The Mujahedin-e-Khalq (translation: People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI) is an Iranian exile organization officially declared a 'terrorist' organization both in the United States and Iran.  Through its front group, National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), it has been the main conduit for publicizing Israeli intelligence on Iran's nuclear program.
Beginning as an anti-Shah movement in the 1950s, the MEK became the most militaristic opposition movement in Iran during the Shah's regime and continues this policy with the current Iranian government. The MEK reportedly conducted attacks on US officials and civilians in Iran during the 1970s, and in 1981 claimed responsibility for the murders of more than 70 high-ranking Iranian officials in the "Hafte Tir bombing." This led to a widespread government crackdown on all opposition movements in Iran during the time, with thousands of people being tortured and executed, including thousands of MEK members. After this time surviving MEK members fled to Paris and Iraq where the MEK turned into what many analysts have called a reactionary movement, embracing the main goal of overthrowing the Islamic government in Iran through any means, including violence. In Iraq the MEK assisted Saddam Hussein's government in suppressing Shias and Kurds and performed "security services" for the Iraqi government until Hussein's government was overthrown by the US. The MEK did not resist the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 even though the US government distanced itself from the group shortly after. At present the MEK is mainly supported by pro-Israel advocates and/or those who want regime change in Iran, including US neoconservatives.
Faulty Intelligence Source
Even though intelligence provided by the MEK to the US government has been used, intelligence officials within the US and abroad have been doubting its veracity ever since the MEK claimed that it had information about a secret Iranian nuclear site in Natanz. While documenting years of such instances in an investigative report written for IPS News, Gareth Porter argues that the "laptop documents" provided by the MEK as evidence that the Iranian government planned to build a nuclear weapon may have actually originated from Israel's Mossad. Scott Ritter has written that the MEK's intelligence was relayed to the US government via prominent neoconservatives such as Michael Ledeen.
- Since 2002, new information has emerged indicating that the MEK did not obtain the 2002 data on Natanz itself but received it from the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. Yossi Melman and Meier Javadanfar, who co-authored a book on the Iranian nuclear programme last year, write that they were told by "very senior Israeli Intelligence officials" in late 2006 that Israeli intelligence had known about Natanz for a full year before the Iranian group's press conference. They explained that they had chosen not to reveal it to the public "because of safety concerns for the sources that provided the information".
- Shahriar Ahy, an adviser to monarchist leader Reza Pahlavi, told journalist Connie Bruck that the detailed information on Natanz had not come from MEK but from "a friendly government, and it had come to more than one opposition group, not only the mujahideen."
- Bruck wrote in the New Yorker on Mar, 16, 2006 that when he was asked if the "friendly government" was Israel, Ahy smiled and said, "The friendly government did not want to be the source of it, publicly. If the friendly government gives it to the U.S. publicly, then it would be received differently. Better to come from an opposition group."
Support from Progressives
Even though the MEK has carried out violent attacks on civilians, worked for Saddam Hussein's government for years, and accepted various forms of support from the US government when it was intent on pushing for regime change in Iran through opposition movements, some progressives in North America and Europe have still embraced the MEK as a legitimate resistance movement.
Writes Rostam Pourzal:
- On May 26, 2006, a representative of the violent Iranian fugitives based in Iraq, known as MEK, addressed a forum -- an anti-war forum -- sponsored by the liberal Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists in Berkeley, California, as he had done the year before. Introduced as Ali Mirardal, the speaker lamented human rights abuses in Iran and offered the National Council of Resistance, a Paris-based front group for MEK, as the best hope for a democratic Iran.
Pourzal notes that the MEK's flag-waving for human rights is one reason why audiences invite MEK to events, an ironic result considering how the MEK is known as "Saddam's Private Army" for its part in suppressing Iraqi Kurds and Shias.
- While MEK activists feign humanistic values before mainstream audiences, they work closely with some of the extremist Washington circles that push for preemptive US confrontation with Iran. (Other American unilateralist think tanks prefer to support the rival monarchist Iranian groups here.) For example, the Iranian "security expert" who regularly warns us about Iranian fundamentalism on Fox News television, Alireza Jafarzadeh, is none other than the terror group's former registered Washington representative.
While conceding that the MEK has little support within Iran, Scott Ritter writes: "The MEK also has the support of the state of Israel. It has the support of the powerful pro-Israeli lobby here in the United States." Ritter argues that the MEK has been an "asset" for Israel.
