Maryam Rajavi was not welcome in Spain (Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult)
Maryam Rajavi was not welcome in Spain
(Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult)
... Maryam Rajavi was not wellcomed here by the Iranian community. In Spain there are less Iranians than Germany or France but any ways no one was there to support her or say welcome. We still consider them as budies of Saddam and traitors to the mother land. No one has forgotten them killing Iranian soldiers and Kurds. Was there any arrangement of visit between Maryam Rajavi and the Iranian community in Spain? No one here was willing to see her. Even if there was, I am sure that it has been unsuccessful. Someone close to the gang of MEKs suggested us to see her and have a dinner with her, but everyone that I know refused ...
(Maryam Rajavi directly ordered the massacre of Kurdish people)
Mr. Ahmadi, (alias) an Iranian national who lives for more that 15 years in Spain with his family, agreed to talk to Mojahedin Monitor; with condition of remaining anonymous. He wants to remain unknown because he bleives that MEK is dangerous group with terrorist activities.
In late December 2012, Maryam Rajavi visited Spain. According to MEK website, she performed visits in the Parliament and has done an interview with El Pais. As the first question I would like to know that how was the reaction of Iranian community in Spain about her trip to Madrid?
Maryam Rajavi was not wellcomed here by the Iranian community. In Spain there are less Iranians than Germany or France but any ways no one was there to support her or say welcome. We still consider them as budies of Saddam and traitors to the mother land. No one has forgotten them killing Iranian soldiers and Kurds.
Was there any arrangement of visit between Maryam Rajavi and the Iranian community in Spain?
No one here was willing to see her. Even if there was, I am sure that it has been unsuccessful. Someone close to the gang of MEKs suggested us to see her and have a dinner with her, but everyone that I know refused...you know ... they are notorious and we are not willing to support a bunch of Marxist Islamist.
But they had a big propaganda that they gained a huge support in the Parliament and in the Media?
Well any one can rent a room in the Parliment and have a speech there. With the large amounts that they spend I do not wonder that they easily rented a room in Parliament. Plus a notorious Spanish MP supports them. Mr. Vidal Quadras is long known as being in the pay list of MEK and he facilitates for this bandits.
... Maryam Rajavi’s recent interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais appears to be one her few interviews with mass media. As the so-called president elect of the National Council of Resistance and the leader of the most viable alternative- as she claims – to the Islamic Republic, it seems odd that she has experienced so few appearances in the media, and roughly no appearance in Persian media. Maryam Rajavi, the self-assigned president of the NCR and the co-leader of the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (the MKO),seems to be too reluctant to appear in front of her country fellow men and answer controversial questions on her cult-like organization and its disappeared leader, Massoud Rajavi ...
(Maryam Rajavi directly ordered the massacre of Kurdish people)
Maryam Rajavi’s recent interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais appears to be one her few interviews with mass media. As the so-called president elect of the National Council of Resistance and the leader of the most viable alternative- as she claims – to the Islamic Republic, it seems odd that she has experienced so few appearances in the media, and roughly no appearance in Persian media.
Maryam Rajavi, the self-assigned president of the NCR and the co-leader of the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (the MKO),seems to be too reluctant to appear in front of her country fellow men and answer controversial questions on her cult-like organization and its disappeared leader, Massoud Rajavi.
About two years ago in August 2011, Nooshabeh Amiri, the Iranian journalist published an article titled "Interview with Maryam Rajavi” on Rooz Online. Amiri wrote of a failed effort to have an interview with the leader of the MKO, Maryam Rajavi:
"A few years ago, one of the producers of CBS’s 60 Minutes asked me to arrange for the networks interview with Maryam Rajavi, a leader of Iran’s Mujahidin Khalq Organization (MKO). I told him then that I thought it was not possible to do this, to which he replied, “If the interview is going to be with a non-Iranian network, the response will certainly be different.”
"I then recruited the assistance of a person affiliated with the MKO. A few days later he provided me with an email address to contact. When I did, I was given a telephone number to contact, which in all honesty made me feel embarrassed for my initial assumption which was based on hear say. Subsequent events however proved me right.
"When I made the first call, I was given another telephone number to call. This was repeated several times in the course of a few months that followed, until the American producer called me and said the issue was over and that there was no need to follow-up.
"I concluded that 60 Minutes must have decided to call off the pursuit because of how long it had taken to arrange for the interview. He surprised me when he said that a representative of the MKO had made arrangements with the program’s senior producer and had made a condition for the interview and had written up the questions to be asked….
"This was pathetic, something that still continues." “Pathetic”! This is the term Ms. Amiri uses to describe the MKO’s propaganda system. However, the group’s approach regarding media is fraudulent.
The MKO’s propaganda decides what media to interview with its leader as well as what questions to be asked. Considering various reports on human rights violations committed inside the MKO as a cult of personality, the group’s propaganda runners know that all peace activists, freedom lovers and independent journalists would ask questions of which the answers are beyond the red lines of the group. Thus, they never risk the façade of a “democratic” opposition to Islamic Republic they are trying to build for their cult-like organization.
The Spanish daily, El Pais does not ask any question to trouble Rajavi but the questions are so simply and directly asked that could recall you a memorized dialogue in a screenplay. For an authentic unbiased interview with Maryam Rajavi the most crucial question which has never been answered since American invasion to Iraq in 2003 -- the same year that Maryam Rajavi was arrested by French Police in her headquarters in the suburb of Paris—is this: "Where is Massoud Rajavi?”
There are many other important questions to be asked particularly regarding numerous testimonies of former members. For instance, recent testimonies of former female members on sexual abuse of women of elite council of the group by Massoud Rajavi must be explained by Maryam Rajvi who is according to evidences the main person to make women sleep with Massoud Rajavi.
According to the 2005 Human Rights Watch report '' No Exit", inside MKO camps there are ”abuses ranging from detention and persecution of ordinary members wishing to leave” to “lengthy solitary confinements, severe beatings, and torture of dissident members.”
In Ms. Amiri’s article you can also find a list of questions that may obsess any independent journalist who is going to interview Rajavi. The followings are some of them:
"Does the MKO see itself responsible to respond to questions such as its cooperation with Saddam Hossein in attacking and invading Iran?
"Under what strategy and goal were inexperienced youth asked to respond to the Mersad Operation inside Iran?
"Is internal criticism allowed within MKO and can it be reflected outside the organization?
"Is it true that some MKO members have left the organization on the basis of such instructions by the group to take up the responsibility of attacking other opponents of the Islamic republic? "
To our surprise, the biased report of EL Pais begins with this ludicrous statement by Maryam Rajavi: ”popular support inside Iran is a source of legitimacy for this resistance” (!)
This opening sentence clearly indicates that the interview was actually managed by the interviewee not the interviewer.
What does Maryam Rajavi mean by “popular support” inside Iran?!
One thing is sure; Rajavi’s claim is absolutely false. Although the MEK claims to be loved and respected inside Iran, the truth is that most Iranians view the terrorist organization as ruthless traitors who killed their own countrymen, according to many reports. For example Massoud Banisadr who is a former top official of the group say in an interview with Steve Hassan: " After Iranian revolution, late seventies and early eighties MEK could change from a guerrilla (or terrorist organization according to different people’s definition) into a popular political group attracting thousands of young people. But after moving back to terrorism, ignoring and violating people’s ethics, beliefs and principles, especially working with Iraq’s president, Saddam Hussein after the incursion of Iraq into Iran, they lost all their support inside Iran and as matter of fact in public view they changed into a traitor organization".  Also, The Wall Street Journal writes of critical views on the group, "Critics of the MeK allege that the organization has no major support inside Iran and that its leaders, who are based outside Paris, run the group like a cult."
Based on Mrs. Rajavi’s own claim, the “source of legitimacy for the resistance" is definitely absent.
By Mazda Parsi
Reference:  Amiri , Nooshabeh, Interview with Maryam Rajavi, Roozonline, August 22,2011  http://www.nejatngo.org/en/post.aspx?id=3263 ; http://nejatngo.org/en/post.aspx?id=4979 Human Rights Watch, No Exit, 2005  Amiri , Nooshabeh, Interview with Maryam Rajavi, Roozonline, August 22,2011  http://freedomofmind.com/FormerMeKtopofficialanswersquestions 22February2012.php Solomon, Jay &Perez, Evan, Iran Exile Group Nears U.S. Rebirth, the Wall Street Journal, May 15, 2012
Do not Disturb – Criminals at work in Camp Liberty
Massoud and Maryam Rajavi accused of sexual cruelty
... The women (several of whom had been appointed to the highest level of the MEK hierarchy – the Leadership Council which directly serves Massoud Rajavi and his wife, Maryam), described a bizarre process of preparation for their sexual encounter with Rajavi which was facilitated by and presided over by Maryam Rajavi, who, they said, procured specific women from the membership for Massoud’s use. The women were made to believe that refusal to participate would result in demotion, humiliation and even worse punishments. Maryam Rajavi invented rituals such as being washed by other women members so as to ‘spiritually purify’ them ...
