Find a Security Clearance Job!

Military


Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO)
National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA)
People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI)
National Council of Resistance (NCR)
National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)
Muslim Iranian Student's Society

It was reported on 21 September 2012, that the US State Department was preparing to remove the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization from the list of organizations recognized as terrorist groups by the United States. On 28 September 2012, the US State Department formally announced that it had delisted the organization as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224. The decision took into account the MEK's public renunciation of violence, the absence of confirmed acts of terrorism by the MEK for more than a decade, and their cooperation in the peaceful closure of Camp Ashraf, their historic paramilitary base.

The fall of Saddam Hussein's regime affected the circumstances of the designated foreign terrorist organization Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). The MEK was allied with the Iraqi regime and received most of its support from it. The MEK assisted the Hussein regime in suppressing opposition within Iraq, and performed internal security for the Iraqi regime. The National Liberation Army was the military wing of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

Mujahedin-e-Khalq [MEK] facilities in Iraq included

  • Camp Ashraf, the MEK military headquarters, is about 100 kilometers west of the Iranian border and 100 kilometers north of Baghdad near Khalis
  • Camp Anzali near the town of Jalawla [Jalula] (120-130 km (70-80 miles) northeast of Baghdad and about 40-60 km (20-35 miles) from the border with Iran)
  • Camp Faezeh in Kut
  • Camp Habib in Basra
  • Camp Homayoun in Al-Amarah
  • Camp Bonyad Alavi near the city of Miqdadiyah in Mansourieh [about 65 miles northeast of Baghdad]

On 10 May 2003 V Corps accepted the voluntary consolidation of the Mujahedin-E-Khalq's forces, and subsequent control over those forces. This process is expected to take several days to complete. Previously, V Corps was monitoring a cease-fire brokered between the MEK and Special Forces elements. The MEK forces had been abiding by the terms of this agreement and are cooperating with Coalition soldiers.

By mid-May 2003 Coalition forces had consolidated 2,139 tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery pieces, air defense artillery pieces and miscellaneous vehicles formerly in the possession of the Mujahedin-E Khalq (MEK) forces. The 4th Infantry Division also reported they have destroyed most of the MEK munitions and caches. The voluntary, peaceful resolution of this process by the MEK and the Coalition significantly contributed to the Coalition's mission to establish a safe and secure environment for the people of Iraq. The 4,000 MEK members in the Camp Ashraf former Mujahedeen base were consolidated, detained, disarmed and were screened for any past terrorist acts.

The United States, which listed National Council of Resistance of Iran as a terrorist organization, closed the NCRI's Washington office in 2003. On September 28, 2012 the Secretary of State decided, consistent with the law, to revoke the designation of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and its aliases as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under the Immigration and Nationality Act and to delist the MEK as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224. Property and interests in property in the United States or within the possession or control of U.S. persons will no longer be blocked, and U.S. entities may engage in transactions with the MEK without obtaining a license.

The Secretarys decision took into account the MEKs public renunciation of violence, the absence of confirmed acts of terrorism by the MEK for more than a decade, and their cooperation in the peaceful closure of Camp Ashraf, their historic paramilitary base. The United States has consistently maintained a humanitarian interest in seeking the safe, secure, and humane resolution of the situation at Camp Ashraf, as well as in supporting the United Nations-led efforts to relocate eligible former Ashraf residents outside of Iraq.

Many members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq were still interned at Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty in Iraq as they await countries to take them as refugees. By 2014 the UN had appointed a special representative to seek relocation opportunities for this group. We are working closely with our American friends and partners who also are looking to such opportunities. It is not an easy process.

Description

Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) is the largest and most militant group opposed to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Also known as the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, MEK is led by husband and wife Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. MEK was added to the U.S. State Department's list of foreign terrorist groups in 1997.

