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Alledged accusations of MEK Embassy Take Over

Alledged accusations of MEK Embassy Take Over

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Published by BonyadRezai
A chapter from : IRAN: FOREIGN POLICY CHALLENGES AND CHOICES
In sums: MEK opposed the hostage crisis. The MEK was not in alliance with The Muslim
Student Followers of the Iman’s Line, the student organization that seized the embassy, nor
with the clerics. The MEK used the crisis to reveal Khomeini’s involvement and how his
regime was using the incident to usurp power and push aside the Provisional Government.
Given these facts, it is inaccurate to assert that the MEK was responsible for the hostage
crisis or that it supported it.
A chapter from : IRAN: FOREIGN POLICY CHALLENGES AND CHOICES
In sums: MEK opposed the hostage crisis. The MEK was not in alliance with The Muslim
Student Followers of the Iman’s Line, the student organization that seized the embassy, nor
with the clerics. The MEK used the crisis to reveal Khomeini’s involvement and how his
regime was using the incident to usurp power and push aside the Provisional Government.
Given these facts, it is inaccurate to assert that the MEK was responsible for the hostage
crisis or that it supported it.

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Published by: BonyadRezai on Feb 25, 2012
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02/25/2012

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156
“Country Reports on Terrorism,”US State Department,April 27,2005.
157
“Murphy Warns Congress ofCampaign by Iranian Leftists,”ASSOCIATED PRESS,July 25,1985.
158
“Report on the People’s Mojahedin ofIran,”Unclassified document,US State Department,1994
159
Id.
160
Id.
X.Alleged Support for US Embassy Takeover 
State Department Allegation
The MEK “supported the takeover in 1979 of the US Embassy in Tehran.”
156
Background
This allegation was previously articulated by the State Department on July 24, 1985, when Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Richard Murphy appeared before theHouse Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe and Middle East.
The Associated Press 
quoted Murphy:“The Mujahedeen took a measure of credit for the prolonged holding of American diplomatsas hostages, advocated putting them on trial as spies and staged a large demonstration inTehran in January 1981 protesting their release,” [Murphy] said. The Mujaheden, however, were not the group directly responsible for holding the 52 American hostages for 444 daysbeginning November 4, 1979.
157
 According to the US State Department, on the day the crisis erupted, the MEK issued aproclamation titled
 After the Shah, It’s America’s Turn
.
158
It is also alleged that “theMojahedin participated physically at the site, assisting in holding and defending theembassy against liberation.”
159
The hostages were released in January 1981. The US State Department alleges, in the followingissue of 
 Mojahed 
, that “the Mojahedin-e Khalq were the first force who rose unequivocally to thesupport of the occupation of the American spy center,” and further noted its members had spent“days and weeks” in “heat and cold” in front of the embassy.
160
Discussion
The State Department’s allegations reflect a misunderstanding of events in Iran leading upto the hostage crisis and the position of the MEK in supporting democratic freedoms inIran. While the MEK and Khomeini were aligned in the national front in opposition to
EMPOWERING THE DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION
159
 
