The Iranian foreign ministry rapped Republican Senator John McCain for his meeting with the ringleaders of Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO, also known as the MEK, PMOI and NCRI) in Albania, saying the move signified Washington’s continued support for the terrorist groups.
“Such contacts are nothing new and certain US officials have shown that they have failed to learn a thing from the history of the recent decades and rather attempted to further spread terrorism in the region through their measures,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi told reporters in his weekly press conference in Tehran on Monday.
“This meeting showed that despite changes in the US administration, their policies to nurture terrorism still continue and the US administration will certainly pay its costs in the future,” he added, implying that Washington’s support for terrorism will backfire.
The MKO, founded in the 1960s, blended elements of Islamism and Stalinism and participated in the overthrow of the US-backed Shah of Iran in 1979. Ahead of the revolution, the MKO conducted attacks and assassinations against both Iranian and western targets.
The group started assassination of the citizens and officials after the revolution in a bid to take control of the newly-established Islamic Republic. It killed several of Iran’s new leaders in the early years after the revolution, including the then President, Mohammad Ali Rajayee, Prime Minister, Mohammad Javad Bahonar and the Judiciary Chief, Mohammad Hossein Beheshti who were killed in bomb attacks by the MKO members in 1981.
The group fled to Iraq in 1986, where it was protected by Saddam Hussein and where it helped the Iraqi dictator suppress Shiite and Kurd uprisings in the country.
The terrorist group joined Saddam’s army during the Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-1988) and helped Saddam and killed thousands of Iranian civilians and soldiers during the US-backed Iraqi imposed war on Iran.
Since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the group, which now adheres to a pro-free-market philosophy, has been strongly backed by neo-conservatives in the United States, who argued for the MKO to be taken off the US terror list.
The US formally removed the MKO from its list of terror organizations in September 2012, one week after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent the US Congress a classified communication about the move. The decision made by Clinton enabled the group to have its assets under the US jurisdiction unfrozen and do business with the American entities, the State Department said in a statement at the time.
In September 2012, the last groups of the MKO terrorists left Camp Ashraf, their main training center in Iraq’s Diyala province. They have been transferred to Camp Liberty. Hundreds of the MKO terrorists have now been sent to Europe, where their names were taken off the blacklist even two years before the US.
The MKO has assassinated over 12,000 Iranians in the last 4 decades. The terrorist group had even killed large numbers of Americans and Europeans in several terror attacks before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Some 17,000 Iranians have lost their lives in terror attacks in the 35 years after the Revolution.
Rumors were confirmed last September about the death of MKO ringleader, Massoud Rajavi, as a former top Saudi intelligence official disclosed in a gaffe during an address to his followers.
Rajavi’s death was revealed after Turki al-Faisal who was attending the MKO annual gathering in Paris made a gaffe and spoke of the terrorist group’s ringleader as the “late Rajavi” twice.
Faced with Faisal’s surprising gaffe, Rajavi’s wife, Maryam, changed her happy face with a complaining gesture and cued the interpreter to be watchful of translation words and exclude the gaffe from the Persian translation