At dawn on September 1, 2013, Iran-backed militias attacked Camp Ashraf in the north of Baghdad, Iraq, the base of members of the Iranian opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI) for 26 years. According to footage and evidence, attackers were special Iraqi forces Golden Corps, affiliated with Iran-aligned Prime Minister of Iraq Nuri al-Maliki.
During their six-hour invasion, Iraqi forces exploded several buildings and facilities, damaged dozens of vehicles, and captured, handcuffed, and fired coup de grâce shots to 52 MEK members. Murderers did not show mercy even to injuries and entered the camp’s clinic and killed all injures and medical staffers.
Attackers also took seven residents of Camp Ashraf, including six women, hostage and transferred them to an unknown place. There is no information about their whereabouts and fate despite international calls on the Iraqi government to clarify their situation.
Following the attack and mass murderer in Camp Ashraf, hundreds of MEK members at Camp Liberty in the suburb of Baghdad International Airport launched an unlimited hunger strike, demanding the international community to hold Iraqi officials, particularly then-National Security Advisor Falih al-Fayyadh, accountable for involving in the attack.
Hunger strikers also demanded human rights organizations and defenders to pressure the Iraqi government to clarify the fate of hostages and release them soon. More than three months later, a Spanish Court of Justice issued its ruling against the perpetrators and organizers of the mass killing and recognized al-Fayyadh as the first responsible for the crime.
The September 1st attack on Camp Ashraf was indeed a part of the Iranian government’s plan for destroying the MEK. In 2003, Iranian authorities had misled the Multi-National Force, pushing them to bomb MEK bases. Later in 2009, following the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, the then-U.S. administration delivered the protection of MEK members to the Iran-aligned government of Iraq, leaving them defenseless.
From 2009 to 2016 when the MEK departed Iraq and relocated to Albania, Iranian authorities masterminded at least 27 attacks through Iraqi troops or their local agents, leading to more than 140 victims and thousands of injures.
The Islamic Republic’s vassals in Iraq also imposed a complete siege on MEK members, banning them from necessary items and services such as medicine and access to medical treatment, which resulted in dozens of deaths among patients who needed urgent medical services.
However, the September 1st attack was a turning point as Iranian media later revealed Qassem Soleimani, the then-commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF), personally attended Iran’s Assembly of Experts and briefed high-ranking officials.
Furthermore, five days later, then-IRGC deputy commander Hossein Salami expressed his joy regarding the massacre of MEK members in Iraq. “This organization was behind of approximately all of our dilemmas. Since 2002, they spread classified information about our nuclear activities and create all these troubles such as sanctions, which we deal with them today,” Salami said in an interview with the state-run TV on September 6, 2013.
Indeed, contrary to the ayatollahs’ propaganda against the MEK and downplaying their domestic popularity, particularly among the young generation of Iran, Tehran’s attacks against this organization clearly show the Iranian authorities’ concerns. They have time and again declared that the MEK is the main threat to their religious tyranny.
To isolate this organization inside the country, judicial authorities such as President Ebrahim Raisi led tens of thousands of political prisoners affiliated with the MEK to the gallows in the summer of 1988. Authorities have yet to acknowledge the victims’ families about the graves of their loved ones and banned them from holding commemorating ceremonies for their children, parents, sisters, and brothers.
However, not only did the religious fascism in Iran fail to eliminate the MEK but the organization has found its way into Iran’s society and younger generations in particular thanks to cyberspace and social media. Today, the MEK has received a warm welcome on behalf of people from different walks of life.
In the organization’s last online gathering in July, some 1,000 citizens virtually attended from inside Iran and declared their solidarity with the MEK’s purpose for a free, democratic, secular, and non-nuclear government in Iran, under the leadership of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).