(Women "rewarded" with pendants and robes after sexual ordeal)
When the US army captured the MEK and confined them to Camp Ashraf in April 2003, they registered 3,800 individuals. Of these, 800 were women.
The figure has remained mostly constant, with some members being trafficked in and out of the camp, and some escaping the cult altogether. (The actual figures are unknown because the Pentagon allowed the MEK to shut the door of the camp and operate Camp Ashraf independently of both national and international law.)
Understandably it is the women who escaped from Rajavi and his cultic abuses who are proving the most problematic. They are very angry and they are proving very difficult to silence.
In the Autumn of 2012 a number of these women, having courageously overcome the stigma attached to such issues, joined together to speak publicly about the sexual abuses they suffered in the MEK. They allege that Massoud Rajavi, the de facto leader of the Mojahedin-e Khalq, not only deceived them into having sex with him but had also instigated a programme of coerced hysterectomies for all women members in order to ‘neutralise their sexuality’. Out of the 800 women registered in Camp Ashraf, they gave the names of 100 who have already become victims of Rajavi’s hysterectomy programme.
The women (several of whom had been appointed to the highest level of the MEK hierarchy – the Leadership Council which directly serves Massoud Rajavi and his wife, Maryam), described a bizarre process of preparation for their sexual encounter with Rajavi which was facilitated by and presided over by Maryam Rajavi, who, they said, procured specific women from the membership for Massoud’s use. The women were made to believe that refusal to participate would result in demotion, humiliation and even worse punishments.
Maryam Rajavi invented rituals such as being washed by other women members so as to ‘spiritually purify’ them, followed by the instruction to dance naked before both the Rajavis to prove they had ‘broken the physical and mental barriers’ to their total submission to Massoud. After these coercive practices, he would choose a bedmate for sex. The women have said that they did not agree to sex with Rajavi out of free will but because they had been coerced through deception into submitting to what they later came to recognise as rape.
The women who spoke out all now live in Europe. Other former MEK women members living in Iran and currently in Iraq are also said to be willing to give their testimony. The women described how they were deceived into undergoing spurious hysterectomies in order to fulfill Rajavi’s demand that they ‘divorce from their sexuality’.
In response, former Colonel, Leo McCloskey, Commander of Forward Operation Base in Ashraf until 2008, was featured on the MEK’s websites and media, attempting to denigrate the women and dismiss their claims by labeling them as ‘agents of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence’. Based on what knowledge and expertise did he manage to come up with such a nonsensical counter argument?
What is most disturbing about these revelations is the response from the establishment. I’m sure that everyone reading this article will be at least curious to know whether such outrageous accusations might be true or not. Perhaps those who are more familiar with the MEK’s past known behaviour will be willing at least to give some credence to these allegations. But for responsible bodies like the UN and even human rights organisations, which, over thirty years, have compiled reams and reams of documented evidence of gross abuses committed by the Rajavi cult (let us not forget the MEK victims found in Abu Ghraib prison), to ignore these easily verifiable witness statements because the MEK says they are a ‘plot by the Iranian regime to discredit the opposition’ really beggars belief.
The facts are easily verifiable. The physical evidence of hysterectomy can be found in the women’s bodies. It is a matter of fact, not opinion. And if those who managed to escape the cult have evidence consistent with their accusations, does it not behove those people actually responsible for their welfare to conduct an investigation into the condition of the other named women in the MEK who are trapped incommunicado in (the ironically named) Camp Liberty.
Let us look more closely then at the ‘one size fits all’ label used to denigrate the victims: ‘agent of the Iranian regime’. It is not the first time the label has been used by the MEK, nor will it be the last. After all, in the current reckless Western culture of ferocious Iran-bashing, it is an easy formula to trot out for a willing audience. And what a willing audience!
The phrase arises from the cultic nature of the MEK and of course the concept of ‘thought-terminating clichés’ is familiar among experts in cultic abuse. It describes the technique used by cult leaders to prevent their followers (victims) from using their critical faculties. Whenever the cliché is mentioned, the cult member stops thinking. In this case, the phrase is also linked to another technique ‘cultic phobias’ which is to introduce irrational fears which when triggered arouse a phobic reaction in the victim.
For members of the Rajavi cult, the phrase ‘agent of the Iranian regime’ fulfils both these purposes; they stop thinking and experience an amorphous, pervasive fear. In some cases they can easily resort to violence in response to this reaction. The really despicable aspect of this use of the label is that it is directed at those victims of the cult who have only recently escaped the abuses. For them the phrase stinks of menace and threat; exactly why the Rajavi’s choose to use it.
But for outsiders, clearly many are unable or unwilling to use their minds to think through the absurdity of this phrase. Or, maybe they don’t need to. Leo McCloskey surely wasn’t acting out of the goodness of his heart when he quoted the MEK phrase. In such crass cases, are we wrong to assume that pecuniary benefits most probably apply?
With the deployment of this thought-terminating cliché, Rajavi has effectively hung a ‘Do not Disturb’ sign on the closed door of Camp Liberty, while an apparently awestruck (by Rajavi's genius no doubt) Western world tiptoes outside, afraid it too will be accused of being an 'agent of the Iranian regime'.
Rajavi’s new army heralds a sinister new 'mass suicide' plot
(aka; Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, MEK)
... In an address to the MEK, Rajavi announced that the National Liberation Army (NLA) is now defunct and is to be replaced by the Iranian Free Army. Putting aside the embarrassing downgrading of the MEK’s armed personnel who for thirty years have promised to overthrow the Iranian regime in its entirety, and its replacement with a cheap copy of the western fabricated and opportunistSyrian Free Army, Rajavi’s motive for this announcement needs some explanation.Since the MEK was removed from the US terrorism list, critics have reminded decision makers that the leader of the MEK, Massoud Rajavi, has reiterated the cult’s commitment to the use of violence ...
The Life of Camp Ashraf Mojahedin-e Khalq – Victims of Many Masters By Anne Singleton and Massoud Khodabandeh First published September 2011 by IRAN-INTERLINK
Last week, four more residents escaped the cult to take refuge with the Iraqi authorities as the internal control strictures worsen. It is impossible for MEK leader Massoud Rajavi to keep the residents isolated as at Ashraf. They will receive information about the outside world and the possibilities for them. They will seek freedom.
The danger for Rajavi is that the cult will disintegrate suddenly into disobedience and anarchy.
But for Rajavi the answer does not lie in relocation to Europe. The only bargain he will agree to is to either stay in Camp Liberty or recreate Camp Ashraf in another country and transfer the MEK en masse.
In Europe there are many, many former MEK members who are outspoken about the horrific human rights violations imposed on them through cultic mind control practices. In Cologne women talked about coerced hysterectomies they underwent to satisfy Rajavi’s bizarre demand. About forty women were subjected to spurious surgery to remove their wombs as part of Rajavi’s cynical manipulation of gender, relationships and sexuality in the cult. (www.iran-zanan.de Persian)
But where Rajavi’s recent assertion, via an audio address, that he is the sole and rightful leader of the Iranian opposition, and his consequent invitation for all other groups and personalities to join him, is a risible example of the hubris, narcissism and self-delusion which typify his character, his latest announcement exposes a very sinister and vicious side to the man.
In an address to the MEK, Rajavi announced that the National Liberation Army (NLA) is now defunct and is to be replaced by the Iranian Free Army. Putting aside the embarrassing downgrading of the MEK’s armed personnel who for thirty years have promised to overthrow the Iranian regime in its entirety, and their replacement with a cheap copy of the western fabricated and opportunist Syrian Free Army, Rajavi’s motive for this announcement needs some explanation.
Since the MEK was removed from the US terrorism list, critics have reminded decision makers that the leader of the MEK, Massoud Rajavi, has reiterated the cult’s commitment to the use of violence to pursue its aims. Rajavi has done all he could, short of ordering a mass suicide, to prevent the break up of his fighting force in Iraq. So far he has succeeded in keeping them together, albeit in a new location. As he faces the prospect of a UN driven disbandment of these forces he has settled on a more lucrative form of ‘mass suicide’ for the cult members.
The moment Rajavi announces to the world that the people in Iraq are an army with the intention of aggressing against Iran with a view to forced regime change, he makes them a legitimate target for defensive counter attack by the Iranian army. It is clear which side has the superior power to destroy.
By thus inviting the Iranians to kill his forces, Rajavi is positioning himself on the far right of the hardliners of the Iranian government, who would like nothing better than to annihilate the MEK organisation in its entirety.