MEK was founded in the 1960s by a group of college-educated Iranian leftists opposed to the country's pro-Western ruler, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Although the group took part in the 1979 Islamic revolution that replaced the shah with a Shiite Islamist regime, MEK's ideology, a blend of Marxism and Islamism, put it at odds with the postrevolutionary government. In 1981, the group was driven from its bases on the Iran-Iraq border and resettled in Paris, where it began supporting Iraq in its eight-year war against Khomeini's Iran. In 1986, MEK moved its headquarters to Iraq where it received its primary support to attack the regime in Iran. During the 2003 Iraq war, U.S. forces cracked down on MEK's bases in Iraq, and in June 2003 French authorities raided an MEK compound outside Paris and arrested 160 people, including Maryam Rajavi.

Activities

The group has targeted Iranian government officials and government facilities in Iran and abroad; during the 1970s, it attacked Americans in Iran. MEKs past acts of terrorism included its involvement in the killing of U.S. citizens in Iran in the 1970s and an attack on U.S. soil in 1992. While the group says it does not intentionally target civilians, it has often risked civilian casualties. It routinely aims its attacks at government buildings in crowded cities. MEK terrorism has declined since late 2001. Incidents linked to the group include:

  • The series of mortar attacks and hit-and-run raids during 2000 and 2001 against Iranian government buildings; one of these killed Iran's chief of staff
  • The 2000 mortar attack on President Mohammad Khatami's palace in Tehran
  • The February 2000 "Operation Great Bahman," during which MEK launched 12 attacks against Iran
  • The 1999 assassination of the deputy chief of Iran's armed forces general staff, Ali Sayyad Shirazi
  • The 1998 assassination of the director of Iran's prison system, Asadollah Lajevardi
  • The 1992 near-simultaneous attacks on Iranian embassies and institutions in 13 countries Assistance to Saddam Hussein's suppression of the 1991 Iraqi Shiite and Kurdish uprisings
  • The 1981 bombing of the offices of the Islamic Republic Party and of Premier Mohammad-Javad Bahonar, which killed some 70 high-ranking Iranian officials, including President Mohammad-Ali Rajaei and Bahonar Support for the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by Iranian revolutionaries
  • The 1970s killings of U.S. military personnel and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran

In the early 1970s, angered by U.S. support for the pro-Western shah, MEK members killed several U.S. soldiers and civilians working on defense projects in Iran. Some experts say the attack may have been the work of a Maoist splinter faction operating beyond the Rajavi leadership's control. MEK members also supported the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, in which 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days.

Strength

MEK is believed to have several thousand members, one-third to one-half of whom are fighters. MEK activities have dropped off in recent years as its membership has dwindled.

Location/Area of Operation

The group's armed unit operated from camps in Iraq near the Iran border since 1986. During the Iraq war, U.S. troops disarmed MEK and posted guards at its bases. In addition to its Paris-based members, MEK has a network of sympathizers in Europe, the United States, and Canada. The group's political arm, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, maintains offices in several capitals, including Washington, D.C.

External Aid

When Saddam Hussein was in power, MEK received the majority of its financial support from the Iraqi regime. It also used front organizations, such as the Muslim Iranian Student's Society, to collect money from expatriate Iranians and others, according to the State Department's counterterrorism office. Iraq was MEK's primary benefactor. Iraq provided MEK with bases, weapons, and protection, and MEK harassed Saddam's Iranian foes. MEK's attacks on Iran traditionally intensified when relations between Iran and Iraq grew strained. Iraq encouraged or restrained MEK, depending on Baghdad's interests.

Leadership

Maryam Rajavi is MEK's principal leader; her husband, Massoud Rajavi, heads up the group's military forces. Maryam Rajavi, born in 1953 to an upper-middleclass Iranian family, joined MEK as a student in Tehran in the early 1970s. After relocating with the group to Paris in 1981, she was elected its joint leader and later became deputy commander-in-chief of its armed wing. Massoud Rajavi was last known to be living in Iraq, but authorities aren't certain of his whereabouts or whether he is alive.



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list