Among the armed leftist guerrilla groups operating in Iran in
1987, the Fadayan was the most active. The Fadayan was established
when smaller groups operating in Tabriz, Mashhad, and Tehran merged
in 1970. Its founders were university students and graduates who
saw violence as the only means to oppose the shah. As Iran's economic
situation deteriorated in the mid-1970s, the Fadayan recruited
workers from large manufacturing industries and the oil sector.
Recruitment expanded to include such national and ethnic movements
as those of Kurdish, Turkoman, Baluch, and Arab minorities. The
Fadayan opposed both imperial and republican regimes but did participate
fully in the Revolution, taking over various military barracks
and police stations in Tehran, Tabriz, Hamadan, Abadan, and Shiraz
in 1979. In early June 1980, the Fadayan split into two factions:
the Fadayan "Minority" and the Fadayan " Majority." The "Minority"
faction, which was actually the larger of the two, has consistently
opposed the Republic and considered Khomeini "reactionary." It
vehemently condemned the Tudeh's cooperation with Khomeini prior
to 1983. It also rejected the armed activities of the Mojahedin
and advocated instead the expansion of underground cells. The
"Minority" faction refused to join the NCR because of Bani Sadr's
past association with the Khomeini regime. Subsequently, the "Minority"
faction, along with a number of smaller leftist groups, established
a new organization known as the Organization of Revolutionary
Workers of Iran.
The Fadayan "Majority" faction moved closer to the views held
by the Tudeh and supported Khomeini because of his anti-imperialist
stance. This support of Khomeini changed in early 1983 when Khomeini
turned against the Tudeh. In late 1987, the "Majority" faction
was a satellite of the Tudeh (see Opposition Political Parties
in Exile , ch. 4).
The falling out of the Fadayan with the Islamic government within
the first year of the Revolution was attributed to the ideological
rift that emerged between the Fadayan's leftist-secular agenda
and the religious and ideological views of the clerical leadership.
Khomeini's velayat-e faqih (see Glossary) was a powerful
concept that swept aside all leftist arguments; the Khomeini view
of the Revolution was appealing precisely because of its nationalist
aspects, which were easily assimilated by the Iranian population.
Data as of December 1987