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Target Iran: America and Israel to Officially Unleash MEK Terrorist Cult
Target Iran: America and Israel to Officially Unleash MEK Terrorist Cult
(aka; Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, Rajavi cult)
... Now we can begin to understand how this relatively small player came to be the organisation that broke the news that Iran had been 'secretly hiding' uranium enrichment facilities from the IAEA for two decades. Capitalising on the issue du jour, Iran's purported nuclear weapons, the MEK network focused on telling the Necocon chicken-hawks in Washington exactly what the Israelis wanted them to hear. Taking outward form as either the NCRI or the PMOI, the cult has been freely holding press conferences at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, in London, New York, Paris and Brussels ...
Wink and a nod: Hilary Clinton walks past MEK activists
The Munafiqeen [Hypocrites] will be in the lowest depths of the Fire: no helper wilt thou find for them.
~ Sura 4 (An-Nisa), ayah 145, Qur'an
A couple of months ago, one of those dubious leaks made by "unnamed US officials" caught my eye. US media did something it doesn't often do; it publicised 'secret' Israeli government policy. Giving five minutes of prime time TV to Iranian scientist Mohammad Javad Larijani, brother of Ali Larijani, philosopher and chairman of the Parliament of Iran, two "senior U.S. officials" confirmed for NBC News what Mohammad Larijani was telling them: that Israel was behind the assassinations of Iranian scientists.
Specifically, the US officials stated that Israel's Mossad was financing, training and arming an Iranian dissident group that goes by many names, but which we'll call the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) for now. In return, the MEK is "providing Israel with information." Speaking through NBC, these unknown officials confirmed what Larijani and the Iranian government have been saying for years: that Israel, through the MEK, carried out the attacks in which motorcycle-borne assailants attached sophisticated magnetic bombs to the exterior of the victims' cars. The US officials further stated that the Obama administration is aware of the assassination campaign but has no direct involvement.
No sooner had the story been leaked than a series of car bombings took place outside Israeli embassies in India, Georgia and Singapore. The same types of bombs used in the assassinations of Iranian scientists were used to blow up vehicles near Israeli diplomats. The Israelis never actually intended to kill any of their own, because the Mossad warned the embassies ahead of time. Israel of course blamed Iran for the bombings. But these stunts were clearly intended to deflect attention from the US government's confirmation that Israel is murdering Iranian scientists through its surrogate, the MEK, and, once again, portray Israel as the eternal victim.
The Obama administration may not have had direct involvement in the assassination of Iranian scientists, but it is the height of hypocrisy for the US government to pretend that it isn't involved in subverting Iran's civilian nuclear program. The CIA was kidnapping Iranian scientists and bribing them to 'defect' as recently as 2010 and as far back as 2007. Since at least 2005, the US regime has been uptoitsneck in dealings with multiple terrorist organisations based in countries encircling Iran, of which Jundullah, in the region of Balochistan on the Pakistani border, is arguably the most notorious.
Have a listen to this NBC commentary on the Israeli assassinations program 'leak' and take note of the 'expert view' at the end:
...specifically the exchange where the 'expert' says:
Expert: The US has been supporting a number of covert operations against the Iranian nuclear program - that's a given, I think.
Anchor: Right, but not with this group.
Expert:But not with this group, and the US cannot act with this group. There is a problem with assassinations - they are illegal. There is a problem with dealing with a terrorist group...
What gives here? Someone or some group within the US government appears to have 'outed' their Israeli counterparts' machinations at the risk of drawing attention to their own involvement running terror campaigns against Iran. Everyone already knew that Israel was behind the assassinations, so that in itself isn't the key information here. The key seems to lie in the specific and deliberate focus being given to just one of the proxy terror groups being used against Iran; the MEK.
What is the MEK?
The 1979 revolution in Iran
In 1965, at the height of the Shah's reign of terror in Iran (facilitated by the US and UK), a group of young, middle class intellectuals began to organise a militant Iranian opposition group. Their brand of revolutionary ideology was based on selective interpretation of Shi'a Islamic theology and Marxist ideology. The 'Sazeman-e Mujahedin-e Khalq-e Iran' (Organization of People's Holy Warriors of Iran), now shortened to the 'Mujahedin-e Khalq' (People's Mujahedin), has an unusual and bloody history. Other acronyms used for MEK include include MKO (for Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization) and PMOI (People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran). Not to be confused with the Afghanistan Mujahedin, the indigenous pre-'al Qaeda' forces formed by the US to entice the Soviets to invade Afghanistan, the MEK, like all revolutionary movements, began with noble intentions to free a people from the yoke of imperialism, but underwent a series of metamorphoses. Today it is dominated by the cult of personality surrounding its leaders, Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, who have overseen its transition from an anti-Zionist, anti-imperialist, pseudo-Islamic, Marxist revolutionary movement to a bizarre terrorist suicide cult whose members believe its leaders are the divine rulers-of-Iran-in-waiting.
One of the MEK's most militant activists, Massoud Rajavi was imprisoned in Iran from 1972-1979 but nonetheless remained influential within the group and rose to command it in 1975 after the Mojahedin experienced an internal schism. From his release from prison until today, he has maintained absolute control of the MEK and its associated groups. The MEK partnered with Ayatollah Khomeini to overthrow the Shah but fell out out of favour with the Iranian clergy when the dust settled in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Khomeini blocked MEK leaders from running in the first post-revolution presidential elections. The MEK responded by staging anti-Khomeini demonstrations, which provoked a violent backlash from the new government and ignited a vicious cycle of attack and reprisal that led to the imprisonment, torture and death of thousands of Iranians in the early 1980s, predominantly anyone of left-leaning persuasion.
Altogether, some 10,000 Iranians have been killed by the MEK in its war against the Mullahs. Among their high-profile victims in devastating bombings were top Iranian officials, including President Rajai and Premier Mohammad Javad Bahonar in 1981. A number of MEK leaders were arrested and executed. Rajavi and his supporters fled into exile in France. Along with other Iranian opposition figures, they formed the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), ostensibly an umbrella group comprising dissidents of the Islamic Iranian regime, which Rajavi's MEK soon came to dominate.
Massoud Rajavi and Saddam Hussein (inset)
In the meantime, with encouragement and weapons from the Ronald Reagan administration, Saddam Hussein invaded Iran. A deal between France and Iran during the Lebanon Hostage crisis in 1986, combined with overtures from the Iraqi regime, saw the MEK and its newly formed military wing, the National Liberation Army (NLA), partner with the Iraqi leader. The MEK provided information to the Iraqis while the ruling Iraqi Ba'ath party armed Rajavi's 4,000 or so followers to the hilt, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a 1994 US State Department Report. This arrangement remained in place right up until Saddam's alleged capture during the Second so-called 'Gulf War' in 2003. An extravagant compound called Camp Ashraf was also built for the MEK just 80kms from the Iranian border. Rajavi and his followers relocated there from France in 1986. The alliance was seen as treason by a majority of Iranians. Although it resulted in many MEK members leaving in disgust, the organisation continued to grow thanks to Massoud Rajavi's powerful hold over most of its members, successful recruitment drives and fundraising through Iran's considerable diaspora.
