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The Unchangeable Terrorist Nature of the MKO

On Wednesday June 16th, PressTV reported that Iranian The Unchangeable Terrorist Nature of the MKOecurity forces arrested two Mujahedin-eh Khalq (MKO) operatives in Iran. Members of the MKO, a terrorist group whose three-decade goal has been to take over the Iranian government, had planned to carry out a multi-stage attack, which included using bombs and setting police cars and motorcycles on fire at two undisclosed locations in Tehran. Iran’s Intelligence minister, Heydar Moslehi announced the MKO’s scheme saying that the MKO had “planned to terrorize innocent citizens in some important and sensitive districts of Tehran” [1] but that the Ministry of Intelligence had foiled it. He also said the two operatives had received necessary training at Camp Ashraf, in Iraq, the MKO’s quasi-military base, which was funded by Saddam Hussein, and is now being guarded by the U.S. government. [2]

The Tehran Times published an article in reference to a televised confession by the two MEK members who were arrested. The article affirms that the two men “received instructions on bomb-making via email and were then directed by two female handlers, one based in London and the other based in Sweden, as to where and when to plant their explosives.” [3]

While the news of the MKO’s intention to plant bombs in Tehran were being relayed through the media, MKO officials were demanding action from the United States regarding their official status as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). In 1998, the MKO was designated this status by the US Department of State, and since 2008, with the aid of heavy lobbying, they have been trying to get themselves removed from the FTO list. In a Reuters’ article, posted June 16, journalist Charles Abbot wrote that the MKO, in 2008, “asked for removal of the designation, saying it ceased its military campaign against the Iranian government in 2001, handed over its weapons to U.S. forces in Iraq in 2003 and had provided information to U.S. officials about Iran’s nuclear program.” [4] Abbot also relayed that although the State Department must review the request of the MKO to remove them from the FTO list, the Department maintains that recently declassified information on the MKO “has not shown that the relevant circumstances are sufficiently different to warrant a change” in their status. [5] Abbot points out that the State Department’s report “contained allegations that [MKO] trained women in Iraq to be suicide bombers, had not ended military operations and that much of [the MKO’s] information about Iran’s nuclear program was wrong.” [6]

For nearly thirty years the MKO has been a terrorist group, and despite its fairly recent policy of not claiming violent acts such as bombings and self immolation, they remain a terrorist group. They began to get serious about cleaning up their reputation sometime around the mid eighties, when they went through an ideological transformation and emerged as a full blown cult around 1987. They took a serious blow in 1998 with the State Department’s freshly-minted terrorist label. But, with the explosion of the internet, they were able to broadcast a serious propaganda campaign in order to counter the status—but by this time, ex members were already publishing their own accounts of the abuses they suffered while associated with the group. The internet both helped and hindered them initially, but now, it just hinders them.

The MKO cannot survive legitimately as long as they remain on the FTO list. In fact, removal from this list is a vital necessity for the MKO—it is their last hope for being seen as non-terrorists among Westerners. But in Iran their hope is already lost. They are not welcome in Iran, and not just because of last week’s bombing plot. The MKO has had a long history of terror within Iran which the leaders have discussed with numerous high profile Western journalists, but for some reason the journalists’ fail to emphasize these points in their mainstream articles and TV programs, and this hurts Iran. What’s more, is the fact that the MKO presents itself to the West as an alternative to the present Iranian regime, and enough naïve Western politicians are buying into their aspirations for “peaceful overthrow,” “democracy” “freedom” and “liberation.” These ideas are good; but the MKO is not good. Iranians want a peaceful solution to their domestic and foreign problems, and the solution doesn’t lie within the MKO because the MKO is simply not a “for-the-people” entity, nor are they equipped to run a nation. They may be able to run a cult, or a terrorist group (outside of Iran), but not a nation of intelligent free thinkers—and that is what most Iranians consider themselves.

Presently the MKO’s existence depends on the West’s support. Without the West’s support they have no place to call home. Currently their headquarters is located in Paris. They own “safe houses” all over Europe and the US, and as long as they have this support, they can maintain their now secret and subversive violent exploits against Iran. As one anonymous ex-member, who fears retribution for using his name, puts it, “The MKO doesn’t offer democracy, and their nature is unchangeable. They cannot stop seeking to spark tension in Iran by using their usually [sic] violent strategy against innocent Iranian citizens.”

