NATO and the United States, which, together, claim to be fighting some sort of amorphous “global war on terrorism,” have enabled a terrorist group to establish bases in two NATO member states.
NATO and the United States, which, together, claim to be fighting some sort of amorphous “global war on terrorism,” have enabled a terrorist group to establish bases in two NATO member states – France and Albania – and one NATO protectorate, Kosovo. After evacuating forces of the anti-Iranian terrorist group Mojahedin-e-Khalq from their former bases in Iraq, the United States and NATO facilitated the group’s establishment of a well-guarded military base in Manez, Albania, near Tirana. In addition to hosting MEK members, NATO has convinced Albania to accept members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who surrendered to Western special forces in Syria and Iraq.
The MEK was founded in 1965 and it has the unusual distinction of taking action to overthrow both the former government of the Shah of Iran and the Islamic Republic of Iran by relying on terrorist actions. In the early 1970s, the MEK embarked on a program of assassinating Iranian officials and U.S. personnel in Iran. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 saw the MEK’s program of bombings and shootings increase in intensity. The MEK is led by the husband-wife team of Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, who opponents and ex-members of the MEK describe as leaders of what has become known as the “Rajavi Cult.” The Rajavis abhor criticism and have been known to silence former MEK members-turned-critics by having them constantly harassed or worse, assassinated.
The MEK’s most notable terrorist actions included:
- the attempted kidnapping in 1970 of the U.S. ambassador to Iran, Douglas MacArthur II, the nephew of the famed World War II general.
- the attempted assassination in 1972 of U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Harold Price with an improvised explosive device (IED).
- the assassination in 1973 of U.S. Army officer Louis Lee Hawkins in Tehran. That same year, the MEK assassinated U.S. Air Force officers Col. Paul Shaffer and Lt. Col. Jack Turner.
- the 1973 bombings of Pan-American World Airlines and Shell Oil offices in Tehran.
- the assassination in Tehran in 1976 of three American employees of Rockwell International — William Cottrell, Donald Smith, and Robert Krongard. U.S. President Gerald Ford said he hoped that “the murderers will be brought to justice.” Instead, they are treated as heroes and the future government of Iran by bi-partisan leaders in Washington.
- MEK threats to kill Presidents Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter during their respective May 1972 and December 1977 visits to Iran.
- the 1978 assassination of Texaco oil executive Paul Grimm in Ahwaz, Iran.
- assisting in the 1979 takeover by Iranian militants of the U.S. embassy in Tehran.
- the 1979 bombing in Tehran that killed the democratically-elected Iranian President, Mohammad Ali-Rajai, and Prime Minister, Mohammad Javad Bahonar.
During the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein permitted the MEK, also known as the “People’s Mojahedin,” to establish bases inside Iraq. Saddam armed the MEK and provided them with financial and logistical support to carry out terrorist attacks inside Iran. In 1988, the MEK, with Saddam’s assistance, launched a ground invasion of Iran.
In Operation Mersad, Iranian forces defeated the MEK, which had hoped to establish control over Iranian territory to establish a rival Iranian government. Had the MEK succeeded, the Middle East would have seen its first genuine terrorist state. Establishment of a terrorist state would have to wait until the Syrian civil war, when ISIL proclaimed an independent caliphate in occupied territory in Syria and Iraq.
After the United States ousted Saddam in the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, the MEK forces were confined to U.S.-protected compounds in Iraq, the most prominent being Camp Ashraf, the former U.S. military’s Camp Liberty. The new Iraqi government demanded the MEK forces leave Iraq. Acceding to Iraqi demands, the United States re-located 3,000 MEK members to the Manez base in Albania, which the MEK calls “Ashraf 3.” The MEK, which reportedly receives support from Israel’s Mossad, is said to be involved in money laundering and sex trafficking through the intensive use of crypto-currencies like Bitcoin.
Not surprisingly, MEK forces joined with ISIL forces in battling against Syrian and Iraqi government forces. The MEK saw ISIL as a natural ally in fighting pro-Iranian governments in Baghdad and Damascus. It was well-known to Western intelligence agencies that the MEK and ISIL had established an alliance, but, nevertheless, the Barack Obama administration removed the MEK from the U.S. State Department’s terrorist list in 2012. From 1997 to 2012, the United States officially designated the MEK as a foreign terrorist organization.