Every now an then, interesting and imporant items go "missing" from the internet so I have to revive them, like this entry from the Congressional Record from 1993 on the MEK/PMO/MKO/whatevertheycallthemselvesnow terrorist cult, made by Senator McCain (it also contains the Open Source review by the FBI and the Congressional Research Service report by Katzman on the MKO)
Note this sentence in the report:
For politically expedient reasons, the MEK presently assumes various titles. Some of the most commonly used ones include: The MEK, the Organization of the Peoples Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI), The NCR, Iran Relief Fund (IRF), and the Muslim Iranian Students Society (MISS). In the same vein, the MEK has also misrepresented itself as ideologically akin to the Muslim Afghan Mujahedin freedom fighters.
Congressional Record, Senate
Proceedings and Debates of the 103rd Congress, First Session
Thursday, January 21, 1993
SUPPORTING THE RIGHT OPPOSITION GROUPS IN IRAN AND IRAQ
(Document Citation: 139 Congressional Record, page S172-03)
Mr. President, we have an enduring commitment to encourage democracy and human rights throughout the world. We also cannot ignore the fact that both Iraq and Iran are major potential threats to a region with 60 percent of the world's proven oil reserves, and because of that, to the world's economic stability and world peace.
At this point in time, Iraq is still dominated by a vicious dictator who has proven his lack of concern for his own people on countless occasions, who has invaded a friendly neighbor whose assistance kept his regime alive during the Iran-Iraq war, and who forced the United Nations and the United States into the first major conflict of the post-cold-war era. He is daily using force against Iraq's Shi'ite population in the south, and his military forces present a constant threat to Iraq's Kurds in the North. His regional military ambitions are not ended and he continues to struggle to preserve the capability to deploy weapons of mass destruction.
The situation in Iran is only marginally better. The replacement of Khomeini by Rafsanjani has brought a pragmatist to power and not a moderate. Iran does preserve some elements of democracy and the rule of law, and has allowed its citizens more commercial freedom than Iraq. There are some indicators that a policy of encouraging normal civilian trade and diplomatic relations could encourage these positive trends.
But, we can have no illusions. Iran has taken aggressive steps to dominate the islands in the gulf. It continues to produce chemical weapons, and develop biological and nuclear weapons. It has acquired long-range missiles from North Korea. It is seeking to rebuild modern military forces, and has bought submarines from Russia and antiship missiles from the PRC in an effort to expand its ability to threaten the flow of oil in the gulf.
Iran is still guilty of constant abuse of human rights. It does not permit many forms of legitimate political dissent. Its use of ”Islamic Law” abuses Islam and the rule of law, and cannot be separated from the growing corruption of its clergy. Iran has encouraged racial and religious conflict in the Sudan. It is operating in Somalia. It is encouraging religious violence in nations like Egypt, Lebanon, and Algeria.
There is no question that we have every ethical, moral, and strategic reason to encourage Iraqi and Iranian democratic movements, to halt the arms buildup in Iraq and Iran, and to do everything we can to pressure Iraq and Iran to adopt the rule of law and protect the human rights of all their citizens.
This said, it still is not true that the ”enemy of our enemy is our friend.” This may be a Middle Eastern proverb, but political wisdom has scarcely proved proverbial during the history of the Middle East. We must not fall into the trap of taking sides between authoritarian movements, or confusing the loser in the violent quarrels between extremists in Iraq or Iran with the defenders of democracy and human rights.
Anyone can use the rhetoric of democracy. Anyone can hide behind the flag of human rights. Anyone can attempt to exploit our opposition to the current regimes in Iraq and Iran, and our ethical and moral beliefs. This is particularly true in two countries filled with political, ethnic, and religious turmoil and without real democratic traditions. It is particularly true because Iran is actively arming and encouraging Iraqi groups that oppose Saddam Hussein, and Saddam Hussein is actively arming Iranian groups that oppose Rafsanjani.
We must be extremely careful not to support terrorism in the name of antiterrorism, Iranian or Iraqi front groups in the name of democracy, or extremist opposition groups in the name of human rights. We must not take sides between factions, and we must not encourage violence in the name of democracy.
This is why I have written William Sessions, the Director of the FBI asking for an update of a 1987 report that I received from Senate security on the People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI).
This group has become a major lobbying group. It has lobbied members of this body and the House. It has lobbied the President elect and his wife. It has conducted funding raising efforts throughout the United States, and it is actively lobbying members of the Iranian-American community.
The report I have received, however, raises serious questions about the real nature of the PMOI. It indicates that the PMOI is derived from a violent left wing group that carried out the assassination of American officers and civilians in Iran before the fall of the Shah. Similarly, a recent report by the Congressional Research Service raises similar questions about the PMOI. The State Department refuses to meet with this group because of its heritage of extremism.
I am not going to take sides in Iranian or Iraqi politics, nor do I intend to become involved in the complex infighting between Iranian groups in exile. I do believe, however, that we must not start the new Clinton administration with a new Irangate. This body must not become the tool of any political group that can accurately be charged with any of the following heritage, belief, or actions:
- Attacks on American citizens, other foreigners, and Iranian citizens and officials during the time of the Shah.
- Involvement in a civil war in which it took a strong anti-American and anti-Western stance, was a more extreme leftwing movement than Iran's Tudeh Communist Party, and regularly used terrorism and assassination during the struggle for power following the Shah.
- Involvement in a Saddam Hussein funded and supported military movement attacking Iran during the Iran-Iraq War, and in maintaining such a military movement on Iraqi soil during and after the invasion of Kuwait.
- Continuing involvement in a low level struggle of terrorism and counter-terrorism with the Rafsanjani government in Iran.
- Continuing to accept funds, support, bases, and arms from the Saddam Hussein government in Iraq.
- Soliciting political support and funds from the Congress, American citizens, and Iranian exiles on United States soil under the guise of being a democratic coalition and human rights advocate when it remains an extreme leftist group whose secret agenda opposes American values and the security of Israel.
The only way that any or all of these charges can be resolved is for the FBI to provide an unclassified report that comprehensively addresses each of these points. Listening to Iranian political groups, however, well meaning, can only reiterate the claims, charges, and countercharges regarding the PMOI. I do not intend to become involved in such a debate, and I encourage my colleagues to avoid it.
If the FBI finds that the PMOI is innocent on all the above counts, then it deserves our support as a legitimate democratic movement. It should be free of the kind of indirect charges made by the State Department and other executive agencies, that do not provide formal charges, but indicate that it may be associated with Iraq, with violence, with attacks on Americans, and with terrorism. No group operating in American politics should be forced to live in limbo, or in a climate where U.S. officials informally criticize it, if it is innocent.
If the facts are uncertain, then the Congress, the American people, the media, and Iranian exiles in America deserve to know the truth about such uncertainties, and make their own judgments.
If the PMOI is guilty of any or all of these charges, then we must not treat it as a legitimate opposition to Iran's current government until it has fundamentally changed its character and leadership.
Mr. President, I will ask permission to include the reply I receive from the FBI in the [Congressional] RECORD as soon as I receive it. I now ask unanimous consent that the 1987 report I received from Senate Security, the Congressional research report on the PMOI, and several letters and newspaper articles relating to this issue be printed in the RECORD following my remarks. I also encourage members to directly contact Senate security for further data on these issues.
Mr. President, I also wish to point out that an important precedent is involved here. We must never do anything to abridge the First amendment rights of any group, foreign or domestic. We must continue the struggle for democracy and human rights. We must encourage and support every group that truly advocates freedom and the rule of law that opposes any regime that denies such progress, whether it is Iran, Iraq, or anywhere else in the world.
But, Mr. President, we cannot afford to have a situation where groups can lobby Congress and the American people in the name of democracy, human rights, freedom, and the rule of law whose true nature is very different or who have undisclosed ties to foreign governments, those who use violence, and those who use terrorism. We cannot afford to allow such groups to raise funds in the United States without the Congress and the American people knowing their true nature.
We have strong rules designed to deal with this situation by requiring Americans who lobby for foreign countries to register with the U.S. Government. At the same time, we lack a mechanism that requires the State Department and FBI to maintain a list of groups with suspect ties to foreign governments, movements with a history of attacking United States and other nationals, movements with ties to military or terrorist movements, or which covertly advocate violence, extremist ideologies, or which otherwise use the first amendment in ways that abuse the very causes they claim to defend.
This is also a case where the Executive branch cannot hide behind the need for national security. First, it is possible to summarize the results of U.S. Government investigations without disclosing sensitive sources and methods. We have seen this confirmed in countless government reports which provide such data when it is convenient to support a given policy or program.
Second, groups which really defend the causes we believe in deserve to be free of indirect charges or innuendo. We must never cloud the reputation of any group with indirect charges that cannot be answered of justified.
Third, we are already living in a postcold war era filled with groups with conflicting agendas that all use the rhetoric of the postcold war era, but many of which repackage themselves without having forsworn violence, extremism, or attacks on the things we believe in. We must be able to distinguish the true nature of foreign groups, or groups with foreign ties, if we are to support the groups that really do advocate freedom and human rights, we must know the nature of the wolves who wear freedom's flag.
Mr. President, let me conclude by asking President Clinton to examine this issue as he takes office, and to charge the Director of the FBI and his new Secretary of State with examining this issue, and either providing immediate unclassified reporting on such groups or recommendations as to what new laws may be required to deal with this issue.
Let me also urge my colleagues to be extremely careful in dealing with groups like the PMOI until the facts are known and the record is clear, and American human rights groups to pay as careful attention to foreign political organizations as they do to the abuses of foreign governments.
The material follows:
Washington, DC, December 15, 1992.
William S. Sessions,
Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC 20535.
DEAR MR. SESSIONS: I am concerned that the People's Mujahedin-E-Khalq is playing an active role in lobbying the U.S. Congress, and in presenting its views on Iran, under conditions where members have no way to learn the history of this organization. I am particularly concerned with its history of violence against American citizens, its role in terrorism, and its financial ties to Iraq.
Back in 1987, the FBI developed an open source review of this group which provides strong indications that the People's Mujahedin-E-Khalq is a terrorist movement that has participated in the assassination of American citizens and receives most of its funds from Iraq. I have attached a copy of the report to this letter.
I would be grateful if you could have your staff review this report, and provide me with an updated version that could be circulated to members of the Senate and House. If possible, I would like to have such an update no later than January 15, 1993, so that the report could be circulated to members of the new Congress when it comes back into session.
THE MUJAHEDIN-E-KHALQ: AN OPEN SOURCE REVIEW, DECEMBER 1, 1987
This synopsis of the background, evolution, structure, and ideology of the Mujahedin-E-Khalq organization incorporates information taken only from public source documents and is not provided as a detailed analytical profile of the organization. The data used within the study has been taken from scholarly books, various newspaper and magazine articles, MEK literature, and other available sources. These include:
Abrahamian, Ervand. Iran Between Two Revolutions. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1982.
Chubin, Shahram. ”Leftist Forces in Iran.” Problems of Communism July-August, 1980.
Irfani, Suroosh. Revolutionary Islam in Iran. Zed Books, London, 1983.
Mackenzie, Richard. ”Trying to Win a Few Hearts in U.S.” Insight, September 7, 1987, pp. 34-36.
Sick, Gary. ”Terrorism: Its Political Uses and Abuses.” SAIS Review & Winter-Spring 1987, pp. 11-26.
Sciolino, Elaine. ”Iran's Durable Revolution.” Foreign Affairs Spring 1983, pp. 893-920.
Zabih, Sepehr. Iran's Revolutionary Upheaval. Alchemy Books, San Francisco, 1979.
Zabih, Sepehr. The Left in Contemporary Iran. Hoover Institution Press, Stanford, 1986.
