The MEK: A Leading Voice for a Democratic Iran

The Deputy Director of the National Council of Resistance of Iran. US Representative Office, Alireza Jafarzadeh, revealed in a press conference on Tuesday, February 14, new  information about the headquarters and foreign mercenary training centers of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).

Gathered and documented by the social network maintained inside Iran, including sources inside the Iranian regime and the IRGC itself, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) collected information over a period of several months, about the expansion of training by the IRGC, and its creation a large directorate in its extraterritorial arm, the Quds Force, as part of the regime’s strategy to increase their involvement abroad, including in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The directorate has dozens of training camps across Iran, reported the MEK, pinpointing 14 of them, eight of which are located near Tehran. the MEK established the location of the headquarters of the directorate at the Imam Ali military base, near kilometer 20 of the Tehran-Karaj highway.

The MEK provided satellite images of some of the sites, as well as maps, and diagrams.

Support for the US government’s recent imposition of new sanctions against a number of individuals and companies affiliated with the clerical regime for their role in missile proliferation is supported by the Iranian resistance, including the MEK, viewing these sanctions as a positive step in confronting the regime.  

The Resistance believes it to be imperative to also impose comprehensive sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards, its affiliated entities, the Ministry of Intelligence, and other entities involved in the suppression of the Iranian people and the exportation of terrorism.

“This economic pressure would go a long way toward addressing the threats emanating from the Godfather of state-sponsored terrorism, the biggest source of war and instability in the region, and a major player in the creation of the environment that enabled the survival and expansion of ISIS,” the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the broad-based coalition of the Resistance, in an article published on February 17.

The new revelation was the latest in long list of cases, such as the detailed report MEK sources provided in December 2016, regarding the role of the IRGC and its foreign mercenaries in the massacre in Aleppo, Syria. According to the MEK, the IRGC built a network of bases around the Syrian city and directing militiamen from Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan to do the killing.  The Washington Times reported this MEK intelligence on December 20, saying that it characterized the IRGC as an occupying force. The MEK report revealed that the IRGC had amassed an army of 25,000 Iranian and foreign militias in and around the city of Aleppo.  Additionally, on April 28, 2016, the MEK reported that the Iranian regime had a new campaign to recruit children to join the war in Syria. The information was picked up by various international media outlets and included a promotional clip from Iranian state media aimed at persuading children to enlist in militant forces in order to “defend the sacred shrine” in Syria.

In other areas, on April 12, 2015, MEK spokesman Shahin Gobadi said that commanders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force were training members of the Houthi rebel group in Yemen.  In an online conference, Gobadi said that information obtained from inside the regime by the MEK network showed that the IRGC Quds Force oversees Iranian policy toward Yemen. “The military plans and operations of the Houthis are completely under the supervision and control of the Quds Force, which is in charge of organizing and commanding the Houthis.

In a subsequent statement, Gobadi cited MEK information revealing how the IRGC has been trying to smuggle weapons to Yemen in this quest to support Houthis in that country’s conflict. “With regard to Iraq, as well, the MEK’s information about the Iranian regime’s extensive meddling has been spot on.”

Mr. Mohamamd Mohaddessin, the Chairman of the NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee, released the names of 32,000 agents of the Iranian regime in Iraq, in a press conference in Paris on Jan 26, 2007. Mohaddessin underscored that “the detailed information, the only in its kind, had been obtained by MEK sources inside Iran. The MEK information showed how the Iranian regime is exploiting the chaotic situation in Iraq to pursue its long-held ominous objective of imposing its hegemony in Iraq as a springboard to the rest of the region.”

The MEK prepared a detailed profile of IRGC Brigadier General Iraj Masjedi, who has been nominated to be the Iranian regime’s new Ambassador to Iraq, this past January.  According to the MEK, “Masjedi is a deputy to IRGC Major General, Qassem Soleimani, the notorious commander of the Quds Force, or foreign special operations division of the IRGC. Masjedi for years oversaw the operations and activities of the Iranian regime’s agents and militia groups in Iraq. As such, he directly oversaw the operation of the Iranian regime’s terrorists against the Coalition Forces in Iraq after 2003.”

The MEK has played an instrumental role in exposing the Iranian regime and the IRGC in the region for may years, acting as the eyes and ears of the international community by taking huge personal risks. 

Also known as MEK, or Mujahedin-e-Khalq / Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran was founded by Mohammad Hanifnejad, Saeed Mohsen, and Ali-Asghar Badizadgan on September 6, 1965,  These men were all engineers, and had previously been members of the Freedom Movement (also known as the Liberation Movement), created by Medhi Bazargan in May 1961.

The MEK sought a true interpretation of Islam for six years, which is inherently tolerant and democratic, and compatible with the values of modern-day civilization. Once it formulated its view of Islam, it developed a strategy to replace Iran’s regime with a democratic government. The MEK’s comprehensive interpretation of Islam proved to be more persuasive and appealing to the Iranian youth.

The NCRI writes of the early days of the MEK: “The Shah’s notorious secret police, SAVAK, arrested all MEK leaders and most of its member’s in1971. On May 1972, the founders of the MEK, Mohammad Hanifnejad , Saeed Mohsen and Ali Asghar Badizadegan, along with two members of the MEK leadership, Mahmoud Askarizadeh and Rasoul Meshkinfam, were put before death squads and were executed after long months of imprisonment and torture. They were the true vanguards, who stood against the dictatorial regime of Shah. However, they are also recognized for their opposition to what is today known as Islamic fundamentalism.”

