Friday, February 22, 2013

The MKO Case: Betting (Again) on the Wrong Horse in the Iran Regime Change

Policy Paper


On Semptember 28th, 2012, the US State Department delisted the Iranian organization MKO, the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization from the list of terrorist organizations,[i][ii]following the Council of the European Union, which did so on January 26th, 2009. This paper will focus on the group’s history, background and presumable real intentions and will try to analyze why is this move a strategic error from the point of view of long-term perspectives in handling with Iran. In the second part other alternatives and some useful steps are proposed to face more effectively the regime in Iran. 

Keywords: Iran, MKO, MEK, PMOI, NCRI, Mujahedeen, Rajavi, terrorism, opposition, regime change, security, Islamism.


            In the last years and especially since 2003 we witnessed a steady effort of the US, European countries and their allies to contain the suspect activities of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the nuclear field, sophisticated weapon production and arming & financing of militias abroad. The pressure on diplomatic level has been unsuccessful until now. Iran proved defiant against larger controlling attempts by the IAAE of all nuclear facilities, it refused to stop uranium enrichment and the hostile rhetoric and arming of militias targeting Israel and rival forces in the Middle East did not cease despite the recent sanctions.
It is not a secret that ever since the Iranian revolution in 1979 that degenerated into an Islamist take over, the US Government is seeking regime change in Iran, in some periods with an increasing intensity, mainly during the Bush administration. It is known that in 2006 the Congress spent at least $10 million in the framework of the Iran Freedom and Support Act[iii] (enacted September 30, 2006), in the following years even more ($75 million in 2007). According to Nicholas Burns, than undersecretary of state for political affairs, this budget has been mainly used to fund the broadcasting outlets Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty based in Prague with significant Persian departments.[iv] But others suggested that funds have been used to finance covert military operations on Iranian soil[v].
Recently (January 2013) a planned budget cut of $500 billions could cause the revocation of one of the aircraft carriers based in the Persian Gulf[vi]. But even if high scale operations might be halted, the continuity of a low-intensity warfare is not excluded.
One of the oldest military and political strategies to topple a government is to support its enemies. The European countries are much less prone to support adventurous regime change policies, with the few exceptions of countries, where they had direct interest (recently Libya could be classified as such). With Iran, Europe adopted a strategy of the “good cop”, trying to negotiate using diplomatic and economic pressure and refrained from explicitly advocating regime change[vii]. But the different stance of the US prepares a fertile ground for various opposition groups who claim to be able to bring about a change and install a friendly government.
These opposition groups have their own dynamics of getting the attention of policy makers which go further than the classical lobbying and promises of incentives and benefits as soon as they take over the country. Some of them use some other weapons, less morally acceptable, like emotional extortion by self-immolation of the members, misinformation campaigns, and … deception about its real goals.
One of these organizations, which presents itself as a “democratic alternative to the Iranian regime”, is the MKO, Mujahedeen-e Khalq Organization.

In the present paper we will expose a deeper insight at the quite rich and interesting history of this organization, the reasons why it should not be trusted and finally why it shouldn’t be used against Iran. Other possibilities for dealing with it and with Iran itself will be outlined.

Who are the Mujahedeen?

          The People’s Mujahedeen Organisation of Iran (PMOI), also known as Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) or Mujahedeen-e Khalq Organization (MKO), was founded in September 1965 by Mohammad Hanifnezhad, Saeed Mohsen and Asghar Badizadegan, graduates of Tehran University.[viii]. A “mujahid”  مجاهد , literally “fighter”, is a word from Arabic which assumed the meaning of a “warrior on the path of God”, a holy warrior. Its root is جهد jahada, striving, struggle, and it is the same as for جهاد jihad, the holy war for Islam.
The founding of the organization was the consequence of previous years of student activism against the Shah of Iran in the religious-nationalist movement and its affiliated Islamic Students Associations. The group subscribed to armed struggle because they considered peaceful resistance insufficient and lacked revolutionary ideas. These were based on their revolutionary interpretation of Islam’s Shi’a tradition of the martyrdom and resistance of Hossein, son of Ali, grandson of Muhammad, and an ideal classless Islamic society of order and justice paralleled to the then very popular revolutionary Marxist ideas. This mindset has seen a huge wave of popularity in those years with the works and ideas of Ali Shari’ati, Jalal Al-e-Ahmad, Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani and Muhammad Iqbal. Soon a group formed around the three leaders dedicated to study of religion, revolutionary theory and history when the strategic and theoretic bases of the movement have been created. The military training in urban guerilla warfare has been achieved when 13 members traveled to Jordan and Lebanon in 1970 to undergo it in the Palestinian Liberation Organization camps. The armed attacks were just in phase of preparation when a rival Marxist group, the Fadaeen-e Khalq Organization carried out an attack at a police station in Siahkal in Gilan province (February 8, 1971). During the next months prior to their own prepared attack, the group has been infiltrated by security agents and gradually arrested and put to trial for arms’ possession and studying subversive authors such as Marx or Che Guevara. The three founding and six other leading members have been executed. The last two members of the leading Central Committee, Masoud Rajavi and Bahman Bazargani have been sentenced to life imprisonment. The remaining members continued the struggle and performed attacks and armed operations. In 1975 an ideological dispute splitted the group in two and a new, purely Marxist group, the “Peykar” formed. This group rejected religion as incompatible with revolution.
The Iranian Revolution was a quite intricate phenomenon. At the beginning, religious, leftist, liberal and nationalist elements fought side by side to topple the Shah, but just days after the fall of the Shah’s regime, a bitter power struggle begun. The imprisoned Mujahedeen have been released and quickly established a network of local groups and armed militias very active between educated youth and students. Initially the MKO supported the leadership of Khomeini, but he mistrusted them and left them out of power. A ferocious struggle started between the MKO and the Islamic Republican Party, the IRP of Khomeini, which ultimately gained control over the country. MKO declared open struggle against the new Islamic government on June 20, 1981, after a large scale demonstration in Tehran and the major cities has been violently suppressed by the Revolutionary Guards leaving hundreds of dead and injured. The organization went underground, its leaders Rajavi and the ousted first post-revolutionary president Banisadr fled to Paris and the following attacks against Iranian authorities have been orchestrated from there. A National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI) has been formed, presenting itself as a democratic alternative to Iran’s new government and uniting more exiled intellectuals and opposition figures. The co-operation split up in a short time and since April 1984 the NCRI became a political wing, representing and lobbying for MEK in Europe and North America. In March 1985 Masoud Rajavi married Maryam Uzdanlu, who is until now the main leader of the organization, after Masoud Rajavi “went into hiding” in 2003 after the US invasion to Iraq. He hasn’t been spotted since, therefore some believe he may be dead or incapable of public appearance.
In 1986 the French government tried to normalize its relation to Iran and asked Rajavi to leave the country. The organization gradually relocated to Iraq, which was at war with Iran at that time (1980-1988) and created the National Liberation Army, NLA in camp Ashraf, a remote desert location north of Baghdad and some other minor locations. The members received military training and carried out attacks against Iranian forces hoping that they would make the Iranians turn against the Iranian regime which didn’t occur. The largest operation “Foroogh”, “Eternal light” took place even after Iran accepted the cease fire on July 18, 1988.
After the US & allies invasion to Iraq, the MEK have been first attacked, than disarmed and kept in Camp Ashraf, with a special place to house defectors from the group. They were under surveillance of the US and Bulgarian forces until 2009 when the control passed to the Iraqi forces. After the invasion in 2003 France suspected that the group would be willing to return to France, raided its French base and arrested a number of members. Subsequently some members and sympathizers immolated themselves in various European cities.
The new Iraqi government was very unwilling to keep the Iranians on Iraqi soil and various plans have been proposed to get rid of them. Allegedly a letter has been sent to the Americans from Tehran offering withdrawal of military backing of Hamas and Hezbollah and access to nuclear facilities in exchange for the group’s disbanding and extradition to Iran. The offer has been rejected.
The group is credited with the revelation of the Iranian nuclear program in 2002, but it is possible that this information were not obtained through another intelligence source. Mohamed El Baradej reportedly told that the information has been supplied by Mossad[ix].
On January 26th, 2009 the Council of the European Union and on September 28th, 2012 the US State Department removed the MKO from the list of foreign terrorist organizations after a long campaign of the Organization among top policy makers. The delisting also freed millions of dollars from the frozen assets of unknown provenience.

