An Iranian dissident group long accused of terrorism by the United States remains the most serious threat to Iran’s brutal, theocratic regime, a U.S. report says — even though the group’s armed wing surrendered its weapons 10 years ago and now is confined to a refugee camp in Iraq.
The report on Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security said that one of the spy agency’s main responsibilities “is to conduct covert operations against the Mojahedin-e-Khlaq and to identify and eliminate its members.”
The Mojahedin-e-Khlaq (or MeK) was the militant wing of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran until U.S. forces disarmed the rebel army in the 2003 invasion of Iraq that overthrew Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi dictator had allowed the rebels to operate in Iraq to disrupt Iran, his longtime regional enemy.
The rebels, originally touting a blend of Islam and socialism, had supported the 1979 Iranian revolution but turned against the regime as it became more fanatical in its pursuit of worldwide jihad.
In the early 1990s, Iran’s spy masters recruited disgruntled MeK members and “used them to launch a disinformation campaign” against the Iranian resistance, says the report prepared in December by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress for the Pentagon’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office.
During that period, Iranian leaders also insisted that the U.S. and other foreign nations designate the resistance as a terrorist group, if they wanted to open talks with the regime in Tehran.
President Bill Clinton added the resistance to the U.S. terrorist list in 1997, as he tried to open negotiations with Mohammad Khatami, who was considered a moderate Iranian president at the time.
Britain took the resistance off its terrorist list in 2008, and the European Union followed in 2009. The State Department, under a federal court order, removed the resistance from the terrorist list last year.
Even though the disarmed dissidents were relocated last year to a refugee camp in Iraq, they have “remained a viable organization,” the report says.
“The Iranian government and its intelligence apparatus consider the MeK the most serious dissident organization with regard to the revolution,” the report says.
No peace in sight
The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan candidly conceded Thursday that prospects are poor for peace talks with Taliban militants, who many observers believe may be stalling until most American forces withdraw next year so they can defeat a weak Afghan army and re-establish an Islamist regime.
Ambassador James Cunningham told reporters in Kabul that a peace process “hasn’t even begun.”