USA designated terrorist org Mujahedin-e Khalq etc, and double standards

Double Standards with designated terrorist organization -the Iranian “Mujahedin-e Khalq”,  and US politicians Giuliani, Ridge,Townsend, Mukasey, etc, etc

Double Standards Apply to “Peace Activists” and “Terrorist activists”

For more on “Iran-Israeli-War complexities

SEE HERE

<><><>
and so much to search out on this one ….. amazing hypocrisy here
<><><>

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Israel, MEK and state sponsor of Terror groups

Listen to this article. Powered by Odiogo.com

Howard Dean and Rudy Giuliani

Howard Dean and Rudy Giuliani  (Credit: AP)
One of the most under-reported political stories of the last year is the devoted advocacy of numerous prominent American political figures on behalf of an Iranian group long formally designated as a Terrorist organization under U.S. law. A large bipartisan cast has received substantial fees from that group, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), and has then become their passionate defenders. The group of MEK shills includes former top Bush officials and other Republicans (Michael Mukasey, Fran Townsend, Andy Card, Tom Ridge, Rudy Giuliani) as well as prominent Democrats (Howard Dean, Ed Rendell, Bill Richardson, Wesley Clark). AsThe Christian Science Monitor reported last August, those individuals “have been paid tens of thousands of dollars to speak in support of the MEK.” No matter what one thinks of this group – here is a summary of its activities – it is formally designated as a Terrorist group and it is thus a felony under U.S. law to provide it with any “material support.”
There are several remarkable aspects to this story. The first is that there are numerous Muslims inside the U.S. who have been prosecuted for providing “material support for Terrorism” for doing far less than these American politicians are publicly doing on behalf of a designated Terrorist group. A Staten Island satellite TV salesman in 2009 wassentenced to five years in federal prison merely for including a Hezbollah TV channel as part of the satellite package he sold to customers; a Massachusetts resident, Tarek Mehanna, is being prosecuted now ”for posting pro-jihadist material on the internet”; a 24-year-old Pakistani legal resident living in Virginia, Jubair Ahmad, was indicted last September for uploading a 5-minute video to YouTube that was highly critical of U.S. actions in the Muslim world, an allegedly criminal act simply because prosecutors claim he discussed the video in advance with the son of a leader of a designated Terrorist organization (Lashkar-e-Tayyiba); a Saudi Arabian graduate student, Sami Omar al-Hussayen, was prosecuted simply for maintaining a website with links “to groups that praised suicide bombings in Chechnya and in Israel” and “jihadist” sites that solicited donations for extremist groups (he was ultimately acquitted); and last July, a 22-year-old former Penn State student and son of an instructor at the school, Emerson Winfield Begolly, was indicted for — in the FBI’s words — “repeatedly using the Internet to promote violent jihad against Americans” by posting comments on a “jihadist” Internet forum including “a comment online that praised the shootings” at a Marine Corps base, action which former Obama lawyer Marty Lederman said “does not at first glance appear to be different from the sort of advocacy of unlawful conduct that is entitled to substantial First Amendment protection.”
Yet here we have numerous American political figures receiving substantial fees from a group which is legally designated under American law as a Terrorist organization. Beyond that, they are meeting with the Terrorist leaders of that group repeatedly (Howard Dean told NPR last year about the group’s leader, Maryam Rajavi: “I have actually had dinner with Mrs. Rajavi on numerous occasions. I do not find her very terrorist-like” and has even insisted that she should be recognized as Iran’s President, while Rudy Giuliani publicly told her at a Paris conference in December: “These are the most important yearnings of the human soul that you support, and for your organization to be described as a terrorist organization is just simply a disgrace”). And, after receiving fees from the Terrorist group and meeting with its Terror leaders, these American political figures are going forth and disseminating pro-MEK messages on its behalf and working to have it removed from the Terrorist list.
Given all the prosecutions of politically powerless Muslims for far fewer connections to Terrorist groups than the actions of these powerful (paid) political figures, what conceivable argument is there for not prosecuting Dean, Giuliani, and the rest of them for providing “material support for Terrorism”? What they are providing to MEK is the definitive “material support.” Although these activities (along with those of the above-listed prosecuted Muslims) should be protected free speech, the U.S. Government has repeatedly imprisoned people for it. Indeed, as Georgetown Law Professor David Cole noted, these activities on behalf of MEK are clearly prosecutable as “material support for Terrorism” under the standard advocated by the Bush and Obama DOJs and accepted by the Supreme Court in the Holder v. Humanitarian Law case of 2009, which held that even peaceful advocacy on behalf of a Terrorist group can be prosecuted if done in coordination with the group (ironically, many of these paid MEK supporters have long been advocates of broad application of “material support” statutes (when applied to Muslims, that is) and have even praised the Humanitarian Law case). If we had anything even remotely approaching equal application of the law, Dean, Giuliani, Townsend and the others would be facing prosecution as Terrorist-helpers.
Then there’s long been the baffling question of where MEK was getting all of this money to pay these American officials. Indeed, the pro-MEK campaign has been lavishly funded. As the CSM noted: ”Besides the string of well-attended events at prestigious American hotels and locations, and in Paris, Brussels, and Berlin, the campaign has included full-page advertisements in The New York Times and Washington Post — which can cost $175,000 apiece.” MEK is basically little more than a nomadic cult: after they sided with Saddam Hussein in his war with Iran, they were widely loathed in Iran and their 3,400 members long lived in camps in Iraq, but the Malaki government no longer wants them there. How has this rag-tag Terrorist cult of Iranian dissidents, who are largely despised in Iran, able to fund such expensive campaigns and to keep U.S. officials on its dole?
All of these mysteries received substantial clarity from an NBC Newsreport by Richard Engel and Robert Windrem yesterday. Citing two anonymous “senior U.S. officials,” that report makes two amazing claims:(1) that it was MEK which perpetrated the string of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists and (2) the Terrorist group “is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service.” These senior officials also admitted that “the Obama administration is aware of the assassination campaign” but claims it “has no direct involvement.” Iran has long insisted the Israel and the U.S. are using MEK to carry out Terrorist attacks on its soil, including the murder of its scientists, and NBC notes that these acknowledgments “confirm charges leveled by Iran’s leaders” (MEK issued a statement denying the report).
If these senior U.S. officials are telling the truth, there are a number of vital questions and conclusions raised by this. First, it would mean that the assurances by MEK’s paid American shills such as Howard Dean that “they are unarmed” are totally false: whoever murdered these scientists is obviously well-armed. Second, this should completely gut the effort to remove MEK from the list of designated Terrorist groups; after all, murdering Iran’s scientists through the use of bombs and guns is a defining act of a Terror group, at least as U.S. law attempts to define the term. Third, this should forever resolve the debate in which I was involved last month about whether the attack on these Iranian scientists constitutes Terrorism; as Daniel Larison put it yesterday: “If true, themurders of Iranian nuclear scientists with bombs have been committed by a recognized terrorist group. Can everyone acknowledge at this point that these attacks were acts of terrorism?”
Fourth, and most important: if this report is true, is this not definitive proof that Israel is, by definition, a so-called state sponsor of Terrorism? Leaving everything else aside, if Israel, as NBC reports, has “financed, trained and armed” a group officially designated by the U.S. Government as a Terrorist organization, isn’t that the definitive act of how one becomes an official “state sponsor of Terrorism”? Amazingly, asDaniel Larison notes, one of the people who most vocally attacked me for labeling the murder of Iranian scientists as “Terrorism” and for generally arguing that Terrorism is a meaningless, cynically applied term —Commentary‘s Jonathan Tobin — yesterday issued a justification for why Israel should be working with Terrorist groups like MEK. As Larison wrote about Tobin’s article:
In other words, Israeli state sponsorship of a terrorist group is acceptable because it’s in a good cause. . . . Because Israel is overreacting to a perceived threat from Iran, Tobin believes it is entirely defensible for Israel to partner with a recognized terrorist group. In other words, Tobin believes that terrorism is “entirely defensible” so long as it is committed by the right people and directed at the right targets. It’s as if he is going out of his way to vindicate Glenn Greenwald.
Of course, as I documented in my last book, those who are politically and financially well-connected are free to commit even the most egregious crimes; for that reason, the very idea of prosecuting Giuliani, Rendell, Ridge, Townsend, Dean and friends for their paid labor on behalf of a Terrorist group is unthinkable, a suggestion not fit for decent company, even though powerless Muslims have been viciously prosecuted for far less egregious connections to such groups. But this incident also underscores the specific point that the term Terrorism is so completely meaningless, manipulated and mischievous: it’s just a cynical term designed to delegitimize violence and even political acts undertaken by America’s enemies while shielding from criticism the actual Terrorism undertaken by itself and its allies. The spectacle whereby a designated Terrorist group can pay top American politicians to advocate for them even as they engage in violent Terrorist acts, all while being trained, funded and aided by America’s top client state, should forever end the controversy over that glaringly obvious proposition.
* * * * *
Four notes: (1) The book event I did with Noam Chomsky last November in Boston will be broadcast several times this weekend on C-SPAN; the schedule is here(2) The New Zealand political journal Listener has aninterview and profile of me and With Liberty and Justice for Some(3)the video for two of the civil liberties events I did this week are now online: this one at Indiana University/Purdue and this one from Columbia University; and (4) I’ll be the keynote speaker at the annual dinner of the ACLU in Idaho tomorrow night; ticket information is here.
* * * * *
According to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a NATO airstrike yesterday in Afghanistan killed 8 children. Meanwhile, the Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar yesterday patiently explained that drone strikes — which Americans widely support, including American liberals — are “completely illegal and unlawful” and “counterproductive” because they “fuel terrorism,” since people tend to become quite angry at the foreign power which slaughters their children, their spouses, their parents, their neighbors, etc., i.e., for every Terrorist the U.S. allegedly kills, it creates five more people wanting to attack the U.S. (see her answers to the two questions beginning at 4:30):

http://www.salon.com/2012/02/10/israel_mek_and_state_sponsor_of_terror_groups/singleton/

Source:
<><><>
See articles and reports below , and note the hypocrisy of the following public information concerning “support of terrorist organizations
>

Assessment of the MEK

For more than a decade the US government has consistently categorized the MEK as a terrorist organization. In Patterns of Global Terrorism, the Department of State declared, “The MEK’s history is studded with anti-western activity. The group killed several US military personnel and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran. The group also supported the takeover in 1979 of the US Embassy in Tehran.”20 In 1999, the Department of State banned the NCRI on the grounds that it is the MEK’s official political arm. Four years later, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shut down the council’s offices at the National Press Building in Washington, DC. The FBI also arrested seven Iranians in the United States who funneled more than $400,000 to an MEK-affiliated organization in the United Arab Emirates, funds that were reportedly used to purchase weapons.21

Senior US officials have strongly argued against the idea of fostering cooperation between the United States and the MEK. Cofer Black, the Department of State’s former counterterrorism coordinator, said, “The US government does not negotiate with terrorists. The MEK’s opposition to the Iranian government does not change the fact that they are a terrorist organization.”22 As Secretary of State, Colin Powell argued that “any flirtation with the MEK would undermine Washington’s stand against terrorism.”23 Similarly, rebutting suggestions that the Bush Administration was being lenient with the MEK, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said that the group is “part of the global war on terrorism and its members are being screened for possible involvement in war crimes, terrorism, and other criminal activities.”24

Such statements aside, the MEK has cultivated supporters among a network of US politicians, journalists, and academics advocating for “regime change” in Tehran. In 2002, 150 members of the US House of Representatives signed a petition calling on the Department of State to withdraw its designation of the MEK as a terrorist organization.25 Three years later, Maryam Rajavi, Massoud Rajavi’s wife, delivered a speech by live video-link to applauding members of Congress inside the Capitol.26 One of the leading proponents of the MEK in Washington is the Iran Policy Committee (IPC). It was formed in January 2005 to influence US government policy toward Iran. IPC advocates that the United States should favor regime change in Iran through a process of destabilization and coercive diplomacy, while keeping open the military option. Other suggested tactics include economic blockades, military support of the MEK, and precision strikes on selected targets within Iran.27

This endorsement of the MEK by American politicians and lobbyists is based largely on their acceptance of two conditions related to terrorism and information on nuclear weapon development. First, the MEK’s terrorist attacks against American targets ceased almost three decades ago. Most of these attacks took place when the Shah was in power or shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution. Since then, the MEK has focused its attacks on Iranian targets. Even attacks on Iran apparently have come to a halt. The last MEK terrorist attack was on an Iranian village close to the border with Iraq in 2003.28 Second, western, Arab, and Israeli intelligence services have long appreciated the MEK for its sources deep inside Iran. The MEK provided useful intelligence data in 2002 when it held a press conference in Washington and revealed the existence of a secret uranium enrichment facility in the Iranian city of Natanz. The IAEA later confirmed the claim. This revelation has proven crucial in strengthening the international nonproliferation position in the ongoing confrontation related to Iran’s nuclear program.

These two issues—terrorism and nuclear revelation—contributed to a change in the MEK’s legal status within Great Britain in 2008. The British government first designated the MEK as a terrorist organization in 2001.

See full PDF report

http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/parameters/Articles/08winter/bahgat.pdf

>
<><><>

Hundreds rally outside White House for removal of Iranian opposition group from US terror list

By Associated Press, Updated: Saturday, October 22, 6:03 PM

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of people rallied outside the White House on Saturday, calling on President Barack Obama to remove an Iranian opposition group once allied with Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime from the U.S. list of terrorist organizations.Former Pennsylvania Govs. Tom Ridge and Ed Rendell were among speakers urging the U.S. to take the Mujahedin-e Khalq off the State Department’s list. Ridge, a Republican, was the nation’s first homeland security secretary. Rendell is a top Democrat who helped elect Obama.

  • ( Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press ) - Demonstrators chant during a march in Washington after rallying in front of the White House Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011. Hundreds of people rallied, demanding that an Iranian opposition group, Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), once allied with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, be removed from a U.S. terror list.
  • ( Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press ) - Demonstrators protest in front of the White House in Washington Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011. Hundreds of people rallied, demanding that an Iranian opposition group, Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), once allied with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, be removed from a U.S. terror list.
  • ( Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press ) - Demonstrators protest near the White House during a freedom rally in Washington Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011. Hundreds of people rallied, demanding that an Iranian opposition group, Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), once allied with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, be removed from a U.S. terror list.
  • ( Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press ) - Demonstrators protest near the White House in Washington during a freedom rally in Washington Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011. Hundreds of people rallied in front of the White House, demanding that an Iranian opposition group, Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), once allied with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein be removed from a U.S. terror list.

( Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press ) – Demonstrators chant during a march in Washington after rallying in front of the White House Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011. Hundreds of people rallied, demanding that an Iranian opposition group, Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), once allied with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, be removed from a U.S. terror list.

“The only group that should be on the list is the country of Iran itself, under the rule of the mullahs,” Ridge said, noting recent U.S. allegations of a foiled Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington.

The U.S. added MEK to its terrorist list in 1997. But last year a federal court ordered the State Department to reconsider and meanwhile the group has rallied 97 members of Congress as well as many former high-ranking U.S. officials to its cause.

Delisting would allow the Paris-based group to raise money and operate in the U.S., which it is currently prohibited from doing.

The MEK carried out a series of bombings and assassinations against Iran’s clerical regime in the 1980s and fought alongside Saddam’s forces in the Iran-Iraq war. But the group says it renounced violence in 2001.

Ridge and Rendell said the MEK has not been linked to any terrorist attacks since that time. They pointed out that the European Union and the United Kingdom have concluded that the MEK is not a terrorist organization and called on Obama to reach the same decision.

Critics of the MEK say it has cult-like characteristics and that delisting it would be seen even by moderate Iranians as an endorsement by the U.S. of terrorism. A 2010 State Department report on the MEK said: “The group’s worldwide campaign against the Iranian government uses propaganda and terrorism to achieve its objectives.”

MEK spokesman Ali Safavi called the State Department’s description “a political statement and not a factual one.” He said the group would not have such broad Congressional support if it was engaged in terrorist activities.

Saturday’s noisy protest took place outside the wrought iron gates of the White House.

“We want President Obama to hear us,” said Rendell, a former Democratic Party chairman.

Obama left the White House for the drive to Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Maryland to play golf as the demonstration began, and it’s not clear if he heard any of it.

During the rally, the mostly Iranian-American crowd broke into regular chants of “MEK, yes. Mullahs, no. They are terrorists. They must go,” and “President Obama, listen to us. MEK listing is unjust.”

The event was organized by the Iranian American Professionals and Scholars of Maryland.

Organizers say the MEK was put on the terror list to appease Iranian leaders, but has only given the regime an excuse to arrest and kill dissidents in Iran and Iraq. They contend that delisting would strengthen a major Iranian opposition group.

The MEK has revealed the existence of several important Iranian nuclear facilities.

U.S. officials say that Iran is laying the groundwork for a nuclear weapons program, although its leaders may not have decided to build a bomb. Iran says its nuclear ambitions are entirely peaceful.

Speakers at the protest also urged the U.S. to continue supporting more than 3,000 former MEK fighters and others living at Camp Ashraf near Iraq’s border with Iran. The Iraqi government wants to close the camp and Iraqi security forces have twice raided Ashraf, most recently in April. The U.N. said at least 34 people were killed in that incident.