But this is not the total sum of Rajavi’s cynical disposal plan. The re-branding of the MEK’s fighters as the Iranian Free Army allows Rajavi to sell the brand to those who can best use it, namely the Israelis. No need to blame Israel for assassinating Iranian scientists when such heinous acts can be blamed on Rajavi’s new army. Rajavi benefits not only financially, but from the credit which would by default attach to the MEK as a dangerous presence in Iran. Again, Rajavi is positioning himself to the far right of the hardliners viz-a-viz the Iranian people and his own forces.
Now Focus Attention Back On Rajavi's Hostages In Camp Liberty (MEK, MKO, Rajavi Cult)
.. In Iraq the estranged families of MEK members have maintained a vigil outside both Camp Ashraf - and now Camp Liberty - for nearly three years. These families have travelled to Iraq to try and get news of and contact with their loved ones who are being held hostage by the Rajavi cult. Massoud and Maryam Rajavi have imposed cruel conditions on their followers in which nobody is allowed to have contact with their families outside the cult without the permission of the leaders. The Americans in Iraq have done nothing to help these families reach their loved ones. Instead they have apparently done everything possible to prevent the dissolution of the MEK as a single entity, in spite of being informed of the cult nature of the group...
A Mother looking for her daughter in Iraq
Anne Singleton, Iran Interlink, October 1, 2012
Among humanitarian organisations and the estranged families of MEK members there is a sense of relief now that the US sideshow of speculation over MEK terrorist listing and who the MEK's financial backers are has blown over. It means that attention can now properly be returned to the situation of the MEK in Iraq where the urgent problem is how to restore basic human rights to the former MEK fighters trapped in Camp Liberty. Because although UN inspectors and Diplomatic representatives have attested to the more than acceptable living conditions in the temporary transit camp, the residents continue to be denied their basic human rights by the MEK leadership. Since 2003 the Americans have been complicit in allowing the MEK to mistreat the membership. Unfortunately this situation has continued at Camp Liberty to where all but a handful of the former Camp Ashraf residents have been relocated.
Massoud and Maryam Rajavi run a personality cult which dictates to the members that only they should be worshipped and adored. There is no room for other relations, even friendships. In the MEK, members are not even permitted to maintain a relationship with other family members inside the group, such as siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins. Relations between individuals is severely restricted and constantly monitored for infringements. This state of affairs is maintained through a harsh, unremitting regime of daily confessions with infringements - or sins - punished by an escalating system of public humiliation, beatings and isolation. In Camp Liberty residents are billeted six to a bungalow even though enough space has been allocated to allow for two per housing unit. The cult leaders insist on more than two people sharing as a means to prevent dissenting views from being discussed behind closed doors.
In Iraq the estranged families of MEK members have maintained a vigil outside both Camp Ashraf - and now Camp Liberty - for nearly three years. These families have travelled to Iraq to try and get news of and contact with their loved ones who are being held hostage by the Rajavi cult. Massoud and Maryam Rajavi have imposed cruel conditions on their followers in which nobody is allowed to have contact with their families outside the cult without the permission of the leaders.
The Americans in Iraq have done nothing to help these families reach their loved ones. Instead they have apparently done everything possible to prevent the dissolution of the MEK as a single entity, in spite of being informed of the cult nature of the group.
However, because the US terrorism list has no relevance in Iraq, the Government of Iraq will not change its stance because of this action. Indeed, no government of any colour would be able or willing to keep any MEK in Iraq because of its history of violence against Iraqi citizens.
Since the US government no longer regards the MEK as terrorists the Americans should now make a real effort to remove them from Iraq for their own wellbeing. The State Department claims that the MEK has publicly renounced violence - even though there is no evidence that the MEK leader Massoud Rajavi has made any verbal or documented declaration to this effect. (Who do the State Department thinks actually runs the MEK? Lawyers?) As such the MEK should be expected to fully decommission its military personnel and reconfigure its internal structure to allow it to pursue exclusively peaceful and democratic opposition activities against the governments of Iran and Iraq, and possibly Syria.
The burning question then is what the MEK will do with its redundant former fighters in Camp Liberty in Iraq? As avowed enemies of the Iranian government they must presumably take refuge in the West. To qualify as refugees they must renounce their membership of the MEK as a political entity. Logically this should not present any difficulty as they are no longer needed as fighters. (Because the MEK is now a peaceful organisation with no need for any personnel trained in violence or military/terrorist style activity.)
The first step is to open up Camp Liberty to the outside world, to the families and humanitarian NGOs which are waiting to offer help to the residents. The residents must be given access to external information sources, internet, television, telephones, print media, etc. Conditions must prevail such that each resident is able to enjoy freedom of movement in the camp, freedom of association in the camp, including between the genders, and freedom to contact their families. This would represent a first, yet vital, step toward solving the problem of the MEK in Iraq.
Washington backed People’s Mujahedin (MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult). Who are they?
... The group was expelled from Iran in 1981 when it fell out of favor with Ayatollah Khomeini in a post-revolutionary power struggle.Since then, it has launched thousands of attacks against Iranians it has deemed “agents of the regime,” peaking at a rate of three assassinations per day in the 1980s, and staged high-profile raids on Iranian diplomatic offices all over the world—including an orchestrated set of attacks on 12 diplomatic facilities in 10 countries on a single day in 1992.In the mid-1980s, MEK settled in Iraq as a guest of Saddam Hussein, who offered the group use of Camp Ashraf, an encampment and army base north of Baghdad ...
The People’s Mujahedin of Iran (Mojahedin-e Khalq-e Iran, or MEK) is an Islamic- and Marxist-inspired militant organization that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The group was founded in 1963 as an armed guerrilla group after the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi violently suppressed opposition to his regime.
Over the years, the group developed a track record of violent opposition to the Iranian regime—both against the monarchy and the Islamic government that succeeded it—and countries deemed supportive of it, including at one time the United States. For years, the group was considered a proscribed terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. But on the heelsof an aggressive and well-funded lobbying campaign supported by a bipartisan cast of high-profile former public officials, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in September 2012 that she was removing the group from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations, where the MEK had been listed since 1997.
The group’s origins are eccentric and its history tumultuous. According to the U.S. State Department, “The group participated in the 1979 Islamic Revolution that replaced the Shah with a Shiite Islamist regime led by Ayatollah Khomeini. However, the MEK’s ideology—a blend of Marxism, feminism, and Islamism—was at odds with the post-revolutionary government, and its original leadership was soon executed by the Khomeini regime. In 1981, the group was driven from its bases on the Iran-Iraq border and resettled in Paris, where it began supporting Iraq in its eight-year war against Khomeini’s Iran. In 1986, after France recognized the Iranian regime, the MEK moved its headquarters to Iraq, which facilitated its terrorist activities in Iran. Since 2003, roughly 3,400 MEK members have been encamped at Camp Ashraf in Iraq.”
As of late 2012, most of the residents of Camp Ashraf had been relocated to another facility in Iraq to await resettlement in third countries. The MEK’s cooperation in the relocation—which had previously sparked concerns of a planned mass suicide by group members resistant to the move—was reportedly a key factor in Clinton’s decision to delist the group.
Because of the MEK’s cult-like organization under leader Maryam Rajavi, its support for Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War, and its participation in Saddam Hussein’s crackdowns on Iraqi Shiites and Kurds, the group has been described by the New York Times as “a repressive cult despised by most Iranians and Iraqis.”
U.S. officials have recognized this reputation. “While they present themselves as a legitimate democratic group worthy of support, there is universal belief in the administration that they are a cult," one official told CNN after the decision was made to delist the group. "A de-listing is a sign of support or amnesia on our part as to what they have done and it does not mean we have suddenly changed our mind about their current behavior. We don't forget who they were and we don't think they are now who they claim to be, which is alternative to the current regime."
Despite its murky reputation, MEK has presented itself to western backers as a popular and democratic Iranian opposition group that could lead the Islamic Republic to democracy—often even referring to Rajavi, who lives in exile in Paris and has never run for office in Iran, as the country’s “president-elect.”
This led some analysts to express concern that the Iranian regime would use the U.S. decision to delist the group as a pretext for a renewed crackdown on democratic and reformist elements within Iran, tying them to the widely despised MEK. “For my money, the chances of war with Iran only get a boost insofar as Iranians didn't already assume the worst of U.S. intentions,” wrote Ali Gharib at the Daily Beast. “As is, the paranoid leadership there believes America is in cahoots with the MEK, or at least they already say as much in their propaganda pleas. The more likely damage from the decision will be done in justifying the ongoing crackdown against the Islamic Republic's internal opposition, including human rights and pro-democracy activists, which will be lent credibility among ordinary Iranians who disdain the MEK.”