The arrest of MKO terrorists was a success for the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence because they prevented senseless deaths of perhaps hundreds of innocent people located in some of the busiest intersections in the nation—intersections which are typically entrances to crowded bazaars, bus, subway, taxi-stops, and active police stands—a sort of “safely crowded zone” among Iranians, especially women doing shopping. The targeted intersections were in fact a potential horrifying disaster, and would have been a bitter blow to Iran—and that is exactly what the MKO was counting on. An attack on Iran coupled with the fact that Iran has fragile diplomatic relations with the West, would have undoubtedly given the impression that internally, Iran is unstable and weak, and generally put the MKO in a better position than they are now. News of the plot revealed that the MKO’s systematic deceitful crusade has a twofold objective—it aims to weaken Iran while heightening its image in the West. In a Press TV news article, one of the terrorists interviewed noted that the two arrested were instructed just before they were to plant their bombs that in case they were caught, they should deny their affiliation with the MKO since the terror organization is making headways in getting off the terror list of the US and Europe. [7]

In conjunction with the MKO’s sentimental ways, which is aimed at creating meaning and purpose for the cults’ members, the planned bomb was in a way existential; it ties in with their three-decade-old penchant for martyrdom. As recent as 2007, several members set themselves on fire in a protest against French police arresting their leader, Maryam Rajavi. In response to this, and in adherence with the MKO’s image-reform campaign, Rajavi claimed that group members were not instructed to do this.

The two terrorists confessed that their planned date for planting explosives was sometime between June 10 and June 20. They aimed for June 12, which was the anniversary of Iran’s last contentious and riotous presidential election, in which several MKO members were arrested. This ten-day period was doubly momentous for the two arrested because in addition to the election anniversary, it also signifies the time leading up to the June 20 anniversary of the MKO’s demonstration in 1981, when they officially started their armed struggle against the Islamic Republic—a republic they “officially” supported up until that date. Its current stature is to commit violence against themselves and violence against civilians—for the sake of the cause—and it is not far from the group’s extremist beginnings

According to Iranian Intelligence Officials, Siamak Yaquti, who was one of the arrested terrorists, confessed that the MKO organization shifted operational activities from propagandistic to operational. Yaquti told authorities that his organizational authority (a female named Narges) told him that the MKO wanted to break the silent and passive atmosphere ruling Iran by having him detonate bombs and set fires on public properties. Narges told Yaquti that the MKO’s armed, radical activity on June 20th, 1981 succeeded to break the silence at that time and opened a new way to the organization’s leading activities. The other MKO agent, Mr. Behrang Sarkhosh arrested by Iranian Intelligence Forces and later interviewed on PressTV, described his superior’s reasoning for using violence against people. He said, “I was told that we would not make any progress unless we use weapons." [8] One former member of the MKO, Mr. Ebrahim Khodabande, also interviewed by PressTV, commented “a weapon is even part of their emblem—and they have never omitted it.” [9]

By Mazda Parsi
Press TV, Iran Today documentary program, June 30, 2010

[1] Documentary lashes western supporters of MKO terrorists. “Press TV, Iran Today documentary program”. Web. 20 Jul 2010. < http://www.presstv.ir/programs/detail.aspx?sectionid=3510506&id=132768#132768
[2] ibid
[3] "Iran Summons British Ambassador Over Bomb Plots." Tehran Times 17 June 2010, Print.
[4] Abbot, Charles. "U.S. government told to review terrorist list decision." Rueters US Edition. Web. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE66G0A520100717
[5] ibid
[6] ibid
[7]"MKO Terrorists Confess to Bombing Plots." PressTV 16 June 2010: Web. 20 Jul 2010. <http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=130667>.
[8] Documentary lashes western supporters of MKO terrorists. “Press TV, Iran Today documentary program”. Web. 20 Jul 2010. < http://www.presstv.ir/programs/detail.aspx?sectionid=3510506&id=132768#132768
[9] ibid

By: Mazda Parsi

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