Mujahedin-E-Khalq (MEK) is an Islamic, left-wing organization which became the leading opponent of the Khomeini regime in Iran by 1981. It has won increasing support from Iranians who are dissatisfied with the Shia fundamentalist policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Founded in 1963 by disaffected young members of the Liberation Movement of Iran, the MEK began terrorist operations within Iran in mid-1971 with efforts to disrupt the Shah's celebration of the 2500 year anniversary of the Persian monarchy.
Although the MEK played an important role during the upheaval that brought Khomeini to power, the clerics consistently excluded them from a political role after the revolution. In mid-1980 MEK leaders responded by gradually increasing pressure against the Khomeini regime and in May 1981, launched a violent campaign to subvert the regime.
Led by Massaud Rajavi, the MEK formed a partnership with exiled Iranian president Bani Sadr, and developed the National Council of Resistance (NCR). The NCR functioned basically as a government in exile-it coordinated military operations in northwest Iran, orchestrated political and diplomatic missions, recruited new members, and solicited funding and weapons.
Currently headquartered in Baghdad, Iraq, the MEK include approximately 10,000 well-armed and highly disciplined soldiers and has shown that it can bring out crowds of over 100,000 people for demonstrations, both within Iran and abroad.
For politically expedient reasons, the MEK presently assumes various titles. Some of the most commonly used ones include: The MEK, the Organization of the Peoples Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI), The NCR, Iran Relief Fund (IRF), and the Muslim Iranian Students Society (MISS). In the same vein, the MEK has also misrepresented itself as ideologically akin to the Muslim Afghan Mujahedin freedom fighters.
I. BACKGROUND AND HISTORY
A. The MEK Before the 1979 Iranian Revolution
The founders of the MEK were disaffected young members of the Liberation Movement of Iran. The Movement grew out of various intellectual groups opposed to the Shah Pahlavi during the 1950s. It advocated peaceful means to create a new regime that would combine a constitutional monarchy with West European-style socialism. The movement's leaders hoped to reconcile religious and secular opposition groups with a program based upon Shia ideals, modern Iranian cultural values, and 20th century political and economic theories. Members included both students and clerics.
The Shah's repression of opposition demonstrations in 1963 alienated the more militant younger members, many of whom were also irritated by the personal rivalries among some of the older members. Some longstanding relationships with Movement leaders persisted, however, such as those between the militants (the future MEK leaders) and the late Ayatollah Taleqani and Mehdi Bazargan. These relationships between MEK members and clerics frequently proved fatal to many clerics while Khomeini sought to consolidate power in 1979.
The original MEK leaders appear to have been profoundly influenced by the religious fanaticism of fundamentalist Iranian clerics and the anti-Shah revolutionary groups (Fedayeen -EKhalq, Paykar, Tudeh militants) they supported. They were also impressed by the Marxist-Leninist theories and vocabulary then popularized by international revolutionary literature.
The young militants (led by nine Tehran University graduates) formed a secret discussion group that eventually became a separate organization called the Sazeman-e Mujahedin-e Khalq-e Iran (The Organization of Crusaders of the Iranian People). Its three basic tenets were:
- Islam is a dynamic and revolutionary religion that can be interpreted through Marxist dialectics.
- Armed struggle is the only effective tactic in the struggle against imperialism.
- Other Iranian opposition movements have failed because they have lacked an effective Marxist structure.
In the late 1960s, the group helped to set up a public hall in Tehran to broaden the reach of their ideas. Conservative Shia clerics located in Qum were outraged at the ”revisionist” form of Islam being taught at the hall, but the more moderate clerics from the Tehran Divinity School were willing to speak there.
The Shah's security service, Sazeman Amniyat Va Etela'at Keshvar (SAVAK), investigated the hall and apparently concluded that it represented a welcome irritant to the traditional clergy, not a threat to the Shah's regime. Only in 1973, after SAVAK made the connection between Mujahedin criminal activity (bombings and assassinations) and the operation of the hall, was the hall closed down.
The hall provided a forum for Dr. Ali Shariati, the young ”prophet” of Iranian socialism. The group's recruitment effort was helped significantly by its association with Shariati, whose pamphlets and taped talks were enormously popular among Iranian students.
MEK concepts were similar to, but not identical with, Shariati's. While they both espoused the creation of a classless society whose duty would be to fight ”world imperialism, international Zionism, colonialism, exploitation, racism, and multinational corporations,” they differed over the nature of the political leader of the society. While Shariati opined that an Islamic jurist would be the proper leader, the MEK strongly believed that such a regime should be controlled by the ”aware masses.” As a footnote, Shariati included the Iranian clergy as an oppressor class along with landlords and capitalists, while the MEK did not.
The MEK began its violent activities within Iran in mid-1971 with efforts to disrupt the Shah's celebration of the 2500 year anniversary of the Persian monarchy. The group's plans failed miserably. Scholarly research suggests that a captured MEK member gave information under torture which led to the arrest of about seventy of his comrades. According to a former SAVAK official, a SAVAK penetration of the group about the same time led to the arrest, imprisonment, death, and execution of many other members, including all the MEK's founding members.
A brother of one of the founding members then took over the group. It was during this period that Massaud Rajavi (the current leader of the group) became influential, according to his MEK biography, although he was imprisoned by the end of 1971. When the second MEK leader was killed in 1974, the organization fell largely under the control of three young militants whose disagreements over the importance of Marxism in MEK ideology created a degree of philosophical disharmony within the organization.
The group's new leaders-most of whom were later either killed or imprisoned by Iranian security forces-began to publish an underground newspaper called Jungal (The Jungle) in the early 1970s. During this period, the MEK profited from an order issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini, then in exile in Iraq, that called on all faithful Muslims to support the group. Khomeini then began to relay money from pious Shias to the MEK. The organization also began to receive large amounts of money from wealthy merchants-some of whom were relatives of MEK members.
By late 1973, MEK leaders had developed a deeper interest in Marxist theory and were reading extensively in Asian and Latin American revolutionary writings and also early Soviet publications. In mid-1974 the group began sending agitators to Iranian shops and factories. Some of the group's leaders then began to talk openly of the necessity of incorporating Marxist theory into MEK ideology.
MEK perpetrated bombings and assassinations, after the aborted maiden effort in 1971, resumed in 1972. The organization's targets included U.S. military advisors stationed in Iran. For example, the MEK claimed responsibility for the assassination of U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Harold Price in 1972, the assassination of U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Hawkins in 1973, the assassination of U.S. Air Force Colonel Paul Schaeffer in 1975, and the assassination of U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jack Turner, also in 1975.
The MEK also targeted U.S. civilians associated with defense projects (five killed in 1976), and numerous Iranian security officials. The group also claimed responsibility for the bombings of air and oil company offices in Iran. These attacks were well executed and were designed to attract increased attention to the anti-Shah opposition, frighten U.S. residents, and make SAVAK appear vulnerable.
In 1975, Massaud Rajavi (then imprisoned for anti-Shah activities) was accepted as the MEK's leader and chief idealogue. Under his reign, the group continued its full commitment to armed struggle. One prominent journalist who was in Iran at that time, wrote that ”MEK publications have openly boasted of the assassinations of five U.S. servicemen in Iran during its campaign of destabilization <of the Shah's regime>. Rajavi is believed to have ordered those assassinations himself.”
By early 1976, MEK losses in violent operations had become severe enough to compel the group to reconsider its tactics. The organization began to limit its violent activity and instead began to concentrate on recruiting new members. After some time (a few months), the MEK eventually decided to focus its recruitment efforts toward the student ranks.
By the beginning of 1978, the group had recuperated sufficiently. A young and dedicated new crop of members had been recruited, largely under the guise of ”true Islam,” an MEK invention which consisted of a theological model in which Marxist-Leninist concepts are superimposed on Islamic terminology. the MEK's new recruits (3,000 to 5,000 individuals at the onset of the revolution) provided the group with the necessary impetus which was instrumental during the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
In January, 1979, the MEK's leaders met in Tehran and drafted an eighteen-point resolution, entitled the Minimum Expectation Program (MEP). The organization's clandestine publication, Mojahed, as well as other newspapers, published the full text of the MEP. This document is significant for a number of reasons: first, it was written when MEK leaders believed that the group was destined for political power in Iran; second, it was adopted by a representative sampling of MEK members; and finally, it highlighted the group's political philosophy. More than any other document, the MEP is widely believed to be an honest effort by the MEK to put forward their program for reorganizing Iran's political system.
B. The MEK During the 1979 Iranian Revolution
By 1979, the MEK had found that it would be politically wise to ”latch on” to the enormously popular Shia fundamentalist movement headed by Ayatollah Khomeini. As it turned out, the MEK proved to be an extremely valuable asset to Khomeini throughout the entire revolution.
Although the organization's appeal among the Iranian "masses” was minimal, the MEK became the ”military” arm of the anti-Shah movement. Together with other opposition leftist groups (including the Fedayeen and Paykar), the MEK engaged in murder, arson, and acts of general sabotage which contributed to the weakening of the Iranian political system's capability to resist the opposition.
Most notable of the MEK's military operations during the revolution was the assault on the Farahabad military base outside Tehran. The assault on this base, which housed a headquarters element of the Iranian Air Force, eventually led to the neutralization of the entire Iranian military.
The MEK was also intimately involved in the takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979. Eyewitnesses and MEK documents indicate that the MEK led the assault on the Embassy and then pleaded with Khomeini not to engage in dialogue with the United States Government, nor release the American hostages seized during the action. In fact, congressional testimony indicates that Rajavi insisted to Khomeini that there was much more to gain by holding the hostages than by releasing them.
C. The MEK From 1979 to the Present
After the Iranian revolution, the MEK demanded to have a share in the new Iranian Government. However, Khomeini apparently feared the MEK's military power and grew distrustful of the organization. Influential Shia clerics under Ayatollah Beheshti's leadership were strongly opposed to any political participation by the group.
By the beginning of 1981, it became obvious to the MEK that Khomeini was excluding the group from any political power in the newly created Islamic Republic of Iran (a theocracy, a form of government despised by the MEK). That, and the tremendous turmoil within the newly created Islamic Republic (including clerical factionalism and the Iran-Iraq war) created a situation perceived to be favorable for the MEK to openly challenge the Khomeini regime.
In June, 1981, in a devastating miscalculation, Rajavi ordered his followers into open combat in the streets of Tehran. They were subsequently routed by Khomeini's forces. Shortly thereafter, Rajavi and his entourage fled Iran for Paris, France.
Between 1981 and 1984, and possibly with the help of Iraqi Government funds, Rajavi and exiled Iranian President Bani Sadr established, in Paris, the NCR. During this period, the NCR functioned primarily as a government in exile, coordinating military operations in Iran, orchestrating political and diplomatic missions, recruiting new members, and soliciting funding and weapons.
Rajavi did not believe that his presence in Paris would inhibit MEK activity within Iran. Indeed, MEK ”military” actions in 1981 increased dramatically and grew more violent. For example, in August the MEK bombed the offices of the Prime Minister, killing both President Rajavi and Premier Bahonar. Throughout the summer and fall of 1981, Bani Sadr claimed that he had ordered the MEK to assassinate Khomeini, but that Rajavi refused because he did not want to make a martyr of him. It may be noted that while many of the Iranian political leaders who were killed by MEK operatives in 1981 traveled frequently (at least from home to their offices), Khomeini never leaves his residence.
In the spring of 1984, Rajavi and Bani Sadr became embroiled in a public dispute over whether the NCR should accept formal Iraqi Government support. In April, 1984, Bani Sadr, who was opposed to Rajavi's frequent Iraqi Government contacts, announced that he was dissolving the NCR and forming his own Iranian political opposition organization. Rajavi however, has continued to refer to the MEK as the NCR when representing the group during fund-raising and recruitment activities.