The Iran-Iraq War cost the lives of over a million people. The MEK is naturally vilified by most in Iran because of its collaboration with an invading force. Iranian officials refer to the movement as Munafiqeen, 'Hypocrites', a pun on Mujahideen The MEK is positioning itself as The Opposition to the Iranian government, with Maryam Rajavi being referred to as The President of Iran. Yet even the Green Movement, which amassed fairly significant support in Iran in the run-up to the 2009 presidential elections (albeit with the dubious support of Western intelligence agencies) has moved to distance itself from the cult. Zahra Rahnavard, wife of reformist presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, has stated categorically that "Mr. Mousavi, Mr. Khatami, and Mr. Karroubi and all of us within the Green Movement do not consider the MEK a part of the Green Movement."
Zombie Brigade: Rajavi 'devotees' at Camp Ashraf
Although the Iranian regime continued to undertake brutal reprisals against anyone suspected of being involved or sympathising with Rajavi's MEK, it was no longer having to 'counter-propagandise' the MEK's influence because the organisation's increasingly bizarre behaviour was beginning to speak for itself. While reconstituting the organisation in Paris, Massoud Rajavi decided that he needed a partner to run things jointly with him. The story goes that Mayriam Rajavi became his wife when a deputy within the organisation 'voluntarily' divorced her so that she could marry Massoud.
This bizarre move was echoed a series of extreme measures that transformed the organisation into the cult it has become today. All married couples were told they must divorce. Well, officially, all married couples 'voluntarily' agreed to divorce. Their children were sent into foster care with MEK members in cells abroad. The sexes were physically kept apart, both in Iraq and in France, including all the children from birth. Eye contact between the sexes was forbidden. Daily and weekly sessions were organised at which members would confess their most intimate thoughts, including their feelings towards other members. All emotions were to be channelled towards adoration of their leaders, the Rajavis, and 'the revolutionary struggle to free Iran.'
If you thought Jonestown was bad, wait till you hear about what has been going on inside Camp Ashraf.
In its forty five year history, the MEK organisation has undergone many public image changes; from guerrilla fighters, resistance army, terrorist entity to feminist democratic opposition. The man who has led the group through all these superficial incarnations is Massoud Rajavi. And behind the glamorous advertisements of a sophisticated and relentless propaganda machine, his single-minded pursuit of power at any cost and his fundamental belief in the use of violence to achieve this aim of power, has not changed one iota in all this time.
Rajavi was a charismatic speaker and skilled psychological manipulator. He discovered in himself a talent for totalitarian control which matched his narcissistic ambition for power. Although he began to convert the Mojahedin-e Khalq organisation into a cult while still in Paris, it was the acquisition of the isolated, closed world of Camp Ashraf which provided the perfect crucible to extend his experiment. In Camp Ashraf he has forced the MEK members along a most extraordinary route of mental and physical anguish to meet his needs.
Over the years former members who escaped from Camp Ashraf have told their stories to a world unwilling or unable to listen. Thousands of them consistently and courageously described the conditions of the internal revolutions and Rajavi's bizarre requirements for members to divorce and to remove all the children from the camp; to undergo the daily humiliations of public self-confessions which enforce the celibacy and gender apartheid; to suffer micro-management of their every waking moment which imposed deliberately exhausting work schedules and disorienting indoctrination sessions; to be deprived of any information from and contact with the outside world and their families. Rajavi did all this to keep his members from leaving. When this failed, he imprisoned them.
Camp Ashraf is now a double prison for the residents. They are trapped by Rajavi's psychological manipulations which engender paralysing fear in everyone behind the barbed wire fences which he has had erected to keep them physically inside. But they are trapped ultimately by the misguided ignorance and misplaced sympathy of all those external agencies which could take action to free them but don't.
Our kind of terrorist
MEK tanks in Iraq in the early 90s
By the late 1980s, the organisation's messianic bent was beginning to manifest itself. The Rajavis had amassed a heavily armed force, some 14,000 strong, which conducted raids into Iran. Towards the end of the Iran-Iraq War, on 26 July 1988, six days after the Ayatollah Khomeini had announced his acceptance of a UN-brokered ceasefire resolution, Massoud Rajavi ordered the NLA to cross the border on a suicide mission they called Operation Eternal Light. Their convoy of tanks got as far as the Iranian town of Islamabad-e Gharb, which they razed to the ground, before being beaten back to Iraq by overwhelming Iranian firepower. The NLA's last major offensive was conducted against Iraqi Kurds in 1991, when it joined Saddam Hussein's brutal repression of the Kurdish rebellion. Maryam Rajavi reportedly told her loyal subjects to "Take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards."
With Saddam Hussein falling out of favour with the West in the First Gulf War, the Rajavis reconfigured their standing army. They began to present a more benign image to the West, focusing their energy on the dissemination of propaganda and lobbying Western officials. At the same time, their military wing carried out violent attacks against Iranian government targets in the West, the most spectacular of which was a wave of coordinated attacks on 5 April 1992. MEK true-believers stormed Iranian diplomatic missions, took hostages and heavily vandalised premises in New York City, Canada, Germany, France, Britain, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Australia.
If Al Qaeda could do such a sophisticated military operation we must be able to do so in a much better manner... wait and see the fruits of our revolutionary Islam!
~ Massoud Rajavi, 12 September 2001
Buying Off Congress and the White House
Shortly after the US State Department placed MEK on its list of terrorist organisations in 1997, an illuminating report appeared in The Iran Brief, a private monthly publication read in Washington, DC intelligence circles. The report describes some of the findings of Operation Suture, an FBI investigation of MEK activities in the US.
The Iran Brief Issue Number 41, dated 12/8/97
Using Iranian-Americans, the FBI infiltrated the organization, tracked the movements of top Mujahedin officials, learned about their fundraising and recruitment activities, and mapped out the organization's extensive network of front companies in the United States, which an FBI source said numbered "in the hundreds."
In the mid-1980s, the Drug Enforcement Administration was pursuing two separate investigations against Mujahedin operatives involved in smuggling drugs into the United States through Europe, including heroin smuggling through Madrid, Spain, a source who was involved in the DEA investigation said. Neither DEA investigation led to prosecution. [Editor's note: historically, any large scale drug smuggling into the USA has been controlled by the CIA]
Al Gore received major campaign contributions from the MEK
Before it was shut down, the FBI was considering indicting Mujahedin members under the RICO act for racketeering, credit card fraud, phone fraud, and illegal fundraising. They had also uncovered a Virginia print shop used by the MEK to fabricate official Islamic Republic seals and stamps, used for fabricating documents they claimed to have obtained from sources in Iran. Many journalists, especially in Europe, have published such documents received from the Mujahedin without verifying their authenticity. In a letter to Rep. Lee Hamilton in September 20, 1993, the State Department alluded to this by noting that "the PMOI/NCR reporting often contains questionable statements and assertions which do not stand up to later examination. Our intelligence community judges that their reporting is not reliable without validation from other sources."