Terrorist acts and human rights issues

We should consider, why has the MKO been listed as a foreign terrorist group. One could believe that it was because of its attacks against Iranian forces, organizations and public figures. But the record is much more interesting. When we recall under which circumstances was the organization created.   

The MKO wasn’t fighting just against Iran. It helped Saddam Hussein to suppress the uprising of the Kurds in 1991 and ruthlessly massacred civilians in the town of Kifri. Maryam Rajavi is reported to have said “Take the Kurds under your tanks and save your bullets for the Revolutionary Guards”[x]. Anyway after the fall of Hussein, it quickly changed sides and joined the Coalition.
The organization has been created with a radical anti-imperialist agenda which resulted in many attacks against U.S. citizens and activities: the assassination of Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Hawkins in June 1973, U.S. Air Force officers Paul Scheffer and Jack Turner in May 1975, three Rockwell International employees in August 1976, Paul Grimm, a Texaco executive in December 1978 and finally in its active participation in the well-known US Embassy takeover and hostage crisis. After the official split between Khomeini and MEK the group went underground and carried out a series of bombings in Iran and abroad that killed high officials and ordinary citizens, in total cca. 10.000 people. In 1992 they carried out attacks on diplomatic buildings and personnel in ten countries including the attempted attack against the Iranian mission at the UN in New York. After the 9/11 attack the leadership hailed the operation and Masoud Rajavi reportedly told during the general gathering of the group one day after:

“If (Al Qaeda) could do such a sophisticated military operation we must be able to do so in a much better manner… wait and see the fruits of our revolutionary Islam” (Masoud Rajavi on September 12th 2001)[xi].

After the forced disarmament of the Iraq-based armed wing in 2003 the group apparently refrained from terrorist activities, and claims to be pro-democratic and secular, but the general lack of transparency in the organization does not exclude that suspect activities may continue and constitutes a source for legitimate doubt. The organization never published any detailed account neither about its rich and violent past, nor about switching ideologies and allies, or reasons for changing the personalities in its leadership. The group might be responsible of the recent terrorist attacks in Iran, aimed at military sites and crucial figures, namely nuclear scientists. Some of them have been killed in bombings or kidnapped and it is presumed that they might collaborate with the Israeli Mossad[xii].
At the moment the organization has multiple levels and branches. The main are the NLA – National Liberation Army, the now disarmed fighters in Iraq, the NCRI – National Council of Resistance of Iran, the political branch, active mainly in Washington D.C, Los Angeles, Paris and other minor locations managed by the supporter’s network. Their lobby approached some uninformed politicians, senators and MP’s of the US and European countries. Maryam Rajavi has been allowed to deliver speeches to some gullible MPs in the European Parliament and in the national parliaments of Estonia, Spain, Norway, Italy. In the Czech settings it was senator Jaromír Štětina who was approached by the MKO[xiii]. In the US the main supporters are Governor Howard Dean, Bill Richardson[xiv], Rudy Giuliani, General Hugh Shelton, Tom Ridge, Patrick Kennedy, Ted Poe, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. These officials have received tens of thousands of US dollars for standing up and speak in favor of the organization[xv]. In total the DC lobby firms have received over $1,5 million for a campaign in favor of MKO.
 These meetings and supporters have an immense value as a propaganda for its own members and supporters adding the organization some credibility and recognition.

The problem is that many officials accept the money, but also believe the propaganda of the MKO. Masoud Banisadr, a relative of the former president Abolhassan Banisard and an active member of the organization described the NCRI using these words:

 “Its main use was to deceive the Americans and Europeans against thinking of us as the same Mojahedin responsible for assassinating American citizens in Iran”[xvi].