Between 1984 and 1986, the MEK expanded its recruitment and fund-raising capability. MEK cells were developed throughout Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. Referring to themselves as various Iranian opposition organizations, MEK members raised millions of dollars, recruited thousands of people (the vast majority of them being young Iranian students), began to publish a newsletter, Iran Liberation, and politically lobbied foreign governments.
The group also increased its military activities in northwest Iran, especially the region known as Kurdistan. According to international press reports, statements attributed to Iranian Government officials, and MEK literature; the military operations conducted by the MEK during this period resulted in little damage to the Iranian regime. Those operations usually originated from MEK camps on the Iraqi side of the Iran-Iraq border, and primarily consisted of “hit and run” raids on various secluded and lightly protected facilities such as frontier guard posts.
In late 1986, the French Government (under Iranian Government pressure) apparently insisted that Rajavi and his entourage leave France. At that time, the French Government was trying to improve diplomatic relations with Iran, yet Khomeini insisted that before relations could improve, France would have to extradite Rajavi to Iran. This complicated matters for the French Government because France was supporting Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war. Consequently, in lieu of extradition, the French Government made it clear to Rajavi that he was no longer welcome in France.
Whether or not Rajavi left France for that reason or because he desired to move his base of operations closer to the Iran-Iraq border (the official MEK explanation), the MEK was relocated in Iraq by the end of 1986. By 1987, MEK had established base camps on the Iran-Iraq border, conducted massive military exercises (involving up to 10,000 troops), and was conducting overnight cross border attacks on Iranian targets.
The MEK's publishing, recruitment, and fund-raising capabilities had improved dramatically by 1987. MEK support cells (representing themselves as the PMOI, Mujahedin, NCR, MISS, and IRF) had been established in virtually every nation in Western Europe, Canada, and the United States.
Primarily targeting idealistic young Iranian students, these MEK support cells had raised by 1987, millions of dollars, had successfully orchestrated major demonstrations in cities throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Middle East and had obtained large amounts of weapons, ammunition, spare parts, and other military supplies from various sympathetic Governments (primarily Iraq), and had gained the support of many prominent politicians-including over 2,000 American national and local level legislators.
II. THE MEK TODAY
A. Military Operations
During 1987, MEK leaders have publicly claimed credit for many military incursions into Iran. Asserting that the organization's military force, the Iranian National Liberation Army (INLA), consists of 10,000 soldiers; group leaders have frequently published news bulletins which highlight recent clashes with Iranian troops. For example, a recent issue of Iran Liberation informs readers that the INLA has caused the death of more than 3,000 Iranian troops since January.
The INLA's current targets appear to be Iranian military convoys, communication installations, and lightly defended border communities. The tactics employed by the group predominately entail nighttime raids over the border in small units, shooting or capturing Iranian sentries, holding the targeted area until early morning, and finally blowing-up the target before returning to Iraq.
While MEK's reporting of the circumstances surrounding these raids are very likely exaggerated, there has been enough independent and reliable information which indicates that the MEK is frequently conducting military raids into Iran. Officials within the Iranian Government have also been substantiating some of those reports, however, the Iranians seem to be more concerned about the terrorist activity (”random bombings in civilian and public places”) in cities throughout Iran which are attributed to the MEK.
B. Political and Diplomatic Endeavors
Outside the United States and Canada, the MEK officially represents itself as the NCR of Iran. The NCR of Iran is most frequently used by the group when its delegations visit the United Nations or take part in other international forums. For example, an NCR of Iran delegation attended the 44th Italian Socialist Party Congress in April, 1987, and another met with the leadership of the British Labor Party in the spring of 1987.
Within the United States and Canada, the MEK politically represents itself as the PMOI. The PMOI currently operates an office on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington D.C. Under the PMOI label, MEK members regularly lobby U.S. Senators and Congressman for political support. The PMOI also appears to organize anti-Khomeini demonstrations-one of which took place in Washington on June 19. This demonstration involved about 2,000 people and was well organized.
C. Funding and Recruitment
The MEK raises funds and recruits members as the IRF and the MISS. Since at least 1984, MEK members have been going door to door soliciting ”charitable” contributions on behalf of the IRF in the Washington D.C. area and in twelve states elsewhere around the country. The U.S. Department of State (USDS) in a 1987 public source report cited that the IRF, which is based on K Street, Northwest in Washington, is not only affiliated with the MEK, but is in fact a front name for the group.
The IRF has been successful in its fund raising efforts. Washington Post staff writer, Molly Sinclair, wrote in 1985 that registration papers filed by the IRF in Maryland and in Virginia disclosed that the organization collected $97,230 from American contributers during the year that ended in September, 1984.
MEK members representing themselves as the MISS are also involved in fund raising activities, however, these efforts appear to be limited to college and university students around the world. The group solicits donations from sympathetic students-Iranian and others. The MISS may also be involved in recruiting activities for the MEK. While the USDA publicly regard the MISS as a front name for the MEK, it appears that the MISS may provide a communication link between MEK headquarters in Baghdad and Iranian students who are scattered throughout the world. MISS chapters located in colleges and universities throughout the United States, appear to be primarily involved in distributing MEK literature and conducting seminars.
The MEK's main propaganda organ in the United States is Iran Liberation. Billed as the ”news bulletin of the Peoples Mujahedin of Iran,” the six-page newsletter informs readers of MEK-related political dynamics, military operations, and various atrocities committed by the Khomeini regime. The newsletter, which cites a Wisconsin Avenue, Washington, D.C. address, is handed out at PMOI, IRF, and MISS activities within the United States. With a nominal donation (unspecified amount) forwarded to the listed address, a subscriber is somewhat regularly appraised of news that the MEK deems important.
All propaganda published and distributed by the various MEK groups (PMOI, IRF, MISS) contain terminology, photographs, and names which easily link them to each other and to the MEK. For example, most issues of the PMOI's Iran Liberation contain numerous reference to MEK leader Massaud Rajavi and his wife, as well as describe MEK military activity. The same is true for IRF and MISS literature. Both groups distribute Iran Liberation, hand out pamphlets which depict Rajavi, and espouse traditional MEK political philosophy.
The PMOI and the IRF routinely distribute pamphlets which describe many unsubstantiated human rights violations committed by the Khomeini regime. Photographs of tortured and executed Iranians, articles regarding the murder of Iranian women and children, and stories about the Khomeini regime's support of international terrorism are some of the most common topics.
III. INTERNATIONAL STRUCTURE
A. Biographies of Prominent Members
The forty-year-old Rajavi has been the leader of the MEK since 1975. According to his official MEK biography, he joined the group in 1966 and was responsible for organizing its ideological instruction program. Born in either Mashdad or Tabas, Iran, Rajavi graduated from Tehran University with a degree in political science (he joined the MEK while he attended the university). In 1970 he went to Lebanon and Jordan for training by the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Rajavi was arrested by SAVAK in 1971 (for anti-government activities) and was sentenced to life imprisonment. From 1975, he remained the only surviving high-level MEK official, and until 1978, he led the group from prison. Released in 1978 under one of the Shah's amnesties, Rajavi subsequently took full control of the organization. Possibly residing in Gavaneh, Iraq (on the Iran-Iraq border), Rajavi appears to control the MEK's military, political, funding, and recruitment activities.
Rajavi is currently married to his third wife. Official MEK biographies state that his first wife, Ashraf, was killed by Khomeini military forces during a raid on the Rajavi residence in February 1982. Rajavi then married Firouzeh, the daughter of Bani Sadr. That marriage failed when Firouzeh filed for divorce after Bani Sadr disassociated himself from the NCR. In 1985, Rajavi married Maryam (then a co-leader of the MEK).
Safavi is the MEK's official representative to the United States. Thirty-four years old, Safavi appears to be the person charged with the responsibility of convincing the American public and politicians that the Khomeini regime is in political, military, and economic difficulty, and that Massaud Rajavi is the only alternative. An Iranian exile, Safavi is a sociologist who studied for his doctorate at the University of Michigan.
Gobadi was the MEK's spokesman during the anti-Khomeini demonstration which the group held on June 19, 1987, in Washington, D.C.
Boka'i is predominately pictured and described in MEK literature as a ” Mojahedin representative for International relations.”
Foroughi has frequently been pictured and described in MEK newsletters as a member of the NCR of Iran international delegation.
Naghdi has also frequently been pictured and described in MEK literature as a Member of the NCR of Iran international delegation.
B. Organizational Structure
There is not a large amount of available data regarding the organizational structure of the MEK. However, a review of MEK literature, as well as the small number of independent books and articles which have been published on the group, indicates that some linkages can be made. There appears to be little doubt that MEK headquarters is located within Iraq, in either Baghdad or Gavaneh. The MEK's National Resistance Council appears to function as the parliament of the organization.
MEK presence in European and North American nations is usually in the form of the PMOI, IRF, and MISS. The PMOI offices appear to serve as the official linkage between MEK headquarters and the host country (similar to an ambassadorial relationship). The PMOI officer usually represents the organization to the press to legislators, and to heads of state. PMOI offices are located in cities of countries which contain the seat of government.
MISS chapters, which are located on college campuses throughout Europe and North America, probably function as the linkage between MEK headquarters and Iranian students. Because the MEK relies heavily on student support (both financial and militarily) the MISS may have direct political access to MEK national headquarters. MISS chapters may also perform intelligence functions for MEK headquarters, monitoring both pro-Khomeini and pro-monarchist supporters-as well as identifying potential recruits.
The IRF seems to serve as the MEK's ”grass roots” level fund-raising operation. Based in small offices, IRF members operate door-to-door in neighborhood communities soliciting donations. Even though the IRF may be a valuable source of revenue for the group, there is no indication that the IRF is directly connected to MEK headquarters. It is plausible to assume that the IRF operates under the direction of the PMOI.
The following graphic may portray the bureaucratic structure of the MEK.
(Graph not reproducible in the Record.)
While the above reflects a cursory command and control structure, it should be noted that a great deal of flexibility may exist. For example, the INLA may be partly controlled by the National Resistance Council. Also, the PMOI and the MISS may not be linked. The possibility that the IRF and the MISS are linked cannot be ruled out. Because these groups are basically one organization, members may interchange roles.
A. Influence of Marxism and Shia Islam
Marxism and Shia Islam have had a profound effect on the development of MEK ideology from the group's inception in the mid-1960s. The founding members of the group believed that Shi'ism provided the revolutionary theistic basis which would attract idealistic, yet religious Iranians. Marxism was seen as the political framework in which the MEK could achieve its goals.
For two years the original members of the MEK researched various Marxist and Shia writings and eventually produced a booklet entitled The Profile of a Muslim. The booklet, written by Ahmad Rezai, contained many classic Shia statements attributed to Imam Ali (the first Shia Imam) and tracts from the Koran. These writings were incorporated by the group in order to show that the original Islamic society had been a homogeneous community which, due to the establishment of private property and other Western institutions, had subsequently deteriorated into antagonistic classes and nations.
MEK members argued that the Koran looked to the establishment of a classless society and called on the oppressed Muslims to struggle to achieve it. In this struggle, Hussein, the martyred third Shia Imam, was to be taken as the model. The MEK argued that classless society was to be the same as the promised society of the Mahdi (the Shia Twelfth Imam) wherein principles of divine justice would prevail.
This society, referred to by the MEK as ”Towhid,” will be a society of unity and plenty where ”each contributes according to his ability and each receives according to his need.” MEK leaders believe that there would be no exploitation of man by man in this society as well as no ”social, ethnic, and economic contradictions, and no human conflict.” To achieve this society, the MEK believes an ”all out war” must be waged on all exploiters and oppressors who are being led by ”the American imperialists.”