Operation Suture was also hampered by strong Congressional support for the Mujahedin led by Congressmen Mervyn Dymally (D,Ca), Dan Burton (R,Ind), Robert Torricelli (D,NJ), and Gary Ackerman (D,NY), and by then Senator Al Gore (D,Tenn).
An Iran Brief investigation, first aired in our September issue, found evidence of a Mujahedin effort to buy Congressional favor through coordinated campaign contributions by Mujahedin members and supporters in the United States. New Jersey Democrat Robert Torricelli was the most direct beneficiary of these contributions, having received more than $135,000 between April 1993 and November 1996, with an additional $23,000 going, apparently at his behest, to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at the time Torricelli was campaigning for the New Jersey Senate seat vacated by Bill Bradley.
A former FBI undercover operative who penetrated the group now claims that the campaign contributions were directly ordered by the group's leadership in Baghdad, and says he was present at a meeting in Ottawa in mid-1988 where a deputy to group leader Massoud Rajavi, who used the name Mohsen Rezai, told MEK operatives in the U.S. and Canada that they were to launch a massive campaign to buy influence in the U.S. Congress. "Even if you have to pay them off, do it," he quoted Rezai as saying. "It's not as if we haven't done it before."
Mohammad Mohaddessin, now Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the NCRI (MEK), presenting 'intelligence' on Iran at one of hundreds of press conferences he has held in Brussels and Washington, DC.
Following the November 1992 elections, the Mujahedin were suddenly awarded preferential treatment. MEK leader Massoud Rajavi wrote to Clinton asking for American support, and received a polite personal letter in reply which the group published in their propaganda reports as a sign of a new, pro-Mujahedin American policy. Shortly thereafter, the chairman of the Mujahedin's foreign affairs committee, Mohammad Mohaddessin, attended a fund-raiser in Washington, DC with President-elect Clinton and Al Gore, along with other Mujahedin representatives in the United States. Mohaddessin also attended the January 1993 Clinton-Gore inaugural, and was seen by several eye-witnesses in the VIP booth at the Capitol building.
The former undercover agent says he was told in 1993 by a top Mujahedin officer in Virginia that the group was elated with the new administration, because they had cultivated Vice President Al Gore while he was a Senator. He said the Mujahedin officer told him that the group gave Gore's presidential campaign some $250,000 in cash in 1988, when Gore was in dire need of money, and had remained in close contact with Gore's staff.
A State Department official told The Iran Brief that listing the Mujahedin as a terrorist organization has "opened the doors for the FBI and Treasury to investigate MEK fundraising activities in the United States."Many Iranian-Americans have complained of being harassed by the group in its quest for funds, and have identified a variety of "charities" and front companies it uses for these purposes. One such charity, 'Iran Aid', was closed down by the FBI in 1987 in California.
That US Congressmen were taking bribes isn't anything out of the ordinary, but taking campaign contributions in cash from a terrorist organisation that was extremely cosy with and funded by Saddam Hussein at a time when US media was painting Saddam as 'The New Hitler' is pretty extraordinary! Congressmen were apparently taken in by the Rajavis' slick efforts to distance their bloody war against Iran from their 'new-found mission' to raise awareness of human rights violations in Iran. But not everyone was taken in by it at the time.
MEK Terrorist HQ, Auvers-sur-Oise, northwest Paris, France
According to an August 2002 FBI report sent to Francis Taylor, Coordinator for Counter-terrorism at the US Dept of State, the FBI executed a warrant to search the premises of MEK's converted offices in Falls Church, Virginia, not 5 miles from the CIA's Langley HQ. The FBI was investigating how the various organisations (MEK, PMOI, MKO, NLA, NCRI, etc) all linked together. The FBI report named the organisation's HQ as Rue des Gords 17, Auvers-sur-Oise, on the Northwest outskirts of Paris in France. Among the interesting tidbits they unearthed was that all calls to the MEK's office at the National Press Club in Washington, DC were forwarded to the Falls Church address and that the organisation's official newspaper (the Mojahed Weekly) was prepared there. The FBI also seized publications containing details of NLA military activities, training manuals, operations maps and signed blank cheques used to pay their representatives' expenses and fund their activities. Contrary to what the MEK leadership was telling its gullible recruits and foreign dignitaries, the FBI concluded unequivocally that "the NRCI operates as an alias of the PMOI/MEK, despite whatever claims these entities make publicly that may fool outsiders and even some of those inside the entities."
This mattered to the FBI because 5 years previously in 1997, despite having bribed then Vice-President Al Gore in 1992, the MEK was officially listed as an 'FTO' (Foreign Terrorist Organization) by the US State Department because it had assassinated three US military officers and three defence contractors in Iran in the 1970s, was suspected of numerous other assassination attempts on American citizens and was attacking Iranian targets in the US and Europe. In 2004 the FBI launched a criminal investigation (Operation Eastern Approach) into now-illegal MEK activities in the US.
Washington's favorite terrorists at camp Ashraf
Through wiretaps, the FBI's LA offices discovered that the MEK was planning bombing attacks from their Paris headquarters and that its fundraising activity had actually increased since being outlawed in 1997. Money coerced from wealthy Iranian expatriates in the US and through drugs trafficking into the US was being "transferred overseas through a complex international money laundering operation that uses accounts in Turkey, France, Belgium, Germany, Norway, Jordan and the UAE." Although just one MEK affiliate was sentenced in the case of U.S. v. Tabatabai, the first successful prosecution in the US for providing material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, hundreds of MEK members were arrested or questioned by the FBI in joint operations with German and French intelligence. The FBI concluded that "this organization [MEK] routinely lobbies unwitting members of Congress under the pretext of human rights issues in Iran."
The FBI further found that the organisation was procuring equipment and false passports throughout the US and Europe for fellow members to commit acts of terrorism in Iran. The organisation designates military-style ranks to members based on their loyalty, uses complex communication methods designed to hide their traces and operates very much like the reputed Al Qaeda terrorist network does, with cells within cells and the resources to get things done. But unlike the contrived 'al Qaeda network' where FBI double-agents infiltrate groups of unemployed Muslims, pays them large sums of money, gives them bomb-making equipment, then entraps them by suggesting they blow up public landmarks, the MEK network is real.
"Former members have described the group as a cult that promotes celibacy and martyrdom, takes away members' children and uses psychological methods to pressure members and force them to remain obedient and follow orders."
~ Radio Free Europe, April 2011
France Harbors Terrorists
The MEK's Parisian camp, where the leadership currently resides while the rank-and-file remain in Iraq, is no less weird than Camp Ashraf. Essentially a series of buildings knocked into one complex, these operational headquarters are heavily guarded with armed security checkpoints. We're meant to believe this is to protect its members from 'the Iranian threat', but I rather suspect that it's required to keep cult members from escaping. In an interview Massoud Rajavi gave to the Corriere della Sera in 2002, the journalist described the level of security he witnessed there:
His [Rajavi's] dwelling in Auver-sur-Oise, in the Parisian suburbs, is much like a fortress. There is a high wall keeping it concealed from suspicious eyes. There are high voltage barbed wires around as well as searchlights on the walls illuminating the surroundings. The road to Massoud Rajavi's villa (leadership centre) is controlled by two French check-points equipped with machine guns. The only entrance to the villa is guarded by Mojahedin forces themselves.
