Iranian Cult Is No Longer Officially a Terrorist Group

Washington’s favorite Iranian terrorist group has likely won. By a forthcoming edict of the State Department, you can now no longer call the Mujahideen-e Khalq — formerly Saddam Hussein’s proxies against the Iranian regime — a terrorist organization. Erasing its status as a cult is a different story.

The State Department is set to remove what everyone simply calls the MEK from its list of terrorist groups, in advance of a court-imposed deadline for a decision. That will leave the organization free to fundraise and operate without attracting the attention of the FBI. The impact on U.S.-Iranian relations may be marginal, but the symbolism is enormous: As tensions with Iran over its nuclear program remain high, the Obama administration is wiping away the stigma from a cultish group that wants to overthrow the Iranian regime so badly it has attacked Iranian and other civilians to advance its agenda. And it comes after a long and deep-pocketed lobbying effort attracted a host of Washington politicos to advocate for the group.

“The delisting of the MEK, following a well-funded political lobby campaign, creates the dangerous impression that it is possible for terrorist organizations to buy their way off the [terrorism] list,” says Mila Johns of the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.

The MEK’s questionable practices extend beyond attacks on Iranian civilians. In a 2004 New York Times Magazine story, Elizabeth Rubin documented the group’s cult-like behavior. “Every morning and night, the kids, beginning as young as 1 and 2, had to stand before a poster of Massoud and Maryam, salute them and shout praises to them,” a former member told Rubin, referring to the “husband-and-wife cult” of leaders Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. Life in the MEK, Rubin reported, means enforced celibacy and public confessions of sexual desires. “Mujahedeen members have no access to newspapers or radio or television,” Rubin wrote, “other than what is fed them.”


Originally founded as a student organization in the 1960s to overthrow the Shah, the MEK attacked Western targets in pre-revolutionary Iran, and their victims included three U.S. Army officers. But they fell out of step with the Islamic radicals that took control of Iran in 1979, and turned their weapons on the new regime. Saddam Hussein became their sponsor during the Iran-Iraq war, yet the leadership moved to Paris. For over a decade, the MEK carried out bombings and hijackings on regime targets inside and outside Iran, including an audacious April 1992 coordinated raid on 13 Iranian diplomatic facilities around the world. The State Department listed them as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1997.

But it’s been years since the MEK attempted a terrorist attack. Most of its operations have centered around endearing itself to the U.S. by portraying itself as an advocate for a democratic Iran, a source of information on Iran’s nuclear program and an implacable enemy of Washington’s Tehran enemies. It turned over its weapons at a training camp in Iraq after the U.S. invasion that until recently was a de facto U.S. protectorate called Camp Ashraf. In Washington, supporters have spent years and millions of dollars waging a lobbying campaign to remove the group’s terrorist status, holding rallies outside of Congress and slathering the sides of buses with pro-MEK posters.

The sources of that money remain undisclosed. But it purchased prominent D.C. lobbying firms like Akin Gump and advocates like Reagan administration veteran Victoria Toensing. And it got an odd collection of supporters, from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on the right to former Vermont Governor Howard Dean on the left, plus retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, ex-CIA director Michael Hayden, ex-FBI director Louis Freeh, ex-Obama national security adviser James Jones and a host of other notables.

The Iranian government, having been on the receiving end of MEK attacks, thinks the group still plans violence against it. Accordingly, some consider the MEK a diplomatic obstacle to resolving the Iranian nuclear question. The MEK also has support among U.S. Legislature who want to see the U.S. take a more bellicose turn toward Iran, so it’s possible that the group will rocket from the terrorist list to the halls of Congress.

Chances are, the State Department decision will merely entrench the impasse between Washington and Tehran. “I don’t think the world really looks that much different after the MEK delisting,” says Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “U.S.-Iran relations will remain hostile, and the MEK will remain a fringe cult with very limited appeal among Iranians.”