            The organization operates a satellite television channel called Simaye Azadi (“The Image of Freedom”) and a long list of internet sites disguised as news outlets and activist sites advocating human rights. One of the most important is “”, “”, “”, “”, “”, “”, “”, “”, “” “” and the “Freedom Messenger” channel on most social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc. Among the lobbying and pro-MKO groups there is the “Iran Policy Committee (IPC) “U.S. Foundation for Liberty”, “” and many more[xvii]. The former spokesperson of MKO in the US, Alireza Jafarzadeh, has been promoted to the post of “independent analyst” on Iran for Fox News.
These media outlets air propaganda advocating the MKO’s removal from the list of terrorist organization (now successfully accomplished) and some unverified and exaggeratedly negative reports against the Iranian government with the aim of pushing the US and eventual allies to a war against Iran. The organization is credited to have revealed the Iranian nuclear program and some of its hidden research sites.
The organization’s support and sympathizer networks and cells spread around the world often act covertly and do not openly state their affiliation to the MEK. Their role is mainly fundraising, recruitment of new members, propaganda and illegal support activities like forging of identification documents, money laundering, etc.
            But the past terrorist activities are not the only concern regarding the organization. The organization has a long record of mistreatment of its members. As the reports published by Human Rights Watch and RAND, apart from volunteers, the members were recruited by deception from vulnerable groups of Iranian refugees and asylum seekers frequently in difficult situation and some kept in Iraq against their will.
The testimonies of a significant number of defectors who managed to escape offer a rare insight in the internal relations. The ex-members describe the organization as a manipulative personality cult similar to a religious sect based on a total submission and sacrifice of the member to the leaders[xviii]. Mainly in Iraq the members were kept in isolation from the external world, under strict supervision, with virtually no privacy, no personal life or communication with their families even within the camp itself. The family members who did not adhere to the organization were described as agents of the Iranian regime and the members were led to hate and despise them. They were subject to extensive brainwashing sessions, forced to humiliating public confessions about personal failures and shortcomings. The formerly married members were forced to divorce their partners as an act of total dedication to the cause. Sexual abuses have been reported as well. The members who expressed their will to leave were put in solitary confinement for months and even years, tortured and threatened by deportation to Iran. Some of them died under suspicious conditions. The leaders repeatedly threatened the members that they would be executed upon their arrival in Iran, but the will to leave the organization was even stronger than the fear from being extradited to Iran. In the last years even the Iranian authorities treated these defectors with clemency and accepted repenting members.[xix] [xx]Some of these defectors founded NGOs and societies such as the Nejat Society, Iran Interlink, or MKO Watch, to help them recover and document the human rights record of the MKO.

            The claims of the democratic principles is much less credible in this light and also the secularism of this cult is very questionable. The Rajavi couple are revered with a religious piety as the intermediaries between the people and god and religion plays an important role in controlling the members. The female members must observe the compulsory Islamic veiling. Personal lives of the members are tightly controlled, gender mingling is not allowed which makes it very similar to the current Iranian regime.

              The organization also lacks any evidence for its claims of a large supporter base inside Iran. The ideas of Islamism and Marxism, so attractive to the generation 30 years ago are now devoid of sense or discredited by the years of experience and evolution that affected Iran. The claims, that the organization underwent a democratic and secularizing phase are not credible enough for the Iranians and the human rights abuses in Camp Ashraf found their way to their ears through accounts of defectors. Probably the main issue of Iranians’ mistrust in the organization is its support for Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war against Iran and the killing of Iranian soldiers. The group’s leaders are by most Iranians considered traitors and terrorists who under the guise of democracy just want to replace the current government by themselves with the help of anybody.

               The encouragement of defection from the group by the Coalition forces was not sufficient, and it is remarkable that the group’s forces disintegrate too slowly. It is presumed that most of the current members held in the Camp Liberty are being kept there by force or deception. Their relocation is extremely difficult due to the group’s desire to keep the armed wing alive and no reasonably acting country agrees to harbor them on their territory openly.

                Recently (February 9, 2013), attackers have shelled the Camp Liberty killing six and wounding about 200 people. An Iraqi wing of the Iran-backed Hezbollah claimed responsibility and warned that other such attacks will follow[xxi]. This shows a possible reaction of Iran to the delisting of the organization and the fact, that the Iranian government is still considering this group as a vital threat.


What is the alternative?

            The policy makers hardly agree what to do about Iran. Instead of the two main options, the military and the diplomatic one, the “third option” is frequently offered: encouraging of an internal change performed by Iranian opposition groups. But which are the groups that can be trusted?
The Iranian opposition is extremely fragmented and the various groups hostile or mistrustful to each other. Except the MKO the other large group is led by the son of the last Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi. Even if he is the descendant of the last ruling dynasty, he is calling for free elections and a referendum, where the people could decide about the desired form of government, either republic, constitutional monarchy or other. The other groups and individuals are mostly secular and nationalist, some leftist, scattered between Europe, the US and Canada. The problem is to reach any agreement between these opposition groups and figures and to attract the people with a feasible program, because until now the groups could agree only on one thing: the removal of the Islamic Regime.   

              The most important in considering an organization worth support should be a thorough knowledge of its background. It should have a non-violent past and a constant secular democratic agenda. In the Iranian political spectrum there are much more trustful individuals and groups that can form a much more accomplished front.

 Iranians, after having suffered years under a religious dictatorship, gradually turned their back to extremist religion, just like communists who started to hate communism when they happened to experience it personally. From all the Middle Eastern countries Iranians are relatively one of the most educated, friendly and peaceful nations. Their diaspora is one of the largest, but also the most successful in questions of integration into the host societies, business activity and wealth. This is a great chance to exploit for a further co-operation if this question is faced sensitively. If the West will collaborate with the MKO or try to install it in case of government collapse in Iran, the vast majority will consider it a betrayal.

            The MKO and all its branches should be definitively disbanded and its history publicly exposed. Its members should be interviewed individually, the defectors should be allowed to leave the organization and placed in safe locations.

Is history repeating itself?

                 During a pro MKO assembly, Gov. Howard Dean, Chair, U.S. Democratic National Committee made a quite upsetting statement:

“Madame Rajavi does not sound like a terrorist to me, she sounds like a president and her organization should not be listed as a terrorist organization. We should be recognizing her as a president of Iran.”[xxii]

                 His words testify that the old practice of selecting and appointing “friendly dictators” in governing posts of conquered or satellite countries is not dead at all. At least it is apparently in conflict with any efforts of spreading democracy in the Middle East or anywhere.
It seems that the US administration also forgot the quite recent case of Ahmad Chalabi, the obscure self-proclaimed Iraqi opposition leader who lead the US-led coalition to an adventurous war with a still questionable results. Sometimes it is not clear enough if the US policy makers are just extremely forgetful or extremely gullible, or if they are just pursuing another plan, unknown to most of us. Iranians themselves, who are fond of conspiracy theories, are afraid that the Western allies might support separatist groups which would lead to a fragmentation of the territory between the Azeri Turks, Kurds and eventually other minorities and significantly weaken the country.

                After the US-led invasion to Iraq in 2003 reportedly Iran offered to comply with most requirements raised by the West in exchange for the disbanding and extradition of the MKO. Tehran offered to withdraw military support from Hamas and Hezbollah, help stabilize Iraq and grant access to its nuclear facilities. This offer has been rejected by Vice President Dick Cheney´s office[xxiii].
If the story proved to be real, we have to pose inevitably the question why should Washington refuse such a rare peace offer from Iran which furthermore complies with most of the requirements expressed by the West. What is the value of this group compared to the offer of talks?
                 It is not excluded that some members of the organization have been or could be recruited by intelligence agencies or Israel to perform in-country operations in Iran. Seymour Hersh in his article in the New Yorker from 2012, April 12[xxiv], suggests that in 2005, members of the MKO have undergone training by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Nevada desert. The article suggests that MKO operatives under the supervision of Mossad have carried out the recent killings of scientists and attacks on nuclear facilities and pipelines in Iran.
                The delisting of the MKO should be only one of the first steps followed by a slow dissolution of Camp Liberty and an absorption of the group members into the secret operation units and their use against Iran.
                This would suggest a nice fusion between the first and the third option: leading into a war with Iran with the help of the worst possible opposition group[xxv].


