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‘The MEK cult should be pitied, not feared’

Kambiz Zarrabi

In an interview with the Balkans Post about the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) terrorist group, Kambiz Zarrabi, the author of In Zarathushtra’s Shadow and Necessary Illusion, said the MEK cult should be pitied, not feared.

The MEK has existed as an Islamist-Marxist group since 1965, when it fought against the Mohammad Reza Pahlavi regime. It is viewed as a cult built around the personality of its leader, Maryam Rajavi. The MEK is widely hated in Iran. It has close links to the Israeli regime, which used the MEK operatives to assassinate a number of Iranian nuclear scientists a few years ago.

“The MEK cult should not be feared; it should be pitied as old, over-the-hill prostitutes who have had to sell themselves to whoever would pay for their services, as heinous as they might be,” Zarrabi said.

He also made reference to an article by Glenn Greenwald, titled “Five lessons from the de-listing of MEK as a terrorist group”, saying the article, which was published by The Guardian in 2012 on the occasion of the group’s declassification by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization, points to critical issues with regard to the MEK.

“It would be hard to add anything to what the renowned journalist, Glenn Greenwald, had written a few years ago,” he said.

“Nothing has changed since the publication of that article, except that the wandering cult is now situated in Albania, its original members now in their sixties or seventies, and their future prospects, dreams and ambitions have grown ever more dismal.”

In 2013, the United States pushed to MEK to relocate to Albania, but the organization rejected the offer. The MEK eventually accepted to move about 3,000 members to Albania, and the U.S. donated $20 million to the U.N. refugee agency to help them resettle. On 9 September 2016, the more than 280 MEK members remaining were relocated to Albania.

On the history of the MEK, Zarrabi said the group was initially a Pseudo-Marxist group of young, educated, militants in Iran that stood against the Shah’s regime and its pro-American policies.

“At first, the group welcomed Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution, hoping that what they thought would prove to be the clerics’ incompetence in forming a viable government, the grounds would be ripe for them to establish a Peoples’ Democratic Republic of Iran, or some such thing,” he noted.

He added that when the group’s dreams didn’t pan out and the Islamic Republic began to crack down on them, “they blamed it on America’s clandestine support for the nascent Islamic Republic with hopes of ensuring a continuation of America’s economic interests and some influence in Iran.”


Kambiz Zarrabi is the author of In Zarathushtra’s Shadow and Necessary Illusion. He has conducted lectures and seminars on international affairs, particularly in relation to Iran, with focus on US/Iran issues. Zarrabi’s latest book is Iran, Back in Context.