched their first operation by attacking a police station in the village of Siahkal in the northern province of Gilan. This incident marked the emergence of armed struggle against the Shah’s government.
The MKO’s leadership, surprised by the Siahkal incident, decided to expedite their plans for armed operations by organizing a spectacular bombing attack against the electric power grids in Tehran. At this time, the government was in the midst of promoting a large-scale celebration marking 2500 years of Persian monarchy in Iran.
During their efforts to acquire explosives, the MKO were infiltrated by the SAVAK security forces who tracked their activities and arrested thirty-five members of the MKO on August 23, 1971, just days before the scheduled onset of their first operation.
MKO’s remaining members who escaped detection by the security forces continued to recruit new members as well as carrying out a number of armed operations against Iranian government and, in particular, targeted American personnel and tourists in Iran since they regarded the U.S. support for the Shah as his Achilles Heal.
There were about 40,000 American citizens and military personnel living and working in Iran. MKO assumed that if they could stop U.S. support for the Shah, his control over the country would collapse. During these attacks against Americans many more Iranian civilians also died (a ratio of 25 to 1).
There is no doubt that the MKO is a terrorist organization and has long been on U.S. government’s terrorist list. European countries have detailed records of countless numbers of terrorist activities, planning, and funding initiated in Europe (although not targeting European citizens) against Iranian government officials and citizens including a bombing that maimed current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. However, MKO states that they target civilians because that is the only way to overthrow governments in Iran by putting pressure on the people.
When Nixon was supposed to visit Iran in 1972, MKO launched time bombs in more than ten Iran-U.S. centers in Tehran where Americans and Iranians would be gathered to welcome Nixon during his visit. These centers included: Association of Iran-US, Office of US Information, Iran-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Offices of Pepsi Cola and General Motors in Tehran.
From 1972 to 1975, Mujahedin Khalq Organization continued bombings and damaged some targets like the offices of Pan-American Airlines, Shell, Du Pont, and EDS.
In 1975, U.S. State Department concluded that 4 American citizens were murdered by MKO to pressure the U.S. to stop its support for the Shah of Iran and leave the country. During the same year, there were more than 40 attacks against American tourists in Iran. There were many American casualties in Iran directly contributed to MKO and they promptly claimed credit for all at the time.
Lt. Col. Lewis L. Hawkins, Col. Pal Shiffer, Lt. Col. Jack Turner, Donald J. Smith, Robert R. Grengrad and William C. Catrel from Rockwell International were victims of MKO attacks against U.S. interests in Iran.
It was shocking for the U.S. to lose six of its senior officers in a country which had closest ties with the U.S. in the Middle East. MKO’s deliberately targeted and planned sabotaging operations against US personnel and interests in Iran.
The Shah of Iran and his Israeli trained security forces (SAVAK) conduced a sweeping operation and many of MKO leaders and planners were arrested and imprisoned. The list included: Masoud Rajavi (the current leader of MKO), Hadi Roshanravani (top Intelligence official) , Mohammad-Ali Jaberzadeh Ansari (high ranking theorist), and the frequent FOX News guest, Alireza Jafarzadeh, the group’s spokesperson. The other key figures arrested included of: Reza Qaremi, Saied Mohsen, Mohammad Hanif-nezhad, Abdelreza Nikkbin called Abdi, Ali Asghar Badi Zadegan, Mahmoud Asgarizadeh, Rasoul Meshkinfam and Ahmad Rezaim and Lotfollah Meisami. All had taken part in assassinations, bombings, and planning operations against U.S. personnel.
One of the consequences of the Islamic Revolution was the freedom of all political prisoners, including Masoud Rajavi, and all the other senior operatives and senior members. Although the revolution was Islamic in nature, Marxist members of Leftist groups and also Marxist-Islamist members of MKO were also among the freed and subsequently merged.
Once regrouped the MKO was stronger than ever before. In November 1979, MKO officials asked for interrogating embassy staff. Thankfully, it was refused by "Revolution council".
After the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, MKO claimed that all the violence and ‘muscle’ against the Shah was directly attributed to the MKO and hence it deserves (it claimed) that it should be given political and economic control of Iran. When the new government of the Islamic Republic refused, MKO launched terrorist operations against Iran and joined Saddam Hussein during the Iraq-Iran war (1980-88). The group is also known to have carried out order by the former dictator Saddam Hussein in suppressing the 1991 uprisings in southern Iraq and the massacre of Iraqi Kurds.
