The U.S. Representative Office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran recently published an article aimed at dispelling myths about the MEK, and providing some facts about this organization.
• The State Department designated the MEK as a Foreign Terrorist Organization NOT because MEK engaged in terrorism, but rather, as a senior Clinton Administration official quoted to the Los Angeles Times, “a goodwill gesture to Tehran and its newly elected moderate president, Mohammad Khatami.” A year later, in 1998, a bi-partisan House Majority letter rejected the designation as a “wrong headed policy,” and described the MEK as “a legitimate resistance movement.” This led to a House resolution being introduced with 99 bi-partisan co-sponsors, calling for the removal of the FTO designation. U.S. Court of Appeals, DC Circuit, found no evidence of terrorism, and gave a deadline to Secretary Clinton, leading to the September 2012 delisting.
• The MEK has been blamed for the death of U.S. military officers and contractors in Iran between 1973 and 1976. However, independent studies published by the University of Baltimore, DLA Piper, and the Iran Policy Committee, using newly declassified information, newspaper reports, and interview with U.S. Government officials and the survivors, have proven that the murders that took place four decades ago were NOT related to the Mujahedin-e Khalq. All MEK leaders and officials and ninety percent of its cadres were arrested between September and November 1971 by the Shah’s SAVAK. All members of MEK central committee, including its founders, were executed by June 1972 (13 months before the first U.S. officer was killed in Tehran). In 1972, a bloody coup was carried out within the organization. The leaders of this splinter group were responsible for the assassination of the Rockwell Contractors in Iran.
U.S. military officers also testified before Congress that after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the U.S. Government carried out a 16-month investigation the MEK members based in Camp Ashraf in Iraq. They found no evidence that connected members of the MEK to the killing of the Americans in the 1970s. The U.S. Government then recognized all the MEK members as “protected persons” under the 4th Geneva Convention, and the U.S. military fully protected them.
• The MEK did NOT support the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979. They played no role in the US Embassy occupation in 1979. The hostage crisis was created by the regime’s then-Supreme Leader Khomeini to consolidate power for the clergy, purge all liberal elements from the government, suppress secular opposition. On on the fifth anniversary of the embassy takeover, November 4, 1984, then-Chief Justice Ayatollah Abdol Karim Moussavi-Ardebili spoke on Tehran Radio. He said, “[The embassy takeover] brought about the fall of the Provisional Government, the isolation of the liberals and the confusion of left wing groups and the [MEK] and exposed their real faces. As Imam Khomeini said, this revolutionary move was greater than the first revolution.”
In his book, “The Iranian Mojahedin,” Ervand Abrahamian, wrote that the MEK’s criticisms of the regime at the time included: “Engineering the American hostage crisis to impose on the nation the ‘medieval’ concept of the velayat-e-faqih. To support the last accusation, they [the MEK] published articles revealing how the student hostage-takers were linked to the IRP [ruling Islamic Republic Party]; how the Pasdars [Revolutionary Guards] had facilitated the break-in; and how those who had refused to toe the IRP line were forced out of the compound.”
• The MEK did NOT participate in the suppression of the Iraqi Kurds following the 1990 Persian Gulf war. The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) is the source of this allegation. In his 1999 letter to a court in the Netherlands, Hoshyar Zebari, then-foreign policy spokesman for the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iraq (KDP) and later-to-become Iraq’s Foreign Minister, wrote, “(We) can confirm that the Mujahedeen (sic) were not involved in suppressing the Kurdish people neither during the uprising nor in its aftermath. We have not come across any evidence to suggest that the Mujahedeen have exercised any hostility towards the people of Iraqi Kurdistan.”
In 1995, an official United Nations document also refuted those allegations. “From our independent investigation and discussion with parties involved, we find these allegations false,” wrote International Educational Development, a non-governmental organization with consultative status with UN.
• The MEK ideology is NOT Marxism or a synthesis of Islam and Marxism, but rather a moderate Shiite Muslim movement. The origins of the “Islamic-Marxist” label dates back to early 1970s, when SAVAK tried to tamp down the organization’s growing popularity among young Iranians. The Iranian scholar Afshin Matin-Asgari described it as “an ingenious polemical label” used by the Shah’s regime to discredit its enemies.
In a Washington Post op-ed, on August 19, 1981, former Undersecretary of State George W. Ball wrote, “The sloppy press habit of dismissing the Mujahedeen as ‘leftists’ badly confuses the problem. Masud [Massoud] Rajavi… is the leader of the movement. Its intention is to replace the current backward Islamic regime with a modernized Shiite Islam drawing its egalitarian principles from Koranic sources rather than Marx.”
U.S. military commanders who worked with the MEK in Camp Ashraf testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in October 2015 that the MEK is not communist; rather it is Muslim.
• The MEK is NOT a cult-like organization with little support inside Iran. The fact is, that Tehran embarked on a multi-million-dollar campaign to demonize the MEK by describing it as a cult in an attempt to justify western policy of appeasing Tehran. The head of a security minded think-tank told the media that he “was offered $80,000 by a man tied to Iran’s mission in Canada …They wanted me to publish a piece on the Mujahedin-e Khalq… to label it as a terrorist cult.”
The same U.S. military officers in day-to-day contact with the MEK in Camp Ashraf also testified before Congress that they had seen no cult like behavior.
The movement has had extensive presence in Europe and availed very open access to the media and the public. It organizes its annual rally in Paris attended by over 100,000 as well as public events in its main headquarters in Auvers-sur-Oise near Paris.
The movement emerged as the leading opposition movement shortly after the 1979 revolution, and the regime view the MEK as an existential threat due to its support at home among a vast majority of the Iranian population, especially the youth. MEK’s modern, tolerant and democratic view on Islam has been the antithesis to the Islamic fundamentalists and the velayat-e faqih system.
The MEK has been the main victim of repression in Iran. In summer 1988, the Iranian regime, by direct order of Supreme Leader Khomeini, massacred 30,000 political prisoners, most members of MEK. Over 100,000 of its members have been murdered since 1981, and many of its supporters are currently jailed in prisons across the country. Most of those arrested and sentenced to death after the summer 2009 uprising in Iran, belonged to the MEK.
• The MEK did NOT pay former US officials and Treasury to launch an investigation. In 2012, the Treasury Department launched an investigation into Iranian American citizens who, in exercising their first amendment rights, had organized conferences and seminars in which former US officials spoke. After more than a year of investigation, Treasury Department sent letters to the communities, informing them that it had completed its review of the case and that no laws had been violated. The pro-Iranian regime lobby in Washington failed to silence those who spoke in favor of a firm policy against the Iranian regime.