161
The Iranian Mojahedin 
,Ervand Abrahamian,Yale University Press,1989,p.57.A recent history ofthehostage crisis by David Harris (
The Crisis:The President,the Prophet,the Shah – 1979 and the Coming of Militant Islam
,Little Brown,2004) states that the takeover was first advanced by Ibrahim Asgarzadeh,a stu-dent at Tehran’s Aryamehr University ofTechnology,and two other students.
162
Takeover in Tehran 
,Massoumeh Ebtekar,Talon Books,Canada,2000,p.234.David Harris,in his recent bookThe Crisis,makes no reference at all to the Mujahedin,which indicates the organization’s lack ofinvolvement.
163
The Crisis:The President,the Prophet,the Shah – 1979 and the Coming ofMilitant Islam
,by David Harris,Little,Brown and Company,2004,p.236.
164
The Iranian Mojahedin 
,Ervand Abrahamian,Yale University Press,1989,p.57.
the Shah, once he was removed from power, the MEK and Khomeini becamepolitical adversaries.Two days after the revolution, Rajavi and a number of senior colleges met with Khomeini.In the meeting, Rajavi emphasized the importance of freedom. Subsequently, Khomeinisent his son, Ahmad, to offer the MEK top ministry positions in the new government, butonly on the condition that the MEK recognize the clerics as the supreme authority. TheMEK declined. Since its inception, the organization had fought for political freedom andthe separation of power. The MEK refused to compromise its principals and a powerstruggle ensued.The MEK initially followed a policy of non-confrontation with Khomeini in the hope of playing the role of the loyal opposition in the new government. When the hostage crisiserupted on November 4, 1979, the MEK chose not to challenge Khomeini, who hadimmediately endorsed the takeover.On the day the Iranian students stormed the embassy, Khomeini blamed America as thesource of all evil in a speech to a group of university students. “It was later revealed that theseuniversity students were organized by Hojjat al-Islam Khoiniha, a prominent member of theIRP and the leader of the Tehran University 
komiteh
[a morality guard organization].”
161
 According to Massoumeh Ebtekar, who was the spokesperson during the hostage crisis forthe radical students, the MEK “had been opposed to the takeover and the confrontation with America from the very first.”
162
Ebtekar, a chemical engineering student who becameknown as Sister Mary, “held center stage at the front gate whenever the students needed tomake a statement to the press in English.”
163
For Iranians, the hostage crisis was “predominately an internal crisis rooted in the constitutionalstruggle.”
164
Under the cloud of the embassy crisis, the clerics rushed to ratify their proposedconstitution, which the MEK refused to endorse. The original document, modeled on DeGaulle’s constitution, had been altered by the Assembly of Experts, shifting power from thepresident and elected deputies to senior clerics. The MEK boycotted its ratification.
160
IRAN
:
FOREIGN POLICY CHALLENGES AND CHOICES
 
165
Id.
at 208.
166
Id.
at 208.
167
Id.
168
Id.
at 205
169
Id.
at 209.
170
Id.
 As hostilities escalated between the MEK and Khomeini, the MEK openly criticized thehostage crisis. The MEK said the clerics had “engineered the hostage crisis to impose onthe nation the ‘medieval’ concept of the
velayat-e faqih
[the title of Khomeini’s book thatadvocates the creation of a theocratic state].”
165
To support that last accusation they [MEK] published articles revealing how the studenthostage-takers were linked to the IRP [Islamic Republican Party]; how the pasdars[armed volunteers] had facilitated the break-in; how those who had refused to tow theIRP line had been forced out of the compound; how Ayatollah Beheshti [head of theSupreme Judicial Council] had used the whole incident to sweep aside the Bazargan[Provisional] Government; and how Hojjat al-Islam Khoiniha, the man appointed by Khomeini to advise the students, had carefully removed from the embassy all documents with references to US officials meeting clerical leaders during the 1979 revolution.
166
The MEK accused the cleric-controlled government of “disrupting rallies and meetings;banning newspapers and burning down bookstores; rigging elections and closing downuniversities; [and] kidnapping, imprisoning, and torturing political activists . . . .”
167
In response, “The Muslim Student Followers of the Iman’s Line, the occupiers of the USembassy, denounced the Mojahedin as secret Marxists in cohorts with the ‘pro-Americanliberals.’”
168
“In criticizing the regime’s political record,” Abrahamian explained, the Mojahedin movedthe issue of democracy to center stage.”
169
They argued that the regime had broken all the democratic promises made during therevolution; that an attack on any group was an attack on all groups; that the issue of democracy was of “fundamental importance,” and that other issues, includingimperialism, hinged on it, for without political freedom the country would bevulnerable to foreign intrigue.
170
EMPOWERING THE DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION
161

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