analysis and background on the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran
CHAPTER 9/A troubling report
The American Government put together a list of accusations and complaints against Massoud Rajavi’s People’s Mojahedin of Iran.
This was published in an official report on 31 October 1994. Throughout this fully documented file “the State Department refers to the Mojahedin as a terrorist group and maintains that they do not constitute a desirable or viable alternative to the current regime”. (64)
Faithful to its tested propaganda methods, the PMOI responded with a book entitled Democracy Betrayed, published by the organisation’s political wing: the Resistance Council for Iran. This latter group is based in France, in the Paris suburb of Auvers-sur-oise. Many citations from this book are used throughout our study.
The pamphlet begins by calling into serious question the competence of the institutions who wrote the accused analysis in the United States.
“The report is characterized by numerous contradictions, falsifications and distortions of simple, unequivocal facts set in the past and present. It is also marked by the use of no new sources and the Selective use of old stories. The impression is a lack of professionalism
The Department explains that many government agencies Participated, but the final product is questionable. It is on the level of a final paper by a first year student...
The Department of Defense (including the Defense Intelligence agency and the four armed services, the Justice Department, the Treasury and the Department of Transportation, the National intelligence Council, the National Security Agency and the CIA are among those cited”. (65)
They went on to underscore insignificant details that were erroneous. This is a method of choice for the KGB experts who know all the secrets of effective disinformation. Yet nothing is said of the basic findings!
The Mojahedin refute minor elements but fail to show the irrelevance of the facts brought against them. Moreover, they have no irrefutable evidence against the report.
As always in the inimitable dialectical style used by ultra Left movements, they launch personal attacks on some of the experts cited in the report. In mudslinging at one or another of them, do the Mojahedin really believe that they can hide their true nature?
So that the reader can judge for himself the seriousness of Washington’s work in preparing this report, here is the list and accomplishments of those who were called in to advise.
From the outset, it should be noted that their references are solid and nothing was left to chance. The Commission included:
Dr Ervand Abrahamian, Professor at the City University of New York;
Dr Shaul Bakhash, Clarence Robinson Professor of History at George Mason University;
Dr Bahman Baktiari, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine;
Dr Ali Banuazizi, Professor of Social Psychology at Boston College; Dr James A. Bill, Director of International Studies at the College of William and Mary;
Dr Richard Bulliet, Director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University;
Dr Patrick Clawson, Institute for the Study of National Strategy at National Defense University;
Dr Richard Cottam, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh;
Dr Graham Fuller, political science specialist based in Washington, D.C.;
Dr Mark Gasiororowski, Associate Professor of Political Science at Louisiana State University;
Dr Gregory Gause, Associate Professor at Columbia University, former staff Expert on Arab and Islamic Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations;
Dr Jerrold Green, Director of Business Research at the State Department and former Director of Middle East Studies at the University of Arizona;
Mr W. Scott Harrop, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Virginia;
Dr Eric Hooglund, Editor-in-Chief of the Middle East Journal;
Dr Farhad Kazemi, Professor of Political Science at New York University;
Dr Nikki Keddie, Professor of Political Science at the University of California;
Dr Geoffrey Kemp, Research Associate at the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace;
Dr Mohsen Milani, Professor of Political Science at the University of South Florida;
Dr Roy Mottahadeh, Professor of History at Harvard University;
Mr Mehdi Noorbaksh, Research Institute on Islamic Studies, Houston, Texas;
Dr Rouhallah Ramazani, Emeritus Professor of the Woodrow Wilson Department of Government and Foreign Affairs, at the University of Virginia;
Dr Khosrow Shaken, Assistant Editor of the Iranian Encyclopaedia of Columbia University and founding member of the League for Human Rights in Iran;
Dr Gary Sick, Senior Research Scholar, Associate Professor of Political Science at Columbia University;
Dr John Waterbury, Director of the Centre for International Studies at Princeton University, former Director of the humanitarian organisation, Human Rights Watch for the Middle East, former Iran correspondent of the BBC;
Dr Mark Zonis, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Chicago.
To sum up, this is the very cream of the United States’ political science community. This seriously damages the assertions of the
This, however, does not prevent Mr Rajavi’s movement from bitterly complaining that it was not consulted. Doubtless, he thought he would have the opportunity to present his cosmetised history and to try to impose it as the only practical truth.