According to investigative journalist Connie Bruck, the MEK's "intelligence" on Iran which has been cited by US officials is likely to have been provided to the MEK by Israel. (Ritter also argues this):
- An Iranian-American political activist told me, however, that the N.C.R.I.'s intelligence had actually come from Israel. This person said that Israel had earlier offered it to a monarchist group, but that that group's leaders had decided that "outing" the regime's nuclear program would be viewed negatively by Iranians, so they declined the offer. Shahriar Ahy, Reza Pahlavi's adviser, confirmed that account-up to a point. "That information came not from the M.E.K. but from a friendly government, and it had come to more than one opposition group, not only the mujahideen," he said. When I asked him if the "friendly government" was Israel, he smiled. "The friendly government did not want to be the source of it, publicly. If the friendly government gives it to the U.S. publicly, then it would be received differently. Better to come from an opposition group." Israel is said to have had a relationship with the M.E.K. at least since the late nineties, and to have supplied a satellite signal for N.C.R.I. broadcasts from Paris into Iran. When I asked an Israeli diplomat about Israel's relationship with the M.E.K., he said, "The M.E.K. is useful," but declined to elaborate.
According to Gareth Porter, the MEK was a favorite of neoconservatives in the Pentagon, who were proposing in 2003-2004 to use it as part of a policy to destabilise Iran. Just months after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, neoconservative commentator Daniel Pipes declared the MEK (which is currently on the US terror list) a US ally for its potential to provide intelligence on Iran. While Pipes stated that the MEK does not stand a chance of militarily overthrowing the Iranian government, he still recommended that the US government arm them:
- Can the MeK be useful? Yes. Western spy agencies are short on "human intelligence" - meaning spies on the ground in Iran, as distinct from eyes in the sky. Coalition military commanders should seek out the MeK for information on the Iranian mullahs' agents in Iraq...
- Instead, as the U.S. Army recommends, MEK members should (after giving assurances not to attack Iranian territory) be permitted enough arms to protect themselves from their Iranian opponents. And in November, when the secretary of state next decides whether or not to re-certify the MEK as a terrorist group, he should come to the sensible conclusion that it poses no threat to the security of the United States or its citizens, and remove it from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
According to Seymour Hersh, the CIA and Special Operations communities have long-standing ties to the MEK which have resulted in the US supporting the group with money and weapons, even while their lack of usefulness in achieving US foreign policy goals is known:
- The M.E.K. has been on the State Department’s terrorist list for more than a decade, yet in recent years the group has received arms and intelligence, directly or indirectly, from the United States. Some of the newly authorized covert funds, the Pentagon consultant told me, may well end up in M.E.K. coffers. “The new task force will work with the M.E.K. The Administration is desperate for results.” He added, “The M.E.K. has no C.P.A. auditing the books, and its leaders are thought to have been lining their pockets for years. If people only knew what the M.E.K. is getting, and how much is going to its bank accounts—and yet it is almost useless for the purposes the Administration intends.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki indirectly condemned the US's dealings with the MEK in 2008:
- Gardiner also mentioned a trip that the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, made to Tehran in June. After his return, Maliki announced that his government would ban any contact between foreigners and the M.E.K.—a slap at the U.S.’s dealings with the group. Maliki declared that Iraq was not willing to be a staging ground for covert operations against other countries.
US politicians that openly advocate forced regime change in Iran endorse the MEK or individuals associated with the MEK, like Israel lobby favorite, Alireza Jafarzadeh.
Although the Obama Administration has been careful to resist calls to war with Iran, US congress members like Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) (who has been openly endorsing the MEK for years) introduce resolutions that advocate direct US support of the MEK and its activities:
- Members of Congress led by Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA have introduced a resolution calling on the Secretary of State and the President to throw the support of the United States behind an exiled Iranian terrorist group seeking to overthrow the Iranian regime and install themselves in power. Calling the exiled organization “Iran’s main opposition,” Filner is urging the State Department to end the blacklisting of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) — a group listed by the State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). The resolution currently has 83 cosponsors and is gaining significant ground.
When the Raymond Tanter run Iran Policy Committee held a press conference in Washington in September 2010 with MEK representatives to reveal what it called a previously undisclosed Iranian nuclear site near the Iranian city of Qazvin, officials and analysts expressed caution considering the group's unreliable record:
- But the source of the information — the MEK is listed as a terrorist organization by the State Department — and the group’s affiliation and promotion by U.S. neoconservatives pushing hard-line policies towards Iran are reasons for skepticism. Both the State Department and independent experts have raised several alarms about the reliability of the MEK’s claims.
- While in the past, official U.S. sources have been willing to confirm information made public by the MEK, the State Department today told Fox News it would “study” the information, which included satellite images, and noted the MEK’s mixed record. “The MEK has made pronouncements about Iranian facilities in the past — some accurate, some not,” State spokesman P.J. Crowley told Fox.