The U.S. has pledged to protect camp residents from violence, but those rallying outside the White House said Obama’s announcement of a complete pullout of Iraq by the end of the year could make that promise difficult to keep.

___

Associated Press writer Douglas Birch contributed to this report.

___

Darlene Superville can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

<><><>
OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Chewing Gum for Terrorists

By DAVID COLE
Published: January 2, 2011

Washington

Ruth Gwily

DID former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Tom Ridge, a former homeland security secretary, and Frances Townsend, a former national security adviser, all commit a federal crime last month in Paris when they spoke in support of the Mujahedeen Khalq at a conference organized by the Iranian opposition group’s advocates? Free speech, right? Not necessarily.

The problem is that the United States government has labeled the Mujahedeen Khalq a “foreign terrorist organization,” making it a crime to provide it, directly or indirectly, with any material support. And, according to the Justice Department under Mr. Mukasey himself, as well as under the current attorney general, Eric Holder, material support includes not only cash and other tangible aid, but also speech coordinated with a “foreign terrorist organization” for its benefit. It is therefore a felony, the government has argued, to file an amicus brief on behalf of a “terrorist” group, to engage in public advocacy to challenge a group’s “terrorist” designation or even to encourage peaceful avenues for redress of grievances.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe Mr. Mukasey and his compatriots had every right to say what they did. Indeed, I argued just that in the Supreme Court, on behalf of the Los Angeles-based Humanitarian Law Project, which fought for more than a decade in American courts for its right to teach the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in Turkey how to bring human rights claims before the United Nations, and to assist them in peace overtures to the Turkish government.

But in June, the Supreme Court ruled against us, stating that all such speech could be prohibited, because it might indirectly support the group’s terrorist activity. Chief Justice John Roberts reasoned that a terrorist group might use human rights advocacy training to file harassing claims, that it might use peacemaking assistance as a cover while re-arming itself, and that such speech could contribute to the group’s “legitimacy,” and thus increase its ability to obtain support elsewhere that could be turned to terrorist ends. Under the court’s decision, former President Jimmy Carter’s election monitoring team could be prosecuted for meeting with and advising Hezbollah during the 2009 Lebanese elections.

The government has similarly argued that providing legitimate humanitarian aid to victims of war or natural disasters is a crime if provided to or coordinated with a group labeled as a “foreign terrorist organization” — even if there is no other way to get the aid to the region in need. Yet The Times recently reported that the Treasury Department, under a provision ostensibly intended for humanitarian aid, was secretly granting licenses to American businesses to sell billions of dollars worth of food and goods to the very countries we have blockaded for their support of terrorism. Some of the “humanitarian aid” exempted? Cigarettes, popcorn and chewing gum.

Under current law, it seems, the right to make profits is more sacrosanct than the right to petition for peace, and the need to placate American businesses more compelling than the need to provide food and shelter to earthquake victims and war refugees.

Congress should reform the laws governing material support of terrorism. It should make clear that speech advocating only lawful, nonviolent activities — as Michael Mukasey and Rudolph Giuliani did in Paris — is not a crime. The First Amendment protects even speech advocating criminal activity, unless it is intended and likely to incite imminent lawless conduct. The risk that speech advocating peace and human rights would further terrorism is so remote that it cannot outweigh the indispensable value of protecting dissent.

At the same time, Congress also needs to reform the humanitarian aid exemption. It should state clearly that corporate interests in making profits from cigarettes are not sufficient to warrant exemptions from sanctions on state sponsors of terrorism. But Congress should also protect the provision of legitimate humanitarian aid — food, water, medical aid and shelter — in response to wars or natural disasters. Genuine humanitarian aid and free speech can and should be preserved without undermining our interests in security.

David Cole is a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/03/opinion/03cole.html

<><><>
Share
BY MARGARET SARFEHJOOY, FREE SPEECH ZONE
January 05, 2011

If you speak out against U.S.-sponsored human rights violations, and you are not rich or powerful, you might get a visit from the FBI.  The recent “witch-hunt” against peace activists is expanding, and there are now 24 grand jury subpoenas served to peace activists based mostly in Minneapolis and Chicago.  Although there have been no charges, the activists were informed that this investigation is about providing material support for foreign terrorist groups.  Material support?  I know the activists in Minneapolis, and they are union members, a retired nurse, a high-school teacher, a kitchen worker, a woman on disability–none who have the material means to support a “terrorist group.”  The Anti-War Committee, whose office was raided by FBI agents, has a yearly garage sale to meet its meager expenses.

Free Speech Zone
The Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases.

Predicting no political gain for assisting a little-known group of “leftists” who criticize U.S. foreign policy, our senators in Washington have avoided  protecting the activists’ rights, using the excuse that “it is unethical to interfere with an ongoing investigation.”  Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old soldier from Oklahoma, is being investigated by the FBI for providing information to WikiLeaks.  Senator Amy Klobuchar stated on CBS:  “A lot of people believe he could get a prison term for the rest of his life and I think that would be appropriate.”  Wait a minute—isn’t this an ongoing investigation?  Do double standards apply when a senator’s career might be enhanced by spouting the government line?  What about International Law?  The Nuremberg Laws, established after the horrors of WWII, declare that soldiers have a legal obligation to resist war crimes.  Is it more criminal to expose U.S.-sponsored war crimes, as Bradley Manning and the FBI-harassed peace activists have done?

view counter

Although it is a federal offense to provide material support to any terrorist organization listed by the State Department, double standards apply  when powerful politicians decide that a terrorist organization can be helpful in doing Uncle Sam’s dirty work, like destabilizing the government of Iran.

Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian exile group that worked side-by-side with Saddam Hussein and killed Iraqi and Iranian civilians, is a designated terrorist organization.  Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former White House adviser Frances Townsend and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey flew to Paris in December and spoke at a conference sponsored by wealthy MEK supporters.  Double standards again—the FBI has not issued any subpoenas to or raided the homes of these powerful politicians for openly and proudly supporting a State Department-designated terrorist organization.

Money and political connections can be powerful, but the truth is more powerful.  If the activists are guilty of anything, they are guilty of  exercising their free speech rights to expose the truth about  U.S.-sponsored war crimes and human rights violations in Palestine, Colombia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world.   We can stop this “witch hunt” aimed at intimidating those who dare speak the truth about U.S. foreign policy.  Please go to stopfbi.net to learn how you can help.

by Margaret Sarfehjooy, WAMM Middle East Committee

The public is invited to a forum on “How US Support for Israeli Oppression in Palestine Leads to Political Repression at Home,” on January 19, 7pm, St. Joan of Arc Church, 4537 3rd Avenue S, Minneapolis.  Former U.S. Congresswoman and Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney, subpoenaed peace activist Sarah Martin, and civil rights attorney Jordan Kushner will discuss the FBI raids, subpoenas, and suppression of opposition to U.S. support of Israel’s repression on Palestinians.

><><><>

No U-Turns on the Road to Serfdom?

The “anti-terrorist” witch-hunt and the future of America

by Justin Raimondo, January 24, 2011

In a series of raids last year, the FBI raided the homes and offices of antiwar activists in Minneapolis, North Carolina, Chicago, and California. They seized boxes of materials, cell phones, documents, and other private property, and issued subpoenas to a number of individuals, 24 at last count, demanding their appearance before a federal grand jury. The focus of this fishing expedition is ostensibly the “solidarity work” engaged in by the Antiwar Committee of Minneapolis, and sympathizing organizations, in Palestine and Columbia, but the history of police repression against these groups and individuals goes back years, specifically involving their work in organizing a march on the Republican and Democratic national conventions: in the Twin Cities, the “RNC Welcoming Committee,” which planned the protest, was of particular interest to the authorities. The local cops, working with the FBI, actively worked to recruit informants, and – using information gleaned from these infiltrators – conducted a weekend-long reign of terror in early September 2008, breaking down doors, manhandling protesters – including journalists – and rounding up dissidents in anticipation of violence they claim “might” have occurred had the authorities not acted.

In reality, of course, the RNC Welcoming Committee was engaged in perfectly legal activities protected by the First Amendment, and there was no evidence presented that violence was forthcoming – but, under the terms of the post-9/11 legislative assault on the Constitution that culminated in the “Patriot” Act and subsequent acts of Congress, the First Amendment is no longer operative in this country.

If you’re an Influential Person, however, you can get away with almost anything. Let’s say you’re Michael Mukasey, Bush’s former Attorney General, who recentlytraveled to Paris with Tom Ridge, former Homeland Security chieftain, Fran Townsend, President Bush’s former chief adviser on Homeland Security and counter-terrorism, and former New York City mayor and spectacularly failed presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, to endorse the continuing effort by the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), or People’s Mujahideen, to get off the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.

MEK is an Iranian Marxist-turned-neocon Iranian exile group, with a weirdly cultish orientation, that has murdered US diplomatic personnel and was instrumental in the 1979 takeover of the US embassy in Tehran. They lost out in the power struggle following the overthrow of the Shah, and fled to Iraq, where they were succored by Saddam Hussein: MEK brigades fought on the Iraqi side during the Iraq-Iran war, and carried out terrorist acts against civilian targets – a strategy they would very much like to carry out with US assistance today.

Over one-hundred members of Congress, who recently signed an appeal to the State Department to take MEK off the terrorist list, are angling for this, and the prominence of the US delegation to the Paris confab is part of the continuing campaign by the War Party to legalize these somewhat nutty cultists – whose unquestioned leader, Maryam Rajavi, has already declared herself the “President” of Iran – and get the group funding. The idea is to use them, as the Bush team used the Iraqi National Congress, to get “intelligence” – of similar quality – to gin up another war, this time against Tehran.

Can you imagine the outcry in official Washington if the FBI invaded the offices of Mukasey, Giuliani, Ridge, and Townsend, searching for evidence of “material support” to a foreign terrorist organization – the same crime the Minneapolis defendants are potentially facing? Such laws, however, aren’t written in order to target such people: it’s only those without power who suffer such a fate. If you’re in any way associated with WikiLeaks, government agents are quick to stop you at the airport, question you, and seize your laptop, but if you’re Rudy the Lout, on the way back from a tête-à-tête with terrorists – the good kind, rest assured – you’re escorted to the VIP line and whisked through security.

Civil libertarians may cavil that this disparate treatment is evidence of selective prosecution, but selectivity is what the post-9/11 assault on the Bill of Rights is all about. Of course the government has the legal “right,” these days, to read everyone’s emailbreak into our private property, and collect information about our constitutionally protected activities – but you can bet they’re not intercepting Senor Mukasey’s email. Unless some political figure is being set up for blackmail, the Washington insiders and their friends are exempt from the depredations of the surveillance state. When it comes to the Antiwar Committee of Minneapolis, however – well, that’s a horse of a different color, as they say in the land of Oz.

In the wake of 9/11, the neocons were strategically enough placed to launch a two-front war: one at home, and one abroad. The post-9/11 coup, in which a handful ofneocons seized control of the machinery of the state and lied us into war, also involved waging a war on the home front –against the Constitution. And while the Iraq campaign ended in failure, an outcome currently being replicated in Afghanistan, their domestic campaign to destroy the legacy of the Founders and create the basis for a police state was much more successful. Indeed, I would venture to call it a near total victory.

With the support of both political parties, an extensive network of “anti-terrorist” “fusion centers” was created, in which local, state, and national law enforcement agencies cooperated in a “fused” effort to gather intelligence on and take actionagainst targets deemed potential nodes of terrorist activity. Acting under a very broad mandate, and with billions of our tax dollars at their disposal, these agencies were also under considerable pressure to produce results. This led, according to the Office of the Inspector General [.pdf], to spying on perfectly legal and even pacifist organizations, whose only “crime” was to oppose the foreign and military policies pursued by Washington.

A key part of this gigantic intelligence-gathering operation is the infiltration and disruption of suspect groups, such as the “RNC Welcoming Committee,” and the less publicized “welcoming committee” planned for the Democratic national conventioneers. I would note in passing that the unusual interest taken by law enforcement in these various “welcoming committees” is perfectly logical, albeit unconstitutional and intolerable in a free society, because the two “major” political parties are, after all, mere extensions of the State. With their legally privileged status, encoded in highly restrictive ballot access laws, and their regular receipt of government funds – the national conventions of both parties are given millions of taxpayer dollars to fund their partisan extravaganzas – the Democrats and Republicans are just as much wards of the government as are such “quasi-private” agencies as the National Endowment for Democracy, the Federal Reserve, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Any actions that challenge the power or legitimacy of these quasi-agencies are bound to be met by the State with brutal force. The fate of those who defy our two-headed official ruling party is no different from those who challenge the single-headed ruling parties that dominate what we call “totalitarian” or “authoritarian” states: hence the raids on the Minneapolis Antiwar group and their sympathizers nationally, and the subsequent grand jury fishing expedition.

In gathering evidence to justify these raids, and give what is simply an act of naked repression the color of “law,” the feds in cooperation with the local cops sent in infiltrators, including one “Karen Sullivan,” whose modus operandi is described here. After being recruited to the Antiwar Committee in 2008, Sullivan – whose lesbian orientation and hints of having been abused by a former husband made her a sympathetic figure to her fellow activists – proceeded to make herself indispensable. She joined the core group – the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (Fight Back), a Marxist group which came out of the radical movements of the 1960s – and acted as a public spokeswoman for them, making speeches, and even traveling to Israel with other members in order to make contact with a Palestinian women’s organization.

This went on for two and a half years, as agent Sullivan collected information on the Freedom Roaders and reported it to her superiors – until the raids, in which the cops used a key provided no doubt by their snitch to break into the Antiwar Committee’s Minneapolis office. Whereupon she disappeared as quickly and mysteriously as she had first come on the scene.

The implications for the antiwar movement, and for any group that dares oppose government policy, are ominous: what this means is that any and all such groups must assume the presence of infiltrators, and take measures to guard against it. That this has a chilling effect on the public expression of dissent is an understatement: such assumed surveillance is certain to have the effect of weakening and marginalizing the targets, making it impossible to engage in constitutionally protected political organizing.

The pursuit of the Freedom Road organization is not intended to stop “terrorism” – unless one defines “terrorism” as any and all opposition to our foreign policy of global intervention. What it is designed to do is make an example out of the targets, and send a message: anyone who challenges our rulers in any significant way is going to be brought down using the full powers of the State to crush them, and jail them, if they persist. The campaign starts with a small group of Marxists, with no influence and virtually no allies, and ends with – well, then, how does it end? Where does it end?

It ends with you.

If the government can criminalize the peaceful political activities of the Freedom Roaders, and give the enablers of the violent MEK cultists a pass, then it’s open season on anyone and everyone. It isn’t just left-wing groups that are in the government’s crosshairs, either; if I were a Tea Party type – and I am – I’d be worried about the prospect of government infiltration and the potential trouble for the movement posed by agent provocateurs, especially in light of the Gifford shooting in Tucson. There was a nationally-coordinated campaign to blame the tea partiers before the smoke from that horrific incident had even cleared, and it isn’t hard to imagine the Obama administration being very interested in having the “far right” infiltrated as well as the “far left.”

What is happening in these United States that we are now saddled with a political police, which routinely spies on and intervenes in the peaceful, legal, and constitutionally protected activities of American citizens?

I’ll tell you what’s happening, and has already happened: we’ve reached a turning point, a bend in the road, and every day we go a little farther down it. To paraphrase Garet Garrett:

We have crossed the boundary that lies between liberty and dictatorship. If you ask when, the answer is that you cannot make a single stroke between day and night. The precise moment does not matter. There was no painted sign to say, “You now are entering Despotism.” Yet it was a very old road and the voice of history was saying: “Whether you know it or not, the act of crossing may be irreversible.” And now, not far ahead, is a sign that reads: “No U Turns.”

Whether we will listen to the Voice of History – indeed, whether we’re even capable of hearing it at this point – or else continue on our present course, deaf, dumb, and blind to what we must face at the inevitable end point of our journey, is not knowable. What I do know is this: if we don’t raise our voices, we are lost. This country is rapidly approaching the point when such activities as we are engaged in on this web site, and beyond it, are the target of government harassment, disruption, and outright repression. Our task now is to fight this trend with all our might – and prepare for the day of its final triumph.

What we are facing is the prospect of a regime such as has not been seen since the days of the Alien and Sedition Acts, or the Palmer raids of World War I: a new era of repression enhanced by modern technology. What is needed is a broad coalition of those on the right as well as the left who see the danger and are ready to unite in defense of basic constitutional liberties. Unless and until we build such a movement, the war on the Constitution will end in the unconditional surrender of our liberties by those who had neither the heart nor the nerve to fight.

Read more by Justin Raimondo

><><><>

US: In the Land of Double Standards

Posted on 05. Jan, 2011 by Raja Mujtaba in US

An Analysis

By Professor Lawrence Davidson

Here is an interesting piece of news from the Washington Post (dated 23 December 2010). “A group of prominent U.S. Republicans” went to Paris last month to attend a rally of the French Committee for a Democratic Iran. This organization just happens to be intimately connected with the Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MEK). And what is the MEK? It is a Iranian exile group, originally Marxist in ideology, that has been on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations since 1997. And, as we will see, our “prominent Republican” visitors knew of this connection–knew it and apparently were not put off by the fact at all.

