A Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

BAAD - Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) - 2012


Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK)

The Mujahedin-E Khalq (MEK) was formed in 1965 by a group of leftist students in Iran who opposed the regime under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.[1] Its leaders are Massoud Rajavi and his wife, Maryam Rajavi.[2] Its military wing, the National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA) and its political wing, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), facilitate the goals of the MEK.[3]
Throughout the 1970s, the MEK targeted U.S. forces and offices in Iran.[4] Although the group denies any involvement, the U.S. State Department alleged that the MEK assisted in the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.[5] Following the overthrow of the Shah, the MEK was initially supportive of the new regime led by Ayatollah Khomeini.[6] However, the MEK did not agree with Khomeini’s post-revolutionary politics, which eventually caused a falling out between the MEK and the new administration, forcing the leaders to flee to Paris.[7] In 1981, Massoud Rajavi started the NCRI.[8] The NCRI was conceived as an umbrella organization for dissident Iranian groups that would lobby western governments and presented itself as a government-in-exile. [9] In 1986, the NCRI and the leadership of MEK were expelled from France following a warm up in relations between Iran and France; they subsequently relocated to Iraq. [10]
Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the MEK received support primarily from Saddam Hussein and was granted patronage in Iraq along the border shared with Iran.[11] MEK forces were involved in bloody exchanges during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, and from their new base in Iraq they were able to organize and execute several large scale terrorist operations over the course of the 1990s and early 2000s. [12] After the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the MEK negotiated a ceasefire with coalition forces following which they surrendered the weapons. [13] The group’s members were confined to Camp Ashraf. [14] Following years of lobbying by pro-MEK figures in the United States and the Iranian diaspora around the world, the MEK finally succeeded in being removed from the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization list in 2012. [15] View full narrative

Quick Facts for 2012


11 (Total of 1998 through 2012)

Leftist, Religious


Territorial Control:
Does Not Control Territory (0)

Funding through Drug Trafficking:

Sorry, but there are no organizational details available for this group at this time.


Primary Ideology

  • Ag = Anti-Globalization
  • An = Anarchist
  • En = Ethnic
  • Ev = Environmental
  • Le = Leftist
  • Re = Religious
  • Ri = Rightist
  • Se = Separatist
  • Su = Supremacist
  • Vi = Vigilante


  •  Ally
  •  Suspected Ally
  •  Rival
  •  Violence
  •  Mixed Relations


  •  Blue 0 - 1479 fatalities
  •  Green 1479 - 2958 fatalities
  •  Yellow 2958 - 4437 fatalities
  •  Orange 4437 - 5916 fatalities
  •  Red 5916 - 7396 fatalities

Lethality is calculated as the total number of fatalities from 1998-2012.


Icon sizes depict approximate relative sizes of the organizations.

  • Smallest 0 - 10 members
  •   11 - 100 members
  •   101 - 1000 members
  •   1001 - 10000 members
  • Largest > 10000 members

Other Notes

Icons with no color coding or ideology icon have no detailed data at this time, and are provided as relationship information only.