              The de-listing of the organization implies also an exemption from justice for the past terrorist acts and human rights abuses perpetrated by the group, not only against Iranian, but also foreign citizens. It implies again a double standard in human rights and terrorism policies of the Western countries who opted without further investigation for the delisting of such an obscure organization with a violent past and a cult-like image. It implies the opportunism of both sides in the process of forming short time alliances.

The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend.

Just to conclude with some very appropriate words of Fatemeh Pakravan, wife of Hossein Pakravan, chief of the Shah’s security service from the time, when the MKO was emerging and carrying out its first bombings: “And he <Hossein Pakravan> […] used to say that, "If you use violence, you will meet violence. If these young people don't want to ... obtain whatever they want.... First of all, we never knew what they wanted. You see, they never said what they wanted. And we know very well in other countries, where people have said that they will kill, and put bombs, and go into terroristic actions, it's to obtain democracy, it's not true. We know that for a fact -- it's not true at all, it's to establish another ... a very, very bad dictatorship.”[xxvi]

             The US, Britain and France already interfered decisively more times in Iran’s history. The CIA coup against Mosaddeq is still a bitter memory and the secret support for Ayatollah Khomeini against the Shah which is now more publicized among Iranians is adding to the general mistrust. Another case of serious interference in Iran’s internal affairs will not leave the Iranian people indifferent. And it is not a wise idea to create a new enemy of 70 million with a diaspora of another twelve.

[i] Department of State, 2012. Federal Register, vol. 77, No. 193, Thursday October 4, 2012. [Public Notice 8049 and 8050 [pdf]. Washington D.C.: Department of State. Available at: [Accessed 9 December 2012]. 

[ii] Runner, Ph., 2009. EU ministers drop Iran group from terror list. Eu observer  [internet] 26 Jan. Available at: [Accessed 12 December 2012].      

[iii]Iran Freedom Support Act of 2006, HR 6198, 109th Cong., Congressional Record 152, (Pub.L. 109–293, p. 120 Stat. 1344, September 27, 2006). Available at: GPO Access,  [Accessed 9 December 2012]. 
[iv] Wright, R., 2007. Iran On Guards Over U.S.Funds. Washington Post Online, [internet] 28 April. Available at: [Accessed 17 December 2012].

[v] Shipman, T. 2007. Bush sanctions 'black ops' against Iran. The Telegraph. [internet] 27  May. 
Available at: [Accessed 08 February 2013].

[vi] Fox News, 2013. Pentagon to cut aircraft carrier presence in Persian Gulf to 1 due to budget strains. [internet] 6 February. 
Available at: [Accessed 08 February 2013].

[vii] RFE/RL, 2012. Hague Says U.K. Not Seeking Regime Change In Iran. Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty Online, [internet] 15 October.
Available at: [Accessed 19 December 2012].

[viii] Abrahamian, E., 1992. The Iranian Mojahedin; New Haven: Yale University Press, p.89.

[ix] Hersh, S. 2012. Our Men in Iran?. The New Yorker. [internet] April 6. Available at [Accessed 10 December 2012].

[x] Rubin, E.. 2003.  The Cult of Rajavi. New York Times. [internet]13 July. Available at: [Accessed 17 December 2012].

[xi] Abdi, J. “Will Giuliani invite MEK “freedom fighters” to relocate in Manhattan?.”April 25, 2011, post on blog “NIAC inSight,” Washington insights for the Iranian-American community ,

[xii] Daily Mail, 2012. Mossad training terrorists to kill Iran's nuclear scientists, U.S. officials claim... but is Israel's real target Obama?. Daily Mail Online. [internet] February 10. Available at:[Accessed 16 December 2012].

[xiii] Source withheld because of security reasons (Personal communication, fall 2012).

[xiv] Wilkie, Ch.,2011. Mujahideen-e Khalq: Former U.S. Officials Make Millions Advocating For Terrorist Organization. Huffington Post. [internet] 8 August. Available at: [Accessed 16 December 2012].

[xv] Al Jazeera, Inside Story Americas, “Has the MEK changed?” September 25, 2012

[xvi] Banisadr, M. 2004. Memoirs of an Iranian Rebel, London: Saqi Books, p. 219.

[xvii] MEKTerror, “Affiliate groups. MEK Members and Pressure Groups Mobilizing to Support the MEK”. NIACouncil Web site,, [Accessed 16 December 2012].

[xviii] Al Jazeera, “The Cult of the Chameleon” October  17, 2007, [Accessed 16 December 2012].

[xix] HRW, No Exit: Human Rights Abuses in the MEK camps. (Human Rights Watch. May 2005) Online.
Available at: [Accessed 10 December 2012].
[xx] The RAND Corporation. The Mujahedin-e Khalq in Iraq. A Policy Conundrum. (Rand Corporation, 2009) Online. 
Available at: [Accessed 10 December 2012].

[xxi] Ghazi, Y. 2013. Six Killed in Shelling of Iranian Refugee Camp in Iraq. The New York Times. [internet] 9 February.  Available at:  [Accessed 10 February 2013].

[xxii] NIACouncil. Washington's Favorite Terrorists: Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK, MKO, PMOI). Jul 6, 2011.[accessed  February 10, 2012].

[xxiii] BBC News, 2007. Washington 'snubbed Iran offer'. BBC News. . [internet] January 18. Available at: [Accessed 16 December 2012].
[xxiv] Hersh, S. 2012. Our Men in Iran?. The New Yorker. [internet] April 6. Available at [Accessed 10 December 2012].

[xxv] Ekéus, R. & Braut-Hegghammer, M. 2012. Don't Go Baghdad on Tehran. How to Avoid Repeating the Iraq Debacle. Foreign Affairs. [internet] 18 October.
Available at:,,11-1506-669.html
[Accessed 17 December 2012].

[xxvi] Fatemeh Pakravan, in an interview recorded by Habib Ladjevardi, 7 March 1983, Paris, France, Transcript 4 of 4, Iranian Oral History Collection, Harvard University.  [accessed  February 10, 2012].