As described by the Washington Post, it must have been quite a spectacle. There were “former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, former secretary of homeland security Tom Ridge, former White House homeland security adviser Frances F. Townsend and former attorney general Michael Mukasey (let’s call them the Paris Four) publically demanding that “Obama…take the controversial Mujaheddin-e Khalq opposition group off the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations and incorporate it into efforts to overturn the mullah-led government in Tehran.” In other words, these four stalwart defenders of the homeland from terrorism were lending material support to a designated terrorist organization through speech that was coordinated to enhance the cause of that group. As Giuliani put it, “The United States should not just be on your [the MEK’s] side. It should be enthusiastically on your side. You want the same things we want.”

On the face it, such speech makes the Paris Four self-proclaimed felons. David Cole, one of the best civil rights lawyers in the U.S., explains the situation in a New York Times op-ed (dated 2 January 2011). “The problem is that the United States government has labeled the Mujahedeen Khalq a ‘foreign terrorist organization,’ making it a crime to provide it, directly or indirectly, with any material support. And, according to the Justice Department …material support includes not only cash and other tangible aid, but also speech coordinated with a ‘foreign terrorist organization’ for its benefit.”

As Cole points out this law is a serious infringement of the First Amendment rights of U.S. citizens and it was recently challenged in the courts in the case “Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project.” It was the Obama administration that successfully upheld the law before the Supreme Court. Subsequently, the FBI has been issuing subpoenas and raiding homes of people in Chicago and Minneapolis who allegedly have connections with Palestinian and Columbian resistence organizations.

The actions of the Paris Four should create a dilemma for President Obama. Consistency in applying the law demands that he make sure that Giuliani, Ridge, Townsend and Mukasey are treated in the same way his Justice Department is treating people in Chicago and Minneapolis. Will he do so? If Obama runs true to form he will do not treat the Paris Four in the same fashion. It is to be noted that the President has already refused to pursue criminals associated with the previous Bush administration. The Paris Four will most likely be folded into this category of people exempt from prosecution. Why the double standards? Well, the president is very big on political consensus. The folks in the mid west who may or may not have given “material support” to designated “terrorists” in Palestine or Latin America have no political power, they cannot block or forward legislation, they can demand no national press time. But those just back from Paris can. In other words, if you are influential enough, you are protected from the same laws that are actively applied to other less powerful people.

Maybe it has always been this way. Clarence Darrow once observed that “the law does not pretend to punish everything that is dishonest. That would seriously interfere with business.” And that certainly can be taken as the motto of our last administration. George W. Bush and his cronies violated domestic and international law with such regularity that we came to expect it of them. Their behavior readily matched their personalities and they sought out others just as corrupt to be their subalterns. So we were disgusted, but not particularly shocked. It is somehow worse when such behavior comes out of the Obama administration. We did not expect it of him (after all, the man is a constitutional lawyer) and such behavior does not seem to fit with the person we thought he was. But, alas, we may have been wrong.

Generally speaking, laws constitute the rules that keep a society civil. That is particularly true in democracies where there is a connection between rules and the popular will. But the situation is in fact precarious one. Respect for the law, even where it is made by representative bodies, can be quickly eroded by arbitrary and corrupt enforcement. As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said, “if we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable.” Sometimes lack of respect can be generated by the passage of bad laws, such as the one considered here. But within the American system bad laws do come and go. We have seen them before in our history and the ability to repeal them, to purge ourselves of them, is one of the system’s saving graces. In this case it is something else that is undermining respect for the law. It is politically influenced enforcement, the subordinating of our legal codes to whatever “business” is at hand, that is putting the system at risk.

Lawrence Davidson is a Professor of Middle East History at West Chester University in West ChesterPennsylvania.He is

the author of America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood (University Press of Florida, 2001), Islamic Fundamentalism (Greenwood Press, 2003), and, co-author with Arthur Goldschmidt of the Concise History of the Middle East, 8th and 9th Editions (Westview Press, 2006 and 2009). His latest book is entitled Foreign Policy, Inc.: Privatizing American National Interest (University of Kentucky Press, 2009). Professor Davidson travels often and widely in the Middle East. He also has taken on the role of public intellectual in order to explain to American audiences the impact of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

Davidson is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.

<><><>

Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw), Guest Blogger

I realize that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, but when organizations are added to the Federal government’s list of Terrorist Organizations, the Supreme Court has determined that any assistance to that organization is a criminal act. Even a speech in support of that particular group can be a criminal act. http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-1498.pdf http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/03/opinion/03cole.html?_r=1 It seems that in December of 2010, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey along with former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge and Rudy Giuliani, a former Mayor of New York City and a former Presidential candidate, all spoke at a conference in Paris in support of the Mujahedeen Khalq.  The Mujahedeen Khalq is an Iranian dissident group that the State Department has labeled as a terrorist organization.  http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/other/des/123085.htm

Why does the fact that some United States politicians gave speeches in support of the Mujahedeen Khalq matter to me?  I care because in the case of Holder, Attorney General, et al   v.  Humanitarian Law Project, et al., the Supreme Court declared that a speech could be considered as indirect support of a terrorist group’s alleged illegal activity.  The New York Times article linked above was written by Georgetown Law Professor David Cole and we learn in that article that the kind of activity that Mukasey and Ridge and Giuliani were involved in on behalf of the Mujahedeen Khalq was exactly the same kind of activity that his client was engaged in the Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project case and it was declared illegal.

“It is therefore a felony, the government has argued, to file an amicus brief on behalf of a “terrorist” group, to engage in public advocacy to challenge a group’s “terrorist” designation or even to encourage peaceful avenues for redress of grievances. Don’t get me wrong. I believe Mr. Mukasey and his compatriots had every right to say what they did. Indeed, I argued just that in the Supreme Court, on behalf of the Los Angeles-based Humanitarian Law Project, which fought for more than a decade in American courts for its right to teach the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in Turkey how to bring human rights claims before the United Nations, and to assist them in peace overtures to the Turkish government. But in June, the Supreme Court ruled against us, stating that all such speech could be prohibited, because it might indirectly support the group’s terrorist activity.”                                  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/03/opinion/03cole.html?_r=1

I just don’t understand why the Federal Government would prosecute one party for assisting a terrorist organization, but not prosecute former Attorney General Mukasey and his associates?  Is there a double standard in the Justice Department?

By Lawrence Rafferty, Guest Blogger

<><><>

JAN

22

New York Rep. Peter King is planning to launch his chairmanship of the House Homeland Security Committee with a hearing into “Muslim radicalization” in the United States, the process by which Muslim Americans become radicalized to the point of supporting international Islamist terrorism or, worse still, committing or attempting to commit, terrorist acts here at home against our own country. It’s a very serious topic and a good subject for an important congressional hearing, but there is every reason to fear that this may be a counterproductive rather than useful exercise, possibly disastrously so. So far we don’t know much about the potential date, content or witness list of the hearing, although Steven Emerson is enraged at his apparent exclusion (more on this at the end of this essay), but King’s upcoming appearance on a new TV show hosted by probably the most extreme anti-Muslim fanatic in the United States, Brigitte Gabriel (who claims things like “Arabs have no souls”), about whom I have written on the Ibishblog in the past, is the worst possible indication about where this all might be going. The interview was taped on November 10 and will be broadcast on February 5.

The recent massacre in Tucson by Jared Lee Loughner might, one would have thought, have reminded King and others that there are many different kinds of Americans who can get radicalized to the point of violence by an almost endless plethora of ideologies, including left-wing radicalism like the weathermen of old, environmentalism, anti-abortion fanaticism, homophobia, white supremacy, Christian identity gobbledygook, black nationalism, KKK ideology and, of course, the latest addition to the paranoid and sometimes violent style of American politics, the tea partyers.

While this is not to say that there isn’t a growing problem with ad hoc radicalization, especially through the Internet, of young Western Muslims, including in the United States, and a real potential for violence as a consequence, it is to say that there are a lot of other dangers and pretending that this is the only source of potential mayhem and violence, or even the main one currently facing our country from an internal, domestic source, seems particularly misguided after Tucson. But King has been on the hobbyhorse about “disloyal” Muslim Americans for a long time, and now that he has his chairmanship, he has his bully pulpit too.

But King and many of the other most vocal alarmists about homegrown Islamist terrorists and the “Islamic threat,” expressed in a generalized way that promotes fear and hatred of the Muslim American community in general and indiscriminately, are carrying some serious baggage with which they will, ultimately, have to deal. In fact, a lot of them have a history of sympathy for and support of terrorist organizations they either identified with ethnically or ideologically, or whose targets they despised enough to welcome or at least defend their terrorism. In other words, there is a very long history of double standards on the question of terrorism, and most assuredly a lack of moral clarity, from not only Chairman King but many of his friends and supporters in this “Muslim radicalization” movement.

Let’s begin with King himself. In fact, he has a very long history as an ardent supporter of the IRA and its American front organization, Noraid. While his stance on the IRA toughened in 2005 and he became a convert to supporting the peace process and disbanding the organization, historically his support was pretty unequivocal. As the New York Sun noted:

He forged links with leaders of the IRA and Sinn Fein in Ireland, and in America he hooked up with Irish Northern Aid, known as Noraid, a New York based group that the American, British, and Irish governments often accused of funneling guns and money to the IRA. At a time when the IRA’s murder of Lord Mountbatten and its fierce bombing campaign in Britain and Ireland persuaded most American politicians to shun IRA-support groups, Mr. King displayed no such inhibitions. He spoke regularly at Noraid protests and became close to the group’s publicity director, the Bronx lawyer Martin Galvin, a figure reviled by the British. Mr. King’s support for the IRA was unequivocal. In 1982, for instance, he told a pro-IRA rally in Nassau County: “We must per can of the pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry.”

The Sun also pointed out that, “Much of the conventional weaponry and a great deal of the money necessary for IRA violence came from Irish-American sympathizers. Mr. King’s advocacy of the IRA’s cause encouraged that flow and earned him the deep-seated hostility of the British and Irish governments.”

There couldn’t, after all, have been anything philosophically in common between the IRA, an avowedly Marxist, globalist and internationalist terrorist movement, and the conservative Republican congressman from New York. It seems a pretty fair bet that the only thing drawing King to Noraid and other IRA front organizations which he was so enthusiastic about was pure ethnic tribalism. He’s an Irishman; he wanted Ireland united and entirely free of any form of British control; and if terrorism was part of the strategy, so be it. By any means necessary, as they say.

This history makes it especially difficult to stomach his blanket condemnations against the Arab and Muslim American communities generally when he has such a specific record of supporting what was at the time, by any conceivable definition, a terrorist organization. I suppose one could argue that the IRA was at war with the United Kingdom and not the United States, so the element of disloyalty is mitigated. Well, the same logic could speciously be applied to supporters of Hamas and Hezbollah, who would also claim to war with only Israel but not the United States. This accusation of disloyalty because of support for terrorism would have to be then reserved those rare supporters of Al Qaeda and other so-called “Salafist-Jihadist” groups that have openly declared war on both the United States and the governments and societies of the entire Arab and Muslim world, and have actually and deliberately attacked American interests directly. However, numerous organizations around the world that have never directly or deliberately attacked American interests have been placed on the State Department terrorism list from its outset and remain there. It’s partly a matter of cooperation with foreign governments that feel threatened by those organizations and partly a recognition that certain acts constitute terrorism no matter who the culprit or victims might be.

And, it must be acknowledged that the IRA was never itself actually placed on the State Department “designated foreign terrorist organizations” list, which was first published in the late 1990s. That list was specifically pursuant to the 1996 “antiterrorism and effective death penalty act,” which made otherwise lawful “material support” for organizations to be designated as foreign terrorist groups by the State Department a serious felony. However, in earlier reports, the State Department described the IRA quite accurately as a “deadly terrorist group unconcerned about innocent bystanders,” and it was formally considered a terrorist organization by the United States in the same way that Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress and many other leftist and insurgent groups during the Cold War had been. In the end, there can be no doubt that it was largely political pressure from King and numerous other politically powerful Irish-Americans that kept the IRA, although not all of it’s more extreme splinter groups, off the formal, criminalized State Department foreign terrorist organization material support list once it was issued in the late 90s.

In other words, this all reeks of hypocrisy of the worst variety, and of the idea that terrorism by my friends is okay or at least understandable, but it makes your friends, or at your least compatriots or coreligionists, the biggest villains in the entire world, unspeakable demons outside the realm of normal humanity, nothing less than homo sacer.

Another example of this outrageous double-standard, in which my terrorists friends are just fine but other terrorists are uniquely evil, is the growing constituency in the United States, especially in Congress of all places, in favor of the bizarre and violent Iranian terrorist cult, the so-called Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK). It’s been on the formal US State Department designated list of foreign terrorist organizations from the outset, because of numerous terrorist acts inside Iran including car bombings, assassinations and other atrocities.

Prominent American MEK defenders or supporters include former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, and anti-terrorism advisor to President George W. Bush, Francis Townsend. Self-appointed terrorism experts such as Daniel Pipes are also big fans. In Congress, Sen. Sam Brownback, and Reps. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Bob Filner (probably the most enthusiastic leader of the effort), Dana Rohrabacher, Ted Poe, Judy Chu, Mike Coffman, Lacy Clay and Edolphus Towns, among others, have urged its removal from the terrorism list.

The MEK’s psychopathic ideological combination of Marxism, feminism and Islamism is primarily characterized by a bizarre personality cult centered around Maryam Rajavi, but the organization may well be led in practice by its former central public figure, her husband Massoud Rajavi. Strongly supported by the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the MEK was largely based in Iraq and conducted numerous terrorist attacks in Iran aimed at the regime, and the society in general. Since the American invasion of Iraq, its main redoubt has been Camp Ashraf in Diyala province. The United States has been hard-pressed to decide what to do about the MEK in Camp Ashraf. Iran has repeatedly accused the United States of using the MEK, operating out of that base, to conduct attacks inside Iran, but has provided virtually no evidence to demonstrate any such thing. But there’s no doubt that the United States has used the MEK as a source of intelligence on Iranian realities and activities, and, while disarming it, has also provided it protection within the camp. Consistent speculation has held that the MEK is regarded as a bargaining chip by the United States, and possibly by the new Iraqi government, vis-à-vis Iran, which has traditionally regarded it as its most threatening armed domestic enemy.

It would be almost impossible to overstate the sinister characteristics of the MEK’s ideology, which reminds me more of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge than anything else I can think of. Rajavi claims mystical powers and connections to prophets and messiahs; has instructed her followers to divorce all of their spouses and maintains an extremely bizarre attitude towards gender, personal and sexual relations; conducts cult-like, quasi-Maoist, “self confession” sessions in which members are encouraged to confess their supposed flaws and sins; and the group is said to practice torture and various abuses against its members in order to maintain organizational discipline. Many reports would suggest that’s the least of it, and that while we may not be dealing here with the world’s weirdest organization — that title probably belongs to the “Lord’s Resistance Army,” a Christian fundamentalist gang of absolute lunatics in Uganda — it’s almost certainly somewhere in the very top tier. (In 1977, the virtuoso Spanish surrealist film director Luis Buñuel probably thought he was making a great joke by naming a terrorist organization in his final masterpiece, That Obscure Object of Desire, “The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus,” but by 2011 it distressingly doesn’t sound quite as ridiculous anymore as it must have then.)

However, since the MEK’s terrorist actions and political agitation are aimed at overthrowing the properly despised government in Tehran — although their own rule would undoubtedly be almost unimaginably worse — certain American public figures, commentators and members of Congress have begun to champion their cause. That they are plainly completely insane and also terrorist by any definition of the term is beside the point. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, or at least not my enemy. If they want to use terrorism and other despicable tactics to destabilize the government in Tehran, so be it. Let’s take them off the terrorism list, if not hold fundraising events and provide material support once, or indeed even before (as it can be argued a number of these people already have), they are removed from it.

And then there’s the little matter of the anti-Castro Cuban terrorists who have been the subject of so much public support from prominent Americans over many years. Two names come to mind in particular: Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles. Bosch is the leader of the so-called Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations, which the FBI has described as “an anti-Castro terrorist umbrella organization.” It is not disputed that in 2008 Bosch told Dade County criminal attorney Stewart Adelstein that he was responsible for bombing Cubana Flight 455, a civilian Douglas DC-8 traveling from Barbados and Jamaica containing 48 passengers and 25 crew, resulting in 73 fatalities and no survivals. Bosch, Carriles and two others were tried in Venezuela, where the attack was apparently planned, with two men sentenced to 20-year terms, Bosch released on a technicality, and Carriles fleeing the county for Miami while awaiting sentencing. Bosch defended his brutal terrorism with the infamous claim that, “All of Castro’s planes are warplanes.” Sound familiar? To Middle Eastern ears, it certainly should.

Once back in Miami in 1987, Bosch was held for six months on a parole violation and then released, where he has been living unmolested ever since. The campaign to pardon Bosch was led by the new incoming House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and her ally and then political campaign manager, and future governor of Florida and presidential brother, Jeb Bush. Ros-Lehtinen reportedly helped organize an “Orlando Bosch Day,” of all things, in his support. She has also defended one Velentin Hernández, a Cuban exile convicted of murdering Luciano Nieves who was advocating negotiations with the Castro regime. Her attitude towards violence against objectionable political leaders was characterized by her statement to the BBC that, “I welcome the opportunity of having anyone assassinate Fidel Castro and any leader who is oppressing the people.” She claimed that the filmmakers had doctored her statements, but releases of the original unedited recordings demonstrated her calling at least twice for the assassination of Castro, and confirmed the veracity of the original quote.