In June 2003, when a French court ruled that the MEK and its numerous front groups constituted a terrorist organization, French anti-terrorist police raided various MEK offices in and around Paris, including its garrison at Auvers-sur-Oise, arresting 160 members of the MEK and confiscating millions of euros. Nicolas Sarkozy, Interior Minister at the time, expressed concern that the MEK "wanted to make France its support base, notably after the intervention in Iraq," while Pierre de Bousquet de Florian, head of France's domestic intelligence service, warned that the group was "transforming its Val d'Oise centre into an international terrorist base."
MEK cells across North America and Europe whirled into action, busing their devotees to coordinated protests. 40 cult members went on hunger strike. Assisted by fellow devotees, another 16 set themselves on fire, two of them fatally. Maryam Rajavi and the rest of the French MEK leadership were immediately released. Whatever was said to French president Jacques Chirac, he backed down immediately. The MEK has been left alone by the French government since then.
How the Myth of Iran's Nukes Began
Three months prior to that, in March 2003, the US launched Operation Iraqi Freedom. While Bush was prancing around the USS Lincoln in a codpiece declaring 'Mission Accomplished' in Iraq, something very interesting was taking place in the background, something which was only revealed four years later in 2007, on a BBC Newsnight program. Realising that it was in its interest to prevent Iraq from sliding into all-out civil war, the Iranian government sent a letter to the White House offering the following:
Iran would use its influence to support stabilization in Iraq
Iran would open its civilian nuclear energy program to full international inspections
Iran would end its support of Hamas and Hezbollah
In return, Iran requested the following:
A halt to US hostile behavior
Abolition of all economic sanctions
Most specifically, the pursuit of the MEK leadership and the repatriation of their members
It was all there; Iran was prepared to cooperate with the US in Iraq, cooperate with Israel and the US in Palestine, Syria and Lebanon, and allow full transparency of its nuclear program... if only the US would help them dismantle the MEK. The US State Department wanted to pursue it, but the Neocons torpedoed the deal.
Posters of Massoud and Maryam Rajavi at Camp Ashraf
Just think of the ramifications of this US refusal to accept what amounts to an extraordinary olive branch. America's murderous attack on Iraq killed over one million civilians. The Israeli invasion of Lebanon would never have happened because Hezbollah would have been finished as a fighting force. Operation Cast Lead would never have happened because Hamas would never have come to power in Gaza. Then again, we cannot forget just how profitable war is for the warmongers.
But what is really twisted here is that the three specific offers made by Iran in 2003 later became the very same conditions the US said Iran must meet if it is to avoid increased sanctions and the threat of airstrikes on its nuclear installations by the US and allies, followed by certain all-out war.
So why don't the Iranians and Americans just revisit the original offer and shake on it?
Because since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, the duplicitous MEK has been busy selling the world the Iranian equivalent of the Big WMD Lie. Undoubtedly with the connivance of the CIA. It was the MEK who told the Bush White House that Iran was secretly building nuclear weapons. That's right, the incessant barrage of propaganda about Iran's intentions vis a vis its nuclear program stems from false information provided to the Bush administration by this vehemently anti-Iranian organisation. In fact, at least 20 'startling revelations about Iran's nuclear weapons program' in the past 10 years have all come through the MEK. In case you were wondering, that's exactly how the rationale for the invasion of Iraq was manufactured: through the peddling of baseless claims by Iraqis in exile with a power lust disguised a personal grudge.
"We Don't Speak to Evil"
When the US invaded Iraq, it bombed the MEK camps and killed some of its fighters. Former MEK member Anne Singleton has reported that when it became obvious to Rajavi that Saddam was history, he reached out to the Americans and promised full cooperation in exchange for protection. Bombing the MEK camps was most probably stage-managed so the group could surrender to the US without arousing Iraqi suspicions. In April 2003, the US publicly announced that it had brokered an agreement with the Rajavis whereby the MEK switched allegiances from Saddam Hussein to the US government, although the MEK is credited with providing the Bush-Cheney White House with 'intelligence' on Iran's non-existent nukes as early as the summer of 2001.
U.S. officials "made MEK members swear an oath to democracy and resign from the MEK," reveals an intelligence source, "and then our guys incorporated them into their unit and trained them."Reliance on the MEK began under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with the direction of Vice President Dick Cheney, and soon MEK soldiers were being used in special operations missions in Iran. "They are doing whatever they want, no oversight at all," said one intelligence official of the MEK's American handlers.
A fanatical MEK devotee at Camp Ashraf
With breathtaking hypocrisy, Donald Rumsfeld declared US-designated MEK terrorists to be "protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention", while thousands of innocent Muslims at home and abroad were rounded up, tortured and 'renditioned', justified under the pretext that the Geneva Convention did not apply to them because they were 'enemy combatants'.
Such is life under Orwellian pathocratic rule in the post-9/11 world; terrorists become 'our allies', and innocent civilians become terrorists.
In spite of countlessreports from US government agencies stating the contrary, the Bush administration chose to believe the MEK's 'intelligence' that Iran was secretly building a nuclear arsenal.
"Ashraf is 14 square miles of ungenerous desert surrounded by aprons of barbed wire, gun towers and guards in trough-like bunkers, shaded by camouflage netting and dehydrated palm trees, their trunks thickened by dust. As you pass the checkpoints and dragons'-teeth tire crunchers into the tidy military town, you feel you've entered a fictional world of female worker bees. Of course, there are men around; about 50 percent of the soldiers are male. But everywhere I turned, I saw women dressed in khaki uniforms and mud-colored head scarves, driving back and forth along the avenues in white pickups or army-green trucks, staring ahead, slightly dazed, or walking purposefully, a slight march to their gaits as at a factory in Maoist China."
'The Cult of Rajavi', Elizabeth Rubin, The New York Times, July 13, 2003
The US State Department knew that cooperation with the MEK was bad news and wanted to dismantle its camps, but the Pentagon wanted to keep them operational because the CIA realised they would be useful for manufacturing the crisis with Iran. The schism within the US government regarding its close cooperation with the MEK to destabilize Iran was also apparent in a 2007 Sunday Telegrapharticle which reported that "a faction in the U.S. Defence Department wants to unleash the MEK". This "faction" has kept the MEK alive since Saddam was removed from power. When a $400 million budget was passed by the US Congress in 2007 to orchestrate regime change in Iran, the "faction" made sure the MEK was the largest recipient of funds. On the surface, the US government kept its distance, officially recognising them as terrorists. At the same time, they clandestinely used them as much as they could, and the Rajavis were only too happy to oblige.