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Justice of God and the Perils of Politicization of the Human Rights Issues: The Iran Case.


Until the present times, the rule of the last Persian Imperial dynasty, the Pahlavis, is in the larger public opinion still considered a rule of terror and human rights abuses which was justly criticized and eventually overthrown.
This short research will try to analyze the security apparatus, the human rights abuses and the political background, the justice administered, the compensation to the victims of these real or alleged abuses, the punishment of the responsible security structures and leading individuals through the creation of the Islamic Revolutionary Courts.


On December 31st 1977 President Jimmy Carter visited the last Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in Tehran and called Iran "an island of stability in the Middle East” in his speech. Just some months later, after a tireless international campaign for human rights in Iran, the empire fell into turmoil between demonstrations and violence from both armed opposition groups, leftist and Islamist, and from the government on the other side. The Shah, either because of his personal stoicism and resignation, or possibly because of his worsening health, left the country and months later died in exile, abandoned by his former friends and supporters.
The last Shah of Iran could be considered one of the most controversial figures of the 20th century. For his supporters was the man who gave Iran its modern face, built the infrastructure and industry, push through some social reforms, gave women a more equal status. We cannot forget the general situation in which he had to make his decisions and the crucial strategic position of Iran, an oil-rich country between the Soviet and the Western Block in the middle of the Cold War. He had to try to contain the tidal wave of communism, directly supported by the USSR and radical Islamism of the angry clergymen, who opposed his land reform and social reforms, like more freedom for women. Since much information is still classified, censored or altered for propaganda purposes by the current government in Iran, a sober and impartial historical analysis is still rare. In this short paper the author would like to concentrate mainly on the human rights issues which contributed to the outcome of the Iranian Revolution and the efforts for justice and its Iranian solution, retribution and rehabilitation of political prisoners.


The Iranian Revolution is frequently misinterpreted in more ways. It is said to be a mass uprising of a radically religious and traditional population against the reforms of the modernist and pro-Western Shah. One of the main exponents of this view is Michel Foucault[1]. From the other side it is stressed that the Revolution was an uprising of various intellectuals, students, rightist and leftist elements against a repressive dictatorial regime demanding more freedom and liberal reforms. Another line notes that some opposition groups used terrorist practices: the extreme left, financed by the USSR and the religious extremists, like the Fada'iyan-e Islam group, assassinating important political figures, The People’s Mujahedin of Iran, a marxist-Islamist group, and the communist Tudeh Party, carrying out terrorist attacks against civilians and military personnel. Probably the most correct is the combination of the three, that the Revolution was a movement of extremely heterogeneous forces, practically opposed to each other and at their turn opposed to the Shah’s regime. It can be argued that the revolution has been triggered, or at least hastened, by the loosening of the repression and tight control over the radical opposition forces by the Imperial security apparatus.
In the second half of the 1970’s and until now, the reign of the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi is associated with the tyranny of his secret service, SAVAK. SAVAK, which is the acronym for Sazman-e Etelaat va Amniat-e Keshvar (سازِمانِ اطلاعات وَ امنیَتِ کِشوَر), which literally means Organization for Intelligence and Security of the Country. The purpose of the organization was to eliminate threats to the Shah’s rule from all subversive elements, leftists and religious extremists, but also liberal intellectuals. It has been reportedly created in cooperation with the CIA and allegedly the Israeli MOSSAD.
In 1983 in Paris Habib Ladjevardi conducted an interview with Fatemeh Pakravan, wife of the second chief of SAVAK and she connected the early stage of the security apparatus to the period of Mosaddegh as prime minister and minister of defense:

“[…] Dr. Mossadegh as minister of defense governed practically all the time under martial law. This is something again that people have forgotten. And also, that actually it was Dr. Mossadegh who put the seed of what came to be known as SAVAK.Q. [Reporter] Did he?
A. [Fatemeh Pakravan] Yes. Because he established -- you know at the time the Communist Party, the Persian Communist Party called the Tudeh, was extremely active because the Russians had hardly left Azarbaijan and the so-called democracy [democratic] republics, that they had instituted in Kurdestan and Azarbaijan, and were extremely strong. And Mossadegh was well aware of the danger it represented to have these people infiltrating every activity in the country. So he established something called the National Council of Security, presided by himself and the head[s] of the three services (the army, navy, and air force) and the head of the police department (gendarmerie), and the Chief G-2 -- that was my husband.” [2]

Dr. Mosaddegh was the Prime Minister of Iran from 1951 to 1953. He was overthrown by a coup d’état orchestrated by the British MI5 and the CIA because of his efforts to nationalize the Iranian oil industry, in British hands since 1913. After the account of Mansour Moaddel and other historians, “In a crucial respect, the empirical evidence seems to support the Left's argument that the state's repressive policy was to destroy all the political groups and provide stable conditions for the inflow of international capital. Evidently, the Shah, in order to resolve the oil issue in a manner acceptable to his international guardians, needed effectively to silence the nationalist leaders and the Communists. Right after the coup, the political parties and organizations associated with the National front including the Iran party, the Iranian People's party, the Party of the Nation of Iran (Pan Iranian party), and the Toiler's party – were all disbanded and their publications discontinued. Members of the Front were either killed, imprisoned, exiled or co-opted. The suppression of these parties was so pervasive that not only were the communication network between party leaders and the rank and file broken down but also National Front leaders lost contact with each other. The Tudeh (Communist) party was repressed with a much higher degree of intensity. After the coup an estimated 3,000 Tudeh militants were arrested. Many Communists were shot and murdered in prisons, many professors and students were put in jail after being arrested at night. The organizational power of the Tudeh was effectively demolished when its units in the army were discovered in 1954 and over 500 officers were arrested.”[3]