As for Posada Carriles, AKA “Bambi,” a former CIA operative, he has been convicted in absentia of the Flight 455 bombing, a series of bomb attacks mainly in 1997 on fashionable Cuban nightclubs and hotels, and various other crimes including the attempted assassination of Castro in Panama in 2000. There is virtually no doubt that Carriles is an unrepentant and habitual terrorist, and has plausibly claimed that Jorge Mas Canosa, head of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), was well aware of his activities but that the two agreed never to discuss them. To say that Carriles has never been properly investigated, charged or held to account by the US authorities, which it is bound by international treaties (particularly the 1971 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation) to do, would be an understatement. He has been briefly held on immigration charges, but was released in 2007, and a judge has ruled that he may not be extradited to Venezuela, where he is wanted for some of these crimes, on the grounds that he may be tortured there. Special rendition for some, special protection for others. The US has sought to deport him, but unsurprisingly no country will accept such an individual. Suffice it to say that some terrorists go to Guantánamo Bay, and some don’t.

Carriless still faces charges of immigration fraud and of lying to US authorities about his criminal activities, but this is in the context of his potential deportation process, not a full-blown criminal investigation into his apparently extensive terrorist career. And while CANF denies all knowledge of and involvement in his crimes, in 1997 the organization issued a statement that has been characterized as “supporting un-conditionally all terrorist attacks against Cuba,” and its chairman at the time, Francisco Hernandez, stated that “We do not think of these as terrorist actions”. Of course not. Meanwhile, Carriless openly boasts of his participation in the 1997 bombing campaign and merely faces immigration charges and is not, as far as I can tell, incarcerated in any form at the moment.

The point is not that Peter King, the MEK defenders, or Rep. Ross Lehtinen are fans of terrorism, should be held in any kind of contempt or subject to federal investigation or any other aspersions against their characters. These facts should not be held against them as human beings or as political leaders. But there is an important point to be made, which is that it is extremely difficult for any human being to hold to a single standard that opposes terrorism in all its forms: the use by, at the very, least non-state — and many would argue also state — actors of attacks on civilian targets in order to achieve political goals. It’s very easy to get worked up about people who use these despicable tactics against one’s own country or one’s own friends, relatives, co-religionists or compatriots. It’s also very easy to rationalize the unfortunate necessity, or perhaps understandable if deplorable excesses, of such actions by those whose causes, or sometimes merely identities, one sympathizes or affiliates with. There is much more to be said about the King hearings as more becomes known about them. Right now, it doesn’t look good because Rep. King has long held a jaundiced view of the Muslim American community generally as essentially disloyal or at least insufficiently loyal. He’s wrong about that, as I’ll demonstrate in a future posting very soon.

There’s also the question of who is going to be testifying, and not. Self-appointed terrorism expert and chronic errorist Steven Emerson (who blamed the first World Trade Center bombing on Serbs when it fact it was Islamists, and then blamed the Timothy McVeigh bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma City on Islamists when they had nothing to do with it) apparently is not. He and his supporters have tried to imply that he somehow anticipated or predicted the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but a review of his work up to that point shows nothing of the kind: he did warn that there was a growing movement in support of Muslim extremism in the United States, but nothing I can find (admittedly I haven’t been able to bring myself to an exhaustive reading of all of his ramblings) in his pre-9/11 work suggests any understanding of the kind of international Al Qaeda scheme dreamed up in Afghanistan, plotted in Hamburg, organized in various parts of the United States and funded from various as yet to be fully determined sources. In other words, he was as unprepared for such an assault as everybody else even though he was raising a ruckus about a rather different sort of Muslim extremist. There are one or two people who could plausibly claim to have anticipated the 9/11 attacks, particularly Rick Rescorla, but not Emerson.

Emerson’s bizarre and angry letter to King, which is worth reading merely as an indication of his emotional condition and questionable self-opinion, protesting the fact that he was not going to be included in the list of witnesses can only be regarded as a good thing. That doesn’t mean that King is necessarily going to be presenting a fair hearing representing multiple and contending different points of view; allowing those who would severely criticize the American Muslim community in general and unfair terms to be pitted against Muslim Americans who can contradict these claims with eloquence and veracity, or disgruntled former law enforcement officials or Bush administration appointees and other opponents of the Obama administration to use the opportunity to score political points, but also with a fair hearing given to currently serving law enforcement and counterterrorism officials or Obama administration policymakers. That’s what a fair hearing would look like: panels of credible individuals from different positions and perspectives making their cases respectively. King may, in fact, produce such a hearing, and Emerson’s exclusion is certainly a good sign, but forgive us for not holding our breaths.

But one thing that the buildup to the King hearings demonstrates is that the challenge for all of us — Arab and Muslim Americans; Irish-Americans; Cuban-Americans; Iranian Americans; and those who hate, possibly with the best of reasons, regimes such as the ones in Havana and Tehran — is to maintain a simple, single standard when it comes to terrorism: attacks deliberately targeting civilians for political purposes are unacceptable. It’s not a defensible position that my friends and relatives get to do this because of their special circumstances whereas yours don’t. There is no moral clarity in distinguishing between the legal, moral and political status of what are obviously terrorist organizations or acts on the grounds of agreement with their political goals, or alleged lack of alternatives.

Inconsistency, and indeed hypocrisy, from those who have been most angrily pointing the finger at entire communities rather than specifically those Arab and Muslim Americans who have been sympathetic and occasionally even materially supportive of Islamist terrorists (and who should be criticized and, when warranted, prosecuted for that) is simply not acceptable. A good long look in the mirror of those who had, or still have, no problem with the IRA, the MEK, and the likes of Orlando Bosch and Luis Carriless is essential if there is to be any hope of clarity on the question of terrorism as a legal, moral and ethical matter. If it’s simply a tactic that we are happy or at least willing to see employed by our friends or against our enemies, then let us be honest and say so openly. But if we are really and actually sincerely against terrorism — and I am against it in all its forms by whoever carries it out and for whatever cause — then let us be clear, consistent and honest about that, for goodness sake. Otherwise questions regarding radicalization, terrorism, political violence, extremism, etc. will merely be exercises in political grandstanding, point-scoring and demagoguery. They will make matters worse rather than better, and make our country less rather than more secure.

<><><>

<><><>

Biggest Terrorism Scaremongers Are THEMSELVES Promoting Terrorism

  • The Alex Jones Channel Alex Jones Show podcast Prison Planet TV Infowars.com Twitter Alex Jones' Facebook Infowars store
The biggest scaremongers regarding the threat from terrorism are themselves promoting terrorism.

Don’t believe me?

Well, Pulitzer-prize winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh says that the Bush administration (and especially Dick Cheney) helped to fund groups which the U.S. claims are terrorists (see confirming articles here and here).

And as the New York TimesWashington Post and others are reporting, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former national security adviser Fran Townsend and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey – who all said that the terrorists were going to get us if we didn’t jettison the liberties granted under the Bill of Rights – are now supporting terrorists in Iran.

If you’ve forgotten how shrill these folks were, here’s some background on Giulani (and seethis), RidgeTownsend and Mukasey (and see this and this).

Stock up with Fresh Food that lasts with eFoodsDirect

As Raw Story reports today:

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former national security adviser Fran Townsend and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey all attended a forum organized by supporters of Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MEK).

The MEK is a communist group that helped Saddam Hussein carry out attacks against Iraq’s Shiite population in the 1990s. The group attacked Americans in Iran in the 1980s and helped with the 1979 takeover of the US embassy in Tehran.

The US designated the MEK a foreign terrorist organization in January 2009.

Giuliani and the former Bush officials, however, sided with the group due to their opposition to the current Iranian regime.

“Appeasement of dictators leads to war, destruction and the loss of human lives,” Giuliani told the forum. “For your organization to be described as a terrorist organization is just really a disgrace.”

“The United States should not just be on your side,” he said. “It should be enthusiastically on your side. You want the same things we want.”

“If the United States truly wants to put pressure on the Iranian regime, it takes more than talk and it takes more than sanctions,” Townsend declared.

Georgetown University law professor and attorney David Cole believes that under US law, the group of conservatives may have gone too far.

“The problem is that the United States government has labeled the Mujahedeen Khalq a ‘foreign terrorist organization,’ making it a crime to provide it, directly or indirectly, with any material support,” he wrote in Monday’s edition of the New York Times. “It is therefore a felony, the government has argued, to file an amicus brief on behalf of a ‘terrorist’ group, to engage in public advocacy to challenge a group’s ‘terrorist’ designation or even to encourage peaceful avenues for redress of grievances.”

The Supreme Court has ruled that any “advocacy performed in coordination with, or at the direction of, a foreign terrorist organization” is a crime.

And see this.

Does American exceptionalism mean that terrorism is okay when we promote it? Some in government have been acting as if they believe so.

<><><>

The Mujahedin-e Khalq in Iraq

A Policy Conundrum

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, coalition forces classified the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK), an Iranian dissident group dedicated to the violent overthrow of the Iranian government, as an enemy force. The MeK had provided security services to Saddam Hussein from its camps in Iraq and had been listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the Secretary of State. After a cease-fire was signed, the U.S. Secretary of Defense designated this group’s members as civilian “protected persons” rather than combatant prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. A RAND study examined the evolution of this controversial decision, which has left the United States open to charges of hypocrisy in the war on terrorism. An examination of MeK activities establishes its cultic practices and its deceptive recruitment and public relations strategies. A series of coalition decisions served to facilitate the MeK leadership’s control over its members. The government of Iraq wants to expel the group, but no country other than Iran will accept it. Thus, the RAND study concludes that the best course of action would be to repatriate the majority of its members to Iran, which in 2003 granted amnesty to the MeK rank and file and appears to have upheld its commitment. The coalition’s experience with the MeK also offers lessons for dealing with unusual militias in future military actions and for providing better training for field commanders and enlisted personnel.

<><><>

Bush sanctions ‘black ops’ against Iran

Details have also emerged of a covert scheme to sabotage the Iranian nuclear programme

Iran was sold defective parts on the black market
By Tim Shipman in Washington 12:01AM BST 27 May 2007

President George W Bush has given the CIA approval to launch covert “black” operations to achieve regime change in Iran, intelligence sources have revealed.

Mr Bush has signed an official document endorsing CIA plans for a propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to destabilise, and eventually topple, the theocratic rule of the mullahs.

Under the plan, pressure will be brought to bear on the Iranian economy by manipulating the country’s currency and international financial transactions.

Details have also emerged of a covert scheme to sabotage the Iranian nuclear programme, which United Nations nuclear watchdogs said last week could lead to a bomb within three years.

Security officials in Washington have disclosed that Teheran has been sold defective parts on the black market in a bid to delay and disrupt its uranium enrichment programme, the precursor to building a nuclear weapon.

A security source in the US told The Sunday Telegraph that the presidential directive, known as a “non-lethal presidential finding”, would give the CIA the right to collect intelligence on home soil, an area that is usually the preserve of the FBI, from the many Iranian exiles and emigrés within the US.

“Iranians in America have links with their families at home, and they are a good two-way source of information,” he said.

The CIA will also be allowed to supply communications equipment which would enable opposition groups in Iran to work together and bypass internet censorship by the clerical regime.

The plans, which significantly increase American pressure on Iran, were leaked just days before a meeting in Iraq tomorrow between the US ambassador, Ryan Crocker, and his Iranian counterpart.

Tensions have been raised by Iran’s seizure of what the US regards as a series of “hostages” in recent weeks. Three academics who hold dual Iranian-American citizenship are being held, accused of working to undermine the Iranian government or of spying.

An Iranian-American reporter with Radio Free Europe, who was visiting Iran, has had her passport seized. Another Iranian American, businessman Ali Shakeri, was believed to have been detained as he tried to leave Teheran last week.

The US responded with a show of force by the navy, sending nine warships, including two aircraft carriers, into the Persian Gulf.

Authorisation of the new CIA mission, which will not be allowed to use lethal force, appears to suggest that President Bush has, for the time being, ruled out military action against Iran.

Bruce Riedel, until six months ago the senior CIA official who dealt with Iran, said: “Vice-President [Dick] Cheney helped to lead the side favouring a military strike, but I think they have concluded that a military strike has more downsides than upsides.”

However, the CIA is giving arms-length support, supplying money and weapons, to an Iranian militant group, Jundullah, which has conducted raids into Iran from bases in Pakistan.

Iranian officials say they captured 10 members of Jundullah last weekend, carrying $500,000 in cash along with “maps of sensitive areas” and “modern spy equipment”.

Mark Fitzpatrick, a former senior State Department official now with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said industrial sabotage was the favoured way to combat Iran’s nuclear programme “without military action, without fingerprints on the operation.”

He added: “One way to sabotage a programme is to make minor modifications in some of the components Iran obtains on the black market.”

Components and blueprints obtained by Iranian intelligence agents in Europe, and shipped home using the diplomatic bag from the Iranian consulate in Frankfurt, have been blamed for an explosion that destroyed 50 nuclear centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear plant last year.

The White House National Security Council and CIA refused to comment on intelligence matters.

<><><>

US funds terror groups to sow chaos in Iran

By William Lowther in Washington DC and Colin Freeman, Sunday Telegraph

Last Updated: 12:30am GMT 25/02/2007
America is secretly funding militant ethnic separatist groups in Iran in an attempt to pile pressure on the Islamic regime to give up its nuclear programme.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime is accused of repressing minority rights and culture

In a move that reflects Washington’s growing concern with the failure of diplomatic initiatives, CIA officials are understood to be helping opposition militias among the numerous ethnic minority groups clustered in Iran’s border regions.

The operations are controversial because they involve dealing with movements that resort to terrorist methods in pursuit of their grievances against the Iranian regime.

In the past year there has been a wave of unrest in ethnic minority border areas of Iran, with bombing and assassination campaigns against soldiers and government officials.

Such incidents have been carried out by the Kurds in the west, the Azeris in the north-west, the Ahwazi Arabs in the south-west, and the Baluchis in the south-east. Non-Persians make up nearly 40 per cent of Iran’s 69 million population, with around 16 million Azeris, seven million Kurds, five million Ahwazis and one million Baluchis. Most Baluchis live over the border in Pakistan.

advertisement

Funding for their separatist causes comes directly from the CIA’s classified budget but is now “no great secret”, according to one former high-ranking CIA official in Washington who spoke anonymously to The Sunday Telegraph.

His claims were backed by Fred Burton, a former US state department counter-terrorism agent, who said: “The latest attacks inside Iran fall in line with US efforts to supply and train Iran’s ethnic minorities to destabilise the Iranian regime.”

Although Washington officially denies involvement in such activity, Teheran has long claimed to detect the hand of both America and Britain in attacks by guerrilla groups on its internal security forces. Last Monday, Iran publicly hanged a man, Nasrollah Shanbe Zehi, for his involvement in a bomb attack that killed 11 Revolutionary Guards in the city of Zahedan in Sistan-Baluchistan. An unnamed local official told the semi-official Fars news agency that weapons used in the attack were British and US-made.

Yesterday, Iranian forces also claimed to have killed 17 rebels described as “mercenary elements” in clashes near the Turkish border, which is a stronghold of the Pejak, a Kurdish militant party linked to Turkey’s outlawed PKK Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

John Pike, the head of the influential Global Security think tank in Washington, said: “The activities of the ethnic groups have hotted up over the last two years and it would be a scandal if that was not at least in part the result of CIA activity.”

Such a policy is fraught with risk, however. Many of the groups share little common cause with Washington other than their opposition to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose regime they accuse of stepping up repression of minority rights and culture.

The Baluchistan-based Brigade of God group, which last year kidnapped and killed eight Iranian soldiers, is a volatile Sunni organisation that many fear could easily turn against Washington after taking its money.

A row has also broken out in Washington over whether to “unleash” the military wing of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), an Iraq-based Iranian opposition group with a long and bloody history of armed opposition to the Iranian regime.

The group is currently listed by the US state department as terrorist organisation, but Mr Pike said: “A faction in the Defence Department wants to unleash them. They could never overthrow the current Iranian regime but they might cause a lot of damage.”

At present, none of the opposition groups are much more than irritants to Teheran, but US analysts believe that they could become emboldened if the regime was attacked by America or Israel. Such a prospect began to look more likely last week, as the UN Security Council deadline passed for Iran to stop its uranium enrichment programme, and a second American aircraft carrier joined the build up of US naval power off Iran’s southern coastal waters.

The US has also moved six heavy bombers from a British base on the Pacific island of Diego Garcia to the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, which could allow them to carry out strikes on Iran without seeking permission from Downing Street.

While Tony Blair reiterated last week that Britain still wanted a diplomatic solution to the crisis, US Vice-President Dick Cheney yesterday insisted that military force was a real possibility.

“It would be a serious mistake if a nation like Iran were to become a nuclear power,” Mr Cheney warned during a visit to Australia. “All options are still on the table.”