Indeed, there have been reports that the United States has directly aided the MEK in the past, providing assistance that would have been illegal given the group’s terrorist designation. In April 2012, for example, journalist Seymour Hersh reported that U.S. special forces had provided communications and weapons training to MEK members in the Nevada desert sometime from 2005 to 2007, considerably improving the group’s capabilities. “The MEK was a total joke,” a Pentagon consultant told Hersh, “and now it’s a real network inside Iran. How did the MEK get so much more efficient? Part of it is the training in Nevada. Part of it is logistical support in Kurdistan, and part of it is inside Iran. MEK now has a capacity for efficient operations that it never had before.”
Some analysts warned that the U.S. decision to delist the MEK could cause U.S.-Iranian relations to deteriorate even further. “The decision will no doubt make the Iranian leadership even more distrustful of U.S. intentions regarding the future of Iran, particularly given the congressional support for the MEK to spearhead regime change,” wrote Iran expert Farideh Farhi. “Less trust will make compromise less likely, presumably a preferred outcome for the high profile supporters of the MEK in Congress and elsewhere.”
Divisive Impact on U.S. Politics
The MEK has had a divisive impact in the United States. While it has garnered supporters from across the U.S. political landscape, it has also spurred negative reactions from representatives of nearly all political factions. Neoconservatives are a case in point. Several high-profile neocons outlets have praised the group, arguing that it could serve to spearhead regime change efforts in Iran.
After news agencies reported in early 2012 that the MEK—with support from Israel—was involved in the assassination of Iranian scientists, a number of neoconservative mouthpieces hailed the group. The Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post ran an editorial stating: “Were the MEK to play the critical role in derailing an Iranian bomb, it would be far more deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize than a certain president of the United States we could mention.”
Similarly minded ideologues—like Raymond Tanter, a member of the Committee on the President Danger—have called the MEK “the best source for intelligence on Iran's potential violations of the nonproliferation regime,” arguing that delisting the group “would allow regime change to be on the table in Tehran.” At a rally for the group in Paris, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani proclaimed, "Appeasement of dictators leads to war, destruction and the loss of human lives. For your organization to be described as a terrorist organization is just really a disgrace."
On the other hand, many neoconservatives view the group with antipathy, largely because they think that an alliance with it is short-sighted with respect to the goal of achieving regime change in Iran. An example is Michael Rubin, who has been sharply critical of MEK supporters. Responding to the news about the MEK’s alleged role in assassinating Iranian scientists, Rubin wrote: “By utilizing the MEK—a group which Iranians view in the same way Americans see John Walker Lindh, the American convicted of aiding the Taliban—the Israelis risk winning some short-term gain at the tremendous expense of rallying Iranians around the regime’s flag. A far better strategy would be to facilitate regime change. Not only would the MEK be incapable of that mission, but involving them even cursorily would set the goal back years.”
Organizations sympathetic to MEK garnered an impressive array of establishment supporters inside Washington to speak in favor of delisting the group. The effort, according to the New York Times, “won the support of two former C.I.A. directors, R. James Woolsey and Porter J. Goss; a former F.B.I. director, Louis J. Freeh; a former attorney general, Michael B. Mukasey; President George W. Bush’s first homeland security chief, Tom Ridge; President Obama’s first national security adviser, Gen. James L. Jones; big-name Republicans like the former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Democrats like the former Vermont governor Howard Dean; and even the former top counterterrorism official of the State Department, Dell L. Dailey.”Mitchell Reiss, a top foreign policy advisor to Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan presidential campaign, also spoke on behalf of the group.
A potential explanation for this diverse list of supporters is the large speaking fees the MEK network has offered to big-name public figures. “Your speech agent calls, and says you get $20,000 to speak for 20 minutes,” said a State Department official quoted by the Christian Science Monitor. “They will send a private jet, you get $25,000 more when you are done, and they will send a team to brief you on what to say.” Pro-MEK individuals and organizations also reportedly donated thousands of dollars to the campaigns of several sitting members of Congress, including Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Bob Filner, Ted Poe, Mike Rogers, and Dana Rohrabacher.
Underlying MEK’s more mainstream backing has been a bedrock of support from foreign policy hawks. In addition to Woolsey and other former Bush administration officials, the group has enjoyed the avid backing of Iran hawks like former ambassador John Bolton and groups like the Iran Policy Committee (IPC), a right-wing U.S.-based outfit whose putative goal is “empowering Iranians for regime change.”
In a 2005 policy paper, IPC placed the delisting of MEK at the forefront of its proposals for U.S. policy toward Iran. The "continued designation since 1997 of the main Iranian opposition group, Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK), as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department assures Tehran that regime change is off the table,” wrote the report’s authors. “Removing the MEK’s terrorist designation would be a tangible signal to Tehran and to the Iranian people that a new option is implicitly on the table—regime change.”
MEK’s critics have likened the organization’s advocacy campaign to that of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), an Iraqi exile group led by Ahmed Chalabi that worked to drum up U.S. support for an invasion of Iraq in the 1990s and early 2000s. By presenting itself to Western supporters as an Iraqi government-in-waiting, INC enabled Iraq hawks in the United States to claim that there was Iraqi support for the U.S. action. For Iran hawks, write Ali Fatemi and Karim Pakravan of the National Iranian American Council, “Maryam Rajavi, the MEK leader and self-proclaimed president of Iran, is their new Chalabi.”
IPC in particular has embodied the link between pro-MEK groups and pro-INC groups. A 2010 investigation by the U.S. foreign policy blog LobeLog found that “through 2006, IPC shared an address, accountants, and some staff with multiple organizations that either fronted for or had direct ties to the INC, even sharing staff members with those groups. Some of those ties have continued through today.”
Founded in 1963, MEK was one of the many Iranian factions that supported the overthrow of the shah in 1979. However, according to a report by the Christian Science Monitor, it was the only one that used violence against Americans in the run-up to the revolution, launching a string of assassinations and attacks against American military and diplomatic officers in Iran in the 1970s.
The group was expelled from Iran in 1981 when it fell out of favor with Ayatollah Khomeini in a post-revolutionary power struggle. Since then, it has launched thousands of attacks against Iranians it has deemed “agents of the regime,” peaking at a rate of three assassinations per day in the 1980s, and staged high-profile raids on Iranian diplomatic offices all over the world—including an orchestrated set of attacks on 12 diplomatic facilities in 10 countries on a single day in 1992.
In the mid-1980s, MEK settled in Iraq as a guest of Saddam Hussein, who offered the group use of Camp Ashraf, an encampment and army base north of Baghdad. There, not only did MEK fight on the Iraqi side of the Iran-Iraq war, but it also helped Saddam crush the CIA-instigated Iraqi Kurdish and Shiite uprisings that came on the tail of the 1991 Gulf War, leading to the precipitous erosion of its support in Iran and Iraq alike.
MEK’s fighters at Ashraf were disarmed by the United States following the fall of Saddam’s government in 2003. In the following years, the camp was subject to occasionally violent raids by the new Iraqi government, which sparked concerns about further violence or a humanitarian crisis when it ordered the camp closed by the end of 2011. Although the Ashraf issue is separate from the issue of MEK’s status as a terrorist organization, MEK’s backers in the West used the conditions at the camp to garner sympathy for the group’s broader agenda in Washington and to argue that its continued listing as a terrorist group is the cause of its mistreatment.
MEK’s lobbying efforts were foreshadowed in a 1994 report by the U.S. State Department, which concluded that the group was unlikely to be serious about its democratic overtures. According to the Christian Science Monitor: “Noting the MEK’s ‘dedication to armed struggle’; the ‘fact that they deny or distort sections of their history, such as the use of violence’; the ‘dictatorial methods’ of their leadership; and the ‘cult-like behavior of its members,’ the State Dept. concluded that the MEK’s ‘29-year record of behavior does not substantiate its capability or intention to be democratic.’ “That report describes tactics that foreshadow the MEK’s lobbying campaign today, 16 years later. It notes a ‘formidable Mojahidin outreach program,’ which ‘solicits the support of prominent public figures,’ and the ‘common practice … to collect statements issued by prominent individuals.’”
The group formally renounced the use of violence in 2001, but an FBI investigation found MEK members to be “actively involved in planning and executing acts of terrorism” as recently as 2004. In February 2012, NBC News reported that the Israeli government had coordinated with MEK to launch a series of assassinations against Iranian nuclear scientists. The group’s delisting may open the door to future cooperation with the United States as well.
The impact of a misguided decision: delisting the MKO
.. The US is clearly stating that if you disagree with us you deserve to be called “terrorist” or “state sponsor of terrorism”. This way, Obama administration makes one of its most risky decisions to antagonize the Iranians. Now that the US has delisted an international terror group the MKO, there is no legal restriction to fund, arm and train it for insurgency operations against Iran...
The war on terror seems to be a tactical expression to rationalize the colonial intrusions of the US throughout the world. When in 2003, the Bush administration sought to justify its invasion on Iraq; they accused Saddam Hussein of sponsoring of international terrorism.