- Fahimeh Arvani - Secretary General
- Ali Safavi - MEK lobbyist working in the UK and the US
- Maryam Rajavi - "President-elect" of the NCRI since 1993
- Alireza Jafarzadeh - MEK Lobbyist and Fox News Commentator
- David Amess - Conservative British MP who publicly advocates for the legitimization of the MEK
- Lord Corbett of Castle Vale (Robin Corbett) - Principal British Chair of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom, one of the MEK's umbrella organizations which operates under the leadership of the NCRI
- National Council of Resistance of Iran - MEK's parliament in-waiting (comprised of Iranian exiles based in the West)
- Iran Policy Committee - Neoconservative led Israel/MEK lobby group based in the US
- Chris Zambelis, An Iranian voice in the wilderness, Asia Times, June 5, 2008
- Video report on MEK, BBC Newsnight, January 2007
- NPS Terrorist Group Profiles: MEK
- Bronwyn Adcock, "Gunning for Iran", Dateline, SBS , October 4, 2006.
- US Policy Options for Iran and Iranian Political Opposition, Iran Policy Committee, September 13, 2005
- Friends of a Free Iran, "People's Mojahedin of Iran - Mission Report, Friends of a Free Iran - European Parliament, 2005.
- Jorndorff "Who is the MEK? Daily Kos, August 23, 2005.
- "U.S. Congress's support for Mujahedin-e Khalq", OpenDemocracy, July 14, 2005.
- Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization profile, Globalsecurity.org, updated March 2004.
- Justin Raimondo, Richard Perle Supports Terrorism, Antiwar.com, January 28, 2004
- Sam Dealy, Terrorists Plan D.C. Fundraiser., The Hill January 21, 2004
- Connie Bruck, Exiles: How Iran's Expatriates are Gaming the Nuclear Threat, New Yorker, 6 March 2006
- Scott Peterson, Iranian group's big-money push to get off US terrorist list, Christian Science Monitor, 8 August 2011.
- Glenn Greenwald, Israel, MEK and state sponsor of Terror groups, Salon, 10 February 2012.
- Scott Shane, Iranian Dissidents Convince U.S. to Drop Terror Label, New York Times, 21 September 2012.
- Global Security, GlobalSecurity.org "Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization", Global Security.org, accessed on 24 September 2010
- Rostam Pourzal, "MEK Tricks US Progressives, Gains Legitimacy", Monthly Review, 26 May 2006
- Department of State, "Citation: 373 F.3d 152", FTP Resource, accessed on 24 September 2010
- Scott Ritter, "America Is Already Committing Acts of War Against Iran", Alternet, 30 July 2008
- Claude Salhani, 'Analysis: Israel 'Can Destroy' Iran Nukes', Space War, 11 January, 2006. (Accessed 3 April, 2009)
- Scott Ritter, "America Is Already Committing Acts of War Against Iran", Alternet, 30 July 2008
- MIPT, "Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MeK) Group Profile", MIPT Terrorism Knowledgebase, accessed on 24 September 2010
- Scott Ritter, "Iraq, Iran, and WMDs", Znet, 29 January 2007
- Gareth Porter, "Iran Nuke Laptop Data Came from Terror Group", IPS, 29 February 2008
- Connie Bruck, "Exiles: How Iran's Expatriates are Gaming the Nuclear Threat", Iran Inter-link, 6 March 2006
- Anne Singleton, "Saddam's Private Army How Rajavi changed Iran's Mojahedin from armed revolutionaries to an armed cult", Iran-Interlink, accessed on 24 September 2010
- Seymour Hersh, "Preparing the Battlefield", New Yorker, 7 July 2008
- Daniel Pipes and Patrick Clawson, "http://www.danielpipes.org/1100/mujahedeen-e-khalq-a-terrorist-us-ally", Daniel Pipes Website, 20 May 2003 (accessed on 27 September 2010)
- Larisa Alexandrova, "Iran Timeline"), Raw Story, 22 January 2007
- Patrick Disney, "Congressional backers look to exiled Iranian group for regime change", Foreign Policy, 22 September 2010
- Ali Gharib, "Skepticism about MEK’s alleged Iranian nuke revelation", Lobe Log, 9 September 2010
- David Amess, "AMESS: Exposing Iran's chief liar", Washington Times, accessed on 22 December 2010
- Kamran, "Giuliani and Bolton take the stage in NY to call for war on Iran & anoint the neocon choice for Iran’s next leader", Mondoweiss, 24 September 2010, accessed on 22 December 2010
- BPCIF, "International Committee in Support of Ashraf Established in Britain’s House of Lords", British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom, 27 November 2010, accessed on 21 December 2010