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany will meet in London tomorrow to discuss further punitive measures against Iran. Sanctions barring the transfer of nuclear technology and know-how were imposed in December. Additional penalties might include a travel ban on senior Iranian officials and restrictions on non-nuclear business.

Additional reporting by Gethin Chamberlain.

<><><>

ANNALS OF NATIONAL SECURITY

THE REDIRECTION

Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?

by Seymour M. HershMARCH 5, 2007

Efforts to curb Iran

Efforts to curb Iran’s influence have involved the United States in worsening Sunni-Shiite tensions.

A STRATEGIC SHIFT

In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

One contradictory aspect of the new strategy is that, in Iraq, most of the insurgent violence directed at the American military has come from Sunni forces, and not from Shiites. But, from the Administration’s perspective, the most profound—and unintended—strategic consequence of the Iraq war is the empowerment of Iran. Its President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has made defiant pronouncements about the destruction of Israel and his country’s right to pursue its nuclear program, and last week its supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on state television that “realities in the region show that the arrogant front, headed by the U.S. and its allies, will be the principal loser in the region.”

After the revolution of 1979 brought a religious government to power, the United States broke with Iran and cultivated closer relations with the leaders of Sunni Arab states such as Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. That calculation became more complex after the September 11th attacks, especially with regard to the Saudis. Al Qaeda is Sunni, and many of its operatives came from extremist religious circles inside Saudi Arabia. Before the invasion of Iraq, in 2003, Administration officials, influenced by neoconservative ideologues, assumed that a Shiite government there could provide a pro-American balance to Sunni extremists, since Iraq’s Shiite majority had been oppressed under Saddam Hussein. They ignored warnings from the intelligence community about the ties between Iraqi Shiite leaders and Iran, where some had lived in exile for years. Now, to the distress of the White House, Iran has forged a close relationship with the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

The new American policy, in its broad outlines, has been discussed publicly. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that there is “a new strategic alignment in the Middle East,” separating “reformers” and “extremists”; she pointed to the Sunni states as centers of moderation, and said that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah were “on the other side of that divide.” (Syria’s Sunni majority is dominated by the Alawi sect.) Iran and Syria, she said, “have made their choice and their choice is to destabilize.”

Some of the core tactics of the redirection are not public, however. The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.

A senior member of the House Appropriations Committee told me that he had heard about the new strategy, but felt that he and his colleagues had not been adequately briefed. “We haven’t got any of this,” he said. “We ask for anything going on, and they say there’s nothing. And when we ask specific questions they say, ‘We’re going to get back to you.’ It’s so frustrating.”

The key players behind the redirection are Vice-President Dick Cheney, the deputy national-security adviser Elliott Abrams, the departing Ambassador to Iraq (and nominee for United Nations Ambassador), Zalmay Khalilzad, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national-security adviser. While Rice has been deeply involved in shaping the public policy, former and current officials said that the clandestine side has been guided by Cheney. (Cheney’s office and the White House declined to comment for this story; the Pentagon did not respond to specific queries but said, “The United States is not planning to go to war with Iran.”)

The policy shift has brought Saudi Arabia and Israel into a new strategic embrace, largely because both countries see Iran as an existential threat. They have been involved in direct talks, and the Saudis, who believe that greater stability in Israel and Palestine will give Iran less leverage in the region, have become more involved in Arab-Israeli negotiations.

The new strategy “is a major shift in American policy—it’s a sea change,” a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. The Sunni states “were petrified of a Shiite resurgence, and there was growing resentment with our gambling on the moderate Shiites in Iraq,” he said. “We cannot reverse the Shiite gain in Iraq, but we can contain it.”

“It seems there has been a debate inside the government over what’s the biggest danger—Iran or Sunni radicals,” Vali Nasr, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who has written widely on Shiites, Iran, and Iraq, told me. “The Saudis and some in the Administration have been arguing that the biggest threat is Iran and the Sunni radicals are the lesser enemies. This is a victory for the Saudi line.”

Martin Indyk, a senior State Department official in the Clinton Administration who also served as Ambassador to Israel, said that “the Middle East is heading into a serious Sunni-Shiite Cold War.” Indyk, who is the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, added that, in his opinion, it was not clear whether the White House was fully aware of the strategic implications of its new policy. “The White House is not just doubling the bet in Iraq,” he said. “It’s doubling the bet across the region. This could get very complicated. Everything is upside down.”

The Administration’s new policy for containing Iran seems to complicate its strategy for winning the war in Iraq. Patrick Clawson, an expert on Iran and the deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, argued, however, that closer ties between the United States and moderate or even radical Sunnis could put “fear” into the government of Prime Minister Maliki and “make him worry that the Sunnis could actually win” the civil war there. Clawson said that this might give Maliki an incentive to coöperate with the United States in suppressing radical Shiite militias, such as Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.

Even so, for the moment, the U.S. remains dependent on the coöperation of Iraqi Shiite leaders. The Mahdi Army may be openly hostile to American interests, but other Shiite militias are counted as U.S. allies. Both Moqtada al-Sadr and the White House back Maliki. A memorandum written late last year by Stephen Hadley, the national-security adviser, suggested that the Administration try to separate Maliki from his more radical Shiite allies by building his base among moderate Sunnis and Kurds, but so far the trends have been in the opposite direction. As the Iraqi Army continues to founder in its confrontations with insurgents, the power of the Shiite militias has steadily increased.

Flynt Leverett, a former Bush Administration National Security Council official, told me that “there is nothing coincidental or ironic” about the new strategy with regard to Iraq. “The Administration is trying to make a case that Iran is more dangerous and more provocative than the Sunni insurgents to American interests in Iraq, when—if you look at the actual casualty numbers—the punishment inflicted on America by the Sunnis is greater by an order of magnitude,” Leverett said. “This is all part of the campaign of provocative steps to increase the pressure on Iran. The idea is that at some point the Iranians will respond and then the Administration will have an open door to strike at them.”

President George W. Bush, in a speech on January 10th, partially spelled out this approach. “These two regimes”—Iran and Syria—“are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq,” Bush said. “Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We’ll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.”

In the following weeks, there was a wave of allegations from the Administration about Iranian involvement in the Iraq war. On February 11th, reporters were shown sophisticated explosive devices, captured in Iraq, that the Administration claimed had come from Iran. The Administration’s message was, in essence, that the bleak situation in Iraq was the result not of its own failures of planning and execution but of Iran’s interference.

The U.S. military also has arrested and interrogated hundreds of Iranians in Iraq. “The word went out last August for the military to snatch as many Iranians in Iraq as they can,” a former senior intelligence official said. “They had five hundred locked up at one time. We’re working these guys and getting information from them. The White House goal is to build a case that the Iranians have been fomenting the insurgency and they’ve been doing it all along—that Iran is, in fact, supporting the killing of Americans.” The Pentagon consultant confirmed that hundreds of Iranians have been captured by American forces in recent months. But he told me that that total includes many Iranian humanitarian and aid workers who “get scooped up and released in a short time,” after they have been interrogated.

“We are not planning for a war with Iran,” Robert Gates, the new Defense Secretary, announced on February 2nd, and yet the atmosphere of confrontation has deepened. According to current and former American intelligence and military officials, secret operations in Lebanon have been accompanied by clandestine operations targeting Iran. American military and special-operations teams have escalated their activities in Iran to gather intelligence and, according to a Pentagon consultant on terrorism and the former senior intelligence official, have also crossed the border in pursuit of Iranian operatives from Iraq.

At Rice’s Senate appearance in January, Democratic Senator Joseph Biden, of Delaware, pointedly asked her whether the U.S. planned to cross the Iranian or the Syrian border in the course of a pursuit. “Obviously, the President isn’t going to rule anything out to protect our troops, but the plan is to take down these networks in Iraq,” Rice said, adding, “I do think that everyone will understand that—the American people and I assume the Congress expect the President to do what is necessary to protect our forces.”

The ambiguity of Rice’s reply prompted a response from Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican, who has been critical of the Administration:
Some of us remember 1970, Madam Secretary. And that was Cambodia. And when our government lied to the American people and said, “We didn’t cross the border going into Cambodia,” in fact we did.
I happen to know something about that, as do some on this committee. So, Madam Secretary, when you set in motion the kind of policy that the President is talking about here, it’s very, very dangerous.

The Administration’s concern about Iran’s role in Iraq is coupled with its long-standing alarm over Iran’s nuclear program. On Fox News on January 14th, Cheney warned of the possibility, in a few years, “of a nuclear-armed Iran, astride the world’s supply of oil, able to affect adversely the global economy, prepared to use terrorist organizations and/or their nuclear weapons to threaten their neighbors and others around the world.” He also said, “If you go and talk with the Gulf states or if you talk with the Saudis or if you talk with the Israelis or the Jordanians, the entire region is worried. . . . The threat Iran represents is growing.”

The Administration is now examining a wave of new intelligence on Iran’s weapons programs. Current and former American officials told me that the intelligence, which came from Israeli agents operating in Iran, includes a claim that Iran has developed a three-stage solid-fuelled intercontinental missile capable of delivering several small warheads—each with limited accuracy—inside Europe. The validity of this human intelligence is still being debated.

A similar argument about an imminent threat posed by weapons of mass destruction—and questions about the intelligence used to make that case—formed the prelude to the invasion of Iraq. Many in Congress have greeted the claims about Iran with wariness; in the Senate on February 14th, Hillary Clinton said, “We have all learned lessons from the conflict in Iraq, and we have to apply those lessons to any allegations that are being raised about Iran. Because, Mr. President, what we are hearing has too familiar a ring and we must be on guard that we never again make decisions on the basis of intelligence that turns out to be faulty.”

Still, the Pentagon is continuing intensive planning for a possible bombing attack on Iran, a process that began last year, at the direction of the President. In recent months, the former intelligence official told me, a special planning group has been established in the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged with creating a contingency bombing plan for Iran that can be implemented, upon orders from the President, within twenty-four hours.

In the past month, I was told by an Air Force adviser on targeting and the Pentagon consultant on terrorism, the Iran planning group has been handed a new assignment: to identify targets in Iran that may be involved in supplying or aiding militants in Iraq. Previously, the focus had been on the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities and possible regime change.

Two carrier strike groups—the Eisenhower and the Stennis—are now in the Arabian Sea. One plan is for them to be relieved early in the spring, but there is worry within the military that they may be ordered to stay in the area after the new carriers arrive, according to several sources. (Among other concerns, war games have shown that the carriers could be vulnerable to swarming tactics involving large numbers of small boats, a technique that the Iranians have practiced in the past; carriers have limited maneuverability in the narrow Strait of Hormuz, off Iran’s southern coast.) The former senior intelligence official said that the current contingency plans allow for an attack order this spring. He added, however, that senior officers on the Joint Chiefs were counting on the White House’s not being “foolish enough to do this in the face of Iraq, and the problems it would give the Republicans in 2008.”

PRINCE BANDAR’S GAME

The Administration’s effort to diminish Iranian authority in the Middle East has relied heavily on Saudi Arabia and on Prince Bandar, the Saudi national-security adviser. Bandar served as the Ambassador to the United States for twenty-two years, until 2005, and has maintained a friendship with President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. In his new post, he continues to meet privately with them. Senior White House officials have made several visits to Saudi Arabia recently, some of them not disclosed.

Last November, Cheney flew to Saudi Arabia for a surprise meeting with King Abdullah and Bandar. The Times reported that the King warned Cheney that Saudi Arabia would back its fellow-Sunnis in Iraq if the United States were to withdraw. A European intelligence official told me that the meeting also focussed on more general Saudi fears about “the rise of the Shiites.” In response, “The Saudis are starting to use their leverage—money.”

In a royal family rife with competition, Bandar has, over the years, built a power base that relies largely on his close relationship with the U.S., which is crucial to the Saudis. Bandar was succeeded as Ambassador by Prince Turki al-Faisal; Turki resigned after eighteen months and was replaced by Adel A. al-Jubeir, a bureaucrat who has worked with Bandar. A former Saudi diplomat told me that during Turki’s tenure he became aware of private meetings involving Bandar and senior White House officials, including Cheney and Abrams. “I assume Turki was not happy with that,” the Saudi said. But, he added, “I don’t think that Bandar is going off on his own.” Although Turki dislikes Bandar, the Saudi said, he shared his goal of challenging the spread of Shiite power in the Middle East.

The split between Shiites and Sunnis goes back to a bitter divide, in the seventh century, over who should succeed the Prophet Muhammad. Sunnis dominated the medieval caliphate and the Ottoman Empire, and Shiites, traditionally, have been regarded more as outsiders. Worldwide, ninety per cent of Muslims are Sunni, but Shiites are a majority in Iran, Iraq, and Bahrain, and are the largest Muslim group in Lebanon. Their concentration in a volatile, oil-rich region has led to concern in the West and among Sunnis about the emergence of a “Shiite crescent”—especially given Iran’s increased geopolitical weight.

“The Saudis still see the world through the days of the Ottoman Empire, when Sunni Muslims ruled the roost and the Shiites were the lowest class,” Frederic Hof, a retired military officer who is an expert on the Middle East, told me. If Bandar was seen as bringing about a shift in U.S. policy in favor of the Sunnis, he added, it would greatly enhance his standing within the royal family.

The Saudis are driven by their fear that Iran could tilt the balance of power not only in the region but within their own country. Saudi Arabia has a significant Shiite minority in its Eastern Province, a region of major oil fields; sectarian tensions are high in the province. The royal family believes that Iranian operatives, working with local Shiites, have been behind many terrorist attacks inside the kingdom, according to Vali Nasr. “Today, the only army capable of containing Iran”—the Iraqi Army—“has been destroyed by the United States. You’re now dealing with an Iran that could be nuclear-capable and has a standing army of four hundred and fifty thousand soldiers.” (Saudi Arabia has seventy-five thousand troops in its standing army.)

Nasr went on, “The Saudis have considerable financial means, and have deep relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis”—Sunni extremists who view Shiites as apostates. “The last time Iran was a threat, the Saudis were able to mobilize the worst kinds of Islamic radicals. Once you get them out of the box, you can’t put them back.”

The Saudi royal family has been, by turns, both a sponsor and a target of Sunni extremists, who object to the corruption and decadence among the family’s myriad princes. The princes are gambling that they will not be overthrown as long as they continue to support religious schools and charities linked to the extremists. The Administration’s new strategy is heavily dependent on this bargain.

Nasr compared the current situation to the period in which Al Qaeda first emerged. In the nineteen-eighties and the early nineties, the Saudi government offered to subsidize the covert American C.I.A. proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Hundreds of young Saudis were sent into the border areas of Pakistan, where they set up religious schools, training bases, and recruiting facilities. Then, as now, many of the operatives who were paid with Saudi money were Salafis. Among them, of course, were Osama bin Laden and his associates, who founded Al Qaeda, in 1988.

This time, the U.S. government consultant told me, Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s whothey throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”

The Saudi said that, in his country’s view, it was taking a political risk by joining the U.S. in challenging Iran: Bandar is already seen in the Arab world as being too close to the Bush Administration. “We have two nightmares,” the former diplomat told me. “For Iran to acquire the bomb and for the United States to attack Iran. I’d rather the Israelis bomb the Iranians, so we can blame them. If America does it, we will be blamed.”

In the past year, the Saudis, the Israelis, and the Bush Administration have developed a series of informal understandings about their new strategic direction. At least four main elements were involved, the U.S. government consultant told me. First, Israel would be assured that its security was paramount and that Washington and Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states shared its concern about Iran.

Second, the Saudis would urge Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian party that has received support from Iran, to curtail its anti-Israeli aggression and to begin serious talks about sharing leadership with Fatah, the more secular Palestinian group. (In February, the Saudis brokered a deal at Mecca between the two factions. However, Israel and the U.S. have expressed dissatisfaction with the terms.)

The third component was that the Bush Administration would work directly with Sunni nations to counteract Shiite ascendance in the region.

Fourth, the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations. Syria is a major conduit of arms to Hezbollah. The Saudi government is also at odds with the Syrians over the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, in Beirut in 2005, for which it believes the Assad government was responsible. Hariri, a billionaire Sunni, was closely associated with the Saudi regime and with Prince Bandar. (A U.N. inquiry strongly suggested that the Syrians were involved, but offered no direct evidence; there are plans for another investigation, by an international tribunal.)

Patrick Clawson, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, depicted the Saudis’ coöperation with the White House as a significant breakthrough. “The Saudis understand that if they want the Administration to make a more generous political offer to the Palestinians they have to persuade the Arab states to make a more generous offer to the Israelis,” Clawson told me. The new diplomatic approach, he added, “shows a real degree of effort and sophistication as well as a deftness of touch not always associated with this Administration. Who’s running the greater risk—we or the Saudis? At a time when America’s standing in the Middle East is extremely low, the Saudis are actually embracing us. We should count our blessings.”

The Pentagon consultant had a different view. He said that the Administration had turned to Bandar as a “fallback,” because it had realized that the failing war in Iraq could leave the Middle East “up for grabs.”

JIHADIS IN LEBANON

The focus of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, after Iran, is Lebanon, where the Saudis have been deeply involved in efforts by the Administration to support the Lebanese government. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora is struggling to stay in power against a persistent opposition led by Hezbollah, the Shiite organization, and its leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. Hezbollah has an extensive infrastructure, an estimated two to three thousand active fighters, and thousands of additional members.

