On Wednesday, 8 February, the NBC Rock Center TV program website ran a provocative story, “Israel teams with terror group to kill Iran’s nuclear scientists, U.S. officials tell NBC News.” The main sensational allegation of the story is that in conducting covert operations in Iran, Israel’s intelligence uses the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MeK), an Iranian dissident organization that the State Department classifies as a terrorist organization, despite the law and facts.
In an article published in the National Interest, I discuss how Tehran and its allies in Baghdad routinely blame the MeK for terrorist actions in Iran and Iraq, despite evidence to the contrary.
In an effort to suppress dissent, Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) shapes opinion about the MeK. The Ministry plants false stories in the media that are used to justify a false narrative against the MeK. For example:
In October 2011, the MeK exposed Islamic Revolutionary Guards Force Quds Force (IRGC-Quds Force (QF) for plotting to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States and blow up the Saudi Embassy in Washington. That disclosure reinforced additional sanctions Treasury placed on the IRGC-QF three days earlier.
And what is Tehran’s response when confronted with evidence of its complicity in the assassination plot? The Ministry of Intelligence and Security blames Israel and the United States and asserts MeK involvement. The State Department promptly denied MeK responsibility and accused Tehran of “fabricating news stories” and spreading “disinformation” to exploit skepticism about the plot.
In Iran Policy Committee’s book Terror Tagging contains a reference to the bombing of the Imam Reza shrine in Mashad/Mashhad in June 1994, which was mentioned in the NBC report, allegedly implicating the MeK and linking it to one of the operatives in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing— Ramzi Ahmed Yousef. But one source accuses a Pakistani militant not the MeK as having links to Yousef for the 1994 Mashad bombing:
“Although [the Iranian] government blamed the Mujahedin-e-Khalq in a TV show to avoid sectarian conflict between Shia and Sunni, the Pakistani daily ‘News’ of March 27, 1995 reported, ‘Pakistani investigators have identified a 24-year-old religious fanatic Abdul Shakoor residing in Lyari in Karachi, as an important Pakistani associate of Ramzi Yousef. Abdul Shakoor had intimate contacts with Ramzi Ahmed Yousef and was responsible for the June 20, 1994, massive bomb explosion at the shrine Imam Ali Reza in Mashhad.'”
At the time of the 1994 bombing, the MeK denied any role. And a few years later, during the regime’s factional feuding, a former member of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence stated the bombing had been perpetrated by the MOIS, and in particular, by Saeed Emami, then a deputy of the Ministry.
For a more detailed background on the unwarranted terrorist listing of the MeK, check out the book Terror Tagging.
Photo: samlavi, Creative Commons