In exchange for surrendering its arms to the American occupation forces, the US military guarded Camp Ashraf, ostensibly to protect it from Iranian attack, but in reality because the US had plans for the MEK in its future confrontation with Iran. Journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in the New Yorker in April 2012 that the Mossad-MEK leak to NBC News in February this year came from the White House. Hersh's report also blew the lid on the US government position that they were "not involved with this group". From 2005 until 2008 the US Joint Special Operations Command (a.k.a. the CIA) conducted training for cult members of this "foreign terrorist organization" at a "counterintelligence training facility" in the desert north of Las Vegas. Hersh's source told him the purpose of disrupting Iran's nuclear energy program was not to "take out Einsteins" but to "affect Iranian psychology and morale" by "demoraliz[ing] the whole system." This extended to attacking oil and gas pipelines, oil refineries, transport infrastructure and targeting civilians through indiscriminate bombings. The operations were "primarily being done by M.E.K. through liaison with the Israelis." Even the Israeli Stuxnet virus which crippled Iranian IT systems was delivered by an MEK agent.
What is becoming apparent here is that the Mossad has used the MEK to disseminate lies as 'intelligence on Iran' to the US government, and not just about Iran's non-existent nuclear weapons program. If the 'Iran nuke program' is a fabrication, then Israel's real purpose in using the MEK to "demoralize" Iran is to provoke the Iranian government to retaliate. You see, Israel and the US don't want Hamas and Hezbollah to cease to exist. Israel and the US don't want the Iranian regime to assist the US in Iraq. Israel and the US don't want the world to see that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. They need to force a phony crisis with Iran in order to provoke a war with her. They need enemies to justify their miserable warmongering existence.
The MEK in turn was catapulted into pole position among Washington powerbrokers as the organisation to take over Iran once the nuclear showdown came to a head and regime change demolished the Mullahs' rule (or so it wishfully thinks). The MEK provides perfect cover for Israeli antagonism because both the Zionist entity and the MEK are sworn enemies of Iran.
Now we can begin to understand how this relatively small player came to be the organisation that broke the news that Iran had been 'secretly hiding' uranium enrichment facilities from the IAEA for two decades. Capitalising on the issue du jour, Iran's purported nuclear weapons, the MEK network focused on telling the Necocon chicken-hawks in Washington exactly what the Israelis wanted them to hear. Taking outward form as either the NCRI or the PMOI, the cult has been freely holding press conferences at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, in London, New York, Paris and Brussels, where they cite their 'unnamed sources' (Mossad) and dish out the latest 'intelligence' on Iran. This despite their designation as a terrorist organisation and despite the FBI knowing full well that its multiple sub-groups, acronyms and front organisations are one and the same MEK terrorist cult.
Relatives of the cult members wrestle with Iraqi guards at the main entrance to Camp Ashraf.
The current Iraqi government has had enough of the MEK and wants the cult out of the country as soon as possible. Citing MEK atrocities against Iraqis during its alliance with Saddam Hussein, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki recently said"We will no longer tolerate the presence of the MKO on Iraqi soil. This is an internationally sanctioned terror organization. It has not only carried out assassinations against political and religious personalities in Iran but it also has a bloody record in Iraq." Families of its remaining 3,000 or so brainwashed members hold daily vigils at the gates of the sprawling desert complex.
Deadlines for the disbandment of Camp Ashraf have been repeatedly extended because the Iraqis are under tremendous pressure from the CIA and the Israelis to keep them there. Massoud's whereabouts are unknown although he is rumoured to have been airlifted out of the camp by helicopter when American forces arrived in 2003. In the meantime, Maryram has become the public face of the organisation in the West and has been welcomed into Western 'high society'. Camp Ashraf has been turned into a 'cause celebre' by the MEK leadership, who are extremely proactive in garnering political interest in 'resolving' the rank-and-file's stateless predicament. I put 'resolving' in quotes because the Rajavis are not really interested in the well-being of their members. They are only interested in leveraging their plight (a plight they created) in order to promote the MEK's political ambitions to replace the incumbent regime in Iran. In fact, the way they have manipulated gullible Westerners into taking pity on them has remarkable similarities to the way the Israeli government holds its own people psychologically captive.
Nearly 70% of the MEK population may have been recruited through deception and kept at Camp Ashraf against their will.
~ Rand Report to Pentagon, 2009
Cult-ivating Political Psychopaths
Show me the colour of your money: Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, one of hundreds of high-level paid advocates on behalf of the MEK terror-cult
Mayram Rajavi has been hosting marathon conferences in Washington, DC, Paris, Brussels and elsewhere. The MEK's aim is to get itself 'delisted' from the US terror list. Its successful propaganda campaign has already seen it removed from terrorist group status in the UK and EU. The names of those jumping on the bandwagon for delisting this cruel and manipulative terror-cult reads like a who's who of Psychopaths in Power. Former CIA Director Porter Goss, while bemoaning the MEK's predicament at this high-level conference in Paris in January, told a large crowd of flag-waving MEK supporters that "once we get through the Republican primaries, I think it's a certainty that this issue [the MEK] will become a front and center issue because it symbolises all of the values that we want to address in this election on national security and human rights." Indeed, if you're in the US, you may have noticed the MEK has been running TV ads non-stop during the Republican campaign, pleading with the US government to delist the MEK and 'let our people go'.
Other who have given rousing speeches on the MEK's behalf at that event in Paris in January include: former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani; François Colcombet, a senior French judge and founder of the French Committee for a Democratic Iran; Philippe Douste-Blazy, UN Deputy Secretary-General and former French Foreign Minister, outed as a pedophile by another former French Minister; US General Hugh Shelton, former chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff; Judge Michael Mukasey, former US Attorney General; Ingrid Betancourt, Columbian presidential candidate; Yves Bonne, former head of French Counter-terrorism; John Sano, former CIA National Clandestine Service's Deputy Director; General David Phillips, former Commander of US Military Police; Geir Haarde, former Icelandic Prime Minister; Aiham Samarrae, former Iraqi cabinet minister; Carlo Ciccioli, member of Italian parliament; Lord Ken Maginnis, member of UK House of Lords; André Glucksmann, member of New France Philosophers; and William Bourdon, a prominent French jurist.
That's the list of speakers at just one recent conference; there have been many more, countless videos of which are posted on YouTube.
Snake in a suit: Maryam Rajavi speaking about the evils of the Iranian government at yet another conference in which she is flanked on either side by high-level paid advocates and her every word cheered by adoring cult followers.
Unsurprisingly, the MEK has been paying each shill huge speaking fees, with the money apparently coming through Saudi Arabia and Israel. Tom Ridge, former Homeland Security Secretary spoke at another conference. Yes, that's right, the man whose job it was to 'protect the homeland from terrorists' is now paid to go on speaking tours to promote a terrorist organisation responsible for deaths of tens of thousands of civilians. John Bruton, former prime minister of Ireland, is another advocate. And there's more... In April, former Governor Ed Rendell (D-PA), former Governor Howard Dean (D-VT) Necon chicken-hawk John Bolton and others came under investigation and were issued subpoenas by the US Department of Treasury for taking cash from a designated terrorist group.