Hezbollah has been on the State Department’s terrorist list since 1997. The organization has been implicated in the 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut that killed two hundred and forty-one military men. It has also been accused of complicity in the kidnapping of Americans, including the C.I.A. station chief in Lebanon, who died in captivity, and a Marine colonel serving on a U.N. peacekeeping mission, who was killed. (Nasrallah has denied that the group was involved in these incidents.) Nasrallah is seen by many as a staunch terrorist, who has said that he regards Israel as a state that has no right to exist. Many in the Arab world, however, especially Shiites, view him as a resistance leader who withstood Israel in last summer’s thirty-three-day war, and Siniora as a weak politician who relies on America’s support but was unable to persuade President Bush to call for an end to the Israeli bombing of Lebanon. (Photographs of Siniora kissing Condoleezza Rice on the cheek when she visited during the war were prominently displayed during street protests in Beirut.)

The Bush Administration has publicly pledged the Siniora government a billion dollars in aid since last summer. A donors’ conference in Paris, in January, which the U.S. helped organize, yielded pledges of almost eight billion more, including a promise of more than a billion from the Saudis. The American pledge includes more than two hundred million dollars in military aid, and forty million dollars for internal security.

The United States has also given clandestine support to the Siniora government, according to the former senior intelligence official and the U.S. government consultant. “We are in a program to enhance the Sunni capability to resist Shiite influence, and we’re spreading the money around as much as we can,” the former senior intelligence official said. The problem was that such money “always gets in more pockets than you think it will,” he said. “In this process, we’re financing a lot of bad guys with some serious potential unintended consequences. We don’t have the ability to determine and get pay vouchers signed by the people we like and avoid the people we don’t like. It’s a very high-risk venture.”

American, European, and Arab officials I spoke to told me that the Siniora government and its allies had allowed some aid to end up in the hands of emerging Sunni radical groups in northern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and around Palestinian refugee camps in the south. These groups, though small, are seen as a buffer to Hezbollah; at the same time, their ideological ties are with Al Qaeda.

During a conversation with me, the former Saudi diplomat accused Nasrallah of attempting “to hijack the state,” but he also objected to the Lebanese and Saudi sponsorship of Sunni jihadists in Lebanon. “Salafis are sick and hateful, and I’m very much against the idea of flirting with them,” he said. “They hate the Shiites, but they hate Americans more. If you try to outsmart them, they will outsmart us. It will be ugly.”

Alastair Crooke, who spent nearly thirty years in MI6, the British intelligence service, and now works for Conflicts Forum, a think tank in Beirut, told me, “The Lebanese government is opening space for these people to come in. It could be very dangerous.” Crooke said that one Sunni extremist group, Fatah al-Islam, had splintered from its pro-Syrian parent group, Fatah al-Intifada, in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, in northern Lebanon. Its membership at the time was less than two hundred. “I was told that within twenty-four hours they were being offered weapons and money by people presenting themselves as representatives of the Lebanese government’s interests—presumably to take on Hezbollah,” Crooke said.

The largest of the groups, Asbat al-Ansar, is situated in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp. Asbat al-Ansar has received arms and supplies from Lebanese internal-security forces and militias associated with the Siniora government.

In 2005, according to a report by the U.S.-based International Crisis Group, Saad Hariri, the Sunni majority leader of the Lebanese parliament and the son of the slain former Prime Minister—Saad inherited more than four billion dollars after his father’s assassination—paid forty-eight thousand dollars in bail for four members of an Islamic militant group from Dinniyeh. The men had been arrested while trying to establish an Islamic mini-state in northern Lebanon. The Crisis Group noted that many of the militants “had trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.”

According to the Crisis Group report, Saad Hariri later used his parliamentary majority to obtain amnesty for twenty-two of the Dinniyeh Islamists, as well as for seven militants suspected of plotting to bomb the Italian and Ukrainian embassies in Beirut, the previous year. (He also arranged a pardon for Samir Geagea, a Maronite Christian militia leader, who had been convicted of four political murders, including the assassination, in 1987, of Prime Minister Rashid Karami.) Hariri described his actions to reporters as humanitarian.

In an interview in Beirut, a senior official in the Siniora government acknowledged that there were Sunni jihadists operating inside Lebanon. “We have a liberal attitude that allows Al Qaeda types to have a presence here,” he said. He related this to concerns that Iran or Syria might decide to turn Lebanon into a “theatre of conflict.”

The official said that his government was in a no-win situation. Without a political settlement with Hezbollah, he said, Lebanon could “slide into a conflict,” in which Hezbollah fought openly with Sunni forces, with potentially horrific consequences. But if Hezbollah agreed to a settlement yet still maintained a separate army, allied with Iran and Syria, “Lebanon could become a target. In both cases, we become a target.”

The Bush Administration has portrayed its support of the Siniora government as an example of the President’s belief in democracy, and his desire to prevent other powers from interfering in Lebanon. When Hezbollah led street demonstrations in Beirut in December, John Bolton, who was then the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., called them “part of the Iran-Syria-inspired coup.”

Leslie H. Gelb, a past president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said that the Administration’s policy was less pro democracy than “pro American national security. The fact is that it would be terribly dangerous if Hezbollah ran Lebanon.” The fall of the Siniora government would be seen, Gelb said, “as a signal in the Middle East of the decline of the United States and the ascendancy of the terrorism threat. And so any change in the distribution of political power in Lebanon has to be opposed by the United States—and we’re justified in helping any non-Shiite parties resist that change. We should say this publicly, instead of talking about democracy.”

Martin Indyk, of the Saban Center, said, however, that the United States “does not have enough pull to stop the moderates in Lebanon from dealing with the extremists.” He added, “The President sees the region as divided between moderates and extremists, but our regional friends see it as divided between Sunnis and Shia. The Sunnis that we view as extremists are regarded by our Sunni allies simply as Sunnis.”

In January, after an outburst of street violence in Beirut involving supporters of both the Siniora government and Hezbollah, Prince Bandar flew to Tehran to discuss the political impasse in Lebanon and to meet with Ali Larijani, the Iranians’ negotiator on nuclear issues. According to a Middle Eastern ambassador, Bandar’s mission—which the ambassador said was endorsed by the White House—also aimed “to create problems between the Iranians and Syria.” There had been tensions between the two countries about Syrian talks with Israel, and the Saudis’ goal was to encourage a breach. However, the ambassador said, “It did not work. Syria and Iran are not going to betray each other. Bandar’s approach is very unlikely to succeed.”

Walid Jumblatt, who is the leader of the Druze minority in Lebanon and a strong Siniora supporter, has attacked Nasrallah as an agent of Syria, and has repeatedly told foreign journalists that Hezbollah is under the direct control of the religious leadership in Iran. In a conversation with me last December, he depicted Bashir Assad, the Syrian President, as a “serial killer.” Nasrallah, he said, was “morally guilty” of the assassination of Rafik Hariri and the murder, last November, of Pierre Gemayel, a member of the Siniora Cabinet, because of his support for the Syrians.

Jumblatt then told me that he had met with Vice-President Cheney in Washington last fall to discuss, among other issues, the possibility of undermining Assad. He and his colleagues advised Cheney that, if the United States does try to move against Syria, members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood would be “the ones to talk to,” Jumblatt said.

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, a branch of a radical Sunni movement founded in Egypt in 1928, engaged in more than a decade of violent opposition to the regime of Hafez Assad, Bashir’s father. In 1982, the Brotherhood took control of the city of Hama; Assad bombarded the city for a week, killing between six thousand and twenty thousand people. Membership in the Brotherhood is punishable by death in Syria. The Brotherhood is also an avowed enemy of the U.S. and of Israel. Nevertheless, Jumblatt said, “We told Cheney that the basic link between Iran and Lebanon is Syria—and to weaken Iran you need to open the door to effective Syrian opposition.”

There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefitted the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.

Jumblatt said he understood that the issue was a sensitive one for the White House. “I told Cheney that some people in the Arab world, mainly the Egyptians”—whose moderate Sunni leadership has been fighting the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood for decades—“won’t like it if the United States helps the Brotherhood. But if you don’t take on Syria we will be face to face in Lebanon with Hezbollah in a long fight, and one we might not win.”

THE SHEIKH

On a warm, clear night early last December, in a bombed-out suburb a few miles south of downtown Beirut, I got a preview of how the Administration’s new strategy might play out in Lebanon. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, who has been in hiding, had agreed to an interview. Security arrangements for the meeting were secretive and elaborate. I was driven, in the back seat of a darkened car, to a damaged underground garage somewhere in Beirut, searched with a handheld scanner, placed in a second car to be driven to yet another bomb-scarred underground garage, and transferred again. Last summer, it was reported that Israel was trying to kill Nasrallah, but the extraordinary precautions were not due only to that threat. Nasrallah’s aides told me that they believe he is a prime target of fellow-Arabs, primarily Jordanian intelligence operatives, as well as Sunni jihadists who they believe are affiliated with Al Qaeda. (The government consultant and a retired four-star general said that Jordanian intelligence, with support from the U.S. and Israel, had been trying to infiltrate Shiite groups, to work against Hezbollah. Jordan’s King Abdullah II has warned that a Shiite government in Iraq that was close to Iran would lead to the emergence of a Shiite crescent.) This is something of an ironic turn: Nasrallah’s battle with Israel last summer turned him—a Shiite—into the most popular and influential figure among Sunnis and Shiites throughout the region. In recent months, however, he has increasingly been seen by many Sunnis not as a symbol of Arab unity but as a participant in a sectarian war.

Nasrallah, dressed, as usual, in religious garb, was waiting for me in an unremarkable apartment. One of his advisers said that he was not likely to remain there overnight; he has been on the move since his decision, last July, to order the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid set off the thirty-three-day war. Nasrallah has since said publicly—and repeated to me—that he misjudged the Israeli response. “We just wanted to capture prisoners for exchange purposes,” he told me. “We never wanted to drag the region into war.”

Nasrallah accused the Bush Administration of working with Israel to deliberately instigate fitna, an Arabic word that is used to mean “insurrection and fragmentation within Islam.” “In my opinion, there is a huge campaign through the media throughout the world to put each side up against the other,” he said. “I believe that all this is being run by American and Israeli intelligence.” (He did not provide any specific evidence for this.) He said that the U.S. war in Iraq had increased sectarian tensions, but argued that Hezbollah had tried to prevent them from spreading into Lebanon. (Sunni-Shiite confrontations increased, along with violence, in the weeks after we talked.)

Nasrallah said he believed that President Bush’s goal was “the drawing of a new map for the region. They want the partition of Iraq. Iraq is not on the edge of a civil war—there is a civil war. There is ethnic and sectarian cleansing. The daily killing and displacement which is taking place in Iraq aims at achieving three Iraqi parts, which will be sectarian and ethnically pure as a prelude to the partition of Iraq. Within one or two years at the most, there will be total Sunni areas, total Shiite areas, and total Kurdish areas. Even in Baghdad, there is a fear that it might be divided into two areas, one Sunni and one Shiite.”

He went on, “I can say that President Bush is lying when he says he does not want Iraq to be partitioned. All the facts occurring now on the ground make you swear he is dragging Iraq to partition. And a day will come when he will say, ‘I cannot do anything, since the Iraqis want the partition of their country and I honor the wishes of the people of Iraq.’ ”

Nasrallah said he believed that America also wanted to bring about the partition of Lebanon and of Syria. In Syria, he said, the result would be to push the country “into chaos and internal battles like in Iraq.” In Lebanon, “There will be a Sunni state, an Alawi state, a Christian state, and a Druze state.” But, he said, “I do not know if there will be a Shiite state.” Nasrallah told me that he suspected that one aim of the Israeli bombing of Lebanon last summer was “the destruction of Shiite areas and the displacement of Shiites from Lebanon. The idea was to have the Shiites of Lebanon and Syria flee to southern Iraq,” which is dominated by Shiites. “I am not sure, but I smell this,” he told me.

Partition would leave Israel surrounded by “small tranquil states,” he said. “I can assure you that the Saudi kingdom will also be divided, and the issue will reach to North African states. There will be small ethnic and confessional states,” he said. “In other words, Israel will be the most important and the strongest state in a region that has been partitioned into ethnic and confessional states that are in agreement with each other. This is the new Middle East.”

In fact, the Bush Administration has adamantly resisted talk of partitioning Iraq, and its public stances suggest that the White House sees a future Lebanon that is intact, with a weak, disarmed Hezbollah playing, at most, a minor political role. There is also no evidence to support Nasrallah’s belief that the Israelis were seeking to drive the Shiites into southern Iraq. Nevertheless, Nasrallah’s vision of a larger sectarian conflict in which the United States is implicated suggests a possible consequence of the White House’s new strategy.

In the interview, Nasrallah made mollifying gestures and promises that would likely be met with skepticism by his opponents. “If the United States says that discussions with the likes of us can be useful and influential in determining American policy in the region, we have no objection to talks or meetings,” he said. “But, if their aim through this meeting is to impose their policy on us, it will be a waste of time.” He said that the Hezbollah militia, unless attacked, would operate only within the borders of Lebanon, and pledged to disarm it when the Lebanese Army was able to stand up. Nasrallah said that he had no interest in initiating another war with Israel. However, he added that he was anticipating, and preparing for, another Israeli attack, later this year.

Nasrallah further insisted that the street demonstrations in Beirut would continue until the Siniora government fell or met his coalition’s political demands. “Practically speaking, this government cannot rule,” he told me. “It might issue orders, but the majority of the Lebanese people will not abide and will not recognize the legitimacy of this government. Siniora remains in office because of international support, but this does not mean that Siniora can rule Lebanon.”

President Bush’s repeated praise of the Siniora government, Nasrallah said, “is the best service to the Lebanese opposition he can give, because it weakens their position vis-à-vis the Lebanese people and the Arab and Islamic populations. They are betting on us getting tired. We did not get tired during the war, so how could we get tired in a demonstration?”

There is sharp division inside and outside the Bush Administration about how best to deal with Nasrallah, and whether he could, in fact, be a partner in a political settlement. The outgoing director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, in a farewell briefing to the Senate Intelligence Committee, in January, said that Hezbollah “lies at the center of Iran’s terrorist strategy. . . . It could decide to conduct attacks against U.S. interests in the event it feels its survival or that of Iran is threatened. . . . Lebanese Hezbollah sees itself as Tehran’s partner.”

In 2002, Richard Armitage, then the Deputy Secretary of State, called Hezbollah “the A-team” of terrorists. In a recent interview, however, Armitage acknowledged that the issue has become somewhat more complicated. Nasrallah, Armitage told me, has emerged as “a political force of some note, with a political role to play inside Lebanon if he chooses to do so.” In terms of public relations and political gamesmanship, Armitage said, Nasrallah “is the smartest man in the Middle East.” But, he added, Nasrallah “has got to make it clear that he wants to play an appropriate role as the loyal opposition. For me, there’s still a blood debt to pay”—a reference to the murdered colonel and the Marine barracks bombing.

Robert Baer, a former longtime C.I.A. agent in Lebanon, has been a severe critic of Hezbollah and has warned of its links to Iranian-sponsored terrorism. But now, he told me, “we’ve got Sunni Arabs preparing for cataclysmic conflict, and we will need somebody to protect the Christians in Lebanon. It used to be the French and the United States who would do it, and now it’s going to be Nasrallah and the Shiites.

“The most important story in the Middle East is the growth of Nasrallah from a street guy to a leader—from a terrorist to a statesman,” Baer added. “The dog that didn’t bark this summer”—during the war with Israel—“is Shiite terrorism.” Baer was referring to fears that Nasrallah, in addition to firing rockets into Israel and kidnapping its soldiers, might set in motion a wave of terror attacks on Israeli and American targets around the world. “He could have pulled the trigger, but he did not,” Baer said.

Most members of the intelligence and diplomatic communities acknowledge Hezbollah’s ongoing ties to Iran. But there is disagreement about the extent to which Nasrallah would put aside Hezbollah’s interests in favor of Iran’s. A former C.I.A. officer who also served in Lebanon called Nasrallah “a Lebanese phenomenon,” adding, “Yes, he’s aided by Iran and Syria, but Hezbollah’s gone beyond that.” He told me that there was a period in the late eighties and early nineties when the C.I.A. station in Beirut was able to clandestinely monitor Nasrallah’s conversations. He described Nasrallah as “a gang leader who was able to make deals with the other gangs. He had contacts with everybody.”

TELLING CONGRESS

The Bush Administration’s reliance on clandestine operations that have not been reported to Congress and its dealings with intermediaries with questionable agendas have recalled, for some in Washington, an earlier chapter in history. Two decades ago, the Reagan Administration attempted to fund the Nicaraguan contras illegally, with the help of secret arms sales to Iran. Saudi money was involved in what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal, and a few of the players back then—notably Prince Bandar and Elliott Abrams—are involved in today’s dealings.

Iran-Contra was the subject of an informal “lessons learned” discussion two years ago among veterans of the scandal. Abrams led the discussion. One conclusion was that even though the program was eventually exposed, it had been possible to execute it without telling Congress. As to what the experience taught them, in terms of future covert operations, the participants found: “One, you can’t trust our friends. Two, the C.I.A. has got to be totally out of it. Three, you can’t trust the uniformed military, and four, it’s got to be run out of the Vice-President’s office”—a reference to Cheney’s role, the former senior intelligence official said.