Half truth=half lie
Using the consummate art of wielding half truths and half lies, the PMOI does succeed in manipulating its environment with remarkable effectiveness. We will return to this many times.
Let us however provide an hors d’oeuvre by referring to a simple agency press release dated April 2003:
“Five hundred supporters of an Iranian opposition organisation based in Iraq marched through the centre of Washington on Saturday. They demanded the end of attacks by American and Iranian forces on their bases.
A spokesperson for the National Resistance Council of Iran, the political wing of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran called the attacks by American forces on the Mojahedin camps ‘bewildering and regrettable’... The American Army announced on Thursday that it had attacked Iranian Mojahedin combatants in Iraq and that the Bush Administration considered them terrorists...
The spokesperson, Alireza Djafarzadeh, described any information concerning any involvement of the Mojahedin in Iraq’s internal affairs as ‘absolute lies’.” (66)
Clearly, these were “absolute lies” since the PMOI owed everything to Saddam Hussein and would never have had a chance to act spontaneously concerning Iraq’s internal affairs. The Rais would never have permitted it, unless he called them for punctual tasks. On those “jobs”, the PMOI is as quiet as a mouse.
In their frenzied rejection of what they were politically and of the things they did in the context of their fight, the Mojahedin are trying to recreate a long lost virginity. They want to appear to public opinion as acceptable and legitimate.
It is precisely this legitimacy that they lack in Iran. So they do everything to find it, especially in Europe. Yet they still have to jettison a heavy past. It betrays them in the present and echoes down the future.
Observers worry that: “In order to cultivate the support of influential foreign governments, especially of the United States, and make themselves more attractive to the Iranian people, the Mojahedin have recently announced their conversion to the principles of liberal democracy. However, lingering doubts exist as to the seriousness of their commitment and to the degree to which they have really renounced their previous ideology (or what they will really renounce if they ever come to power)”. (67)
Only George W. Bush’s Government shows no pity and no understanding toward overt anti-imperialists. In addition they bear the guilt of having murdered several of his fellow Americans.
The unpardonable crime
Washington, especially the Republican Administration strongly influenced by the neo-conservatives and the Christian extreme right, has declared total war on international terrorism. The 9/11 attack provoked a powerful reaction, a syndrome made even deeper by the fact that this was only the second time that the United States had been attacked on its own territory. The Japanese air attack on Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941 had brought America into the Second World War.
Backed by a powerful popular wave of support, strongly driven by revenge, George W. Bush has been able to take on terrorism everywhere. Obviously, the words of the man in the White House rather lightly confuse causes with effects. Recent American allegations have not always shown the solidity required by prudence and justice. Indeed, if several cases put forward have remained threats without follow up, there is one axiom which is not subject to discussion: All those who pose a threat to the lives of United States citizens shall be punished, wherever they are in the world.
Thus, during the taking of Baghdad in April 2003, American Marines arrested a Palestinian militant who had long been on Washington’s wanted list.
“Abou Al-Abbas has, for 18 years, been a target of American justice. On 7 October 1985, one of his organisation’s commando squads took 450 passengers hostage on the Italian ship, Achille Lauro, in the Mediterranean Sea. The four terrorists killed an elderly American Jew who was in a wheel chair: Leon Klinghoffer. Later, they threw his body overboard.
The PLF demanded the freeing of 50 Palestinian prisoners in Israel. On 9 October the four pirates went to Port Said in Egypt. Two days later, American fighter planes forced the Egyptian airliner carrying them to land in Italy, where they were arrested by the Italian authorities. However, Al-Abbas, then considered only a witness, was allowed to leave the country...
Abou Al-Abbas found refuge in Baghdad. When the American- British attack began on Iraq, he may have tried, according to some American media sources, to obtain exile status in Syria. He ran into a refusal from Damascus”. (68)
If the Bush Administration had not been forced to announce that Abou Al-Abbas had died of “natural causes” on Tuesday, 4 March 2004 (in a Baghdad prison controlled by the American Army) he would surely have faced a heavy prison sentence.
The United States rarely gives up. This is even more true under an Administration that has made the fight against domestic and foreign terrorism its main selling point.
