Audit the Mujahedin-e-Khalq

Iranian demonstrators
ADDS THAT THE PEOPLE AT THE RALLY ARE SUPPORTERS OF THE MUJAHEDEEN-E-KHALQ – Members of the Iranian American community of Washington, D.C., who support the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or the MeK, an Iranian exile group that seeks to overthrow Iran’s government, rally outside the State Department in Washington, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. Participants at the rally celebrated the death of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by a U.S. airstrike in Iraq. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) Jose Luis Magana/AP

Audit the Mujahedin-e-Khalq

The Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO) is a barometer of Washington corruption.

While the group describes itself as dedicated to freedom in Iran, it is anything but. Its roots lie in a combination of Islamism and Marxism. In the run-up to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the group both allied with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and conducted terrorism against Americans and American companies.


Khomeini back-stabbed his MKO allies. In an episode their spokesman buries and the MKO purges from their website, the group allied itself with Saddam Hussein, killing not only regime officials but also Kurdish dissidents and ordinary Iranians.

Today, they are not much better: The ongoing Iranian revolution shows the emptiness of previous MKO claims. Iranians march for freedom and democracy, not for a cult whose leader still veils and who runs the organization as an autocracy.

Some American politicians may feel they do no harm by taking MKO cash in exchange for peppering a short gala speech with MKO talking points, but they are wrong. Endorsing the MKO is a gift to the Islamic Republic. It plays into the ayatollahs’ propaganda that the West hates Iranians rather than respects them.

The MKO, of course, rejects such reality. They embrace the big lie. MKO spokesmen claim popularity and grass roots support, and castigate anyone who criticizes them as part of some broad pro-Islamic Republic conspiracy, no matter how ridiculous. The MKO ignores their alliance with Saddam or the crimes they committed alongside Khomeini’s revolutionaries. While their galas are glitzy and seek to project an aura of popularity, their finances are opaque.

If the MKO truly was anything more than a political Ponzi scheme, they would open their books to audit. They would explain the murky origins of the money they channel through shell organizations to gain the endorsement of American and European politicians. They would explain how Maryam Rajavi lives a life of luxury, as apparently do the few prominent spokesmen whom the group allows to speak to outsiders.

Every non-profit in the U.S. must file tax returns and explain their income and spending. The MKO and its subsidiaries may not be non-profits, nor is its headquarters in the U.S., but there is no reason the group cannot voluntarily provide the minimum information expected and provided by thousands of American nonprofits.

At the very least, Alireza Jafarzadeh, who often acts as the group’s mouthpiece in the U.S., might release his tax returns just as American politicians do. It would be telling if he lives in luxury while many MKO members live in group homes and apparently donate the vast majority of their earnings to the group.

The reality, of course, is that the MKO will make every excuse not to open their books. They will bluster, but they will never hire a neutral auditor to confirm the legitimacy of their organization. To do so would be to expose the image they seek to project as an illusion carefully crafted for greedy or naïve outsiders.

Autocrats hate transparency.

There really is no difference in the desire of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his top henchmen to keep the finances of his business empire secret, and that of Rajavi and her top aides. Absent such transparency, however, American and European politicians should steer clear of the MKO, and redirect any money offered by the group to the protesters actually fighting for freedom in Iran rather than simply seeking to profit from it.


Michael Rubin (@mrubin1971) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential. He is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

Related articles

Share article

Latest articles