The case of MKO's activities was put on the table of US State Department, Pentagon and CIA since 1970s, when this group had just started sabotaging operations against US personnel and interests in Iran.
It was shocking for the US to lose six of its senior officers and citizens in a country which had closest ties with the US in the Middle East.
Lt. Col. Lewis L. Hawkins, Col. Pal Shiffer, Lt. Col. Jack Turner, Donald J. Smith, Robert R. Grengrad and William C. Catrel from Rockwell International were victims of an underground terrorist group which were known in intelligence services of Iran and the US.
When Nixon was supposed to visit Iran in 1972, this terrorist group launched time bombs in more than 10 points in Tehran, such as Association of Iran-US, Office of US Information, Offices of Pepsi Cola and General Motors.
From 1972 to 1975, Mojahedin continued bombings and damaged some targets like the offices of Pan-American Airlines, Shell and ….
These moves pushed the US toward reviewing the details of formation, organization and ideology of this group since 1960, based on documents of Shah's security service, and to put this group in the "Enemy Files". On the other hand, Mojahedin also didn't stop showing hostility toward their Imperialist enemy.
Despite the US satisfaction of the blows to the organization by SAVAK (which led to the detention of most of members and creation of internal conflicts), Iran's social changes moved toward a revolution and finally, US strategic ally in the Mid-East was toppled."
One of the consequences of this revolution was the freedom of all political prisoners. Although the revolution was Islamic in nature, Marxist members of Leftist groups and also Marxist-Islamist members of Mojahedin were also among the freed.
Mojahedin-e Khalq started re-organizing and asked for a liberating war against US imperialism.
RED FRIENDS AGAINST IMPERIALISM
While US officials followed the news of arresting military and security authorities of Shah regime in Iran and watched the establishment of Revolution's interim government in all parts of society, Mojahedin didn't lose even a chance to fight against imperialism. In February 14, 1979, they established contact with one of KGB agents in Tehran and asked for weapons.
Following the order of "Central Committee of Communist Party of Soviet Union", Vladimir Vizinko, senior KGB agent in Iraq, a member of "PI" branch and expert in Iran Affairs, met with Mojahedin leaders in Tehran and talked with them.
Vizinko carried this message: "Soviet Union likes to contact you directly."
Mojahedin believed in this move and thought that fighting the US is possible in this way. So, they asked for weapons and informed Vizinko of their concerns toward Islamic government.
Mojahedin redressed his grievous error (of making contact with them in public) by giving the phone number of one of their safe houses to him! (*)
Mojahedin considered Islamic statesmen as the main obstacle of their anti-imperialism struggle and their contact with Soviet Union. They expressed this distrust in their political stances.
Until late after revolution, US had preserved its intelligence bases in Iran, therefore dimensions of this MKO's hostile contact (which soon became intelligence cooperation against America) didn't remain hidden from the US.
Vladimir Kuzichkin, senior KGB agent in Soviet embassy in Iran, who fled to the west later, defines contact with MKO in his memoir as follows:
"Establishing contact with Mojahedin-e Khalq, despite doubts they had, was developing and expanding in a good manner because KGB residency in Tehran had succeeded, by Vizinko, to convince Mojahedin leaders that we can have secret contacts which new regime can't discover if we take all security measures.
Therefore, the process was acceptable and we receive good information from Mojahedin. For instance, we learned that Mojahedin have obtained SAVAK documents during raids on Shah Organizations.
When we informed the center about this, they responded immediately and in a telegram message from Moscow, they wrote to us: "…call Mojahedin immediately and request the SAVAK's case of Gen. Mogharrabi….
At that time, Genadi Kazankin, the head of "PI" was working in Iran as a resident KGB. After receiving the message from Moscow, Kazankin summoned Vizinko and ordered him to call his bridge partner in MKO. When Vizinko came to Kazankin's office, I was there. So, I recite their conversation as a witness.
In response to Kazankin's order, Vizinko said: "I go the city right now and after securing the condition, I'll call my bridge partner."
But Kazankin, who was not satisfied with this idea, answered excitedly: "this is time wasting. Call him from this embassy." Vizinko refused and said: "but this is dangerous." Kazankin replied persistently: "there's no danger. SAVAK has been dissolved. No one listens to our calls. Call your partner right now."
Vizinko had no other choice. He made the contact from there and made and appointment with his bridge partner.
His bridge partner was "Mohammed Reza Sa'adati", who was one of MKO leaders. They were supposed to meet in a safe house of Mojahedin.