The first chief of the reorganized SAVAK was general Teymour Bakhtiar, appointed in February 1958, but according to some sources[4] as early as September 1953 a U.S. Army Colonel working for the CIA has been sent to Iran to establish an intelligence cell and work with Bakhtiar, that time military governor of Tehran. In March 1955 that person has been replaced by a team of 5 CIA officers. One of them was Major General Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf. These people trained the personnel in intelligence and reportedly in torture techniques, drawn from WWII Germany[5]. SAVAK operated two prisons in Tehran (the Komiteh and Evin facilities) and more suspected. SAVAK's torture methods included electric shock, whipping, beating, inserting broken glass and pouring boiling water into the rectum, tying weights to the testicles, and the extraction of teeth and nails[6].
In 1961 Bakhtiar resigned himself or has been dismissed by the Shah because of distrust and in 1970 assassinated in exile in Iraq, probably on Shah’s order. General Hassan Pakravan took his place. He was again dismissed in 1966 and replaced by General Nematollah Nassiri, the Shah’s childhood friend, who finished arrested by the Shah in the last year before the revolution due to general mistrust in his officers. The last chief (6 June 1978 – 12 February 1979) was Lieutenant General Nasser Moghadam, another Shah’s friend. The last three SAVAK chiefs have been executed shortly after the revolution. In the early 1970’s Shah created an extra Special Intelligence Bureau inside his Niavaran palace in Tehran and its chief was Major General Hossein Fardust, former deputy chief of SAVAK.
The accurate information about SAVAK are still classified by the current Iranian regime and any information is strongly biased either by the enemies of the Shah who try to exaggerate the numbers of the security personnel, or the sympathizers, who try to diminish it. Therefore it is impossible to assess the real strength and influence of the whole system.[7] Some sources estimate the number of secret agents as high as 60,000[8], the Islamic Republic claims 15,000 full-time personnel and thousands of informants, sources sympathetic to the Shah estimate the staff between 4,000 and 6,000[9]. It was predominantly a civilian organization but it had close ties to the military and many members served simultaneously in a branch of the armed forces.

The Human Rights Issue

While the support of the United States for the Shah and the help of CIA in creating a strong authoritarian rule was in line with the former US foreign policy of “realpolitik”, ruthless and calculating, supporting local despotic regimes in change for their loyalty. In Carter’s eyes, recent foreign policy makers, notably Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, had promoted a policy that defended American interests at the price of disregarding morality and America’s duty to uphold a high standard in the world.[10]
Jimmy Carter entered his office on January 20th, 1977 and in his inaugural speech he stated, that America's “commitment to human rights must be absolute”[11] However he refrained from a public criticism towards the Shah, because he was aware of the importance of the American-Iranian relations. He kept his remarks for personal interaction with the monarch fearing to disturb the stability in the region and the crucial cooperation between the two countries[12], but the Shah found himself in the middle of a ferocious media campaign. In 1975 Amnesty International declared that “no country in the world has a worse record in human rights than Iran”[13]. “When the Shah and his wife, Empress Farah, came for a state visit to America in November 1977, in Williamsburg, Virginia, about 500 Iranian students showed up, enthusiastically applauding. However, about 50 protestors waved hammer-and-sickle red flags. These unlikely Iranians were masked, unable to speak Persian, and some were blonde. The U.S. media focused exclusively on the protesters. Wrote the Shah: “Imagine my amazement the next day when I saw the press had reversed the numbers and wrote that the fifty Shah supporters were lost in a hostile crowd.””[14]
Anyway the Shah felt the pressure from the U.S. administration and trying to conform to these new conditions he began to relax restrictions against political protesters in the spring of 1977. The liberal opposition used this opportunity and started their campaign against repression by a short letter demanding “the respect of constitutionalism and human rights.”[15] Other groups of intellectuals, like the “Writers Association” begun to meet regularly, SAVAK arrested less people and the Shah allowed the Red Cross to inspect the prisons. It was clear that the Shah wanted to meet the requirements and the relations seemed to improve.. But in reality, human rights were just a façade, not the main agenda, which was made clear during a meeting in Washington in November 1977: oil prices, weapons deals and global economic issues. But the political climate in Iran already reached a point of no return. The opposition became outspoken, the foreign media coverage of the opposition was extensive. BBC offered much space to Khomeini who aired his speeches to Iran and the clashes with SAVAK and the security forces intensified. The US administration started to distance itself from the Shah. In December 1978, Carter stated that although his administration would “prefer the Shah to maintain a major role in the government,” it was “in the hands of the Iranian people” and he would not intervene with U.S. forces to bail out the Shah. Actually the U.S. administration had already made some attempts to contact Khomeini and assure him about their support.
After he left the country for an exile, from which he was to never return back, he stated: “I did not know it then – perhaps I did not want to know – but it is clear to me now that the Americans wanted me out. Clearly this is what the human rights advocates in the State Department wanted … What was I to make of the Administration’s sudden decision to call former Under Secretary of State George Ball to the White House as an adviser on Iran? Ball was among those Americans who wanted to abandon me and ultimately my country.” – Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran[16]

Revolutionary Courts, Sadegh Khalkhali and the Justice of God.

The opposition movement against the Shah and the revolution itself brought about a certain number of casualties between shooting during demonstrations and repression by the security forces. This numbers have also been used to judge the officials of the overthrown government, anyway they differ greatly. After Ayatollah Khomeini the number of men, women and children murdered by the Shah’s regime was 60,000. This number is also in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic. A deputy of the Iranian Parliament during the American Hostage crisis stated the numbers even higher, 70,000 killed and 100,000 wounded. Anyway, the most recent research done by a respected and since jailed historian Emadeddin Baghi at the Martyr’s Foundation (Bonyad-e Shahid - بنیاد شهید) found much lower numbers. The Martyr Foundation has been explicitly founded after the revolution to compensate the families of the fallen fighters. In the archives of the Martyr’s Foundation Baghi found 3164 dead among the anti-Shah movement between 1963 and 1979 and only 744 identified in Tehran. The coroner’s office states 895 and Tehran’s main cemetery Behesht-e Zahra counts 768 martyrs.[17]
The relatively low number of victims for a time span of 16 years and a nation of roughly 30 million is frequently credited to Shah’s general reluctance to use force and his resigned attitude towards the will of the masses, that he was "unwilling to massacre his subjects in order to save his throne"[18].
In the mentioned interview the wife of the SAVAK chief, Fatemeh Pakravan points out that SAVAK always looked just like its chief shaped it. While Nassiri was known as the one who promoted torture, General Pakravan was known for his conciliatory views and he frequently visited Khomeini, whom he saved from execution and who could thank him his title of Ayatollah. Anyway Pakravan was one of the first people executed. “One of the things that my husband used to say after he finished, after he left that […] I don't want it to give you the impression that he was boasting. It was just a fact that he recognized. He said, "You know, I think that in three thousand ... in all the history of Asia, I am practically the only fool that never practiced torture." And he used to laugh and say, "My prisons are like four-star hotels." And it was confirmed because I remember Allahyar Saleh was sick and he was taken to the hospital. Well, he was ... he came from prison to the hospital, and he used to say, "I don't want to see anybody except my dear General Pakravan." You know, he was respected and all that.”[19]
The Shah, before he fled to exile on January 16, 1979, left the government of the country to Shahpour Bakhtiar, a conservative liberal and his party, the National Front. Bakhtiar, in his speech in the Parliament on January 11, 1979, announced a plan of 17 points which included the dissolution of the SAVAK, the gradual elimination of the martial law, punishment of the violators of human rights, liberation and payment as compensation to political prisoners and a larger role for religious leaders in the drafting of legislation[20]. Unfortunately he wasn’t permitted to realize this plan. February 1, 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini arrived to Tehran and on February 5 decided that Mehdi Bazargan will become Prime Minister. Shahpour Bakhtiar has been forced into exile and assassinated in Paris August 7, 1991 by Iranian agents.
Effectively, political prisoners have been freed. According to contemporary reports, their number was a little more than 3,000.
Striving to consolidate his power, Khomeini established armed forces and new organizations whose aim was to assure his predominance: the Revolutionary Council, the Revolutionary Guards, Revolutionary Tribunals, Islamic Republican Party, and Revolutionary Committees (komitehs). Mainly the Revolutionary Tribunals (Dadgah-e Enqelab-e Eslami دادگاه انقلاب اسلامی) and the Committees had to administer justice and punish the officials of the fallen regime. The Committees were looking for perpetrators and contra-revolutionary signs among people. They are criticized for violence, arbitrary arrests, confiscation of property and baseless accusations upon personal rivalries, jealousies and antipathies.
Two revolutionary tribunals were set up in the capital Tehran, in Qasr and Evin prisons, others in most major cities and there was also a traveling tribunal for the main judge, Hojjat-ol Eslam Sadegh Khalkhali, who later became known as the “hanging judge” for the scores of death penalties he issued. He became famous with the quote in an interview with Le Figaro: "If my victims were to come back on earth, I would execute them again, without exceptions."[21] The first death senteces have been issued and carried out just two weeks after the arrival of Khomeini, on February 16, 1979. In the first two months the number of executed rose to cca. 200, by January 1980, it reached cca. 582, another 906 executions have been carried out until June 1981, the date when elected leftist president Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr has been impeached and the leftist and liberals have been definitively doomed by Khomeini, in the 12 months after this event, Amnesty International counted another 2,946 executions[22]. When Khomeini officially condemned the Leftists, paradoxically many of former political prisoners, who fought against the Shah and served prisons terms, have been sentenced again to prison and in later years many of them executed.