I was subsequently told by the two government consultants and the former senior intelligence official that the echoes of Iran-Contra were a factor in Negroponte’s decision to resign from the National Intelligence directorship and accept a sub-Cabinet position of Deputy Secretary of State. (Negroponte declined to comment.)

The former senior intelligence official also told me that Negroponte did not want a repeat of his experience in the Reagan Administration, when he served as Ambassador to Honduras. “Negroponte said, ‘No way. I’m not going down that road again, with the N.S.C. running operations off the books, with no finding.’ ” (In the case of covert C.I.A. operations, the President must issue a written finding and inform Congress.) Negroponte stayed on as Deputy Secretary of State, he added, because “he believes he can influence the government in a positive way.”

The government consultant said that Negroponte shared the White House’s policy goals but “wanted to do it by the book.” The Pentagon consultant also told me that “there was a sense at the senior-ranks level that he wasn’t fully on board with the more adventurous clandestine initiatives.” It was also true, he said, that Negroponte “had problems with this Rube Goldberg policy contraption for fixing the Middle East.”

The Pentagon consultant added that one difficulty, in terms of oversight, was accounting for covert funds. “There are many, many pots of black money, scattered in many places and used all over the world on a variety of missions,” he said. The budgetary chaos in Iraq, where billions of dollars are unaccounted for, has made it a vehicle for such transactions, according to the former senior intelligence official and the retired four-star general.

“This goes back to Iran-Contra,” a former National Security Council aide told me. “And much of what they’re doing is to keep the agency out of it.” He said that Congress was not being briefed on the full extent of the U.S.-Saudi operations. And, he said, “The C.I.A. is asking, ‘What’s going on?’ They’re concerned, because they think it’s amateur hour.”

The issue of oversight is beginning to get more attention from Congress. Last November, the Congressional Research Service issued a report for Congress on what it depicted as the Administration’s blurring of the line between C.I.A. activities and strictly military ones, which do not have the same reporting requirements. And the Senate Intelligence Committee, headed by Senator Jay Rockefeller, has scheduled a hearing for March 8th on Defense Department intelligence activities.

Senator Ron Wyden, of Oregon, a Democrat who is a member of the Intelligence Committee, told me, “The Bush Administration has frequently failed to meet its legal obligation to keep the Intelligence Committee fully and currently informed. Time and again, the answer has been ‘Trust us.’ ” Wyden said, “It is hard for me to trust the Administration.” ♦

ILLUSTRATION: GUY BILLOUT

ANNALS OF NATIONAL SECURITY, “THE REDIRECTION,” THE NEW YORKER, MARCH 5, 2007, P. 54

To get more of The New Yorker‘s signature mix of politics, culture and the arts: Subscribe now

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/03/05/070305fa_fact_hersh#ixzz1CIqfuDpi

<><><>

And note this piece promoting the MeK

The Stand Up America Blog

A-Team of Former Administrations Supports MEK

Published on 01/19/11

Mukasey, Ridge, Bolton, Giuliani, and Townsend Are Spot On

By Thomas McInerney (Lt Gen, US Air Force Ret); Paul Vallely (MG, US Army Ret), and Professor Raymond Tanter, (Reagan-Bush NSC staff)

How often do you see the A-Team of George W. Bush foreign policy advisers in back-to-back performances in Washington and Paris? Not often will you find such luminaries as Michael Mukasey, attorney general, 2007 to 2009; Tom Ridge, homeland security adviser from 2001 to 2003 and homeland security secretary, 2003 to 2005; Rudy Giuliani, mayor of New York, 1993 to 2001; and Frances Fragos Townsend, homeland security adviser to George W. Bush, 2004 to 2008 singing from the same song sheet of conservative foreign policy at home and abroad.

MEK Conf

Paris International Conference on Iran

Joined by President Bush’s former Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton in Washington, these five prominent Bush foreign policymakers made breaking news in highlighting the Iranian threat to the United States but also suggesting ways to counter that threat by focusing on an Iranian solution: removal of the unwarranted terrorist tag on a principal Iranian opposition group—the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK).

Their basic argument is sound: The designation is unjustified because the Clinton administration placed the MEK on the list of terrorist organizations for nonterrorist reasons, e.g., to encourage Tehran to engage with Washington; and the Bush administration mistakenly kept the MEK on the list out of fear that the Iranian regime would send additional arms to Iraq for killing American soldiers, which Tehran did in any event.

Moreover, the United Kingdom and then the European Union removed theMEK from their respective terrorist lists after being prompted by the Courts, which conducted a thorough review of open source and classified evidence. As a result of such actions, the terrorist tag seems unjustified by historical circumstances.

The reasonable argument of the five former policymakers can be corroborated with direct evidence that the terrorist designation is without merit; indeed, the historical evidence affirms their conclusion that the designation is problematic at best.

As input to the UK and EU decisions to overturn the MEK designations, one British court found that, “there have been no offensive operational attacks byPMOI [MEK] operatives inside Iran since August 2001.” And the UK Court of Appeal upheld that finding and concluded that classified material bolstered the idea that the Government could not have reasonably maintained that the MEKintended in the future to resort to terrorism.

Building on the European findings, the Iran Policy Committee searched three huge electronic databases for evidence of whether the MEK deserved to be listed as a terrorist organization: National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) Worldwide Incident Tracking System (WITS); Global Terrorism Database, (GTD), University of Maryland; RAND Database of Worldwide Terrorism Incidents.

The IPC study concluded that in three major public databases on terrorism, there are no confirmed and credible reports labeling the MEK as a perpetrator of any military incident after 2001; because MEK members in Iraq were under U.S. military round-the-clock monitoring and protection between 2003 and 2009, the plausibility of the MEK engaging in terrorist activities, or having capacity to commit terrorism is close to zero during this period; and in the Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism (CRT) 2007, 2008, and 2009, the 2006 accusation that the MEK has “capacity and will” to commit terrorism or terrorist activities does not reappear, suggesting there is no public basis for the Secretary to assert the MEK retains the capability and intent to engage in terrorism and terrorist activities.

To maintain the designation of a group absent terrorism or terrorist activity in the past two years, the State Department must show “current” capability and intent to carry out such activities that would threaten the national security interests of the United States or the security of U.S. nationals. Capability and intent (planning, training, and arming) also relate to the past two years.

Although Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held that the MEK continues to be a foreign organization that engages in terrorist activity or terrorism or retains the capability and intent to do so, there is no basis in the public record to justify such a conclusion.

It is unreasonable to believe terrorist capability and intent were hidden from the watchful eyes of U.S. military monitors who also protected the MEK in Camp Ashraf Iraq during the period of Secretary Rice’s January 2009 reconsideration of the designation; consequently, the credibility of the classified record would have to be beyond challenge to justify redesignation. In fact, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit questioned the credibility of classified sources used by the Secretary when the Court remanded the designation to State for further review consistent with due process of law procedures.

It is ironic for the State Department to appease the Ayatollahs of Iran by designating as terrorist one of their main opponents about which there is no public evidence of military incidents; terrorism or terrorist activities; or capability and intent not only during the legally binding time for the designation to be valid, but also in the last 10 years.

On the basis of a designation based on nonterrorist criteria; lack of evidence in the public record of MEK involvement in terrorism, terrorist activities, or current capability and intent; as well as doubts expressed by the Federal Appeals Court of the credibility of classified sources used in the redesignation, the terrorist tag on the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq is simply perverse.

It is in the U.S. interest to correct this unwarranted designation; by doing so, President Barack Obama would place the United States in a much stronger diplomatic position in the aftermath of the failed Istanbul nuclear talks with Iran, January 21-22. Although it may be asking too much to expect Obama to follow the suggestions of Mukasey, Ridge, Bolton, Giuliani, and Townsend, the race for a bipartisan center in domestic policy by the Obama administration following the shellacking in the November midterms might be followed by a similar move in foreign policy.

http://standupamericaus.com/a-team-of-former-administration-supports-mek

>

and this

Posted at 3:54 PM ET, 01/14/2011

Attacking Mukasey, Ridge, Townsend and Giuliani

By Marc Thiessen

The Post has a feature called “Taking Exception,” which allows individuals to respond to opinion columns that appear in the paper — especially when they come under personal criticism in such columns. This is based on the important journalistic principle that readers have the right to hear both sides of the story.

The New York Times apparently does not share The Post’s commitment to this principle. Recently, the Times published an op-ed by David Cole, who accused former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former White House Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani of providing material support for terrorism, because they spoke at a conference in support of the Iranian opposition and urged that the Mujahadin e Khalq (“MEK”) be removed from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. Material support for terrorism is a serious charge, and Mukasey, Ridge, Townsend and Giuliani took it seriously. Together, they penned a response explaining why their actions do not constitute material support for terrorism and why they believe the MEK is not a terrorist group. But after submitting it to the Times, they were told that the paper “has a policy of not publishing op-ed articles in response to other op-ed articles.”

It would seem that when four former senior officials ask a major newspaper for the opportunity to defend their good names — especially when their good names were called into question in the pages of said paper — the editors have an ethical obligation to provide that opportunity. But the Times refused. Eventually, Mukasey, Ridge, Townsend and Giuliani published their response in National Review. It deserves wide circulation. You can read it here yourself.

>

Tangled Webs

By Ken Silverstein

Here’s a story that looks like something of a blockbuster: The Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), an Iraqi-based Iranian opposition group, is considered a terrorist organization by the United States. Any American supporting the group can be charged with a crime. Yet the MEK “gets protection from the U.S. military despite Iraqi pressure to leave the country,” and “regularly escorts MEK supply runs between Baghdad and its base, Camp Ashraf.”

But you probably missed the story because (according to a reader who sent it to me) it was posted very briefly on CNN’s front page and then quickly disappeared. No other major outlet (and very few minor ones) seem to have picked it up. The CNN story quotes Shirwan al-Wa’eli, Iraq’s national security minister, as saying of the MEK, “We gave this organization a six-month deadline to leave Iraq, and we informed the Red Cross. And presumably, our friends the Americans will respect our decision and they will not stay on Iraqi land.”

The MEK has been on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist groups for a decade. And when reading that CNN story, mull over this excerpt from a recent State Department report:

During the 1970s, the MEK killed U.S. military personnel and U.S. civilians working on defense projects in Tehran and supported the takeover in 1979 of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran… Near the end of the 1980-1988 war with Iran, Baghdad armed the MEK with military equipment and sent it into action against Iranian forces. In 1991, the MEK reportedly assisted the Government of Iraq in suppressing the Shia uprisings in southern Iraq and the Kurdish uprisings in the north.

By Ken Silverstein

“By the end of 2006, there were almost two million Iraqis living as refugees outside their country—most of them in Syria and Jordan,” George Packer recently wrote in The New Yorker. “American policy held that these Iraqis were not refugees, that they would go back to their country as soon as it was stabilized. The U.S. Embassies in Damascus and Amman continued to turn down almost all visa applications from Iraqis. So the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world remained hidden.” But Packer’s focus was the situation facing Iraqis who have worked for U.S. forces and private groups; whatever one thinks of the war, American treatment of that group is truly appalling. He tells of a meeting between former U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and a large group of Iraqi employees: “After the Iraqis raised the possibility of immigrant visas to the U.S., Khalilzad said, ‘We want the good Iraqi people to stay in the country. An Iraqi replied, ‘If we’re still alive’.”

A person who formerly worked for an American contractor in Iraq recently shared with me the story of a Sunni doctor who by 2004 was unable to practice due to the deteriorating security situation. Government health centers where he had once worked had fallen under the control of Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia, which was attacking people who refused to swear allegiance to the Shiite cleric.

Late last year, this doctor fled to Jordan; he has no hope of coming to the United States given the government’s policy of issuing so few entry visas to Iraqis and so has filed a request for asylum with another Western country. The following account is adapted from his asylum letter. I was given a copy of the letter after promising not to reveal the doctor’s name or the names of the Western groups he worked for, so as not to jeopardize his application for asylum. Even under those restrictions, his story is interesting and representative of the conditions facing Iraqi refugees.

After being forced to abandon his medical career, the doctor, who speaks fluent English, went to work for an NGO as a translator and interpreter:

A militia group attacked and looted the NGO’s offices, leading the group to shut down its operations. I found work with another organization the following year, but while driving home one evening was chased by car [and narrowly escaped]. I later learned that I’d been targeted because of my job with the NGO.

I stayed at my job because I believed I was helping to build democracy and was learning about how government should work. Last June, I returned home to find a note saying I would be killed if I didn’t quit my position. My father said he would not tell my mother about the letter because it would kill her with worry for her son. At that point, I believed my family would be safer if I moved out of my home, so I accepted my supervisor’s offer of a place to stay in the Green Zone.

I attended a training course outside of the country, during which time I received word that my brother had been kidnapped. Two months later, I was able to arrange my brother’s release, for a ransom of $5,000, but was again told that I would be killed if Ireturned to work.

It was at this point—with no possibility of working any longer for Western groups or for the Health Ministry, which was controlled by a Sadrite—that I fled to Jordan. I currently work at a health clinic but am poorly paid (especially, because my employer knows I am in Jordan illegally). Family members have told me not to come back to Iraq, because they have been told that I will be killed, or they will be killed, if I do.

My source asked me to publicize the story, saying, “We expose these people to danger, and then we tell them they have to save themselves and their families. They get no help at all from the U.S. government.”

>

Experts Warn Against MEK Terrorist Group’s Lobbying Efforts

One exchange of note at NIAC’s Answering the Iranian People’s Call for Human Rights conference on Capitol Hill centered on the terror group Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK.

The MEK is currently ramping up its lobbying efforts in Congress to be taken off the Foreign Terrorist Organization list, which would enable it to raise money in the US and even receive US government assistance.  Some have called the MEK an Ahmad Chalabi/Iraqi National Congress-esque group that will similarly be utilized by pro-war interests to push for an Iran war.  [Time: Why Are Some U.S. Politicians Trying to Remove an Iranian ‘Cult’ From the Terror List?]

“The Mujahedin-e Khalq are not a serious organization,” said Nader Hashemi of the University of Denver, when asked by a staffer from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to assess the consequences of removing the group from the terror list.

The staffer highlighted “increasingly louder calls in Washington that the MEKs designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization be lifted,” on the basis that some policymakers consider the group a potential US ally because it is the “enemy of our enemy.”  But, the staffer said, “reports suggest that their human rights record is not so spotless and they are immensely disliked in Iran.”

Questioning whether to take the group off the terror list, Hashemi responded, “represents the disconnect that exists in the US Congress with the domestic reality in Iran.”

“The Mujahedin-e Khalq are viewed universally in Iran as an appendage of Saddam Hussein’s army.  They are a personality cult.  They have zero support except maybe a handful of followers who live abroad.”

Human Rights Watch’s Sarah Leah Whitson, who was also on the panel, warned strongly against the US working the group.  “It would open the US to ridicule to have any association with MEK, especially because of its utter irrelevancy and bizarreness,” she said.  “The fact that a number of former government officials were recently trotting around giving speeches on their behalf and earning money from the MEK is farcical.”

Whitson highlighted a Human Rights Watch’s report on the MEK:

“We did an investigation on MEK’s practices in Camp Ashraf…where the MEK was stationed with a fairly sizable milita for many years, protected by Saddam Hussein’s government.  And what we documented was extensive practices of torture, mock executions, a few cases of killings against Mujahedin-e Khalq members who wanted to leave the organization, which I think was correctly characterized as cult-like in its practices of requiring submission by their members…I think it has a real dubious record as possible saviors of the Iranian people.”

Alireza Nader of the RAND Corporation recommended that policymakers read a 2009 RAND report on MEK.  The report, commissioned by the Defense Department, also finds that MEK is a cult in which rank and file members are abused by leadership Camp Ashraf.

According to Nader:

“[The MEK’s] objectives are not very clear, what it wants to do with Iran if it could take power.  It’s not a democratic movement by any means, even former members have described it as undemocratic.  So I don’t think that it would help US interests to remove the MEK from the [terrorist] list.  It could actually complicate our policies towards Iran.”

Several resolutions have been introduced in the House, including two this year, calling for the MEK to be removed from the terror list.  Some lawmakers have even referred to MEK as “Iran’s main opposition movement” in spite of Green Movement denunciations of the organization.

>

Americans last attempt to rescue their terror group (Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult) form disintegration

(Relocate but don’t dismantle our terror cult)

.

… Under the U.S. plan, the approximately 3,400 residents of Ashraf would be temporarily relocated within Iraq, farther from the border with Iran, the official said. The camp houses followers and members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK). The United States considers it to be a terrorist organization. The group was used by Hussein as part of his security forces and has a tense relationship with many Iraqis, especially Shias and Kurds. The relocation would be temporary, the official said, with final settlement of the inhabitants in other countries. That would not include the United States, the official said …


(Saddam used Rajavi in the massacar of Iraqi Kurds)

  

Press TV, May 06, 2011
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/178420.html

US wants MKO terrorists relocated

A view of Camp Ashraf in Iraq’s Diyala ProvinceDespite Iraq’s decision to close Camp Ashraf, the US has proposed that the terrorists residing in the base be relocated before their final resettlement in third countries.