  1. #1 by Ah Huh on 09/23/2012 - 9:34

    Wow!!! They did it. They’ve DE-listed the MeK as an official global terrorist organisation and boy, just look at the timing?. The US and NATO can now openly, freely and have legitimate, official justification to supply and back the MeK financially, logistically and militarily. The text book terror tactics and games are about to go up another brutal notch. Watch the car bombs, efficient flash massacres and assassinations start going off all over Iran as the rolling wrecking ball that is these “western” trained/backed arab mercenaries slowly but surely trickles into Iran from Syria ….. most of whom will actually be coming full circle as they get closer to home. To me at least, these arab mercenaries were mostly conscripted through desperation and deft conditioning of years …. in some cases decades, of constant, grinding war, occupation and general destabilisation cleverly inflicted upon them by the west. Especially in the case of Afghanistan, Iraq and even Palestine where a whole generation of arabs have grown into adulthood knowing NOTHING BUT war as a LIFESTYLE. Add religion, basic military training and promise a half decent remuneration into the mix and you have a heartless, seasoned band of mercenaries that will go and do what ever you tell them to.

    The goal to cancel Libya and weaken Syria has been reached. Syria can no longer honour it’s end of the Iran/Syria military support and defence co-operation treaty if Iran is attacked because they are reeling from this current invasion and in the same breath, although Iran has recently been feverishly trying to honour their end of the treaty by supplying Assad with armoury by cutting through the Iraqi airspace, they might be weakened too because they now have a number of issues to deal with – domestic MeK terror, supplying Syria with armoury that they might soon need themselves and also the fact that Syria is now no longer in a position to honour or reciprocate the terms of their pact.

    De-listing MeK through the Israeli lobby is the long sort after checkmate to Iran supplying weapons to Syria and given that they already have VERY close mossad ties to MeK, Israel is practically and literally ALREADY in Iran through Mujahideen-e Khalq. Looks like IT’S ON folks!. This might be it for real. The time has come to see just what RISSIA and China are REALLY made of – can they walk the walk and talk the talk ….. the ball is literally in their court now with US and NATO ships virtually round the corner from the Hormous running drills with the IDF and even more US troops sent in to bolster their presence in the region under the guise of this “movie” and the US ambassador that was “murdered” as a result of it in Libya. Yes, China is starting to make logistical moves WITH Russia ….. BUT, will they PHYSICALLY stand their ground with regards to Iran???? or will they capitulate and stand back if push comes to shove and if Isreal decides to lob a few over.

    As I’ve said before and as we all know, Iran has NO nuclear weapons, which is why tiny, nuclear equipped Israel can be so vocal and beat their chest all over the region, literally threatening, intimidating and bullying Iran. How deep does this go?. Russia and China could simply fold their arms and step back at the last minute if the bombs start flying, then share in the spoils of the resulting clean up and re-construction process while Israel and the west happily balkanise and finally take clandestine charge or full ownership of the self fulfilling goal that is “Greater Israel” …… Lets face it, at the end of the day, IF Israel was to drop a couple of nukes on Iran, they could easily just write the whole country of Iran OFF as collateral damage and consider it a “containable nuclear disaster zone” just as was done in Japan and Chernobyl while still merrily exploiting and claiming it’s unaffected underground oil wealth as their own.

    It’d be good to note how the arab spring ultimately lead to Libyas invasion with a remote spark in Tunisia. It’d also be good to note the reaction to this supposed “blasphemous movie” by considering it in the same vein. This is heartbreaking to say the least – the arabs REALLY, REALLY need to smarten up and STOP playing into their hands, being puppeted and played like fiddles. This is not rocket science. What “they” are doing is so plainly obvious that it’s sickening.

    I dunno …… this is just my own personal take on these easily predictable developments ….. hopefully I’m TOTALLY WRONG and WAAAAAAY OFF the ball. I’ll give this a couple of months for the atrocities to kick off within Iran and for H/Killary Clinton and Suzanne Rice to come out and chant that same old “buzz word” filled mantra before the UN/Security Council ……

    “We need to SUPPORT the MeK *and the people of Iran* in their drive towards *justice* and *democracy* in Iran. The *world* can *no longer* sit back and allow the *brutal* theological *dictatorship* in Iran to openly make *threats* towards sovereign nations like Israel and to the *stability of the whole region* as a whole. The *regime* needs to go and Ahmedinajad needs to *step down* immidiately.”

    What does the group think!? Please correct me or feel free to steer me away from this train of thought if I’m wrong.

  2. #2 by Vickie Jacobs on 09/23/2012 - 9:34

    Ecclesiastes 10:20
    “Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air (cell phones; satalites wings) shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.”

    It’s getting where you just can’t say anything much or the MEK will pay you a visit now.

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