The Revolutionary Court still exists and under its jurisdiction fall the following:

All of the offenses against the internal and external security of the Country, combating and behaving in a corruptly manner on the Earth, which is in Islamic terminology called Mofsed-e fil arz.
Uttering slander against the Founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Honorable Leader.
Conspiracy against the Islamic Republic of Iran or carrying arms, use of terrorism, destruction of building against the Islamic Republic.
Engaging in espionage for aliens.
All crimes involving smugglings and narcotic items.
The cases pertinent to Article 49 of the Constitution of Iran, which concern misuse, fraud and theft of public resources.

Since the first days the summary trials have been much criticized by public figures such as the Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan and even Shi’a clerics Ayatollah Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari and Hassan Tabatabai-Qomi. The trials were not public, there was no jury, and a single judge decided the matter at hand, frequently deciding only upon his own discretion and knowledge, which is a specific feature of Shi’a Islam, based on the principle of ”Intellect”, ‘Aql (عقل) and Ijtihad (اجتهاد), deciding upon one’s own effort. In general, the trials can be a matter of only hours or minutes and the guilt can be proven just on the basis of “popular repute”. The concept of defense attorney was dismissed as a “Western absurdity” [23] To any criticism Khomeini responded by saying that "criminals should not be tried, they should be killed." Sadegh Khalkhali stated “The revolutionary courts were born out of the anger of the Iranian people and these people will not accept any principles outside Islamic principles.”[24]
In the first months after the revolution, 248 military officials have been executed, among them 61 SAVAK officials, including three former chiefs, Pakravan, Nassiri and Moghadam. But also high ranking government officials such as Farrokhroo Parsa, first female minister in Iran (Minister of Education) and outspoken supporter of women’s rights, Gholamreza Nikpay, deputy Prime Minister and Amir Abas Hoveyda, Prime Minister. The new government was trying to obtain the extradition of the Shah, to try and execute him, but unsuccessfully.
Some scholars concluded that the role of Ayatollah Khomeini was decisive and his will to put to death most people associated with the previous regime determined the whole form of the mock trials. Sadegh Khalkhali in an interview with a New York Times reported states: “Everything I did, I did under the holy authority of the Imam. I did only what he wanted.”[25]
Abbas Milani, an Iranian scholar, reports the accusations of Khalkhali against Hoveyda: “Amir Abbas Hoveyda, son of Habibollah, birth certificate number 3542, issued in Tehran, born in 1298 (1920), previously minister of the deposed royal court, and the Shah’s ex-Prime Minister, a citizen of Iran, is accused of:
1. Spreading corruption on Earth
2. Fighting God, God's creatures and the Viceroy of Imam Zaman (the transcendental 12th Shi’a Imam, the messianic savior, whose deputy Khomeini considered himself and the Islamic government)
3. Acts of sedition detrimental to national security and independence, through forming cabinets that were puppets of the United States and England and defending the interests of colonialists.
4. Plotting against national sovereignty by interference in elections to Majlis (Parliament), appointing and dismissing ministers at the behest of foreign embassies.
5. Turning over underground resources: oil, copper and uranium to foreigners.
6. Expansion of the influence of American Imperialism, and its European allies, in Iran by destroying internal resources and turning Iran into a market for foreign commodities.
7. Paying national revenues from oil to Shah and Farah (the Shah’s wife Farah Diba) and to countries dependent on the West and then borrowing money at high interest, and enslaving conditions from America and Western countries.
8. Ruining agriculture and destroying forests.
9. Direct participation in acts of espionage for the West and Zionism.
10. Complicity with conspirators from CENTO and NATO for the oppression of the peoples of Palestine, Vietnam and Iran.
11. Active member of Freemasonry in the Foroughi Lodge according to existing documents and the confessions of the accused.
12. Participation in terrorizing and frightening the justice seeking people including their death and injury and limiting their freedom by closing down newspapers and exercising censorship on the print media and books.
13. Founder and first secretary of the despotic "Rastakhiz of the Iranian People" party.
14. Spreading cultural and ethical corruption and direct participation in consolidating the pillars of colonialism and granting capitulatory rights to Americans.
15. Direct participation in smuggling heroin in France along with Hassan Ali Mansour.
16. False reporting through the publication of puppet papers and appointing puppet editors to head the media.
17. According to minutes of cabinet meetings and of the Supreme Economic Council, and the claims of private plaintiffs, including Dr. Ali-Asghar Hadj-Seyyed-Djavadi, and taking into account documents found in SAVAK and the office of the prime minister, and the confessions of Dr. Manouchehr Azmoun, Mahmoud Jafarian, Parviz Nick-khah, and the confessions of the accused, since the commission of the crimes is certain, the prosecutor of the Islamic Revolutionary Court asks the court to issue the judgment of the death penalty and the confiscation of all your [Hoveyda's] property.” [26]

Many of the charges reflected uninvestigated rumors. Abbas Milani agrees with this notion when he described the essence of the court's ambience: “It became clear that rules of evidence, notions of innocence until proven guilty, and a dispassionate judge, dispensing impartial judgments based on incontrovertible evidence, were all alien to this court … Gossip had the authority of fact, as evident in article fifteen of the indictment, and unsubstantiated rumours were taken as proof of guilt.”