This blend of revolutionary Islam and Marxism has helped attract many idealistic, young, politically frustrated Iranians to the MEK. The organization has crafted its philosophy and applied it consistently to Iranian domestic and foreign affairs. It reinterprets the Koran and several influential Shia texts using concepts from a wide range of international revolutionary literature. The MEK present their program and the theories behind it as a dynamic response to the problems of modern Iran and as a model for other revolutionary groups.
B. Central Ideological Principles
The MEK's central principles are twofold. The first entails the total opposition to ”U.S. imperialism,” which is the principal enemy of revolutionaries. To the group, all the events which occur within Iran involve this confrontation. The second is that political, social, and economic power must be used in the service of ideology. To the group, if ”practical considerations” take precedence over ideology, progress cannot be made toward the ideal Islamic society.
Other recurring themes are the superiority of collective interests over those of individuals, the primacy of Iranian political and social models over those originating abroad, and the necessity of remolding the attitudes and behavior of the people to remove the effects of corrupting influences.
In their analysis of 20th century Iran, MEK theorists argue that the 1905 revolution transformed Iran from a feudal society into a bourgeois system heavily dependent upon Western capitalism and under the domination of imperialism-especially U.S. imperialism. They believe that by the late 1960s, cultural, economic, political, and military imperialism threatened the very existence of Iran. The MEK says that the Pahlavi reign had little support outside the Westernized middle and upper class and it ruled by terror and propaganda. MEK texts call for ”heroic acts of violence” to awaken the people and begin the breakup of oppressive societies.
In the current situation, the Shia fundamentalists are guilty of ” pragmatism” believing that their end (the Islamic Republic) justifies the temporary use of unacceptable methods. To the MEK, the fundamentalists have corrupted their ideological principles. The MEK's leftist rivals (Fedayeen - EKhalq and Paykar) are said to be ”opportunists” who openly disregard principles in guiding their activities.
While the MEK strongly endorsed the leadership of Khomeini over the ”unified masses” that toppled the Shah, they argued that he has not provided the necessary force to prevent the fundamentalists' corruption of the principles of the 1978 revolution. Consequently, the MEK believes that imperialism may reassert itself within Iran.
In the MEK's view, the Shia fundamentalists turned away from Khomeini's emphasis on the will of the people at the beginning of the new regime. Khomeini and his supporters have, according to the MEK, allowed their ”pragmatic” fear of the return of imperialist influence and their ”opportunistic” fear of losing control of the revolution to restrict the choices and information open to the people, and have consequently oppressed them.
C. Specific Excerpts of MEK Texts
Early MEK writings (1966-1971), such as passages in Mujahid, primarily address issues regarding Shiism and its role within the organization's revolutionary program. Some examples of MEK writings on these topics include:
- “After years of extensive study of Islamic history and Shia ideology, our organization has reached the firm conclusion that Islam, especially Shiism, will play a major role in inspiring the masses to join the revolution. Shiism has both a revolutionary message and a special place in our hearts,” and
-“A man is a true Muslim only if he is a revolutionary. A Muslim is either a revolutionary or not a true Muslim. In the whole of the Koran, there is not a single Muslim who was not a revolutionary.”
An enlightening essay published by the MEK regarding Islam, and Islam's role within the group's ideological framework, is found in a statement publicly issued by the group in 1977. This statement was issued in response to the Iranian Government's public assertions that the MEK was an un-Islamic terrorist organization. The statement, in part, reads:
“Which Islam is it that the Shah refers to? Is it not the Islam of Imperialism? The counterfeit ”Islam” of imperialism is carefully spoon-fed to Muslim countries, and results in their colonization, with the imperialists ultimately in control of the economics, education, and culture of the Muslim countries. According to this ”Islam of Imperialism”, Islam is made for the next world only and has nothing to do with the life of this world . . .
“The Imperialist's brand of Islam dictates that Islamic nations be their colonies and allows them to loot all the wealth, resources, and productivity of Muslim nations. But the Islam of the Prophet Mohammad (on whom be peace) is the only true Islam. Its revolutionary spirit is not compatible with, or comparable to, the (present) weakness and spinelessness of the Muslims. The Islam which Prophet Mohammad brought would never provide land to Zionists for them to cultivate and produce food for their armies aiding them to kill the oppressed and impoverished Palestinian masses.
“Under the Islam taught by Prophet Mohammad, the treacherous Shah and his exploitive guests would not serve themselves 50-year old French champagne. The Islam which the Prophet Mohammad brought is revolutionary and it is for precisely this reason that the Iranian Muslims are joining the revolution. The Shah is afraid of the new wave of Islamic cultural revolution, a wave that is adhered to and propagated by none other than the Mujahideen-e-Khalq. We have not brought with us a new religion. Islam, from its beginning, has been progressive and revolutionary, and has fought against oppression. We are revolting today, as Islam has always done, to break down the obstacles that are blocking the path of man and society towards perfection.
“The Shah is frightened from this wave of Muslim awakening. He is frightened of a revolutionary Islam. He attempts to discredit such a movement and cries out: 'A revolutionary cannot be a Muslim. One must be either a Muslim or a revolutionary!' (According to the Shah's logic) a person who participates in any guerrilla activity must, therefore, be a non-believer; one who is both a revolutionary and a Muslim must be a liar and an apostate by the regime's standards.
“The truth is that a Muslim can be nothing but a revolutionary. If the battle against oppression and immorality is Un-Islamic, if the battle against the supporters and servants of imperialists is Un-Islamic, if the battle against corruption is Un-Islamic, if a desire for freedom is Un-Islamic, if the battle against the exploitation of the people is Un-Islamic, then we and the rest of the Iranian people confess to being Un-Islamic.
“Furthermore, if sucking the blood of hardworking people and plundering the production of farmers and labourers and profiteering from the people's essential needs is Islamic, if placing the country's fate and its people in the hands of American and Zionist spies and military advisers is Islamic, if possession of castles and luxurious mansions, and private airplanes, while the people are starving to death in masses, is Islamic, if making farmers homeless, and gunning down students and labourers is Islamic, if torturing the mothers, fathers, wives, children, sisters and brothers of fugitive revolutionaries is Islamic, if plundering the vast resources of oil, arranging the most wasteful celebrations in history (the Shah's self-coronation and celebrations marking 2500 years of monarchy in Iran that is estimated to have cost the State treasury a hundred million dollars) spending millions of dollars from the treasury of our destitute people for the pleasure of a bunch of treacherous international criminals is Islamic, then we, alongside all the Iranian people confess to being non-Muslims, and we wish to clearly state that only the Shah and his servants and supporters in his Pharoanic rule can be Muslim
“It is a great honour for us to be recognized by the treacherous regime of the Shah as his enemy. This indicates that our essence is contradictory to the nature of his blood-shedding regime. (Ours) is a sacred war and an answer to God's Commandment: 'Why should you not fight in the cause of God and in the cause of those who being weak are ill-treated and oppressed? Men, women and children who cry, will our Lord rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors, and raise up for us, one who will help?' (the Quran, 4:75).”
MEK literature also contains examples of the organization's reliance on Marxist ideology and terminology. An essay within Mojahed, an early MEK publication, was written in 1975 to ”clarify” its involvement with Marxists. The statement reads as follows:
“The Shah is terrified of revolutionary Islam. The regime is trying to place a wedge between Muslims and Marxists. In our view there is only one major enemy-imperialism and its local collaborators. When SAVAK shoots, it kills both Muslims and Marxists. Consequently, in the present situation there is organic unity between Muslim revolutionaries and Marxist revolutionaries. In truth, why do we respect Marxism? Of course, Marxism and Islam are not identical. Nevertheless, Islam is definitely closer to Marxism than to Pahlavism. Islam and Marxism teach the same lessons for they fight against injustice. Islam and Marxism contain the same message, for they inspire martyrdom, struggle, and self-sacrifice. Who is closer to Islam-the Vietnamese who fight against American Imperialism or the Shah who helps Zionism? Since Islam fights oppression, it will work with Marxism, which also fights oppression. They have a common enemy, i.e., the reactionary imperialist.”
The MEK's two major strategy programs are the Nine Point Policy (published in 1969) and the Minimum Expectation Program (published in 1980). The Nine Point Policy was the product of an assignment given to a sixteen-member committee which was charged with formulating MEK policy and strategy. After eight months of study, the policy was published:
1. Iran was dominated by world imperialism, especially U.S. imperialism. Its economy was mainly under the control of comprador bourgeoisie, meaning that land reform had transformed the country from a 'Bourgeois-feudal' to a 'Bourgeois-comprador' system.
2. Land reform essentially caused revolutionary potential in the countryside to subside. Because real land reform had not been implemented and oppressive relations in the countryside still existed, initiating a Chinese-style struggle in the countryside was impossible, although the potential for revolutionary activity remains.
3. Iran was essentially a police state where the armed forces constituted the ultimate power base. The strength and political stability of the regime was based on the effective functioning of its security forces, which were directed by the American Central Intelligence Agency.
4. Because antagonistic class pressures and political awareness of the Iranian masses has reached a high point, the vanguard groups did not need to expose the true face of the regime to the people. But through appropriate political activities, mass alienation had to be intensified.
5. By extending the struggle to the masses of people and allaying hopelessness and fear, the regime must be destabilized via the disruption of the police network-the main force causing disunity in the anti-government struggle. This can only take place by armed struggle (the emphasis is ours).
6. The organization, whether on the basis of monotheistic ideology or on its understanding of historical experiences, concluded that the religion of Islam in general, and the Shia school of thought in the revolutionary and combative traditions of Shia, such as the uprising of Imam Hussein, could be useful in the mobilization of the masses.
7. Because of the awareness of the anti-government forces in the cities (since the Constitutional Revolution, almost all struggles have taken place in the cities) and because the regime, under the guise of land reform, was able to cover up its weaknesses in the rural areas, guerrilla warfare should be initiated in the cities where actions for destabilizing the government and its police network were possible. The struggle in the cities must follow these guidelines:
a. Striking blows to the police network because it was the main pillar of the dictatorial, imperialist regime.
b. Safeguarding the organization against destruction by a major police crackdown. This was to be accomplished by building a strong social base in Iranian society and preparing substitute units to fill in when required.
c. Infiltrating the police network so that their operations were known by the organization prior to initiation.
8. The expansion of guerrilla warfare to the countryside. The organization believed that the major forces of revolution consisted of the workers and the peasants. Of course, this did not imply that the struggle had its ends in the cities; rather, the organization believed the ultimate collapse of the regime would be achieved through guerrilla warfare in the cities while the overall collapse would be accomplished by surrounding the cities from rural military bases.
9. Victory would be achieved through the combined use of a liberation army and rural guerrilla warfare. Therefore, after the struggle in the countryside, the task of creating a 'Peoples Army' must be undertaken to confront the regime's forces.
The Minimum Expectation Program remains the most complete official statement written by the MEK leadership. The Minimum Expectation Program is an all-inclusive statement about economic, social, and political issues. While the Minimum Expectation Program reveals much about the MEK's ideological orientation, the statement is more revealing in respect to the group's positions regarding economic policies, military issues, rights of women and minorities, rights of peasants, and finally foreign affairs. It may be noted that since 1980 some slight modifications have been made to the Minimum Expectation Program, however, those changes have consisted only of softening certain ideological issues rather than altering any of the document's main points. The Minimum Expectation Program reads:
1. All comprador investments must be appropriated. This capital has been the cause of the greatest misery and oppression for our workers, not to speak of the untold strife it has created for our national enterprise.
a. Foreign-owned, colonialist banks which have plundered this nation must be closed down.
b. Foreign-owned, and comprador businesses, plants, and affiliated agricultural enterprises must be expropriated and handed over to the people, and the management of these operations handled by a staff council (comprising works, clerical personnel, and a sentative of the government). The aim is to build anew on the shards of colonialist enterprise an equitable system based on Islam and moving towards Towhid <Divine Integration>.
