But the MEK should never have been placed on any terrorist watch list in the first place, so how did they end up there, what effect did this have on the MEK’s fight for freedom in Iran, and how did the MEK finally get removed from the terror watch list? Let’s explore.
How did the MEK end up on terrorist watch lists?
The Iranian Regime claimed that the MEK was involved in terrorism, but could provide no actual evidence to support their lies. However, the international community wanted to build a relationship between the mullahs and the international community, because they didn’t see the Resistance as capable of governing Iran, and so put the MEK on the terror list to appease the Regime.
How did this impact the MEK’s fight for a free Iran?
Negatively. As the MEK was listed on international terrorist watch lists, it made it easier for the Regime to demonise the MEK, whilst ignoring the legitimate demands for democracy by the Iranian people. They were able to lie to the Iranian people and the international community and claim that their crackdowns on anti-regime protests and pro-democracy movements were necessary to fight terrorism.
This also endangered the life and liberty of MEK members outside of Iran.
In France, authorities raided the headquarters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a coalition of Iranian dissident groups, including the MEK, and arrested its leaders in 2003. They found no evidence of terrorist activity or ideology.
In Iraq, the US and UK launched air strikes on MEK camps, killing 50 and forcing the MEK into remote areas. Once the MEK were in these remote areas, Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki imposed a violent crackdown on the orders of the Iranian Regime; issuing rocket strikes and allowing Iranian officials to enter and harass the MEK members, whilst also blocking food, fuel, and medical supplies. The attacks killed at least 100 and wounded hundreds more.
The MEK’s designation and subsequent treatment as a terrorist group distracted the international community from the Iranian Regime’s route to terrorism. Their military budget, which was split between terrorism, the pursuit of nuclear weapons, and destabilisation of the Middle East, was increasing year on year, as the Regime stole more money from its people to fund its aggressive expansionism.
Even though the West was still treating them as terrorists, the MEK revealed the Regime’s despicable plans to Western governments because they couldn’t let the Regime get away with building a nuclear bomb or funding terrorist cells.
How was the MEK eventually removed from the terror lists?
Even after many years of expensive court cases in Europe and the US- all of which found no evidence to support putting the MEK on any terrorist watch list- the MEK was still being kept on the lists because of Western governments who refused to comply with the decisions of the court.
Eventually, the governments could fight the rulings no more and were forced to admit that the MEK was not a terrorist organisation. This victory was celebrated by MEK members and supporters the world over, but make no mistake it has left deep scars.
Despite the hardships they face, the MEK is determined to fight on until they see a Free Iran.