The former chief of SAVAK, Hassan Pakravan was among the executed too. In the already mentioned interview of Habib Ladjevardi with his wife Fatemeh Pakravan she recalls the evidence gathered against her husband for the trial: “Because my son told me -- because, you know, somehow all the secrets come out -- that the interrogator told somebody, who told my son, that when they opened his file, his so-called file ... they never allowed my son to see him, because they said the instructions were going ... the inquiries were going on. It wasn't true, because when they opened his file, there was only one piece of paper. And that was the testimony of a young man, who had been arrested under my husband and who gave a testimony to the human treatment that he had and how General Pakravan released him very soon -- had him released very soon.”[27]


The cultural, religious and political background that shaped the post-revolutionary efforts for justice in Iran allowed its realization only on a very limited scale. The religious differences and ideals of Islamic justice on Earth, acclaimed and defended by the new government, apparently served only as an excuse for an indiscriminate persecution and elimination of the fallen regime’s political and military elite and of its new rivals in the quest for power after the Revolution, originally achieved with joint effort. The human rights have been practically or politically abused by most of the actors: the Shah’s regime used the repressive apparatus, imprisoning and torturing to retain the power and silence liberal dissent, but also to keep the leftist and religious extremists and terrorists at bay. The Western powers used the human rights situation as a lever of pressure on the Shah’s government because of various political manoeuvres, calculations and hidden goals in the extraordinarily strategic Middle East region. The Western media but also the propaganda around Khomeini and other organizations of the opposition used the exaggerated human rights record to launch a smear campaign against the rulers, which ended by their ousting and establishing a rule of terror and deliberate executions after summary trials in the name of God. Khomeini and the propaganda of the new regime used and created its own interpretation of human rights which was useful at that moment, just to smash them again just weeks after rising to power. The case of Iran should serve as a memento for the global community, to approach the issue of human rights with alertness and without political bias and calculations.

Just to conclude, again the words of Fatemeh Pakravan: “And he […] used to say that, "If you use violence, you will meet violence. If these young people don't want to ... obtain whatever they want.... First of all, we never knew what they wanted. You see, they never said what they wanted. And we know very well in other countries, where people have said that they will kill, and put bombs, and go into terroristic actions, it's to obtain democracy, it's not true. We know that for a fact -- it's not true at all, it's to establish another ... a very, very bad dictatorship.”[28]

[1] Scullion, Rosemarie, “Michel Foucault the Orientalist: On Revolutionary Iran and the "Spirit of Islam"” South Central Review Vol. 12, No. 2 (Summer, 1995), pp. 16-40
[2]Fatemeh Pakravan, in an interview recorded by Habib Ladjevardi, 7 March 1983, Paris, France. Iranian Oral History Collection, Harvard University. transcript 1 of 4, accessed February 9, 2012

[3] Moaddel Mansoor, Class, politics, and ideology in the Iranian revolution. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993, p. 55

[4] Gasiorowski, Mark J., , “CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (CIA) IN PERSIA,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition, December 15, 1991, last updated October 10, 2011, accessed February 02, 2012,

[5] Hersh, Seymour. "Ex-analyst says CIA rejected warning on Shah." The New York Times, July 1st 1979, accessed February 2, 2012,

[6] Ministry of Security SAVAK. Federation of American Scientists, last updated January 16, 2000, accessed February 10, 2012,

[7] Ibidem.

[8] Dilip Hiro. Iran under the ayatollahs. London and New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1987, p. 96.

[9] Afkhami,. Gholam Reza. Life and Times of the Shah. University of California Press, 2009, p. 386.

[10] Brands, H.W. “The Idea of the National Interest,” Diplomatic History 23 (Spring 1999): 258.

[11]Peter G. Bourne, Jimmy Carter: A Comprehensive Biography from Plains to Postpresidency. New York, NY, 1997, p. 384.

[12] Gilbert, John: Carter’s Human Rights Policy and Iran, Madison Historical Review, volume 5 (May 2008), accessed February 12, 2012

[13]Gasiorowski, Mark J.. U.S. Foreign Policy and the Shah: Building a Client State in Iran . Ithaca, NY: 1991, p. 157.

[14] Perloff, James. “Iran and the Shah: What Really Happened.” The New American, 13 May 2009., accessed February 04, 2012.

[15] Siavoshi, Susan. Liberal Nationalism in Iran: The Failure of a Movement. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990.

[16]Engdahl, William, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order. Dr.Bottiger Verlags-GmbH, 1993, p. 192.

[17] Kadivar, Cyrus. “A Question of Numbers.” Rouzegar-Now, 8 August 2003, accessed 10 February 2012, online

[18] Kurzman, Charles. Unthinkable Revolution, Harvard University Press: 2004, p.108

[19] Fatemeh Pakravan, in an interview recorded by Habib Ladjevardi, 7 March 1983, Paris, France, Transcript 1 of 4, Iranian Oral History Collection, Harvard University, accessed February 9, 2012,

[20] Prunhuber, Carol. The Passion and Death of Rahman the Kurd. Bloomington: iUniverse, 2009, p. 44

[21] Le Figaro, 14 January 2000

[22] Bakhtash, Shaul. The Reign of the Ayatollahs, New York: Basic Books, 1984, p.111

[23] Abrahamian, Ervand, Tortured Confessions by Ervand Abrahamian, University of California Press, 1999, p.125

[24] Bakhash, Shaul, The Reign of the Ayatollahs, New York: Basic Books, 1984, p.59-61

[25] Milani, Abbas. The Persian sphinx: Amir Abbas Hoveyda and the Riddle of the Iranian Revolution, London: I.B.Tauris, 2000, p.331-338

[26] Ibidem p.331

[27] Fatemeh Pakravan, in an interview recorded by Habib Ladjevardi, 7 March 1983, Paris, France, Transcript 4 of 4, Iranian Oral History Collection, Harvard University. accessed February 10, 2012

[28] Ibidem.