2. National control must be established over all of the nation's natural resources, not the least of which is petroleum. All shameful colonialist agreements in this field must be irrevocably terminated.
As the Qoran expressed it: natural resources and public wealth are included in the concept of anfaal (the spoils of war) or, by extension, the commonweal. The utilization of resources in the way of God and His Prophet means employing these benefits for the commonweal, whereby no single individual has an interest and all are freed from the bonds that inhibit virtue.
3. Massive, large-scale investment enterprises must be avoided whereby costly luxury industrial conglomerates are allowed to expand at the expense of moderately-scaled and small industries. Preference should naturally be given to agriculture over industry or a healthy economic development and the ideological channeling of the technocrats and bureaucrats will be impossible.
4. A popular army must be established. Adjust and popular economic development where the welfare of the down-trodden is given priority has no place for the fostering of a paper-tiger army, top-heavy with the latest in fancy and costly weaponry. The devotion of resources to the building up of an unwieldy facade of any army shares the same unbalance character as the haphazard growth situation in other economic and social areas.
A political system which lacks popular support by its very nature is forced to develop and maintain an army which must be equipped with complex weapons and cultivates a phony ”professionalism” which divorces it from the masses in its preoccupation with standing up to foreign threats and putting down domestic 'insurrection.'
Such an army has no alternative but to build up the external appurtenance of its weaponry and to play down the human factor of its personnel. Its destiny leads it into becoming absorbed into the imperialist military complex whereby it is made dependent on imperialist logistics (for the supply of complex weaponry) an imperialist advisory personnel.
Such an army is in direct contact only with the ruling bureaucracy and is dependent on a base which is beyond the frontiers of the land which it purportedly serves. To expect popular reactions and a popular performance from such an army would be the height of absurdity.
Our bitter experience with the Imperial Army over the last fifty years is a clear indication of the truth of this assertion. It is for this reason that we call for the establishment of an army of the people, an army which fights for the things in which the people believe and for the interests of the people as a whole. It is not a hireling army of mercenaries fighting only for money, whose sole motive is receiving their wages.
At this point it should be made clear that the establishment of a popular army in no way implies the deprivation of individual rights or the application of pressure, material or moral, on our brave brothers who make up the Iranian armed forces at the moment. What we are calling for is a foundational transformation of the structure and content of relations in the army in such a manner that our army brothers may never again be forced into a system which shunts and restricts the expression of their will to participate and develop their talents in the popular way. This is the place, then, to review the characteristics of what constitutes a popular army:
a. In the popular army there is no blind obedience. Ideology and a correct line of policy, blended with political awareness, provide the guiding force for such an army.
b. The popular army is a national army in the service of the defence of the country and the defender of the interests of the people against foreign aggression.
c. The popular army is completely integrated society and completely harmonious, particularly with the strata of the most oppressed among the people.
d. The popular army is an integrated unity in its own right when it possesses the foregoing characteristics. It permits no under distinctions of privilege within its ranks, between enlisted man, NCO or officer. All eat the same food and no remarkable differences exist in pay and facilities. Promotions are made through consultations with personnel, and unity is maintained throughout by a common appeal to iron discipline, understood by all.
An army which develops a standard of structural relationships like this will have the closest popular relationship with the masses. Actually the prototype for this kind of army is the model army of the early days of Islam, which was composed of soldiers and officers whose sole motivation was service to God and the people. The internal and external relations of armies under the command of the Prophet and of Iman Ali, among the personnel and with the civilians, can provide an instructive case for those who seek to form an army designed to carry out its functions in the name of Islam. In the words of Ali to Malek Ashtar, ”Be kind to your subordinates and hard on arrogant oppressors.”
e. Service in the popular army is never compulsory.
f. The popular army can never be dominated by foreign advisors.
g. The popular army not only does not participate in unjust imperialist wars or in counter-revolutionary conflicts such as the crushing of the freedom-fighters of Dhofar in Oman, but is at the disposal of all revolutionary movements such as the Palestinian sincerity in seeking justice and equity, they have no fear of their ideologies being the object of debate.
5. Of course, it should be made crystal clear that there are distinct demarcations between revolutionary freedom and democracy and the approach of liberalism and irresponsible capitalism, distinctions which cannot be ignored in any revolutionary system. As the Qoran expresses it, ”Do not follow that of which you have no knowledge nor penetrating understanding” (Asraa', 36). Imam Ali always stressed that he would never be the first to draw his sword or launch a conflict to counter the views of someone else no matter how hostilely his opponents might present their views. Imam Jaafar Sadeq, the Sixth Imam of the Shiite sect, sat for hours while his ideological and philosophical opponents ranted and harangued him, never losing his patience or dignity, or behaving in any way disrespectfully towards them. And, indeed, if we believe that Islam is the highest path, why should we feel threatened by other ideas and opinions?
Peoples of different regions must be provided with full political rights to enjoy their own cultural expressions, all within the frame-work of the overall unity, solidarity, and sovereignty of the country. We believe fundamentally that the way the 'nationalities' question is confronted determines the manner in which we evaluate the extent of genuineness and revolutionary legitimacy of a truly popular Towhidi government system.
(The Minimum Expectation Program then outlines policies in respect to workers and peasants).
All anti-labor regulations and legislation must be abolished, and new labor laws must be enacted based on the views of the workers.
Housing must be provided for all workers.
The management of the Workers Welfare Bank and other labor banks and funds must be turned over to the workers themselves.
All governmental wage deductions must be eliminated from worker's salaries. Workers' benefits (health, retirement, casualty, etc.) must be provided from petroleum revenues.
The administration of factories should be carried out by a council composed of representatives of the councils of the workers and of the clerical personnel and representatives of the employer.
Contractual labor must be changed to formal employment (with all its attendant wage guarantees and benefit provisions).
The worker must have a share in the factory profits.
Like the workers, the oppressed peasants of this land must not be forced to bear the debts incurred with government agencies of the previous regime.
The very lands which were usurped from the peasants by the institutions of the previous regime should be returned to the peasant owners.
Basic technology and interest-free agricultural loans must be provided.
The working and productive farmer should not be subjected to land or produce tax.
A concerted effort must be made to encourage and provide the necessary conditions for the establishment of peoples' co-operatives.
All foreign interference of any kind, as well as the importation of foreign agricultural products, must be resisted.
Housing must be provided for farmers through the construction of suitable complexes as a deterrent to the farmers to migrate to the cities.
(Finally, the Minimum Expectation Program addresses the following goals and objectives in respect to foreign policy):
1. A complete political and economic boycott of the racist governments of Israel, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia), and the Union of South Africa should be instituted. By the same token assistance should be provided to liberation movements around the world with the adoption of resolute, decisive political positions in support of all freedom causes.
2. Iran should withdraw from all humiliating imperialist agreements, open or secret, political or military, and join the United Nations bloc of non-aligned nations.
The following text is taken from a speech given by MEK leader Massaud Rajavi in 1972 during his trial proceedings. According to Suroosh Irfani (see preface), the text of this speech was widely circulated among MEK members and sympathizers during the period before the 1979 revolution. The statement reads:
“This trial will end tonight or tomorrow night. So perhaps these are the last nights of our lives. If we are not executed, we will be sentenced to life imprisonment. The regime is holding this trial because the people's movement has intensified and international concern for the state of political prisoners in Iran has increased. For example, Jean Paul Sartre has requested for permission to attend this trial. Al-Fateh issued a special bulletin in our support, and radio Iraq has read out the names of a number of the Shah's political prisoners threatened with execution. The Pahlavi regime, therefore, decided it was in its own interest to hold this trial.
“Each of us has been allocated only half an hour for his defense. Since this does not give us sufficient time to present our case in our ideological context, my comrades will continue the text of this defense in the context of political and economic realities and the rationale and history of our organization and revolutionary struggle.
“The cause for our misfortune and the suffering of all the people at this stage in history is international imperialism. Puppet regimes have been installed here and there by imperialism. Were these regimes to rely on themselves and their people, they would not last even for a day. There are two fronts in the world today. On the one side are the impoverished, the deprived and exploited masses, the homeless and the hungry, the struggling Palestinians and revolutionaries. On the other side are the affluent, the greedy owners of oil wells, big industries and war machines. There is no question of a compromise or a human relationship between those two fronts. We are proud of what you call are our crimes. We feel honored that we are fighting, hand in hand with other revolutionaries, for destroying imperialism and Zionism. Only two options face us today. Either struggle or surrender. Either we must fight like the Vietnamese, Chinese, and Palestinians, or we must submit ourselves to bondage, like the (Shah's) Iran. The odds we are facing in our struggle are heavy. But a human being cannot be cleansed without suffering and trial. When I speak these words, I have in mind the mothers and fathers whose children are in prison. But such is the philosophy of life. Their children will be destroyed physically, but dawn is near. We must endure.
“I and my friends are children of Dr. Mossadeq and followers of his path for national independence and freedom. We have turned our backs on money and position. It was the people who brought Dr. Mossadeq to power to work for nationalization of oil. His was the only legal government our country has had. But Mossadeq was overthrown and the political opponents of the (Shah's) regime were massacred. Following this, the regime flung open the doors for the unrestrained plunder of Iran's wealth. Oil revenues began to be mainly used for purchasing arms and paying the salaries of American advisers.
“Today, the regime has found itself compelled to don a new dress in order to prolong its survival. It is carrying out land reforms and sharing profits with factory workers. But it is playing imperialism's game. Since the coup, (against Mossadeq in 1953) corruption in government administration and bribery are on the increase as are the misfortunes and deprivations imposed on the people by the ruling classes. Take a look at the shanty towns around Tehran. If the poor fall sick, they are condemned to die while waiting unattended outside the hospitals. The shanty town dwellers have nothing to lose except their debts. In rural areas, exploitation by landlords has been replaced by exploitation by the government. These are some of the things creating readiness for revolution. Under conditions when all voices of protest are being muffled and people are suppressed, the only way for struggle is armed resistance by the people.
“To serve government propaganda, the regime's Prosecutor is accusing us of wasting the country's foreign exchange in purchasing arms. I wish to ask: are we the one's who have transferred huge amounts of foreign exchange from this country and sold the nation, or you? Who is hoarding foreign exchange in Swiss accounts? Who owns the hotels, night clubs, and casinos? If he (the Shah) has not acquired all these by robbing the nation of its wealth, then we must assume that his father was a thief. Are we the one's who are wasting the country's foreign exchange or those who import luxury goods and cosmetics, dresses from Dior and flowers from the Hague, whose expenditure for a night of revelry is astronomical.
“Our oil resources are being heartlessly plundered. If the present trend is to continue, Iran's oil reserves would be depleted by 1987. The present oil production stands at 227 million tons a year. Iran is receiving only $1.3 for every $10 of oil that is taken away and sold at high prices in European markets. We are losing at least two billion dollars in this unequal transaction. Mr. Prosecutor, take a look at this amount, and not at the foreign exchange we have used for purchasing a few machine guns. Hundreds of millions of dollars are ending up in the pockets of foreign companies. In a Press statement, the chairman of the planning commission has confessed that an amount running into hundreds of millions had been embezzled under various pretexts. We were promised that with the oil income, Iran would become a welfare state. But the masses have become more impoverished. People are denied their legal rights. When the workers of brick and smelting factories went on strike, soldiers opened fire on them. 200 workers were killed. Troops killed Dr. Khan Ali during the teachers' strike, and wounded so many others. The teachers and the factory workers had merely asked for a salary increase. Yet they were fired at, and their killers got promotions. When the regime reacts to the legitimate demands of the people in this manner, is it possible to remain silent and not pick up a gun?