Massoud Rajavi, a member of MEK’s central committee, had been given a death sentence, but it was commuted to life imprisonment as a result of an international campaign by his Geneva based brother, Dr. Kazem Rajavi (assassinated in April 1990 in Geneva) and the personal intervention of the French President Georges Pompidou and Francois Mitterrand, leaving him the only survivor of the MEK original leadership.

“Massoud Rajavi led the MEK’s struggle from 1975 to 1979, while incarcerated in different prisons. Massoud Rajavi stressed the need to continue the struggle against the shah’s dictatorship. At the same time, he characterized religious fanaticism as the primary internal threat to the popular opposition, and warned against the emergence and growth of religious fanaticism and autocracy. He also played a crucial role when some splinter used the vacuum in the MEK leadership who were all executed or imprisoned at the time, to claim a change of ideology and policy. Massoud Rajavi as the MEK leader condemn these individual’s misuse of MEK’s name while continuing to stress the struggle against dictatorship. His efforts while still in prison forced these individuals to no longer operating under the name of MEK and adopting a different name for their group. These positions remained the MEK’s manifesto until the overthrow of the shah’s regime,” writes the NCRI, who add, “A month before the 1979 revolution in Iran, the Shah was forced to flee Iran, never to return. All democratic opposition leaders had by then either been executed by the Shah’s SAVAK or imprisoned, and could exert little influence on the trend of events. Khomeini and his network of mullahs across the country, who had by and large been spared the wrath of SAVAK, were the only force that remained unharmed and could take advantage of the political vacuum. In France, Khomeini received maximum exposure to the world media. With the aid of his clerical followers, he hijacked a revolution that began with calls for democracy and freedom and diverted it towards his fundamentalist goals. Through an exceptional combination of historical events, Shiite clerics assumed power in Iran.”

However, Rajavi argued that Khomeini represented the reactionary sector of society and preached religious fascism. Later, in the early days after the 1979 revolution, his statements were used to incite an attack on the MEK.

Following the revolution, the MEK became Iran’s largest organized political party. It had hundreds of thousands of members who operated from MEK offices all over the country. MEK publication, ‘Mojahed’ was circulated in 500,000 copies.  The MEK also refused to approve the new constitution based on the concept of velayat-e faqih, while stressing its observance of the law of the country to try to prevent further suppression of MEK supporters.

“Khomeini sanctioned the occupation of the United States embassy in 1979 in order to create an anti-American frenzy, which facilitated the holding of a referendum to approve his Constitution, which the MEK rejected,” writes the NCRI.

The MEK continued to participate in the political process, fielding candidates for the parliamentary and presidential elections. The MEK also entered the national debate on the structure of the new Islamic regime. However, it was unsuccessful in seeking an elected constituent assembly to draft a constitution.

The MEK attempted further political participation when Massoud Rajavi ran for the presidency in January 1980. He was forced to withdraw when Khomeini ruled that the only candidates who were eligible were those who had supported the constitution in the December referendum, which the MEK had boycotted. An unclassified report on the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, (PMOI/ MEK) by the Department of State to the United States House of Representatives in December 1984, reveals that Rajavi’s withdrawal statement emphasized the MEK’s efforts to conform to election regulations and reiterated the MEK’s intention to advance its political aims within the new legal system. 

The MEK’s struggle with Khomeini dates back to the 1970s, and stems from its opposition to what is known today as Islamic extremism.  In his anger over the MEK’s position against his regime, and worried about their growing popularity, Khomeini ordered a crackdown against the MEK and its supporters. According to the NCRI, between 1979 and 1981, some 70 MEK members and sympathizers were killed and several thousand more were imprisoned by the Iranian regime.

In 20th June 1981, when the MEK called a demonstration to protest at the regime’s crackdown, and to call for political freedom which half-a-million supporters participated, Khomeini ordered the Revolutionary Guards to open fire on the swelling crowd, followed by the mass and summary executions of those arrested.

“Since then, MEK activists have been the prime victims of human rights violations in Iran,” writes the NCRI, “Over 120,000 of its members and supporters have been executed by the Iranian regime, 30,000 of which, were executed in a few months in the summer of 1988, on a direct fatwa by Khomeini, which stated any prisoners who remain loyal to the MEK must be executed.  Having been denied its fundamental rights and having come under extensive attack at the time that millions of its members, supporters and sympathizers had no protection against the brutal onslaught of the Iranian regime, the MEK had no choice but to resist against the mullahs’ reign of terror.”

A Judgment of the Proscribed Organizations Appeal Commission, on November 30, 2007 states, “Towards the end of 1981, many of the members of the MEK and supporters went into exile. Their principal refuge was in France. But in 1986, after negotiations between the French and the Iranian authorities, the French government effectively treated them as undesirable aliens, and the leadership of the MEK with several thousand followers relocated to Iraq.” 

Today the MEK is the oldest and largest anti-fundamentalist Muslim group in the Middle East. It has been active for more than a half century, battling two dictatorships, and a wide range of issues. The MEK supports:

– Universal suffrage as the sole criterion for legitimacy

– Pluralistic system of governance

– Respect for individual freedoms

– Ban on the death penalty

– Separation of religion and state

– Full gender equality

– Equal participation of women in political leadership. MEK is actually led by its central committee consist of 1000 women.

– Modern judicial system that emphasizes the principle of innocence, a right to a defense, and due process

– Free markets

– Relations with all countries in the world

– Commitment to a non-nuclear Iran

The MEK remains strong. It is a cohesive organization, with a worldwide reach and deep ties within Iran. The leading voice for democracy in Iran, MEK supports an interpretation of Islam that discredits the fundamentalist regime.