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Terrorist group profile published by MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base

Terrorist group profile Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MeK)

Mothertongue Name:  Mujahedin-e-Khalq

Aliases: Mojahedin Khalq Organisation, Mujahideen-e Khalq Organisation (MKO), People’s Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI)

Base of Operation: France; Iraq

Founding Philosophy: The MEK is the primary opposition to the current Iranian government and acts as the focal point of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a coalition of Iranian opposition groups which claims to be the transitional parliament-in-exile with 570 members. The NCRI was headquartered in Iraq, with representative offices in other countries including a presence in Washington where it has previously received support from the US Congress. After the 9/11 attacks however, the US government actively courted cooperation from the government of Iran and further sidelined any unofficial support for the MEK. Worsening their reputation further, intelligence reports suggested that the MEK’s military camps in Iraq might be hiding some of Iraq’s weapons programs. The group surrendered to US forces following the US invasion of Iraq. In May 2003, US Central Command stated that the group was "complying fully with Coalition instructions and directives". The MEK began as a liberal nationalistic party supporting former Prime Minister Mossaddeq against the Shah. When a 1963 uprising against the Shah failed, more radical members split off to form the MEK. In 1971 the new group began its armed struggle against the Shah, whom it saw as a dictator and a puppet of the United States.

The group conducted a number of attacks on US military personnel and civilians in Iran in the 1970s. Although the group initially supported the 1979 revolution and the overthrow of the Shah, the group’s secular perspective led to an eventual crackdown by the Khomeni regime following MEK’s call for a mass demonstration after the 1981 impeachment of Abolhasan Bani-Sadr, the elected President and chairman of the Islamic Revolutionary Council. Thousands of MEK members were killed and imprisoned during the repression. The MEK’s leaders fled to Paris and their military infrastructure moved to Iraq. The headquarters were relocated to Iraq in 1987, the MEK’s military wing, the NLA was formed and began using Iraq as a base for cross-border raids into Iran. In 1991, it assisted Saddam Hussein in suppressing the Shia and Kurdish uprisings, and continued to perform internal security services for the Government thereafter. In April 1992, the MEK conducted near-simultaneous attacks on Iranian Embassies and installations in 13 countries. More recently, the MEK assassinated the deputy chief of the Armed Forces General Staff of Iran in April 1999, and was involved regularly in mortar attacks and hit-and-run raids on Iranian military and law-enforcement units and government buildings near the Iran-Iraq border throughout 2000 and 2001.

Current Goals: The MEK’s goal is to overthrow the Iranian government and replace it with the NCRI. At a 1995 conference, the group outlined a 16-point plan:

1) Guarantee freedom of belief, expression and the press, without censorship; 2) Guarantee freedom for political parties, unions, groups, councils, forums, syndicates, except those loyal to either the Shah or Ayatollah Khomeini, provided they stayed within the law; 3) Ensure governments would be elected; 4) Respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; 5) Abolish courts, tribunals, security departments introduced by the Ayatollah Khomeini regime; 6) Ensure women enjoy the same social, political and cultural rights as men (including a ban on polygamy); 7) Abolish privileges based on gender, religion or ethnic group; 8) End discrimination against religious minorities; 9) Abolish compulsory religious practice; 10) Secure Iranian territorial integrity while recognising the right of Iranian Kurdistan to autonomy; 11) Safeguard all social, cultural and political rights for ethnic minorities; 12) Repeal what the MEK deems to be `anti-labour, anti-peasant laws’; 13) Encourage a return from exile for all who fled either the Shah or Khomeini regime; 14) Base the economy on the free market, national capitalism and private ownership; 15) Provide welfare needs to the poor; 16) Improve Iran’s foreign relations with neighbouring and other states; to live in peaceful co-existence.

The Mujahedin-e-Khalq have periodically released information on Iran’s developing nuclear weapons program, however the information cannot usually be verified. The group’s information was, however, crucial in the 2002 revelation of Iran’s uranium enrichment program. Its latest release came in February 2005, when the group passed on information to the International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA) that Iran now possesses sources for polonium-210 and beryllium, crucial components in building an “initiator.” The group claims that this is the last objective that Iran needed to fulfill and that they plan to have a nuclear weapon by the end of 2005.

Date Formed: Formed in 1963; began armed operations in 1971

Strength: Greater than 500 members

Classification: Leftist

Last Attack: Jan. 21, 2001

Financial Sources: For years the group recieved all of its military assistance, and most of its financial support, from the Iraqi regime. In addition, the MEK uses front organizations to solicit contributions from expatriate Iranian communities, as well as a number of charities which operate as human rights organisations monitoring the Iranian government, or which claim to provide relief for Iranian refugees, are in fact collecting funds for the MEK.

U.S. Terrorist Exclusion

List DesigneeNo

US State Dept. FTO: Designated: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004

Watched: No 

Key Leaders: Rajavi, Maryam  Rajavi, Massoud

 Related Groups: Muslim Iranian Student’s Society • Financial Associate

National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)  Umbrella Group

National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA) • Political Wing

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