The big change in US approach towards terrorism of the very MKO indicates that for the US government, there’s no right or wrong, or legal or illegal, there’s just one question ‘are you with the US or against US?’
The US is clearly stating that if you disagree with us you deserve to be called “terrorist” or “state sponsor of terrorism”. This way, Obama administration makes one of its most risky decisions to antagonize the Iranians.
Now that the US has delisted an international terror group the MKO, there is no legal restriction to fund, arm and train it for insurgency operations against Iran.
Richard Silverstein writes on Guardian:”the delisting of the group is a sham. The Obama administration isn’t even claiming the MEK has renounced terrorism. If it did, it knows that it’s likely such a statement would rebound should the MEK’s activities become exposed.” He concludes that the MKO is useful in the covert war the US and Israel are waging against Iran’s nuclear program. 
What is confusing is that the US administration pretends to be engaging in negotiation but on the other hand their approach towards Islamic Republic is far from diplomacy.
Coleen Rowley of the Antiwar website describes the recent act of double standard by the US government as a “movie” that was seen before. He refers to previous CIA’s covert assistance to Mujahedin rebels in Afghanistan -- who were recruited and trained by Osama Bin Laden- against Soviet Union.
Using indirect aggression is nothing new in US foreign policy. Using drones and insurgency groups in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and the MKO in Iran are far more evidences of American ambivalence towards terrorism.
In his piece on the Guardian, Chris McGreal warns that since then the MKO’s multi-million campaign and supporters of People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) are to press the Obama Administration to recognize it as the “legitimate opposition” to the Iranian government after the group is removed from the list of banned terrorist organizations in the coming days,” he writes.
US politicians should know that legitimacy come from people. The MKO’s well funded lobbying campaign has spent too much to change its image from a violent cult of personality to a pro-democratic opposition movement. They may have been successful to manipulate western politicians but they do not represent Iranian people. Only the Iranians are qualified to give them the legitimacy they fail to have. Reza Marashi a former official of the State Department’s Iran Desk who is now a member of National Iranian American Council (NIAC) told McGreal:”The majority in the country know that these guys fought with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war and they view them as traitors. During my time in Iran, and I’m still hearing this from people who are on the ground in Iran, there’s little to no support.”
The delisting of the MKO, with its long history of bombings, murders, treason cult-like practices and human rights abuses might have destructive impacts. Lajos Szasdi, an international affairs analyst who was interviewed by RT, explains the inevitable results of such a decision: ”It is going to in any case, work to the detriment of the relationship between the West and Iran, and in particular the United States. It is going to favor taking hardening positions towards the West and the United States. I think it is quite inevitable in light of the rhetoric coming from Washington, alongside that coming from Tel Aviv regarding Iran and the Iranian nuclear program. It might not make much difference, but it certainly is going to be ammunition for those who would try to suppress the idea of any dialogue with Washington, because after all ,Washington is not offering any olive branch for such kind of dialogue”.
As a matter of fact, one thing is for sure. The US –Israeli lobbies are entirely misled if they want to preserve the MKO as a viable alternative to the government in Tehran. They will never be able to advance this goal as millions of Iranians never remove the MKO from the list of terrorist cultist traitors they have maintained in their historical memory.
They never want the democracy which is brought by a bunch of power-thirsty traitors who murdered their own countrymen to obey their paymasters such as Saddam Hussein or Netanyahu.
By Mazda Parsi
References: Silverstein, Richard, Terror delisting the MEK is a cynical sham, the guardian, September22, 2012 Rowley, Coleen, Our (New) Terrorists’ the MEK: Have We Seen This Movie Before? , Antiwar.com.September28, 2012 McGreal, Chris, MEK supporters push for recognition by US as official Iranian opposition, the Guardian, September28,2012 ibid RT.co, lobbying campaign takes Iranian dissident group off US terror list, September 29, 2012
Simple Answer to Mojahedin Khalq’s Financial Resources Puzzle
(aka; MEK, MKO, Rajavi cult)
... According to the Guardian article, some US officials who suspect Safavi’s claim, say because of the amounts involved, money is coming from other sources, mostly likely Saudi Arabia and Israel. The report somehow confirms what former CIA official Philip Giraldi had previously revealed on the MKO-Israel relationship-both financial and military.”The group appear to have ample financial resources, and it is generally believed that at least some of the money comes from Mossad,” he writes.” the MEK is able to place full-page ads in major US newspapers and is also known to pay hefty speaker’s fees to major political figures ...
It was about 3 months ago that US Treasury department appeared to begin an investigation to figure out the sources of payments offered to prominent former American officials over their speeches in support of the Mujahedin Khalq Organization . Americans are prohibited by law from doing business with designated terrorist groups.
Besides, Security Council of the United Nations on September 28, 2001, issued Resolution 1373 calling on “all states to combat international terrorism". By resolution 1373 the council established a committee of the council "to monitor the resolution’s implementation and called an all States to report on actions they had taken to that end.”
“the council also decided that States should prohibited their nationals and persons or entities in their territories from making funds, financial assets, economic resources, financial or other related services available to persons commit or attempt to commit, facilitate or participate in the commission of terrorist acts”, according to the resolution." States should also refrain from providing any form of support to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts; take the necessary steps to prevent the commission of terrorist acts, deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, commit terrorist acts and provide safe havens as well.”
The resolution also calls on the states to intensify and accelerate the exchange of information regarding terror acts and forged or falsified documents made by terrorist groups. Thus, it doesn’t seem so difficult to figure out financial resources of the MKO if the US Treasury Department is truly concerned about them – and it must be concerned.
While the MKO’s spokesman Ali Safavi said the funds for the pro-MKO campaign come from Iranian Americans , there are various reports and testimonies on the group’s affluent resources.
According to the Guardian article, some US officials who suspect Safavi’s claim, say because of the amounts involved, money is coming from other sources, mostly likely Saudi Arabia and Israel.
The report somehow confirms what former CIA official Philip Giraldi had previously revealed on the MKO-Israel relationship-both financial and military.”The group appear to have ample financial resources, and it is generally believed that at least some of the money comes from Mossad,” he writes.” the MEK is able to place full-page ads in major US newspapers and is also known to pay hefty speaker’s fees to major political figures who are willing to speak publicly on its behalf.”
Justin Raimondo, the editor of antiwar.com finds it fair to ask where all this unaccounted for cash is coming from. "while the Rajavi-ites use the familiar methods employed by cults to strip their members of all their assets -see the AlJazeera video for a heart-rending account of how a major MEK spokesman ripped off his own elderly parents- it seems likely that, during their sojourn as Saddam Hussein’s favorite assassins, the MEK received compensation from the Iraqi dictator for slaughtering the Kurds and other regime opponents so efficiently and ruthlessly,” Raimondo asserts. He concludes that those former US officials are actually “recipients of Saddam’s gold.”
It sounds that Saddam Hussein has been the group’s basic financial resource including funds illegally siphoned from the UN Oil-for-Food program until the fall of Iraqi dictator in 2003. The report is confirmed by testimonies of former members of the group. Mrs. Maryam Sanjabi, a former member of the MKO's elite council said that based on agreements held between MKO ringleaders and Iraq’s officials in 1987,saddam’s regime allocated the revenues gained from selling 50000 barrels per day of oil to the MEK in addition to arms and logistic, reported FNA.
Sanjabi revealed that the group used to smuggle the Iraqi oil supplies to foreign markets after Kuwait war and the UN oil embargo against Saddam’s regime! the group used its front companies to sell Iraqi oil. Ali Hussein Nezhad who was Rajavi’s Private interpreter in the MKO, escaped the group in late April. Immediately after his defection, he published an announcement in which he denounces the “cult of Rajavi” . regarding the group’s financial resources, Hussein Nezhad writes:”As we see, Rajavi’s claims of Iranian’s financial support for the group and all his tricks in fundraising programs are shallow and just like a cover to hide the oil resources they plundered from Iraqi people; like a justification to whiten their multi-million operating cost.”
He reveals facts of Saddam’s generosity towards Massoud Rajavi:”in his last visit with Saddam Hussein in August 2000, Rajavi asked Hussein to increase his oil share up to 100 thousand barrels a day (3 million barrels a month), according to documents and letters I translated or reports composed by his closest comrades that I could read.”
He explained how the MKO managed to turn Saddam’s gifts into dollars: ”Rajavi received his oil share in coupons which were then sent to Europe to be changed into dollars.” Rajavi’s quota from Iraqi oil also included other amounts of oil funneled to his cult by Saddam Hussein out of UN Oil for Food program, according to Hussein Nezhad. Naturally, the MKO revenue from oil resources was invested in European banks and industry, the former MKO member revealed.