After leaving his wife Ashraf Rabii, who was later killed in an armed clash by the Iranian security forces in the company of Moussa Khiabani the head of the MKO inside Iran, Masoud Rajavi remarried his current wife, Maryam Uzdanlu, now known as Maryam Rajavi who is now the co-leader of the MKO.
Her first decision was to change the name from MKO to National Council for Resistance (or NCR) which was Maryam Rajavi’s most important contribution to the MKO in decades. This allowed the MKO to stay on the political scene in Europe and America and not be treated as a terrorist organization. Its main use was to deceive the Americans and Europeans against thinking that this is the same Mujahedin responsible for assassinating American citizens in Iran.
Once the NCR started campaigning for money and influence in Washington for assistance against the Iranian Islamic government, the U.S. politicians and the Israeli lobbyist ignored their origins and their past activities against American civilians. The new face and spokesperson of the NCR became Alireza Jafarzadeh, the frequent FOX News "Iran Analyst". Mr. Jafarzadeh was comfortable in Washington’s power corridors, much like Ahmed Chalabi, the exiled Iraqi who provided much of the now-discredited information on Iraq’s weapons program.
Fox News now introduces Jafarzadeh as either their employee, or Iran Analyst, or as the head of a consultancy company. But as recently as 2002 the same man was interviewed by Fox News as the MKO’s representative in the US Congress. And, it doesn’t help the U.S. image overseas or the cause to unite against terrorism when Gen. McInerney publicly called for the U.S. government to support MMKO terrorist organization to carry out deadly bombings in Iran.
“This group loves the United States. They’re assisting us in the war on terrorism; they’re pro-U.S.,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) in an interview. But not everybody agrees.
Middle East scholars widely dispute the assessment that the MKO is a legitimate democratic alternative to the Iranian regime. “That’s patently nonsense,” said the Neo Conservative Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute, who is often against Iran and supports military actions against the Islamic government.
“I know about support on Capitol Hill for this group, and I think it’s atrocious,” said Dan Brumberg of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. I think it’s due to total ignorance and political manipulation. There’s not much debate [about the MKO] in the academic circles of those who know and understand Iran and Iraq.”
Elahe Hicks of Human Rights Watch said that “many, many Iranians resent” the MKO/MEK. “Because this group is so extremely resented inside Iran, the Iranian government actually benefits from having an opposition group like this,” she said. The families of those civilians that lost their lives as a result of MKO bombing are staunch opponents of the MKO in Iran.
James Phillips of the Heritage Foundation agreed. “When they sided with Iraq against Iran in the [1980-88] war, that was the kiss of death for their political future. Even Iranians who might have sympathized with them were enraged that they became the junior partner of their longstanding rival,” he said.
“Some of their representatives are very articulate,” Phillips continued, “but they are a terrorist group. They had a longstanding alliance with Saddam Hussein, and they went after some of the Kurds at the behest of Saddam Hussein and performed with precision brutality and catastrophic results. Many Kurdish people died and many others maimed for life. They regularly performed torture on behalf of Saddam. ”
Now MKO’s once 30,000 strong members are living with their families throughout Europe and some here in United States, almost all on refugee status collecting benefits paid by taxpayers to live outside Iran and avoid being prosecuted for bombing civilians to achieve political goals.
While the MKO and Fox News and their friends are weaving a web of deceit, Richard Perle is giving aid and comfort to MKO terrorist, the same terrorists who wanted to interrogate our people being held as hostage. MKO has blood on their hands from their wanton acts of violence. Now the “Conservative” TV network (FOX) takes a MKO spokesman and pays him to consult with us on Iran. It is indeed tragic.
I don’t know if I’m disgusted or saddened or heart-broken by our government’s indifference to the presence of this terrorist organization in our country despite being on U.S. State Department terrorist list.
As an American who served in Gulf War I, whose father served in Vietnam, and grandfather had served in the Second World War, I am bewildered that these individuals are allowed to stay near our families and live in our cities and towns.
Writers views.com By Charles Kent