Vizinko, accompanied by Aliof (one of Residency's agents) and a driver, went to the appointment place. Their car, which had political number, pulled over a block away from the place. Vizinko and driver moved toward the building. Aliof stayed there to warn Vizinko in the case of feeling danger.
Since everything seemed to be OK, Vizinko rang the doorbell. They went inside and he pushed the door of the apartment where they were supposed to meet. It was open, Sa'adati was standing behind a table, appalled; with him a stout case full of documents.
The door was closed suddenly behind Vizinko. When he turned back to see what's happened he saw four men with their pistols toward Vizinko and Sa'adati…. (**)
Despite the grievous wrong action by experienced KGB spies (due to underestimating revolutionary youths), Soviet embassy's staff said exposure of this case was a result of re-organization of SAVAK and Mojahedin believed it's a direct blow to them from the US.
Mojahedin were certain that conducting such plans is a part of Brzezinski's plans for Iran. They insisted that US wants to omit them and other revolutionaries from the political scene of Iran.
After this event, Mojahedin tried to blow the US and repeatedly accused government officials of cooperating with Americans.
Since then onward, Mojahedin described and analyzed all regional events as conspiracies of imperialism against Iranian revolution.
They wanted cancellation of all agreements with US, revealing CIA network in Iran and firing those who talked with the US.
AFTER SHAH, IT'S TURN OF THE US
November 1979, when students in Tehran took over US embassy, Mojahedin came before the embassy and asked for military presence there and interrogating embassy staff. It was refused by "Revolution council". In a message to Ayatollah Khomeini, they announced their preparedness for devotion. (***)
In this chapter of Iranians' revolution, Mojahedin stated their requests as follows:
1. Repatriation of Shah by the US
2. Cutting contact with US the Imperialist
3. Cutting oil exports to the US
4. Exposing and canceling all political, economical and military agreements with the US
5. Exposing CIA and SAVAK networks in Iran
6. Necessity of clear insertion of anti-imperialist stances of Islam in Constitution
7. Confiscating all properties of the US in Iran (****)
After taking over the embassy, revealing information and trying the hostages became the main issue of conflict between Mojahedin and the state.
Mojahedin wanted the trial of hostages and all those whose names appeared in the confiscated documents.
The fact was that the US saw itself engaged in a political crisis with Iran and didn't pay attention to the comments of radical forces like Mojahedin. But Carter's government showed hostility toward this group by talking with liberal party in Tehran.
MKO's purpose was not to face with the US (since it had received blow and its network in Iran had been destroyed), but it was to challenge the Islamic state and to check its anti-imperialism degree. By this, MKO wanted to regain its credit, which had gone with the case of Sa'adati-Vizinko. On the other hand, it wanted to introduce itself as a revolutionary and anti-imperialist force and to prove that other groups are compromisers.
Mojahedin warned repeatedly about the military attack of the US and reported tiny movements of US forces in Persian Gulf and the region. They received this information from other communist groups in various countries, such as Latin America and Africa.
This connection was so deep that a year after revolution, more than 10 meetings between MKO leaders and representatives of these groups were held in Tehran.
Polisaria Liberating Front, Yemen, Palestine, Algeria, Cuba, IRA, … and Cuban government invited them officially to the congress of socialist economists and MKO representative went to this country.
MKO's warnings at the time US forces were entangled in Tabas desert caused them to come to political-propagandistic scene again and ask for bring armed against imperialism. They criticized officials for underestimating US threats and said that they have already created a militia to turn Iran to another Vietnam for the US.
Releasing hostages was followed by harsh criticism from Mojahedin. They analyzed it as a move along with Ragan's power-quest and as compromise with radical Republicans by clerics.
Their total analysis was that the US tries to suppress them by clerics since it's aware that revolutionary forces (with MKO at top of which) are fighting against its colonialist purposes. Therefore, at the threshold of a broad-based war on imperialism, the major internal conflict, namely the existence of Islamic rulers, should be removed. And this is how MKO's struggle against imperialism started. A struggle Iranian people paid the price of which.
(*) KGB in Iran, Reality and Myths, Vladimir Kuzichkin.
(**) KGB in Iran, the case of Mohammed Reza Sa'adati
(***) Mojahed Journal, No.10, special issue: Taking over Espionage Den, November 18, 1979
(****) Mojahedin Journal, No.10, Special Issue: Taking Over Espionage Den, November 18, 1979
Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli called for tougher measures against the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO, also known as the MEK, PMOI and NCRI) terrorist group by the European Union...