Considering various reports and testimonies on the group’s financial resources, it actually seems simple to discover the origins of their funds. It won’t be so difficult to find the affiliated companies working with this terrorist designated group and definitely simple to prove the felony committed by their material supporters.
By Mazda Parsi
References:  Shane, Scott, US Supporters of Iranian Group Face Scrutiny New York times,March13,2012  Security Council, Press release SC/7158,4385th Meeting (night) Security Council unanimously Adopts Wide-ranging Anti-terrorism Resolution/September28,2001  ibid McGreal, Chris, Banned Iranian Terror Group lobbies for legitimacy on capital Hill,Guardian,May22,2012 ibid Giraldi, Philip. The MEK’s Useful Idiots, Antiwar.com, March 08,2012 Raimondo, Justin, Hillary’s Terrorists, Antiwar.com , May16,2012. US Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2009 FNA, defected member unveils MKO’s major share in Saddam’s Oil Revenues, June5, 2012  Sahar Family Foundation, Hidden sources of MKO funds revealed, Translated by Nejat Soceity,June02, 2012 ibid ibid
(Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult and the Washington Lobby)
... Rajavi had to come up with an explanation for the defeat. His unorthodox solution was to tell his fighters they had lost because they had been distracted by love and sex. He commanded members to divorce, become celibate and live in communal, single-sex accommodation, just like soldiers in a regular army. Filled with ideas of self-sacrifice and martyrdom, they did as they were told. (The celibacy rule is to this day so tightly enforced that there are separate times for men and women to use Camp Ashraf’s petrol station.) Members were urged to transfer their passions from their former spouses to their leaders ...
Terror Tagging of an Iranian Dissident Organisation by Raymond Tanter Iran Policy Committee, 217 pp, £10.00, December 2011, ISBN 978 0 9797051 2 0
The story of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, also known as the Mujahedin e Khalq (MEK), is all about the way image management can enable a diehard enemy to become a cherished ally. The MEK is currently campaigning to be officially delisted in the US as a terrorist organisation. Once off the list it will be free to make use of its support on Capitol Hill in order to become America’s most favoured, and no doubt best funded, Iranian opposition group.
The last outfit to achieve something similar was the Iraqi National Congress, the lobby group led by Ahmed Chalabi that talked of democracy and paved the way for the US invasion of Iraq by presenting Washington with highly questionable ‘evidence’ of weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein’s links with al-Qaida. Then, as George Bush took the US to war, all that remained for the INC and its leaders was to sit back and prepare for government. Many in Washington believe that, for better or worse, the US will go to war with Iran and that the MEK will have a role to play. But first they will have to persuade Hillary Clinton to take the group off the US’s official terrorist list. Some of Clinton’s officials are urging her to keep the MEK on it but some of the big beasts in Washington are angrily demanding that she delist. After an exhaustive inter-agency process the MEK file is now in her in-tray. Recent State Department statements indicate that she is likely to delist the group.
Formed in the 1960s as an anti-imperialist, Islamist organisation with socialist leanings, dedicated to the overthrow of the shah, the MEK originally stood not only for Islamic revolution but also for such causes as women’s rights – an appealing combination on Iran’s university campuses. It went on to build a genuine popular base and played a significant role in overthrowing the shah in 1979. It was popular enough for Ayatollah Khomeini to feel he had to destroy it; throughout the 1980s he instigated show trials and public executions of its members. The MEK retaliated with attacks on senior clerical leaders inside Iran.
Fearing for their lives, MEK members fled first to Paris and later to Iraq, where Saddam Hussein, desperate for allies in the war with Iran, provided them with millions of dollars of funding as well as tanks, artillery pieces and other weapons. He also made land available to them. Camp Ashraf became their home, a citadel in the desert, 80 kilometres north of Baghdad and an hour’s drive from the Iranian border. Since the 1970s, the MEK’s rhetoric has changed from Islamist to secular, from socialist to capitalist, from pro-revolution to anti-revolution. And since Saddam’s fall it has portrayed itself as pro-American, peaceful and dedicated to democracy and human rights. Continual reinvention can be dangerous, however, and the new, pro-Iranian Iraqi government is under pressure from Tehran to close down Camp Ashraf, which has grown over three decades to the size of a small town. And it’s not just Iran. Many Iraqis too bear grudges against the MEK, not only for having worked alongside Saddam Hussein but also for having taken part in his violent suppression of the Kurds and Shias.
Iraqi security personnel have twice attacked Camp Ashraf, in 2009 and 2011, killing more than forty people. Pictures of armoured vehicles running over unarmed Ashraf residents can be seen on YouTube. Iraq has now insisted that Camp Ashraf be closed, and its residents have very reluctantly started moving to Camp Liberty, a former US army base by Baghdad airport which is under UN supervision and guarded by Iraqi security personnel. The UNHCR is now processing the residents with a view to sending them to other countries as refugees, but few countries are willing to take in people the US officially designates as terrorists and who are described by many as members of a cult.
The MEK started to use cultlike methods – isolating members from friends and relatives and managing the flow of information that reached them – after 1989, the year its charismatic husband and wife leadership team, Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, launched Operation Eternal Light. After Saddam’s failure to topple the regime in Iran, this was intended to be the big push that would finally win control of the country. Success, Rajavi told his fighters, was inevitable because the Iranian people, both civilians and military, would switch sides and join them on the march to Tehran. It would, he said, be a walkover. In the event the Iranian counter attack was ferocious. More than a thousand MEK fighters were killed and many others wounded. It lost around a third of its personnel.
Rajavi had to come up with an explanation for the defeat. His unorthodox solution was to tell his fighters they had lost because they had been distracted by love and sex. He commanded members to divorce, become celibate and live in communal, single-sex accommodation, just like soldiers in a regular army. Filled with ideas of self-sacrifice and martyrdom, they did as they were told. (The celibacy rule is to this day so tightly enforced that there are separate times for men and women to use Camp Ashraf’s petrol station.) Members were urged to transfer their passions from their former spouses to their leaders, the Rajavis. Aware that people were becoming sexually frustrated, meetings were organised where members were obliged to confess their sexual fantasies in public. If you did confess to something, other members spat at you. Friendships were also discouraged at Camp Ashraf, and so were children. From the mid-1980s, citing safety concerns, the leadership ordered that several hundred children living in the camp be moved to pro-MEK foster families in Europe and Canada. Some parents have not seen their children for more than twenty years.
These practices, along with frequent indoctrination sessions and the banning of news of the outside world (members were not allowed phones), helped the leadership to assert control. But MEK members outside Iraq also displayed remarkable devotion to the cause. When in 2003 the French authorities detained Maryam Rajavi on terrorism charges (she was later released) ten MEK members around the world set themselves on fire in protest; two of them died. The MEK of course denies being a cult, though many outsiders – senior US military officers, FBI agents, journalists and analysts for the largely Pentagon-funded Rand Corporation – have been to Camp Ashraf and come away believing that it is. One senior State Department official (now retired), sent to Iraq to interview thousands of MEK members after the invasion, concluded that the organisation was a cult; that the weirdly child-free Camp Ashraf was ‘a human tragedy’; that members were ‘misused and misled’ by the leadership; and that many had been tricked into joining.
The MEK has used various recruitment methods. The organisation’s elite joined in Iran before the revolution. Others are former Iranian conscripts captured during the Iran-Iraq war. Saddam’s regime offered them a bargain: if they joined the MEK they could move from POW camps to the more comfortable confines of Camp Ashraf. Some members were recruited on US university campuses and promised jobs, money, new passports and the chance to fight the mullahs. Others were simply deceived. One Iran-based MEK activist was told on a visit to Camp Ashraf that his wife and child had died so he might as well stay. It was ten years before he got hold of a phone; the first thing he did was call home: his family were still alive. Some former MEK members say that on arrival in Iraq they were whisked past immigration control and their passports deliberately left unstamped. If later on they said they wanted to leave Camp Ashraf they were told they would be arrested for entering the country illegally. I have heard hours of such testimony from former members. The MEK insists that all the people who tell such stories are Iranian agents. It also denies misleading families. The tears of parents, spouses and children seemed real enough to me.
Despite all this, some US military officers who worked in Camp Ashraf after the invasion came away convinced that the group could be a useful ally. General David Phillips, a military policeman who spent time there in 2004, argues that the MEK is no more a cult than the US marines: in both organisations you have to wear a uniform, obey orders and follow rituals that seem bizarre to the uninitiated. Positive feelings towards the MEK in the US military are easily explained. In 2003 they had been briefed that it was a heavily armed terrorist outfit expected to fight loyally for Saddam against US forces. In the event the MEK leadership realised quite quickly that Saddam was doomed and executed a political pirouette. When US forces arrived at Camp Ashraf, they were welcomed by courteous English speakers who professed their support. Many American soldiers came to see the camp as a safe haven in a hostile country.