“Our country is suppressed under the tips of bayonets. To resist this general suppression, even the clergy, which had withdrawn for the past 50 years, is entering the scene of struggle against the Pahlavi regime. There was an uprising in Qom. Students of religious schools attacked soldiers and soldiers killed two persons.
“This led to an uprising by the clergy, the bazaar merchants, and students. The result was the massacre in June 1963. It was after this massacre that Hanifnejad and Badizadegaan came to the conclusion that it was not possible to secure one's rights through discussion and logical arguments. The referred to the Quran and the Nahjul Balagha to begin a new revolutionary movement. Besides the Mujahideen -EKhalq, other revolutionary groups have emerged and continue to emerge to fight for the defense of human dignity.
“That so many revolutionaries are joining the underground resistance shows that the existing conditions are such that hundreds of our best youth have stepped on the path of armed struggle. This proves that our struggle is not waged for any personal motive or objective. Hundreds of highly qualified doctors and engineers are on this path. Ten years ago, the activity of opposition groups was limited to the clandestine distribution of newsletters and bulletins. But now we are picking up arms. This is only the beginning of our struggle. We are aware that victory cannot be achieved quickly and easily. Hazrat Ali has said: 'God does not destroy the exploiters and oppressors of the times Himself. He gives them the opportunity to return to the straight path. When they do not do so, they sink deeper into the swamps of exploitation and decadence. Then He delegates to the people the responsibility to carry out Divine Justice. God does not heal the fractured bones of any nation without suffering and trial.'
“The (Pahlavi) regime is endeavoring to lead our youth astray by propagating the moral decadence of Western capitalism. Instead of creating conditions for heightening the social and political consciousness of the young, the regime is encouraging corruption and immorality by setting up ”Youth Palaces” (and such filthy publications as Zan-e-Rooz (Woman Today). The regime's objective is to prevent the young from getting involved with the real problems concerning them and their society.
“Ruthless suppression is being openly practiced in order to crush the spirit of resistance and instill an attitude of despair and powerlessness among people. Armed guards are being installed in universities. SAVAK's budget is running into hundreds of millions. No one can be taken into employment without first undergoing a screening by SAVAK. The Police and SAVAK have been given unlimited authority for dealing with political dissidents. The director of Qazel Qile prison has instructed his personnel to deal with political dissidents as a butcher deals with the lamb. The regime is not prepared to tolerate opposition or criticism in any form. The workers of Jahan textile industry who were demanding a pay rise were attacked by soldiers. 12 of the factory workers were killed. A few months ago, soldiers attacked Tehran University and Arya Mehr University. Even the professors were mistreated and assaulted.
“There is nothing the regime can do but intensify its oppression. This is a clear indication of its weakness and is a sign of its impending doom. Political prisoners are being subjected to savage torture.
“Many of them have died under torture. According to article 131 of the Constitution, if an official causes the death of a political prisoner (under interrogation and torture) he is to be dealt with as a murder. Yet the killers of political prisoners are going about freely and getting promotions. Burning the body of the prisoners with a stove, pulling out the fingernails, whipping and blows to the genitals are the methods most often used. Mohammad Hanif-negad was beaten so heavily that the bones of his hands, feet, nose, and ears were crushed. Behrooz Dehqani was killed under torture. A baton smeared with acid was thrust into the rectum of Masood Ahmadzadeh. Before he died, Ahmadzadeh had to spend two months of gruelling agony in hospital. You cannot endure listening to our words. We do not expect this inhuman regime to treat us differently. That is why we are fighting to overthrow it. We are looking forward to that day when our people will drag the traitors to the people's court. Down with American imperialism. Hail to those who endure agonies and suffering for the sakes of revolution and freedom.”
Books and Periodicals
Abrahamian, Ervand. ”Iran Between Two Revolutions.” Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1982.
Abrahamian, Ervand. ”The Guerrilla Movement in Iran.” Merip 88 (March-April 1980).
Chubin, Sharam. ”Leftist Forces in Iran.” Problems of Communism 4 (July-August 1980).
Foundation for Constitutional Government in Iran. ”Islamic Marxism: The Case of the Iranian Mojahedin.” Washington, D.C. 1984.
Irfani, Suroosh. Revolutionary Islam in Iran. ZED Books, London, 1983.
Mackenzie, Richard. ”Trying to Win a Few Hearts in U.S.” Insight. September 7, 1987, pp. 34-36.
Sciolino, Elaine. ”Iran's Durable Revolution.” Foreign Affairs Spring 1983, pp. 893-920.
Shoaee, Rokhsarah. ”The Mujahid Women of Iran.” The Middle East Journal 41, Autumn 1987, pp. 519-537.
Sick, Gary. ”Terrorism: Its Political Uses and Abuses.” SAIS Review 7, Winter-Spring, pp. 11-26.
Zabih, Sepehr. Iran Since the Revolution. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1982.
Zabih, Sepehr. ”Iran's Revolutionary Left.” Problems of Communism 32, March-April 1982.
Zabih, Sepehr. Iran's Revolutionary Upheaval. Alchemy Books, San Francisco, 1979.
Zabih, Sepehr. The Left in Contemporary Iran. Hoover Institution Press, Stanford, 1986.
”Bani-Sadr Interview: An Ironic Return to Paris, a Call to Oust Khomeini.” The Christian Science Monitor, August 5, 1981, p. 3.
”Iranian Crackdown Deals Communist Party a Heavy Blow.” The Christian Science Monitor, July 22, 1983, p. 4.
”Iran, France Gain From Iranian Exile's Visit.” The Christian Science Monitor, June 10, 1986, p. 11.
”Iran-Political Crisis Within.” The Christian Science Monitor, November 14, 1986, p. 11.
”Political Conditions in Iran.” The Christian Science Monitor, July 28, 1986, p. 15.
”Rivalry Complicates Iranian Exile Struggle.” The Christian Science Monitor, July 3, 1986, p. 18.
”Around the World; Legislators Unaware U.S. Blacklisted Iran Rebels.” The New York Times, August 9, 1985, Sec. A, p. 7.
”Enough of Khomeini.” The New York Times, November 7, 1982, Sec. 4, p. 17.
”Expect Military Rule in Iran.” The New York Times, September 22, 1981, Sec. A, p. 31.
”Foreign Affairs: Mid East Shift for France.” The New York Times, June 12, 1986, Sec. A, p. 31.
”Inviting Post-Khomeini Moderation.” The New York Times, August 23, 1984, Sec. A, p. 31.
”Iran Names Military Chief to Replace Air Crash Victim.” The New York Times, October 2, 1981, Sec. A, p. 3.
”Iran: Obsessed with Martyrdom.” The New York Times, December 16, 1984, Sec. 6, p. 36.
”Iran Reports Execution of 23 Leftists.” The New York Times, August 18, 1981, Sec. A, p. 3.
”Iran Says Killer of President is at Large, Not Dead.” The New York Times, September 20, 1981, Sec. 1, p. 10.
”Paris, Once Khomeini's Haven, Harbors His Foes.” The New York Times, September 29, 1981, Sec. A, p. 2.
”Soviet Influence in Iran Shows a Sharp Decline.” The New York Times, November 14, 1982, Sec. 1, p. 22.
”The Iranian Exiles.” The New York Times, February 12, 1984, Sec. 6, p. 23.
”The Iranian People's Only Source of Hope.” The New York Times, December 16, 1982, Sec. A, p. 26.
”U.N. Report on Rights and Iran is Criticized.” The New York Times, November 29, 1985, Sec. 1, p. 9.
”Anti-Khomeini Iranians March in Downtown D.C.” The Washington Post, June 20, 1987, Sec. 1, p. A9.
”Bulletin Board.” The Washington Post, November 19, 1984, Sec. 1, p. A21.
”Group Linked to Terrorism Seeks Funds Here.” The Washington Post, December 11, 1985, Sec. 2, p. B1.
”Iranian Election Date Set.” The Washington Post, September 14, 1981, Sec. 1, p. A27.
”Iranian Exile Groups Differ on Tactics to Use Against Regime.” The Washington Post, August 26, 1984, Sec. 1, p. A33.
”Mansour Farhang, Top Khomeini Ally Who Fled Iran, Talks to Don Oberdorfer; Watching Your Revolution Go Down the Drain.” The Washington Post, November 28, 1982, Sec. 3, p. C3.
”Some on Iranian Left Could Offer Challenge to Rule by the Mullahs.” The Washington Post, December 11, 1980, Sec. 1, p. A30.
”Terrorists In Our Midst.” The Washington Post, March 27, 1987, Sec. 1, p. A27.
(From the Congressional Research Service, Nov. 20, 1992)
THE PEOPLE'S MOJAHEDIN ORGANIZATION OF IRAN
(By Kenneth Katzman, Analyst in Middle Eastern Affairs, Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division)
Once a partner in the coalition that overthrew the Shah of Iran, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) is now a major opponent of the regime in Tehran. It advocates democracy, human rights protection, and free market economics for Iran, but its past commitment to leftwing positions has led many observers to question its true intentions. While noting that the PMOI is the most active and effective Iranian opposition group, most observers doubt it currently has sufficient strength to threaten the regime's grip on power. Because of the Mojahedin's alleged use of terrorism during its fight against the former Shah, its early association with the Khomeini regime, and ties with Iraq, the State Department refuses to meet with its representatives. Many in Congress, however, have publicly supported the group or its goals.
Iran's major opposition group, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) was formed in 1963. It has clear control over the twenty-two member umbrella group called the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCR), which was established in 1981 to give the appearance of a broad-based opposition coalition. The military arm of the PMOI/NCR, the Iraq-based National Liberation Army (NLA), was formally established in 1987. All three organizations are led by Masud Rajavi and his wife, Maryam, who serves as Secretary General of the PMOI and deputy commander of the NLA.
Organizational History: The PMOI was founded in 1963 (the year Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini began his revolutionary struggle against the Shah) as a militant, revolutionary, anti-Shah organization. 1 Ideologically, it attempted to blend Islamic fundamentalism and Marxism, but its increasing emphasis on Marxism, in the mid-1970s, caused many of the Islamic elements in the organization to split off and work more closely with the clerics close to Ayatollah Khomeini. 2 These ideological differences did not prevent the PMOI from cooperating with the clerical forces in toppling the Shah, but tensions between the Mojahedin and Khomeini increased significantly after the triumph of the revolution in February 1979. The clerics began to consolidate their control over the government and exclude the non-clerical groups from power. The PMOI also diverged from other leftist groups such as the pro-Moscow Tudeh Party, which continued to back the clerics.
Mojahedin relations with the clerics worsened throughout 1980 and 1981. 3 Ayatollah Khomeini refused to allow the PMOI's leader, Masud Rajavi, to run in the January 1980 presidential elections because the group had boycotted a referendum on the new Islamic republican constitution. 4 The PMOI held a major demonstration on June 20, 1981, which turned into an armed confrontation with the regime. Former President Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr was perceived as encouraging the PMOI demonstrations and cultivating the PMOI as a base of support; he was removed as President the next day. On July 29, 1981, PMOI leader Masud Rajavi and the ousted Bani-Sadr secretly escaped to Paris and announced the formation of the National Council of Resistance (NCR). Blocked from power through legal means, the Mojahedin launched a major armed revolt in September 1981, which was crushed by the regime's Revolutionary Guard and set off the regime's campaign to wipe out the PMOI within Iran. The regime also charged the group with responsibility for bombings at the headquarters of the Islamic Republican Party (IRP), the cleric's party organization) and the Prime Minister's office in the summer of 1981, which killed many major regime leaders. 5
Despite their difference, the PMOI and the clerics shared an uncompromising anti-American and anti-Western orientation. The PMOI is charged with killing several Americans in Iran as part of its underground struggle against the Shah. According to the State Department, these included U.S. military adviser Lt. Col. Lewis Hawkins in 1973, two U.S. Air Force officers and a local employee of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1975, and three American employees of Rockwell International in 1976. 6 The PMOI counters that its top leadership was in prison at the time of these killings and that they were the work of radical Marxist opposition factions within the PMOI. 7 The State Department and scholars of the period say the PMOI also supported the holding of the American hostages and saw the hostage crisis as an opportunity to discredit Iranian liberals and the United States. 8 The State Department emphasizes these points in justifying its refusal to meet with the organization. The PMOI claims it did not support the hostage taking and that the regime used the crisis as a tool for cracking down on its internal opponents, including the PMOI. The PMOI also denies that it is anti-American and publicly supports current U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace efforts.
