IRANIAN MUJAHEDIN KHALQ (MEK)
Islamist-Marxist terrorist group that seeks to topple the Iranian regime
Served Moscow as a source of information on Iran during the Cold War
In the early 1970s, murdered five American military technicians working with the Iranian army
By the late 1980s, created a 10,000-strong fighting force in Iraq to aid Saddam Hussein
The Iranian Mujahedin Khalq (MEK) -- or “People’s Combatants” – is an Islamic-Marxist sect.that has been trying to topple the Iranian regime since 1981. It was classified as a terrorist organization by President Bill Clinton in 1997, part of his forlorn attempt at fence-mending with Tehran’s mullahs. In 2002 the European Union, yielding to U.S. pressure, put the MEK on its terrorist list.
The MEK was founded in 1965 after a split in a Marxist-Leninist movement that had waged a guerrilla action in northern Iran. Its ideology emerged as a mix of Islam and Marx, with ingredients from the Iranian religious sociologist Ali Shariati, who advocated an “Islam without a clergy.” The MEK, with KGB help, engaged in a campaign against the Shah and sent cadres to Cuba, East Germany, South Yemen, and Palestinian camps in Lebanon to train as guerrillas.
Vladimir Kuzishkin, a former KGB head in Tehran, reveals in his memoirs that the MEK became a major source of information on Iran for Moscow. It also helped Moscow in its efforts to thwart U.S. influence in Iran. In 1970 and 1971 the MEK murdered five American military technicians working with the Iranian army. An MEK team tried to kidnap U.S. Ambassador Douglas MacArthur III in Tehran. The attempt failed and their leader, Rajavi Massoud, was handed a death sentence, later commuted thanks to a plea to the Shah from Soviet President Nikolai Podgorny.
During Iran's 1978-79 turmoil the MEK played an active role in helping Khomeini to power. Its squads burned cinemas, restaurants, hotels and bookshops, and murdered policemen. After Khomeini seized the reins, it did all it could to radicalize the regime, supporting the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Yet within a year the MEK -- now led by Rajavi, who had come out of prison during the revolution -- decided that the Khomeinist regime was not revolutionary. It had to be toppled; so there ensued a terrorist operation against the regime, that still continues.
Over the years the MEK organized an asylum seekers' racket -- 40,000 Iranians to Europe on bogus claims and in exchange for "voluntary contributions" of up to $10,000 each. Now a personality cult built around blind devotion to Rajavi, it has recruited its adepts mainly from relatives of people executed by the Khomeinist regime. Individuals are brainwashed, and not allowed to develop normal relationships outside the organization. They refuse to send their children to school, insisting that they be educated at home.
By 1988, the MEK had created a 10,000-strong fighting force in Iraq, which helped Saddam Hussein in his genocidal campaign against the Kurds, and also helped him crush the Iraqi Shiites in the south in 1991.