This doesn’t explain the MEK’s popularity among politicians in London, Brussels and Washington. Some of it is paid for. Three dozen former high-ranking American officials regularly speak at MEK-friendly events. They include Rudy Giuliani, Howard Dean, Obama’s former national security adviser General James Jones and the former congressman Lee Hamilton. The rate for a speech is between $20,000 and $40,000 for ten minutes. Subject matter is not a concern: some speakers deliver speeches that barely mention the MEK. In recent months the Obama administration has indicated it may put a halt to these events. The Treasury is investigating whether speakers have been receiving funds from a designated terrorist organisation. What they want to know, in other words, is whether the Iranian exiles who paid the speakers’ fees are an MEK front; those who campaign for the group without being paid will not be affected. Most of those who back the group do so because they will back anything that seeks to upset the regime in Tehran. They seem unaware that the organisation has been called a cult and have not heard the complaints of former members. A number of the most prominent MEK lobbyists say they agreed to speak because they were reassured by the respectability of those who were already doing so.
The MEK also hires Washington lobbyists, who issue lengthy ripostes to criticism. The Rand Corporation’s 105-page report on the MEK was written by a team of four who worked for 15 months in the US and Iraq to produce the most thorough analysis to date of the group’s cultish aspects. The response was a 131-page report from a body called Executive Action, which describes itself as ‘a private CIA and Defense Department available to address your most intractable problems and difficult challenges’. The Executive Action report was entitled ‘Courting Disaster: How a Biased, Inaccurate Rand Corporation Report Imperils Lives, Flouts International Law and Betrays Its Own Standards.’ Neil Livingstone, who is now a Republican candidate for the governorship of Montana, said he was retained by an ‘American citizen’ to assess the objectivity of the Rand report. He concluded that, among other shortcomings, its authors were too inexperienced to write about a subject as complex as the MEK. Its supporters still dismiss the Rand paper, published three years ago, as the work of ‘sophomore students’. Rand says these criticisms are references to the lead author’s assistants, who had relatively minor roles and were given a credit on the title page so they had something to put on their CVs. All this lobbying costs a lot of money. Some of it is collected by the organisation’s very determined door to door fundraisers in the UK and elsewhere. US officials also believe that the MEK has at its disposal the return on the large and well-invested stipend it received from Saddam Hussein.
Most pro-MEK campaigning doesn’t directly address the allegations of cultish behaviour: the lobbyists focus instead on delisting. In 1996, a UN General Assembly resolution established a committee to draft a convention on international terrorism. Officials have met annually ever since to discuss the issue. But they can’t agree on what terrorism is. There are two main sticking points. First, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference insists that movements resisting occupying forces and seeking national liberation – for example in Kashmir – should not be considered terrorists. Second, governments fear that they may themselves fall within any definition the committee reaches. So while some have come up with definitions that suit their own situation, at an international level no consensus has been achieved. Whether or not to label a group as terroristic is of course always a political act: the IRA never made it onto the US list; Nelson Mandela remained a terrorist in US eyes until 2008.
The MEK’s record of mounting attacks goes back to the 1970s, when it opposed the shah and railed against America for backing him. The State Department believes that in 1973 the MEK killed a US Army comptroller stationed in Tehran and that in 1975 it assassinated two members of the US Military Assistance Advisory Group. Three executives from Rockwell International and one from Texaco were also murdered. MEK hostility to the US continued after the revolution. On 4 November 1979 Iranian students occupied the US Embassy in Tehran and kidnapped 52 American diplomats, who were held captive for 444 days. One of the diplomats later said he would not have been in the embassy that day had he not been lured there by MEK contacts. Another said he had no doubt the MEK backed his kidnapping and in fact opposed a diplomatic resolution to the affair. Long after Khomeini decided it was time to settle the issue, the MEK was still pushing for the captive diplomats to be put on trial. The group used to claim that its support for the kidnappings was an elaborate pretence; now it denies it altogether. As for the killings, it says that at the time of the murders, its main leadership had been imprisoned by the shah, which allowed a Marxist faction to hijack the organisation. This faction, effectively a splinter group, carried out the killings, and the attacks ceased when the original leadership was freed and reasserted itself. But perhaps these disputes are moot. The 1970s were a long time ago. Organisations change.
The MEK may have stopped killing Americans, but it maintained its commitment to violent struggle in Iraq and Iran. Its efforts on behalf of Saddam Hussein against the Kurds and the Shias were a sideshow compared to the bombs, assassinations and broader offensives it mounted inside Iran throughout the late 1980s and 1990s. Its violent history is well documented but the organisation insists it’s a thing of the past. This view has received substantial support from the European courts. In 2007, the Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission, a specialised UK legal body, declared that the MEK had renounced the use of force and upheld the group’s appeal against a Foreign Office decision to keep it on the official list of terrorist organisations. In 2009, the EU delisted the MEK on the more limited, procedural grounds that it should have been told why it was put on the list in the first place.
To keep the group on the US list Hillary Clinton will have to find that the MEK still has the capacity or intent to commit terrorist acts. Its supporters point out that, as well as convincing a British court they are now peaceful, in July 2004 every member at Camp Ashraf signed a document rejecting violence and terrorism. Critics have their doubts. Given what happens at Guantánamo and Bagram air base, they point out, it would have been surprising if members had not signed a renunciation of terrorism. In November 2004, the FBI reported on the group’s activities in Los Angeles, stating that it had recorded phone calls in which the MEK leadership in France discussed ‘specific acts of terrorism to include bombings’. The FBI claimed that French intelligence, as well as police in Cologne, had gathered similar information with wiretaps. The 2004 FBI report has been public for a year, but most of the material on which Clinton will base her decision is classified. In 2010, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled on an MEK lawsuit, and one of the three judges, Karen LeCraft Henderson, remarked that classified material provided ‘substantial support’ for the view that the MEK continues to engage in terrorism or at least retains the capability and intent to do so. A report in February on NBC News cited unnamed US officials as claiming that the MEK had been responsible for the recent assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists. While some of its US supporters hint that such actions would be to its credit, the organisation itself has denied involvement.
Raymond Tanter’s book is part of the MEK’s image management campaign, a briefing document for advocates of delisting. Tanter, a long-time supporter of the group, has produced a compact guide, complete with colour pictures and transcripts of speeches by paid MEK advocates. He doesn’t deal with the 1970s attacks or the help the organisation gave Saddam. He also glides over attacks in Iran in the 1990s. Tanter believes that under US law only recent years are relevant to the question of whether or not to delist, and he focuses on the period since 2001. He argues that the MEK offers the best hope of a so-called third option: a way for the US to achieve regime change without relying on sanctions or war. But this exposes a flaw in the argument of the pro-MEK lobbyists. On the one hand, they argue that the MEK has renounced force and should be delisted. But if it really has given up violence, would it not make more sense for the US to back the peaceful protesters who have a proven capability to mobilise huge numbers in contemporary Iran – the Green Movement? In reality the MEK’s US backers believe the organisation has potential precisely because of its history of using force. That’s what they think will shift the mullahs from power.
Since there are no reliable opinion polls in Iran, it’s unclear how much support the MEK has there. Supporters insist it has a strong network inside the country and has maintained its popular base. They argue that the regime would not heap so much abuse on it if it did not fear it. The group’s critics maintain that the regime merely despises it and uses it to advance conspiracy theories about foreign plots. The MEK’s decision to fight alongside Saddam in the Iran-Iraq war, they say, cost it considerable support.
Clinton will not be able to ignore political considerations. The MEK lobby is predicting that MEK activists in Iraq will be massacred. Should Iraq mount another attack on MEK members at Camp Ashraf or should the group provoke one, or stage one, the response from the MEK lobby will be fierce. The State Department’s current priority is to ensure that Camp Ashraf residents are safely moved to Liberty. In February, Clinton said a successful transfer ‘will be a key factor in any decision regarding the MEK’s Foreign Terrorist Organisation status’. Legally, this makes no sense. What does their agreement to leave Camp Ashraf say about the group’s desire or ability to carry out terrorist attacks? Nothing. But it reveals the State Department’s real fear: that out of malice or because of some MEK provocation the Iraqis will attack the MEK for a third time and the State Department will be denounced for ignoring all the warnings. In May, the State Department went so far as to say that it was looking favourably at delisting as long as MEK continues to evacuate its members from Ashraf.
What the statements suggest is that Clinton has all but made up her mind to delist the group – the MEK’s hard work has not been in vain. There’s something else to bear in mind. As one world-weary observer in Washington put it recently, ‘Hillary Clinton is a politico. Right now a lot of her colleagues and associates are making good money from the MEK. They won’t appreciate it if she removes the trough.’ Were the MEK to be delisted, the group could, like Chalabi’s INC before it, receive Congressional funding, and the Rajavis would be seen as likely candidates for office in any government formed after the mullahs’ fall.
