The People's Mujahedin of Iran or the Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (MEK, also PMOI, MKO) (Persian: سازمان مجاهدين خلق ايران sāzmān-e mojāhedin-e khalq-e irān) is a militant revolutionary Iranian organization that participated in the 1979 Revolution that overthrew the Pahlavi Shah. It is now an opposition movement in exile, that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Founded on September 5, 1965 by a group of leftist Muslim Iranian university students as an Islamic and Marxist political mass movement, the MEK was originally devoted to armed struggle against the Shah of Iran, capitalism, and Western imperialism. In the immediate aftermath of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the MEK and the Tudeh Party at first chose to side with the clerics led by Ayatollah Khomeini against the liberals, nationalists and other moderate forces within the revolution. A power struggle ensued, and by mid-1981, MEK was fighting street battles against the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. During the Iran–Iraq War, the group was given refuge by Saddam Hussein and mounted attacks on Iran from within Iraqi territory.
The group claims to have renounced violence in 2001 and today it is the main component organization of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an "umbrella coalition" calling itself the "parliament-in-exile dedicated to a democratic, secular and coalition government in Iran." While the MEK's leadership has resided in Paris France, the group's core members were for many years confined to Camp Ashraf in Iraq, and "were disarmed in the wake of the US-led invasion and are said to have adhered to a ceasefire." The group's remaining 3,200 members were recently compelled to move to ex-US military base Camp Liberty. The MEK/NCRI is thought to have provided the United States with intelligence on Iran's nuclear program in 2002 and 2008.
Canada, Iraq and Iran designate the MEK as a terrorist organization. The European Union and the United States formerly listed the MEK as a terrorist organization, but this designation has since been lifted, first by the Council of the European Union in January 26, 2009 (following what the group called a “seven-year-long legal and political battle”) and then by a decision by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on September 21, 2012.
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