In this context the ferocious denial by the People’s Mojahedin of Iran of their instigating the murder of several American military officers during the 70s takes on a crucial importance. If they are guilty, they have to pay...
This is even more the case now that they no longer have sanctuary in Iraq and that the long arm of American justice will surely seek to “get” the guilty individuals.
The State Department’s accusation is clear:
“The Mojahedin collaborated with Ayatollah Khomeini in the overthrow of the Shah of Iran. As an active participant in this struggle, they assassinated at least six American citizens and supported the seizure of the United States Embassy and holding its personnel as hostages...
They are: Lt. Colonel Lewis L. Hawkins, killed on 2 June 1973, Air Force Colonel Paul Schaeffer, killed on 21 May 1975, Lieutenant Colonel Jack Turner, killed on 21 May 1975, as well as three employees of Rockwell International:
Donald G. Smith, killed on 28 August 1976, Robert R. Krongrad, killed on 28 August 1976 and William C. LeCottrell, killed on 28 August 1976”. (69)
At this time in Iran, terrorism was at it height. In his Memoirs, the Shah remembers this dark time:
“In 1972-1973, three American colonels were shot down in the streets of Teheran. It would be tedious to list all those who died, victims of terrorism. They were frequently people of very modest means. I think, among many others, of the taxi driver or car washer who fell to terrorist bullets while trying to fight back”. (70)
Clearly, Massoud Rajavi’s movement cannot avoid this accusation. It also cannot deny the facts behind the problem since the organisation’s own press described the killing of one of their victims. It was presented as a “revolutionary execution”.
The period around June 1963 owes nothing to chance. It was the time of the Shah’s orders for major repression of the opposition.
“From the beginning of armed struggle, the Mojahedin have commemorated 3 June 1963 and have marked the example of the martyrs by executing and eliminating enemies of the people. This means the agents and protectors of the Shah ‘s regime and its imperialist masters.
On the day before the anniversary of 3 June 1963—2 June 1973
— the PMOI executed one of the criminal agents of American imperialism in Iran. It carried out the revolutionary execution of Colonel Hawkins, who had massacred the heroic people of Vietnam”. (71)
This gloating is rather troubling now that the time seems to have come to settle accounts. Once again Massoud Rajavi’s organisation is trying to dilute the truth by playing on confusion. They try to blame these crimes on the political dissidence which cut through its ranks in the Seventies.
“The Mojahedin are not responsible for actions taken by others in their name. We are referring to those individuals who have removed the Koranic verse from the emblem of the People ‘s Mojahedin of Iran... Mr Rajavi, while still in prison, condemned this Marxist group use of the ‘Mojahedin” name. By underlining Islamic doctrine , he clearly showed the differences between the Mojahedin and this group, which finally clarified things by changing its name to Peykar”. (72)
Here again, by using a simple accident of dates, we can see that the People’s Mojahedin of 1973-1975 are the very movement which Massoud Rajavi ran from his cell. Even were we to play “devil’s advocate” and admit the smokescreen descriptions of the PMOI (who use them to accuse their own competitor/comrades), it must be noted that the schism took place after the crimes under review: in 1973.
Massoud Rajavi — as the law gives the accused the benefit of the doubt — must at least answer for the coldly planned murder of Colonel Lewis L. Hawkins, himself a military officer and an advisor to the Imperial regime and an American citizen. There are no
extenuating circumstances here. They claimed responsibility for this killing in unambiguous terms.
64.- Ahmad Ghoreishi and Dariush Zahedi, op. cit.
65.- "Democracy Betrayed", op. cit.
66.- "Iraq: manifestation d'exiles iraniens a Washington", 1'Agence telegraphique suisse (ATS), 20 april 2003.
67.- Ahmad Ghoreishi and Dariush Zahedi, op. cit.
68.- "Abou Abbas dans les filets des Etats-Unis" - TF 1 -16 april 2003
69.- US State Department, op. cit.
70.- Reponse a I'histoire - by Mohaminad Reza Pahlavi - Paris,
71.- "A propos de 1'operation militaire du 3 juin 1973" - Mojahid,
4 June 1980
72.- "Democracy Betrayed", op. cit.
73. Jean Sevillia, op.cit
74. “Democracy Betrayed”, op.cit.
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...