A decade ago Donald Rumsfeld and the neocons were so in thrall to the INC’s Ahmed Chalabi that they provided helicopters to bring him and a band of diehard supporters to Nasiriya so he could be seen personally liberating Iraq. But when they landed, it was plain that none of the locals had ever heard of him. Chalabi was beaten to the top job by another former exile, Nouri al-Maliki, and had to satisfy himself with the Oil Ministry. Al-Maliki is now establishing himself as an authoritarian pro-Iranian leader: an outcome far removed from US objectives. But the never-say-die MEK lobbyists in Washington like to look on the bright side. Chalabi, they concede, was not what they thought. But this time it’s different. One retired US colonel who campaigns for the MEK likes to compare Maryam Rajavi with George Washington. The US may be about to demonstrate that once again it has failed to learn its lesson.
MEK Pays US Officials, But Where Do The Iranian Exiles Get Their Money?
(aka; Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, Rajavi cult)
... Currently, there are rumors that the Israeli secret service is paying MEK to carry out assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists. Three unnamed U.S. government officials told NBC news last month that Mossad had trained and paid MEK militants to conduct a spate of car bombings against targets like Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a university chemistry professor who doubled as a director of Iran's Natanz uranium-enrichment facility, who was killed in Tehran in January after two assailants on a motorcycle attached a magnetic bomb to his Peugeot 405 ...
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Treasury opened investigations into former government officials who have been paid speaking fees by the Mojahedin-e-Khalq, or MEK, an Iranian resistance group officially listed as a terrorist organization.
The subpoenaing of former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, ex-FBI Director Louis Freeh and retired Gen. Hugh Shelton has cast an harsh light on other U.S. officials, including former New York City Mayor Rudi Giuliani and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, as well as the organization they publicly support.
"They (MEK) are still on the terrorist list. The laws still apply. It is illegal in every sense of the word to finance them right now," said Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council, a non-partisan community organization based in Washington.
The actual sum being paid to these officials is vague, but judging by the fees handed to certain individuals, the total could be in the millions. For example, Rendell was allegedly paid $150,000 for "seven or eight speeches," according to reports. Giuliani, who spoke in at a conference in Paris, France on behalf of Iranian resistance figures alongside 18 other international guests, has been known to charge up to $100,000 for a single appearance and sometimes demands private jets to charter him to appearances.
Other former U.S. officials told the New York Times that the American supporters of MEK received between $15,000 and $30,000 per speech, yet others said they made appearances for free.
Where does an organization based in an Iraqi refugee camp for the last 25 years get so much money? While MEK has organized rallies and campaigns to have it delisted as a terrorist group in the past, it has never, by all accounts, spent the amount of money it has over the past year.
Currently, there are rumors that the Israeli secret service is paying MEK to carry out assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists. Three unnamed U.S. government officials told NBC news last month that Mossad had trained and paid MEK militants to conduct a spate of car bombings against targets like Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a university chemistry professor who doubled as a director of Iran's Natanz uranium-enrichment facility, who was killed in Tehran in January after two assailants on a motorcycle attached a magnetic bomb to his Peugeot 405.
MEK called the allegations "outright false," but Israel has neither denied nor confirmed its own involvement in the attack.
If the NBC report is true, Israel would not be the first government to pay for MEK's military expertise; from 1980 until the invasion of Iraq in 2003, MEK was funded by Saddam Hussein. Following the adage "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," MEK joined Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War and fought viciously against the Ayatollah's forces. MEK made Camp Ashraf, which is about 55 miles north of Baghdad, its permanent headquarters in 1986.
Some estimate that Hussein was paying as much as $30 million a month for at least 10 months -- some of it allegedly run-off from the UN's failed Oil-for-Food program -- for MEK's services, which included strikes against Kurdish and Shia rebels in Iraq.
Additionally, during the Iran-Iraq War, MEK leader Masoud Rajavi -- whose wife Maryam Rajavi currently runs the National Council of Resistance of Iran, or NCRI, MEK's political arm -- allegedly took control of all of his members' assets, possessions and even their passports so they couldn't leave Camp Ashraf.
"Between 1978, when I became MEK's supporter, till 1996 when I escaped, through use of different techniques of mind manipulation I was forced to give them whatever they asked me," explained Masoud Banisadr, MEK's former U.S. spokesperson and the second cousin of Abolhassan Banisadr, the first president of the Islamic Republic.
"First any capital or material things we had; then any love, attachments or relation we had with our country, our family and friends in Iran; then when they asked all members to divorce their spouses, I lost the love of my life, my dear wife and could not see my children for almost six years; I lost part of my health, and many times were on the edge of dying for them."
In 2003, before the European Union took MEK off of its terror watch list, Maryam Rajavi and some 160 other Mujahedin were arrested by counter-terrorism police in a small town outside Paris. Authorities confiscated around $8 million in cash, which Trita Parsi believes was some of the last remaining funds of Saddam Hussein. All of the suspects were quickly released and the case was eventually dropped.
Follow the Money
MEK was put on the State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations in 1997. MEK supporters suggest this was a failed political move by the Clinton administration to soften relations with Tehran. Regardless, the organization says it is now a peaceful and democratic resistance movement, one allied with the U.S in its distrust of the current Iranian regime and Iran's nuclear program. A slew of American officials, including Freeh, FBI Director at the time the terror list designation was made, and a number of military officers of the highest rank, have come to the support of MEK and lobbied for its removal from the terrorist list.
A 2004 FBI investigation uncovered a glut of shady fund-raising operations. According to the report, the voracity of which has been called into question, money raised by the Los Angeles and Washington D.C. "cells" was "transferred overseas through a complex international money laundering operation that uses accounts in Turkey, Germany, France, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates."
At one point, MEK was also operating charities called the Committee for Human Rights and Iran Aid, which claimed to raise money for Iranian refugees persecuted by the Islamic regime, but was later revealed to be a front for MEK's military arm, the National Liberation Army.
All of this could account for some of MEK's resources but would be unlikely to cover the exorbitant speaker fees recently doled out.
Moreover, MEK supporters would claim that if true, these practices were done during a previous incarnation of the group, the middle ground between being a fully-militant organization and a refugee group under U.S. military protection in Iraq.
Almost all of the former U.S. officials who support delisting were not actually paid by MEK, but by Iranian-American cultural organizations like the Iranian American Community of North Texas and the Iranian American Cultural Association of Missouri. This network of non-profits could be the best way to track MEK's funding. According to experts, money from benefactors and pledge drives in Europe is sent to individuals in the United States, then onto front groups and finally given to American politicians. It's complicated, but according to federal law, it's still illegal.
"It's much easier to move around money in Europe because MEK is no longer on the watch list," said Parsi.
None of this may matter soon. MEK has filed a federal suit that would force the State Department, which says it continually evaluates the terrorist organization list anyway, to officially review the organization's status within 30 days.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also said that a successful transfer from Camp Ashraf to former U.S. military base Camp Liberty, which is currently underway, will help speed up any potential delisting. If that happens, former politicians like Giuliani, ex-Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and former U.N. ambassador John Bolton will continue to advocate for the MEK despite criticism and possible legal ramifications.
Training Terrorists in Nevada: Seymour Hersh on U.S. Aid to Iranian Group Tied to Scientist Killings
(Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult)
... Journalist Seymour Hersh has revealed that the Bush administration secretly trained an Iranian opposition group on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorists. Hersh reports the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command trained operatives from Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or MEK, at a secret site in Nevada beginning in 2005. According to Hersh, MEK members were trained in intercepting communications, cryptography, weaponry and small unit tactics at the Nevada site up until President Obama took office. The MEK has been listed as a foreign terrorist groups since 1997 and is linked to a number of attacks, spanning from the murders of six U.S. citizens ...
Journalist Seymour Hersh has revealed that the Bush administration secretly trained an Iranian opposition group on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorists. Hersh reports the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command trained operatives from Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or MEK, at a secret site in Nevada beginning in 2005. According to Hersh, MEK members were trained in intercepting communications, cryptography, weaponry and small unit tactics at the Nevada site up until President Obama took office. The MEK has been listed as a foreign terrorist groups since 1997 and is linked to a number of attacks, spanning from the murders of six U.S. citizens in the 1970s to the recent wave of assassinations targeting Iranian nuclear scientists. Hersh also discusses the role of Israeli intelligence and notes the Obama administration knew about the training, "because they have access to what was going on in the previous administration in this area in terms of the MEK, in terms of operations inside Iran." His new report for The New Yorker blog, "Our Men in Iran?," comes as nuclear talks are set to resume this week between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency. [includes rush transcript]
Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative reporter for The New Yorker magazine. His latest piece for their website’s "News Desk" blog is titled "Our Men in Iran?"
... 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.”
... 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...