But let's not kid ourselves, no action will be taken against the MEK because the MEK is now a well-entrenched US and Israeli asset. The Obama administration isn't about to prosecute an organisation (terrorist or not) when a whole cast of prominent politicos in the West are falling over themselves to show their support. The fawning is eerily reminiscent of the displays these types put on when the Israel Lobby rolls into town. Some 400 MEK members have already been relocated from Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty, the enormous US military base north of Baghdad. The MEK has been doing everything in its power to stall the relocation of the remaining cult members.
The United Nations and the U.S. government have worked tirelessly in recent months to avoid a violent clash between the MEK and the Shiite-led Iraqi government, which is determined to oust the MEK from Camp Ashraf, where more than 3,000 members of the group, many of them suspected to be armed, have lived for years. Two previous attempts by the Iraqi government to enter the camp resulted in bloody confrontations.
But the U.N. and the State Department's efforts have been made exponentially more difficult due to the MEK's surprisingly strong base of support in Washington. In recent weeks, retired U.S. officials and politicians -- many of whom admit to being paid by the MEK or one of its many affiliates -- have mounted a sophisticated media campaign accusing the U.N. and the U.S. government of forcing the group to live in subhuman conditions against its will at Camp Liberty, an accusation U.S. officials say is as inaccurate as it is unhelpful.
Two peas in a pod: Placed next to the pro-Israel propaganda piece is a full page ad bemoaning conditions in Camp liberty, conditions created by the MEK cult itself
"This is tough enough without paid advocates making it worse," one official told The Cable.
"Camp Liberty: A Prison For Iranian Dissidents in Iraq," reads a March 3 full-page ad in the New York Times, leveling the surprising accusation that the former U.S. military base is unfit for human occupation. The ad quotes former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani calling Camp Liberty "a concentration camp" -- a charge Giuliani made at an MEK-sponsored conference late last month in Paris. The ad also quotes former Democratic National Committee chairman and Vermont Governor Howard Dean, former Homeland Security secretary and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, and Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz trashing Camp Liberty.
However, according to an Obama administration official who works on the issue, it's actually the MEK that is trashing Camp Liberty -- literally. According to this official, the U.N. has reported that MEK members at Camp Liberty have been sabotaging the camp, littering garbage and manipulating the utilities to make things look worse than they really are. While there are some legitimate problems at the camp, the official admitted, the U.N. has been monitoring Camp Liberty's water, sewage, and food systems on a daily basis and the conditions are better than the MEK is portraying.
Andrew Card, Howard Dean, Rudy Giuliani, Tom Ridge and Philip Zelikow were among the speakers at another symposium organized by Near East Human Rights Initiative (NEHRI), an MEK front, on 28 April 2011
The New York Times ad is only the latest in a years-long, multi-million dollar campaign by the MEK and its supporters to enlist famous U.S. politicians and policymakers in their efforts to get the group removed from the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations and resist Iraqi attempts to close Camp Ashraf, which the new government sees as a militarized cult compound on its sovereign territory.
The campaign has included huge rallies outside the State Department, massive sit-ins at congressional hearings, and an ongoing vigil outside the State Department's C Street entrance. MEK supporters there tout the support of a long list of officials, including Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, former Sen. Robert Torricelli, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, former National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones, former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers, former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, former Rep. Lee Hamilton, former CIA Director Porter Goss, senior advisor to the Romney campaign Mitchell Reiss, retired Gen. Anthony Zinni, and former Sen. Evan Bayh.
To create the illusion that they have broad popular support, the MEK is even enticing homeless and unemployed people to attend their colour-coordinated rallies and inflate their numbers. People are bussed and flown in at no personal cost, receiving transportation and in some cases lodging and meals. Bear in mind that, as an FTO, the MEK is legally barred from organising at all. Reflecting on the intensifying atmosphere of hysteria and paranoia in the US since 9/11, the favourable treatment the MEK receives is all the more bizarre when we compare it with the arrests of Muslims accused of "aiding and abetting terrorism" when all they wanted to do was raise money for their local mosque or to support emergency flood relief to desperate people in inundated Pakistan.
Dupe: Surrounded by MEK devotees at a protest at the State Department last August, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) called for the US government to take the MEK off its list of foreign terrorist organizations.
"One of the greatest moments was when my uncle, President Kennedy, stood in Berlin and uttered the immortal words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner,'" Kennedy exclaimed. "Today, I'm honored to repeat my uncle's words, by saying 'I am an Iranian, I am an Ashrafi.'"
France's Favourite Suicide Cult
The list of speakers at this conference included one Alain Vivien. You may remember him from MIVILUDES cult-hunting fame. This guy is obsessed with protecting children from 'cultic deviance' in France and at the same time he is advocating on behalf of a real terrorist cult with headquarters in Paris for the past 30-something years and a list of damning human rights abuses to its name - including against children.
In 'Big Agri-Business, Big Pharma, Arms Trafficking, Suicide Cults and MIVILUDES - The Truth Behind France's Cult-Hunting Policies Exposed', Joe Quinn and I demonstrated that the 'suicide-cult' threat is greatly overblown by the French government in order to justify encroachment on civil liberties and to subtly terrorise people with tactics amounting to Inquisition by a modern Thought Police. The thing is, there are actual cults out there that really do brainwash people and really do engage in massive criminality and suicides, but hidden truth is that they are protected by the same people screaming 'CULT!' at anything and anyone who tries to promote ideas that would truly improve the lives of many.
When you look into it, you realise that it is the nefarious influence of state intelligence agencies that lies behind all the 'suicide-cults' that have surfaced in recent decades. Mind control experimentation, drugs/weapons smuggling and secret armies all go hand in hand, providing perfect cover for deep state actors to manipulate the course of political events and the lives of billions of people
MIVILUDES' stock response to criticism from the UN and other international organisations that remind the French government that France is a signatory to international laws protecting human rights is that "they are critical [of us] because they have been infiltrated by 'the Cults'." Yet here we have a totally nutzoid organisation operating largely out of France, committing gross psychological manipulation and extreme violence on its members, and killing and maiming thousands of people in Iran and Iraq in the name of the power ambitions of its two leaders. And all the while, French parliamentarians, French intelligence officials, French intelligentsia and French mayors are lining up with their US and European counterparts to promote this cult which relies on terror to police its members and achieve its goal of taking power in Tehran.
Has the Rajavi cult ever received mention in the annual MIVILUDES report? Not once. Can we say the French government has been infiltrated by a cult? Yes we can.
Although their compound outside Paris was raided in 2003, that's all water under the bridge now. No doubt it was 'just a misunderstanding'. With friends like the Mossad, the CIA, French intelligence, Rudolf Giuliani, Philippe Douste-Blazy, 5-star Pentagon generals, US Congressmen and EU dignitaries, you can be sure that MIVILUDES and the witch-hunters would sooner crack open the champagne and lay out the red carpet for their ideological brethren in the MEK than chase them out of town.