Strategy, Tactics, and Capabilities of the PMOI: Since its failed September 1981 uprising against the regime, the PMOI has been engaged in armed struggle against the regime, including the use of political violence. In Iran, the Mojahedin maintains clandestine cells that spread PMOI literature, gather information on regime activities, and conduct operations against regime officials and installations. For example, in October 1992, the PMOI claimed responsibility for planting a bomb in the headquarters of the Revolutionary Guard, the regime's principal instrument for combatting the PMOI. The PMOI also claims to have played a major role in anti-regime demonstrations during 1992, but many analysts, although acknowledging some PMOI involvement, do not believe that the PMOI has sufficient strength or support to seriously threaten the regime's grip on power. Despite its weaknesses, the PMOI's dedicated followers have been resilient and persistent, defying regime efforts to eliminate the organization within Iran. The regime is genuinely concerned about PMOI activities in Iran and PMOI supporters are a major target of Iran's internal security apparatus. The group claims that 100,000 of its members have been killed and 150,000 imprisoned by the regime, but these figures are believed to be somewhat exaggerated. Noting that the Mojahedin is not the only victim of its struggle against the Iranian regime, in mid-1991, a State Department spokesman said that the PMOI's use of violence against the regime has resulted in the deaths of 10,000 Iranians, most of whom were innocent civilians. 9
Operating through the National Council of Resistance umbrella group, the Mojahedin maintains offices throughout Western Europe and the United States which attempt to expose alleged regime abuses and curb foreign governments' relations with or support for the Tehran government. The organization frequently conducts anti-Iranian regime marches and demonstrations in those countries, publicizing the regime's alleged human rights abuses. On several occasions, it has attacked Iran's embassies abroad, following Iranian actions against the organization. The PMOI attacked Iranian missions in ten countries, including the United States, in April 1992, following an Iranian air strike on its base across the Iranian border with Iraq, 10 and incited significant protest outside Iran after the Iranian regime assassinated Masud Rajavi's brother, Kazem, in Switzerland on April 24, 1990. 11 Over the past year, the PMOI has also attempted to raise additional concerns in the United States and Western Europe about Iran's weapons of mass destruction programs and its military intentions. Many of its reports remain unconfirmed, but some analysts note that the PMOI occasionally does uncover sensitive information on Iranian activities 12 and that its information should not be automatically rejected.
The PMOI's military arm is the National Liberation Army (NLA), which was officially formed in 1987 after France, as a gesture toward the Iranian government in 1986, expelled the PMOI leadership. Iraq, then in an all out war with Iran, granted the organization a new home. The NLA is based about sixty miles from the border with Iran and claims 40,000 troops under its command, although analysts believe the figure is probably closer to about 15,000. About one-third of the NLA's combat forces and unit commanders are women. It has perhaps a few hundred tanks as well as other heavy equipment captured from Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. 13 Journalists who have visited NLA bases reported seeing that some of the NLA's tanks were not working. 14 Lighter weaponry and ammunition is believed to be supplied largely by Iraq. 15 The group repeatedly claims that a ”final offensive” that will liberate Iran is imminent, but most analysts doubt that the NLA can conduct a major offensive against an Iranian military of about 600,000. The NLA has, however, successfully fended off several small offensives against them by Iran's Revolutionary Guards, most notably those connected to the March 1991 Shiite uprisings against Saddam Husayn. Moreover, it is widely believed that the NLA is largely under the control of Iraq and, even if capable, would not be able to carry out an offensive into Iran without at least the tacit approval of Saddam Husayn. 16 Saddam also has apparently used the NLA as a bargaining chip in relations with Iran, unleashing the group when relations deteriorate and reining it in when relations improve.
Sources of External Support: Just as the extent of the PMOI's support within Iran is not precisely known, neither is its strength among Iranian exiles. Because of its anti-Shah past, the PMOI is not close to major monarchist opposition figures such as the former Shah's son (Reza Pahlavi). Although he co-founded the NCR with Rajavi, former President Bani-Sadr has not been active as an opposition figure and is not currently identified as a member of the 22 person NCR. The PMOI/NCR also does not appear close to the loyal opposition National Freedom Movement, headed by the Islamic Republic's first Prime Minister, Mehdi Bazargan, and which is allowed to operate within Iran. A few nationalist and democratic parties, such as the National Democratic Front of Iran, have joined the NCR. Among Iranian exiles, the former Shah's son probably enjoys more popular support than the Mojahedin, but the PMOI's followers, drawn generally from the intelligensia, are said to be more dedicated and zealous than those of the other groups.
Among governments in the Middle East, Baghdad is the PMOI's most visible supporter, offering the group a base of operations, as well as safe haven, and weapons. Many observers claim that Iraq is the PMOI's chief financial source, even though the PMOI lists its primary financial sources as merchants inside Iran, Iranian exiles, and a network of businesses in Europe. 17 There have also been unconfirmed reports that Saudi Arabia is contributing to the PMOI. However, the Mojahedin's close ties to the Iraqi Government-Saudi Arabia's primary adversary-casts significant doubt on those reports. There are also indications that Turkey had been supporting the PMOI; in a September 1992 security agreement with Iran, Turkey pledged not to allow Iranian opposition groups to operate from Turkey. 18 Many observers also note that, because of the large number of Iranians in or passing through Turkey, the PMOI has a significant information gathering network there.
Relations With the Administration and Congress: Since 1987, the PMOI has been registered with the U.S. Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, as amended. However, the Administration refuses to meet with representatives of the organization. In response to an inquiry by Representative Lee Hamilton, Chairman of the Europe and Middle East Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the State Department explained its position as ”stem(ming) from the PMOI's use of terrorism and its aim of seeking the violent overthrow of the current Iranian regime.” The Department's also lists Mojahedin attacks on U.S. personnel in Iran before the revolution, the group's support for the takeover of the U.S. Embassy Tehran in 1979, and the PMOI's current ties to the Iraqi Government as justifications. 19 State notes the group's past acceptance of some aspects of Marxism but indicates that ideology is not the basis of U.S. opposition to the group. The PMOI charges that the Department position is the product of a pledge to the Iranian Government in the U.S.-Iran arms dealings of 1985-86, 20 and objects to the Department's characterization of the organization.
Many Members of Congress have been more supportive of the PMOI, perhaps because of the significant Iranian exile community in the United States. The PMOI's warmer reception in Congress may also flow from continuing popular resentment of Iran over its seizure of the American hostages in 1979. Some Members may believe that any alternative is preferable to the current regime in Tehran. As examples, Representative Mervin Dymally has occasionally circulated letters supporting the PMOI or its goals; congressional letters such as these have sometimes attracted close to two hundred signatures by House members. In the belief that all sides of the debate on U.S. policy toward Iran should be represented, Representative Dymally also has hosted speaking engagements for PMOI representatives. In October 1992, Senator Hank Brown led 61 Senate colleagues in urging the U.N. General Assembly to condemn human rights violations in Iran and ”supporting the Iranian People's Resistance.” 21 PMOI literature frequently trumpets the group's meetings with Members and their expressions of support for the organization, no matter how qualified that support.
(From the Washington Post, Dec. 2, 1992)
DON'T LOOK TO IRAN'S MUJAHEDDIN FOR HELP
I agree with William Raspberry on ”The Threat From Tehran” (op-ed, Nov. 11). Iran's military buildup and religious proselytizing pose a threat to regional stability and U.S. security interests as well as to the security of Iran itself. Indeed, the clerical regime has neglected democratic principles, human rights and the general wellbeing of its people in the pursuit of militant fundamentalism, terrorism and military supremacy. I further agree with Mr. Raspberry that the clerical regime should be replaced with a democratic one.
But I should emphasize that the People's Mujaheddin Organization is not the answer. The People's Mujaheddin is a leftist revolutionary group categorized as a terrorist organization by the State Department. In the 1970s, the Mujaheddin assassinated a number of Americans in Iran: Air Force Brigadier Gen. Harold Price, Col. Lewis Hawkins, Col. Paul Schaefer and three civilian employees of Rockwell International.
The Mujaheddin carried out an aborted attempt to kidnap Ambassador Douglas A. MacArthur II in December 1970 in Tehran and bombed the offices of El Al, British Airways the Jewish Emigration in Tehran.
The Mujaheddin also participated in the takeover of the U.S. Embassy and the taking of the American diplomats as hostages in Tehran and took credit for prolonging their ordeal.
The American public and the leadership should be aware that the People's Mujaheddin has been and is a tool of the Baghdad regime and receives financial, political and moral support from Saddam Hussein.
Durng the war between Iran and Iraq, the Mujaheddin went so far as to attack the Iranian armed forces from bases in Iraq.
The solution to the problem of Iran is to replace the despotic regime of Tehran with a democratic Western-oriented government that would promote peace and stability in the region and put an end to state-sponsored terrorism.
The writer is a former minister in the Iranian Embassy in Washington.
IRAN REBEL GROUP LOBBIES WELL, BUT IS IT ANTI-AMERICAN?
(By Morton M. Kondracke)
Having lobbied its way into favor on Capitol Hill, a controversial Iraq-based Iranian revolutionary group is making a strong play to gain official recognition from the incoming Clinton Administration.
But Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) is asking the FBI for a public report on the group, the People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI), charging that it has a ”history of violence against American citizens.” It a charge that bears looking into by the President-elect.
A delegation of PMOI officials, including its foreign affairs director, attended the Democratic Leadership Council's dinner in Washington Dec. 8 and managed to make a brief presentation of it case and some literature to Clinton, his wife Hillary, and several top Congressional leaders.
Vice President-elect Al Gore, one of 62 Senators who signed a pro-PMOI letter Oct. 28, met for half an hour with the foreign affairs director, Mohammed Mohadessin, just before the election.
“With a new Administration, we believe it is time for a new approach toward Iran,” a Mohadessin aide, Ali Safavi, told me. He indicated that the PMOI hopes, at a minimum, for reversal of a State Department ban on official contact with the group and, at best, for aid and recognition as the leading resistance group battling the fundamentalist government of Iran.
Safavi charged the Bush Administration with ”appeasing the mullahs.” who are bent on a policy of internal repression, terrorism, military domination of the Persian Gulf, and development of nuclear, chemical, and biological arsenals.
Administration officials admit that Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani has not, as they hoped, demonstrated more moderation than the late Ayatollah Khomeini. Iran is currently accused of trying to wreck the Mideast peace talks by prompting fundamentalist attacks on Israelis and of being one of the world's foremost sponsors of terrorism. The CIA recently confirmed there are signs that Iran is working on a nuclear capability.
Still, the State Department says it opposes the PMOI as a ”leftist” group founded in opposition to Zionism and American ”imperialism” and alleges it supported not only the assassination of several American military officers and civilians in Iran between 1973 and 1976, prior to the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, but also the seizure of the US embassy in November 1979.