Earlier this week US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated that the MEK will soon be delisted as a terrorist organization. Once this happens, the way will be open for its official recognition as the Iranian government-in-waiting, a move that will leave no way back for US-Iranian relations and could set the world on an unalterable course for global conflagration.
Recommended viewing for more background on the People's Mujahedin of Iran
'Cult of the Chameleon', 2007 Al Jazeera report
'Espionage: Struggle for Survival' (or How the MEK became an information laundry for the Mossad), 2010 Press TV report
US rejects Iranian peace overtures in favour of supporting MEK Terrorist Cult, 2007 BBC Newsnight report
'Former US Officials Investigated for Receiving Payments to Promote Designated Terror Group', 2012 Real News Network report
... Five Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated since 2007. M.E.K. spokesmen have denied any involvement in the killings, but early last month NBC News quoted two senior Obama Administration officials as confirming that the attacks were carried out by M.E.K. units that were financed and trained by Mossad, the Israeli secret service. NBC further quoted the Administration officials as denying any American involvement in the M.E.K. activities. The former senior intelligence official I spoke with seconded the NBC report that the Israelis were working with the M.E.K., adding ...
From the air, the terrain of the Department of Energy’s Nevada National Security Site, with its arid high plains and remote mountain peaks, has the look of northwest Iran. The site, some sixty-five miles northwest of Las Vegas, was once used for nuclear testing, and now includes a counterintelligence training facility and a private airport capable of handling Boeing 737 aircraft. It’s a restricted area, and inhospitable—in certain sections, the curious are warned that the site’s security personnel are authorized to use deadly force, if necessary, against intruders.
It was here that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) conducted training, beginning in 2005, for members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a dissident Iranian opposition group known in the West as the M.E.K. The M.E.K. had its beginnings as a Marxist-Islamist student-led group and, in the nineteen-seventies, it was linked to the assassination of six American citizens. It was initially part of the broad-based revolution that led to the 1979 overthrow of the Shah of Iran. But, within a few years, the group was waging a bloody internal war with the ruling clerics, and, in 1997, it was listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department. In 2002, the M.E.K. earned some international credibility by publicly revealing—accurately—that Iran had begun enriching uranium at a secret underground location. Mohamed ElBaradei, who at the time was the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear monitoring agency, told me later that he had been informed that the information was supplied by the Mossad. The M.E.K.’s ties with Western intelligence deepened after the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, and JSOC began operating inside Iran in an effort to substantiate the Bush Administration’s fears that Iran was building the bomb at one or more secret underground locations. Funds were covertly passed to a number of dissident organizations, for intelligence collection and, ultimately, for anti-regime terrorist activities. Directly, or indirectly, the M.E.K. ended up with resources like arms and intelligence. Some American-supported covert operations continue in Iran today, according to past and present intelligence officials and military consultants.
Despite the growing ties, and a much-intensified lobbying effort organized by its advocates, M.E.K. has remained on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations—which meant that secrecy was essential in the Nevada training. “We did train them here, and washed them through the Energy Department because the D.O.E. owns all this land in southern Nevada,” a former senior American intelligence official told me. “We were deploying them over long distances in the desert and mountains, and building their capacity in communications—coördinating commo is a big deal.” (A spokesman for J.S.O.C. said that “U.S. Special Operations Forces were neither aware of nor involved in the training of M.E.K. members.”)
The training ended sometime before President Obama took office, the former official said. In a separate interview, a retired four-star general, who has advised the Bush and Obama Administrations on national-security issues, said that he had been privately briefed in 2005 about the training of Iranians associated with the M.E.K. in Nevada by an American involved in the program. They got “the standard training,” he said, “in commo, crypto [cryptography], small-unit tactics, and weaponry—that went on for six months,” the retired general said. “They were kept in little pods.” He also was told, he said, that the men doing the training were from JSOC, which, by 2005, had become a major instrument in the Bush Administration’s global war on terror. “The JSOC trainers were not front-line guys who had been in the field, but second- and third-tier guys—trainers and the like—and they started going off the reservation. ‘If we’re going to teach you tactics, let me show you some really sexy stuff…’ ”
It was the ad-hoc training that provoked the worried telephone calls to him, the former general said. “I told one of the guys who called me that they were all in over their heads, and all of them could end up trouble unless they got something in writing. The Iranians are very, very good at counterintelligence, and stuff like this is just too hard to contain.” The site in Nevada was being utilized at the same time, he said, for advanced training of élite Iraqi combat units. (The retired general said he only knew of the one M.E.K.-affiliated group that went though the training course; the former senior intelligence official said that he was aware of training that went on through 2007.)
Allan Gerson, a Washington attorney for the M.E.K., notes that the M.E.K. has publicly and repeatedly renounced terror. Gerson said he would not comment on the alleged training in Nevada. But such training, if true, he said, would be “especially incongruent with the State Department’s decision to continue to maintain the M.E.K. on the terrorist list. How can the U.S. train those on State’s foreign terrorist list, when others face criminal penalties for providing a nickel to the same organization?”
Robert Baer, a retired C.I.A. agent who is fluent in Arabic and had worked under cover in Kurdistan and throughout the Middle East in his career, initially had told me in early 2004 of being recruited by a private American company—working, so he believed, on behalf of the Bush Administration—to return to Iraq. “They wanted me to help the M.E.K. collect intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program,” Baer recalled. “They thought I knew Farsi, which I did not. I said I’d get back to them, but never did.” Baer, now living in California, recalled that it was made clear to him at the time that the operation was “a long-term thing—not just a one-shot deal.”
Massoud Khodabandeh, an I.T. expert now living in England who consults for the Iraqi government, was an official with the M.E.K. before defecting in 1996. In a telephone interview, he acknowledged that he is an avowed enemy of the M.E.K., and has advocated against the group. Khodabandeh said that he had been with the group since before the fall of the Shah and, as a computer expert, was deeply involved in intelligence activities as well as providing security for the M.E.K. leadership. For the past decade, he and his English wife have run a support program for other defectors. Khodabandeh told me that he had heard from more recent defectors about the training in Nevada. He was told that the communications training in Nevada involved more than teaching how to keep in contact during attacks—it also involved communication intercepts. The United States, he said, at one point found a way to penetrate some major Iranian communications systems. At the time, he said, the U.S. provided M.E.K. operatives with the ability to intercept telephone calls and text messages inside Iran—which M.E.K. operatives translated and shared with American signals intelligence experts. He does not know whether this activity is ongoing.