But PMOI spokesmen claim their group is Islamic and democratic and, while certainly anti-Shah, had nothing to do with attacks on Americans. The group assets that the assassinations took place when the PMOI's leader, Masoud Rajavi, was in jail and leadership of the group was seized by militant Marxists. Further, the US embassy, according to PMOI, was seized by Islamic militants who later became the Revolutionary Guards.
The group maintains an effective lobby in Washington. This summer, 219 House Members, led by Reps. Mervyn Dymally (D-Calif), Helen Bentley (R-Md), and Robert Torricelli (D-NJ), signed a statement denouncing Iranian human rights abuses and declaring that the PMOI-led National Resistance Council ”is capable of establishing freedom and democracy in Iran.”
The Senate letter that was signed by Gore and circulated by Sen. Hank Brown (R-Colo) cited the House action and support from 1,300 parliamentarians in 19 other countries.
But on Nov. 28, a Congressional Research Service report raised questions both about PMOI's military prowess and its dedication to democracy.
According to CRS scholar Kenneth Katzman, the PMOI-led National Liberation Army (NLA) ”claims 40,000 troops under its command, although analysts believe the figure is probably closer to 15,000,” as against 600,000 in Iran. ”Moreover, it is widely believed that the NLA is largely under the control of Iraq, and, even if capable, would not be able to carry out an offensive into Iran without at least the tacit approval of Saddam Hussein,” Katzman wrote.
Katzman says that Rajavi is an ”authoritarian socialist” and notes that PMOI propaganda features pictures of him and his wife in the style of regimes dominated by cults of personality.
McCain, co-sponsor of tough sanctions legislation against Iran, wrote to FBI Director William Sessions on Dec. 15 asking for an update of a 1987 public report on PMOI, which alleged complicity in assassination of Americans and the embassy takeover.
“I am concerned that PMOI is playing an active role in lobbying the US congress,” McCain wrote, ”under conditions where members have no way to learn the history of this organization,” which he said involves ”violence against American citizens, terrorism and financial ties to Iraq.”
As a well-placed Congressional aide noted, ”this is a three-cornered game between Iraq, Iran, and the PMOI. There are no good guys. There are only villains.”
So while it may be that the Clinton Administration will find the PMOI worth supporting to harass an aggressively anti-western Iran, no decisions should be made before the facts are sorted out.
CAMPAIGN FOR DEMOCRACY
AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN IRAN,
December 24, 1992.
DEAR SENATOR MCCAIN: Your tough sanctions legislation against the Islamic ” Republic” of Iran and your stand against the ”People's Mojahedin Organization” is quite commendable.
The PMOI which has been repudiated as a terrorist organization on numerous occasions by the United States Department of State in the last 20 years, has presented a grossly distorted picture of their movement and their gross acts of terrorism is without exaggeration feared and abhored by the Iranian people.
Many facts concerning the unsavory nature of this so-called resistance movement should be presented to the honorable members of Congress who are horrified by the insane and reprehensible behavior of an Iranian leadership which has resorted to unprecedented acts of brutality, hostage taking and international terrorism. For example the fact that the resistance group being promoted was a committed supporter of Khomeini and until it began quarreling with the mullahs in 1981, had in fact acted hand in hand with the Islamic regime to suppress all shades of liberal and democratic thought in Iran. It is also important to note that during both the Iran-Iraq War, as well as the Persian Gulf War, it had sided with Saddam Hussein first against their own people and later against the democratic alliance.
The solution to Iran's problems is the replacement of the current Rafsanjani-clerical Administration with one democratic inclination, responsive to popular aspirations, needs and priorities. Democratically minded Iranian opposition groups are working toward this goal.
We are looking forward to hear from you.
IRANIAN COMMUNITY CENTER
Glendale, AZ, December 28, 1992.
Hon. Senator JOHN MCCAIN,
Senator of Arizona.
DEAR SENATOR MCCAIN: A recent article in the Washington Post has stirred up a controversy in our community. In the letter titled ”Iranian Group Lobbying Clinton”, the author, Mr. Kondracke, has attempted to undermine Mojahedin's legitimacy in their struggle for democracy and peace in Iran. Their diplomatic campaign which is merely to expose Khomeini's brutal regime and to introduce their just resistance, has been portrayed as fraud and deceiving, an accusation that has brought resentment in our community.
Our community was particularly hurt to find your name in the article supporting Mr. Kondracke's arguments particularly when we have been in contact with your office and have informed you of the situation.
After fourteen years of Khomeini, the world has realized Khomeini's crime against humanity, thanks to Mojahedin for their countless efforts to expose the regime. If it was not for the Mojahedin with their extensive support and connections within Iran, how would the truth by-pass the filters of a controlled and censored Iran. International organizations such as Amnesty International, when reporting on Iran, base their figures primarily on the Mojahedin. This illustrates their recognition and credibility.
The regime in Iran has been condemned repeatedly in the world community for the violations of human rights and export of terrorism. Iran's response to the condemnation has been to deny the charges on the basis that the information leading to condemnation has been produced by the Mojahedin. Thus clearly, the first beneficiary of this letter are the mulahs in Iran and consequently, the first victim will be the Iranian people who carry the bitter experience of 14 years of ruling of a reactionary, anti-western, and oppressive regime.
As Iranian-Americans, we are concerned with the situation in Iran and follow the events closely. We are well informed on the Mojahedin and are certain that the alleged charges in the letter are not true. Mojahedin have never been involved in any terrorist activities as suggested by Mr. Kondracke. They have strongly and repeatedly condemned any such action or one against the international laws and principles that they are striving and seeking for Iran. They are truly independent and have no financial or military ties to a foreign country or agency. They are deeply rooted in the Iranian people and enjoy popular support, among Iranian people as our community here in Arizona is a proof of that.
During the eighties, at the time when the Reagan-Bush administration was trying to renew its vows of friendship with Khomeini, the first prerequisite to any such relationship with Iran was denunciations of the Mojahedin. It was within this context that the 1987 FBI report came out. Therefore, except for Khomeini and its strategic friends, no one would believe that a movement with strong Islamic beliefs with many highly western (including the United States) educated members can possibly be ”leftist” or ”terrorist”. Accusing the Mojahedin of such, is an insult to a nation who see their only hope for freedom in the Mojahedin.
There are two opposite scenarios in Iran. One is represented by the Khomeini regime which has proven to be only a potential for further instability for the region with no chance of any moderation. The second scenario which lies with the Mojahedin, is the only alternative for this troubled but strategically important region of the world. Stability will only return when Iran if freed. Only the Mojahedin can bring a lasting democracy to Iran and peace and stability to the region. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the United States as well as the Iranian people that the United States take a firm standing, against mulahs in Iran and to support the Mojahedin.
Mojahedin have been clear on the future of Iran. Their standing on issues has been out for many years. We as Iranian-Americans are all familiar with their goals. They have enjoyed international support. It just seems impossible that the whole world is misinformed. The ”conditions” to study the past history and present program is all public information easily accessible to all. Thus, the recent support by the United States Congress is not due to their lack of knowledge but rather to their commitment to human principles.
The current situation in the region is volatile and changes can go in any direction. A greater focus and attention on the situation is required. We would like to send representatives and discuss with you concerning the situation and the Mojahedin. We hope to work together with you to resolve the misunderstandings.
(And 5 others).
IRANIAN CULTURAL SOCIETY
OF NEW JERSEY,
Toms River, NJ, December 28, 1992.
Ms. STACY MASON,
Roll Call, 900 2nd Street, NE.,
DEAR MS. MASON: When finally there seem to be a change in the US policy toward Iran and the Iranian Resistance, elements and supporters of the Mullah's regime in Iran are at work to pursue a campaign of misinformation aiming at discrediting the new policy. Reading Mr. Kondracke's article in the December 21, 1992 issue of the Roll Call, I see that this misinformation campaign has found its way into his work as well.
Without going into details of the State Department ”fact sheet” against the Resistance which has been rebutted by the Resistance representatives in the US, I just would like to emphasis on a fact that there is no alternative beside the National Council of Resistance to the regime in Tehran. The choice is between a regime which presents the biggest threat to US vital interests in the Persian Gulf region and the peace and security of the entire Middle East, and a democratic independent resistance led by Mr. Masoud Rajavi which will undo what Khomeini did in Iran. Denouncing the Iranian Resistance from any standpoint, in practical terms, means supporting the current regime.
The last three US presidents have made misinformed decisions with regard to the mullah's regime which have damaged these presidencies one way or another. President-elect Clinton cleverly understands this and is determined to make a US policy more in line with US and world interests in that region. The recent meetings between Resistance representatives and members of the incoming Administration demonstrate the new policy. This new policy is in the interest of both nations and in particular in interest of Iranian-Americans who wish close and friendly relations between the American government and a new democratic government in their original homeland.
Time has come for this change and no efforts on the part of the mullahs or their surrogates can stop it.
1 A detailed discussion of the political and ideological roots of the MKO is contained in Abrahamian, Ervand. Radicial Islam: The Iranian Mojahedin. Londor: I.B. Taurus and Co. Ltd., 1989.
2 The PMOI claims its current leadership is also drawn from the Islamic rather than the Marxist wing of the organization. The group publicly espouses democracy, protection for Iran's minorities, internationally recognized standards of human rights, and free market economics. However, many critics question whether or not the group has really abandoned its more authoritarian roots and believe that the group is concealing its true views in order to curry international support in toppling the Tehran regime.
3 A discussion of the relationships among Bani-Sadr, the PMOI, and the clerics is contained in Bakhash, Shaul. The Reign of the Ayatollahs. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1984.
4 Bakhash, p. 90.
5 There has been much speculation among academics that these bombings were actually planned by senior IRP leaders, including Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (now Iran's President) to rid themselves of rivals within the IRP.
6 See, Department Views of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, in Congressional Record, daily edition, April 28, 1992. p. E1114-E1117.
7 Ibid., p. E1116.
8 Ibid, See also Bakhash, Shaul. The Reign of the Ayatollahs. p. 114-116,
9 Iranian Rebels Cheered on Hill, Called Terrorists by State. Washington Times, July 15, 1991. p. A7.
10 Iran Rebels Hit Missions in 10 Nations. New York Times, April 6, 1992. p. A3.
11 Beichman, Arnold, Chilling Stretch of Iranian Intimidation. Washington Times July 15, 1991. p. D1. The report also notes the Swiss justice authorities change that Iranian government agencies directly planned and carried out the assassination of Kazem Rajavi. The U.S. State Department also assigns responsibility for the killing to Tehran.
12 Iranian Rebels Cheered on Hill, Called Terrorits by State.
13 During the Iran-Iraq war, NLA units often accompanied Iraqi units on the offensives into Iran and were given a share of captured weaponry. In July 1988, for example, NLA units took advantage of a major Iraqi offensive into western Iran to briefly capture and hold two towns, Kerend and Eslamabad-e-Gharb, in its Eternal Light operation.
14 Opposition Trains on Plains of Iraq to Topple Iranian Rulers. Associated Press, May 8, 1991.
15 Group Unveils Iran's Nuke Weapon Plan, Plots ”Equal Opportunity” Overthrow. Armed Forces Journal International, March 1992. pp. 26, 28.
16 Facing Iran: An Army With Resolve and Day Care. New York Times, June 5, 1991. p. A4.
17 Group Unveils Iran's Nuke Weapon Plan, Plots ”Equal Opportunity Overthrow.
18 Further on Iran-Turkey Accord. Tehran Islamic Republic News Agency, September 15, 1992.
19 Exchange of letters between the PMOI and Rep. Lee Hamilton, and between Rep. Hamilton and the Department of State, reprinted in Congressional Record, daily edition. April 28, 1992. pp. E1114-E1117
20 Iranian Rebels Cheered on Hill, Called Terrorists by State.
21 Taken from the test of the Senate letter to U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, October 28, 1992.