Five Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated since 2007. M.E.K. spokesmen have denied any involvement in the killings, but early last month NBC News quoted two senior Obama Administration officials as confirming that the attacks were carried out by M.E.K. units that were financed and trained by Mossad, the Israeli secret service. NBC further quoted the Administration officials as denying any American involvement in the M.E.K. activities. The former senior intelligence official I spoke with seconded the NBC report that the Israelis were working with the M.E.K., adding that the operations benefitted from American intelligence. He said that the targets were not “Einsteins”; “The goal is to affect Iranian psychology and morale,” he said, and to “demoralize the whole system—nuclear delivery vehicles, nuclear enrichment facilities, power plants.” Attacks have also been carried out on pipelines. He added that the operations are “primarily being done by M.E.K. through liaison with the Israelis, but the United States is now providing the intelligence.” An adviser to the special-operations community told me that the links between the United States and M.E.K. activities inside Iran had been long-standing. “Everything being done inside Iran now is being done with surrogates,” he said.
The sources I spoke to were unable to say whether the people trained in Nevada were now involved in operations in Iran or elsewhere. But they pointed to the general benefit of American support. “The M.E.K. was a total joke,” the senior Pentagon consultant said, “and now it’s a real network inside Iran. How did the M.E.K. get so much more efficient?” he asked rhetorically. “Part of it is the training in Nevada. Part of it is logistical support in Kurdistan, and part of it is inside Iran. M.E.K. now has a capacity for efficient operations than it never had before.”
In mid-January, a few days after an assassination by car bomb of an Iranian nuclear scientist in Tehran, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, at a town-hall meeting of soldiers at Fort Bliss, Texas, acknowledged that the U.S. government has “some ideas as to who might be involved, but we don’t know exactly who was involved.” He added, “But I can tell you one thing: the United States was not involved in that kind of effort. That’s not what the United States does.”
... Ex-MEK member Eduard Termado is now living in Germany. His face is scarred to the point of being misshapen. His complexion is grey, his skin blotched and waxy, and his forehead constantly covered in dribbling beads of sweat - but then he spent nine years as a prisoner of war in Iraq. He joined the MEK hoping to help Iranian democracy and did not like what he saw. He says that after three years he asked to leave, but was told he couldn't. He stayed for 12 years. He now says joining the MEK was the biggest mistake of his life and he has expressed that feeling in an unusual way. He has married and produced three children. "My family is my protest against the MEK," he says ...
How do you get a group described by the US government as a cult and an officially designated foreign terrorist organisation to be viewed by many congressmen and parliamentarians as champions of human rights and secular democracy?
It would challenge even the most talented PR executive.
The starkly differing perceptions of the MEK or People's Mujahideen of Iran could be a case study in the power of image management - of what can be achieved not with guns but by the way information is disseminated.
The organisation has a history of ideological and tactical flexibility.
Since the 1970s, its rhetoric has changed from Islamist to secular; from socialist to capitalist; from pro-Iranian-revolution to anti-Iranian-revolution; from pro-Saddam to pro-American; from violent to peaceful.
And there is another dichotomy - it has admiring supporters and ardent critics.
Take, for example, the US military officers who had to deal with the MEK after they invaded Iraq in 2003.
Not only was the MEK heavily armed and designated as terrorist by the US government, it also had some very striking internal social policies.
For example, it required its members in Iraq to divorce. Why? Because love was distracting them from their struggle against the mullahs in Iran.
And the trouble is that people love their children too.
So the MEK leadership asked its members to send their children away to foster families in Europe. Europe would be safer, the group explained.
Some parents have not seen their children for 20 years and more.
And just to add to the mix, former members consistently describe participating in regular public confessions of their sexual fantasies.
You might think that would set alarm bells ringing - and for some US officers it did.
One colonel I spoke to, who had daily contact with the MEK leadership for six months in 2004, said that the organisation was a cult, and that some of the members who wanted to get out had to run away.
And yet another officer, who was there at precisely the same time and is now a retired general, has become an active lobbyist on the MEK's behalf.
With his open smile and earnest friendly manner, he is a good advocate. "Cult? How about admirably focused group?" he says. "And I never heard of anyone being held against their will."
We later emailed him about a former member who claimed to have told the general to his face that people were held against their will. "He's lying," the general replied.
You just have to decide which side to believe.
Ex-MEK member Eduard Termado is now living in Germany.
His face is scarred to the point of being misshapen. His complexion is grey, his skin blotched and waxy, and his forehead constantly covered in dribbling beads of sweat - but then he spent nine years as a prisoner of war in Iraq.
He joined the MEK hoping to help Iranian democracy and did not like what he saw.
He says that after three years he asked to leave, but was told he couldn't. He stayed for 12 years.
He now says joining the MEK was the biggest mistake of his life and he has expressed that feeling in an unusual way.
He has married and produced three children. "My family is my protest against the MEK," he says.
There are many other stories.
Children who never forgave their parents for abandoning them. Children who did forgive and are now joyously reunited. Divorcees who have got out of the organisation saying they still love their former spouses who are still in.
In over 25 years of reporting, I have been lied to often enough but, as successive former MEK members told what they had been through, their tears seemed real enough to me.
And yet a significant number of politicians in the US and UK would say I was tricked because the former MEK members who spread these kind of stories are, in fact, Iranian agents.
There are more than 30 big names - people like Rudy Giuliani former mayor of New York, Howard Dean at one time the democratic presidential hopeful, a retired governor, a former head of the FBI.
Many get paid. Of those who have declared their earnings, the going rate for a pro-MEK speech seems to be $20,000 (£12,500) for 10 minutes. But then many other prominent MEK supporters act without payment.
Why do people take such strong positions on the MEK?
After a month talking to people on both sides of the argument, I am left thinking this. Some supporters are paid, others see the MEK through the prism of Iran - they will just support anything that offers hope of change there. Many are well motivated but some are naive.
And the former members?
Some are embittered, others just seem broken.
Which is when it occurred to me - the perception people have of the MEK may say more about them than about the organisation itself.
It is so difficult to pin down you can see your own reflection in it.
How to listen to From Our Own Correspondent:
BBC Radio 4: A 30-minute programme on Saturdays, 11:30 BST.
Second 30-minute programme on Thursdays, 11:00 BST (some weeks only).
... Whether they leave voluntarily, or by force, leave they must. The PMOI has a history of killing Americans and mounting attacks within Iran. But it now says it has renounced violence and should be removed from America's list of designated foreign terrorist organisations. Its high profile PR campaign involves paying senior retired US officials who then speak on its behalf. We report on the way in which a former pariah group accused of killing Americans has won over intelligence experts, generals, and congressmen from both sides of the political divide...
Martin Kobler (U.N.), Daniel Fried (U.S.) discuss Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty in European Parliament
(Remains of Mojahedin Khalq, MKO,MEK, in Iraq)
... On Wednesday, 21/03/2012 Martin Kobler, the UN Special Representative for Iraq and Head of the United Nation Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), reported to the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee on the work of the UNHCR and UNAMI in Iraq and the current situation of the Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) in Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty. As part of his description of the problems of resettlement of the Ashraf residents Kobler said that it demanded a cooperative attitude from the residents. Also the U.S. special envoy for Camp Ashraf, Daniel Fried, said that the information that the United States has of the situation in Camp Ashraf and Liberty is consistent with Kobler's descriptions. The conditions at Camp Liberty are not nearly as bad as described by the MEK ...