A senior US State Department official said on Thursday the plan was aimed at preventing more violence at Camp Ashraf, referring to a clash between Iraqi forces and members of terrorist Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) back in April.

The incident, in which 34 MKO terrorists were reportedly killed, occurred on April 8 when Iraqi armed forces clashed with residents at Camp Ashraf who had been hurling stones at soldiers for two days.

“Given the history of provocation, we are deeply concerned about the possibility of future violence,” Reuters quoted the US official as saying on condition of anonymity.

The official said the Iraqi government was studying the new plan which would then be presented to the leaders of Camp Ashraf.

In April, Iraq’s government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Baghdad is determined to shut down Camp Ashraf, located north of the capital, and disband the terrorist group.

Members of the MKO fled to Iraq in 1986, where they enjoyed the support of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and set up Camp Ashraf in Diyala province, near the Iranian border.

The group has carried out numerous acts of terror and violence against Iranian civilians and government officials.

The terror organization is also known to have cooperated with Saddam in suppressing the 1991 uprisings in southern Iraq and the massacre of Iraqi Kurds in the north.

Tehran has repeatedly called on the Iraqi government to expel the group, but the US has been blocking the expulsion by pressuring the Iraqi government.


(Rajavi from Saddam to AIPAC)

CNN, May 06, 2011
http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/meast/05/05/iraq.ashraf/

Washington tries to resolve standoff at Camp Ashraf in Iraq

Washington (CNN) — Calling the situation “untenable,” a senior State Department official gave details Thursday of a proposed “humanitarian” solution to the standoff over Iraq’s Camp Ashraf, a settlement of Iranian dissidents who say they will be killed if they are returned to Iran.

Under the U.S. plan, the approximately 3,400 residents of Ashraf would be temporarily relocated within Iraq, farther from the border with Iran, the official said.

The camp houses followers and members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK). The United States considers it to be a terrorist organization.

The MEK has opposed the Iranian government for decades, and the group was sheltered in that camp and other locations in Iraq during the era of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The group was used by Hussein as part of his security forces and has a tense relationship with many Iraqis, especially Shias and Kurds.

The relocation would be temporary, the official said, with final settlement of the inhabitants in other countries.

That would not include the United States, the official said, since U.S. law bars anyone associated with a terrorist organization from settling there.

The new location would be “chosen and maintained and operated” by Iraq and appropriate humanitarian conditions would have to be maintained in this camp, the official said.

“We will work with the government of Iraq, Ashraf residents and international partners to guarantee the safety of Ashraf residents if they agree to this move,” the official said, “if all sides agree to this plan.”

Iraq has ordered the camp be closed by the end of the year and wants the residents to leave the country. The residents are refusing to budge, and do not recognize Iraqi sovereignty over their camp.

The U.S. plan has been presented to the Iraqi government, the official said, and it is “reviewing its position.”

“We hope the Ashraf leaders will react positively to this plan, as we hope the government of Iraq will react positively to this plan, largely because we see no other solution for a group that has no status,” the State Department official said.

The United States has discussed its proposal with the international community, this official said.

In April, 34 people were killed and more than 300 others were wounded in a confrontation between Iraqi security forces and people in Camp Ashraf. The exiles said Iraqi security forces invaded their camp, but security forces said their members were attacked by the group.

The violence, the official said, highlights the vulnerability of the camp’s residents, who lack any legal status in Iraq but have refused to request refugee status.

“Given the history of mutual provocation we are deeply concerned about the possibility of future violence,” the official said.

The U.S. would work to guarantee the safety of all sides, the official said, but this would not involve American troops.

“There’s no easy solution to this matter,” the official said. “We believe this is the best way forward … our bottom line is that both sides need to step back from violence and the violence that has characterized the relationship, and we want to avoid another tragedy at Ashraf.”

Iraq under Saddam and Iran fought a bloody war in the 1980s.

Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, relations between Iran and Iraq have improved. A majority of Iraq’s new government is composed of Shiite Muslims, the majority religion in Iraq, and official attitudes toward the MEK changed.

The camp has been the subject of debate in Iraq since American forces relinquished control of it in 2009.

Iran has long urged Iraq to get rid of Camp Ashraf and the opposition group there, and Iraq’s failure to do so is a point of tension between the two countries.

Tehran considers the MEK to be a terrorist outfit. The European Union does not.

Another State Department official said the department is reviewing the Foreign Terrorist Organization designation of the MEK, with a final decision to be made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on whether to maintain or rescind it. The MEK is providing information for the review, the official told CNN.

CNN’s Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

———-

Also
http://iran-interlink.org/?mod=view&id=9814

Anne Singleton from Iran-Interlink visits Camp New Iraq (Formerly Ashraf) in wake of violence by loyalists of the Rajavi cult

.

It is thought that up to 200 MEK members loyal to Massoud Rajavi took part in the violence. It is not known how many of the 3400 residents at the camp continue as members of the terrorist group.   Singleton visited the camp at the start of a week of meetings with Iraqi officials to demand that the organisational infrastructure of the group be dismantled, and that the leaders are prosecuted under Iraqi and international law. The remaining residents should be enabled to determine their own futures without pressure from the MEK leaders. Their families should be involved to help in this process. Over 1000 Camp New Iraq (Formerly Ashraf) residents have residency or citizenship rights in Europe and North America …

http://www.iran-interlink.org/?mod=view&id=9772


Iran Interlink, Baghdad, April 17, 2011
http://iran-interlink.org

Anne Singleton from Iran-Interlink visited Camp New Iraq (Formerly Ashraf) in the wake of violent clashes between MEK loyalists and Iraqi security forces. The Iraqi commander in charge of the camp showed some of the pre-manufactured missiles used by the MEK as they attacked Iraqi soldiers at the base.

It is thought that up to 200 MEK members loyal to Massoud Rajavi took part in the violence. It is not known how many of the 3400 residents at the camp continue as members of the terrorist group.

Human Rights organisations have called for an independent investigation into events at the camp.

Singleton visited the camp at the start of a week of meetings with Iraqi officials to demand that the organisational infrastructure of the group be dismantled, and that the leaders are prosecuted under Iraqi and international law. The remaining residents should be enabled to determine their own futures without pressure from the MEK leaders. Their families should be involved to help in this process. Over 1000 Camp New Iraq (Formerly Ashraf) residents have residency or citizenship rights in Europe and North America. The embassies of these countries can facilitate their return.

Detailed reports will follow soon
Iran Interlink, Baghdad, April 17 2011


Large metal missiles pre-manufactured by MEK in readiness for violent clashes with Iraqi military


MEK used different coloured headgear to coordinate place and timing of pre-planned actions


Small metal missiles catapulted at soldiers and observers from inside the camp by Rajavi loyalists

——-

 Also
http://iran-interlink.org/?mod=view&id=9842

MEK expert Anne Singleton outlines plan to close Camp Ashraf

.

… Singleton explained that while there is no doubt in anybody’s mind that the MEK must be removed from Iraq by the end of 2011 – as three successive democratically elected governments have demanded since December 2003, as the Iraqi constitution demands and as the status of forces agreement (SOFA) dictates – it is becoming clear that the MEK is a unique phenomenon which cannot be treated as a normal political or military entity and therefore its removal will not be a straightforward mission. Evidence of this has already been seen in the violent resistance to attempts by Iraqi security forces to bring the MEK into line with Iraqi law both in July 2009 and on April 8 this year …

Al-Mostanseriah University Baghdad, April 2011
Reported by Sahar Family Foundation, Baghdad, April 25, 2011
http://www.saharngo.com/en/story/1433

Anne Singleton visited Iraq as representative of Iran-Interlink at the invitation of the Baladiyeh Foundation, a human rights NGO based in Baghdad. The Baladiyeh Foundation, headed by Mrs Ahlam al-Maliki, provides humanitarian assistance to a wide range of deprived sectors of Iraqi society arising directly from the invasion and occupation of Iraq by allied forces in 2003.

Baladiyeh Foundation is concerned by the humanitarian crisis at Camp Ashraf caused by the group’s leaders who are refusing to allow access to human rights organisations to verify the wellbeing of all of the camp’s residents.

Anne Singleton, a leading expert on the Mojahedin-e Khalq terrorist cult, was invited to speak at al-Mostanserieh University in Baghdad to address the problem of removing the group from Iraq.

Singleton outlined the problem which the Government of Iraq faces, telling the audience that the MEK has been used, particularly by neoconservatives and Zionists in the west, to interfere in the internal affairs of Iraq since 2003 when the group mistakenly came under the protection of US forces (the MEK is listed as a terrorist entity in the USA). Since that time, Camp Ashraf has remained the only part of the repressive infrastructure of the former dictator Saddam Hussein which has not been dismantled. In this respect, explained Singleton, the camp has been the locus for training and facilitating violent insurrectionists determined to derail the democratisation process of Iraq. The aim of the violence has been to create sectarian, tribal and religious divisions in Iraqi society which would prevent the unification and progression of the country under a freely elected government. The MEK have acted in conjunction with various Saddamists (Iraqis loyal to the beliefs of the former dictator) and elements in the west in this respect.

Since 2009 when the government of Iraq took over responsibility for protecting the camp from the US military, it has been possible to clamp down on this activity and the result has been a dramatic reduction in the amount of violent activity in the country. However, efforts to remove the group from Iraq as demanded by the Iraqi constitution have been hampered for several reasons.

Singleton explained that while there is no doubt in anybody’s mind that the MEK must be removed from Iraq by the end of 2011 – as three successive democratically elected governments have demanded since December 2003, as the Iraqi constitution demands and as the status of forces agreement (SOFA) dictates – it is becoming clear that the MEK is a unique phenomenon which cannot be treated as a normal political or military entity and therefore its removal will not be a straightforward mission. Evidence of this has already been seen in the violent resistance to attempts by Iraqi security forces to bring the MEK into line with Iraqi law both in July 2009 and on April 8 this year.

Negotiations with the MEK will not resolve the problem explained Singleton, since these talks only address the interests of one person, that is, the MEK leader Massoud Rajavi who is still in hiding in Camp Ashraf. Although he has ordered his loyal followers to violently resist any attempts by the government of Iraq to impose Iraqi law on the camp, it has become clear that only a small number of the camp’s residents are involved in these violent activities. Tens of individuals who have escaped the camp since the 2009 handover all report that most of the camp’s residents are no longer willing or able to continue as members of the terrorist group. It is vital therefore, said Singleton, for an independent agency such as the United Nations Human Rights Commission, to be able to enter the camp without interference, and to conduct a survey of the camp’s residents. This can only be achieved if the MEK leaders are separated from the rank and file and each individual is given the freedom to choose their own future. In this way, the residents of the camp can be removed from Iraqi territory without the violence and bloodshed which is being threatened by Massoud Rajavi.

Iraq is a sovereign country and is capable of resolving this issue in a humanitarian way which will reflect well on this new democracy. The involvement of human rights groups like Baladiyeh Foundation, said Singleton, is a sure sign that the country of Iraq has the confidence and competence to deal with the problem of the MEK effectively and peacefully. The sticking point will be the reaction of western governments which can either help or hinder this process. Above all, it is vital that the UN and other international human rights agencies fully comprehend that the only legitimate human rights position in relation to Camp Ashraf and its residents it to demand the immediate and unconditional organisational disbandment of the group, and to deal with each of the residents as a separate person and not as a slave belonging to Rajavi’s terrorist group.

Almostanserieh paper on Mojahedin Khalq (Anne Singleton)2011

Link to download video file (61 MB)

 *     *     *

 *     *     *

———-

Also
http://iran-interlink.org/?mod=view&id=9804

Mojahedin-e Khalq Terrorists Interfering in Democratisation of Iraq

Al Mostanserieh University, Baghdad

.

…  Anne Singleton, a leading expert in the Mojahedin-e Khalq terrorist group, exposed the involvement of the MEK in disrupting this process. Since 2003, Iraq has held three free and fair democratic elections said Singleton, but the MEK is backed by elements in the US and Israel which want to impose their own agenda on Iraq. For this reason, the MEK, which occupies the only remaining untouched infrastructure of the former Saddam regime, has been active in training terrorist groups such as Al Qaida at its base in Diyala province, Camp New Iraq (formerly Ashraf). The MEK has also groomed and facilitated loyalists of the former Saddam regime to …

Iran Interlink, Baghdad, April 21, 2011
http://iran-interlink.org

Baladiyeh Foundation, a Baghdad based human rights NGO, invited Anne Singleton of Iran-Interlink in the UK to present a paper at the Mostanserieh University in Baghdad.

The meeting focused on the democratisation process in Iraq after the fall of the former regime. Anne Singleton, a leading expert in the Mojahedin-e Khalq terrorist group, exposed the involvement of the MEK in disrupting this process. Since 2003, Iraq has held three free and fair democratic elections said Singleton, but the MEK is backed by elements in the US and Israel which want to impose their own agenda on Iraq. For this reason, the MEK, which occupies the only remaining untouched infrastructure of the former Saddam regime, has been active in training terrorist groups such as Al Qaida at its base in Diyala province, Camp New Iraq (formerly Ashraf). The MEK has also groomed and facilitated loyalists of the former Saddam regime to take part in the democratisation process in order to promote their interests.

Several prominent Iraqi personalities attended the meeting, including human rights promoters, sheikhs and members of the media.

Almostanserieh paper on Mojahedin Khalq (Anne Singleton)2011

Link to download video file (61 MB)

 *     *     *

Also
http://iran-interlink.org/?mod=view&id=9799

Anne Singleton visits camp New Iraq (formerly Ashraf) of Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult) April 2011

.

… Anne Singleton of Iran-Interlink, representing the individual members inside Camp Ashraf, visits the camp in a fact-finding mission in the wake of violent conflict between Iraqi military tasked with protecting the camp from external attack and ensuring Iraqi law is obeyed inside the camp, and loyalists of Massoud Rajavi. The residents are hostages to Rajavi’s cult activities. Singleton is speaking with former members of the cult who have come to rescue victims who are still trapped inside the MEK headquarters, held incommunicado by Rajavi and his 200 loyalists …

Iran Interlink, Camp New Iraq (formerly Ashraf), April 2011
http://iran-interlink.org

 Link to down load the video (95 MB)

———-

Also
http://iran-interlink.org/?mod=view&id=9792

People want Mojahedin Khalq

(MKO, MEK, NCRI, Rajavi cult)

out of Camp Ashraf and Iraq

(Ahlam Al-Maliki and Anne Singleton)

.

Mrs Ahlam Al-Maliki Head of Iraq’s Baladiyeh Foundation NGO and Anne Singleton from the UK Iran-Interlink discuss the humanitarian issues involved in removing the Rajavi cult from Iraq. Iran-Interlink represents the views of the disaffected MEK members trapped inside the camp by leader Massoud Rajavi. Singleton explains the only legitimate human rights position is to demand the organisational disbandment of the MEK …

Almasar TV, Baghdad, April 18 2011
http://almasartv.com

People want Rajavi cult out of Camp Ashraf and Iraq
Baghdad April 2011

(Almasar TV Part one)

(Almasar TV Part one)

 *     *     *

Link to download Part one (250 MB)

Link to download Part two (250 MB)

———–

Also
http://iran-interlink.org/?mod=view&id=9629

Why are the human rights abuses taking place

 inside Mojahedin Khalq (Rajavi cult) Camp Ashraf

not being investigated?

.

One young woman in a white ‘Chanel’ headscarf weeps for her lost father. He has been, she explains, in Camp Ashraf for23 years. He was captured as a POW in Iraq 25 years ago and after two years was among those transferred to the MEK camp where he has been ever since. She hasn’t seen him for 25 years. She wants him to come home with her, and, she says, she will not leave until she can take him out of the camp. Still the families wait and call out to their long-lost relatives in the hope of reaching them. Although the gates of Camp Ashraf are now open, there is still no access to the people held hostage inside. The MEK have simply withdrawn into a smaller circle …

Camp Ashraf.March 2011

(Mojahedin Khalq Rajavi cult)

Link to download Video file (85 MB)

Report from Camp Ashraf – March 2011
www.iran-interlink.org

Since February 2010, the families of Mojahedin-e Khalq members inside Camp Ashraf have been encamped at the front gate of the camp demanding to have news and visits with their long-lost relatives. From elderly parents to the children, grandchildren, sisters and brothers of MEK members, all are seeking information about their relatives. They call out from the front of the camp hoping their voices will be heard by the people inside. They stand on dirt embankments around the perimeter of the camp to call out to their relatives.

The Mojahedin response has been sadly predictable and in line with the cult nature of the group. From the outset they have refused all contact between the members in the camp with the outside world, not only with the families but also human rights agencies and other independent observers.

As the MEK leaders withdrew the rank and file into the centre of the camp so they would not be within sight or sound of the families, the families used loudspeakers to try to project their voices to reach their relatives.

They played music and even the sound of children’s laughter to penetrate the stultifying atmosphere inside Camp Ashraf. In response, the MEK brought its own loudspeakers to prevent the families’ voices reaching the inner parts of the camp. After a while excruciating parasite noise began to be broadcast from American supplied equipment, harmful to all who are exposed to it.

The families have no choice but to sit it out and wait and hope. Where at first the MEK were sent to the gate to shout insults and reject the families, they are no longer brought in view of the outside world. The MEK now are made to shout ‘Death to Khamenei’, ‘Death to the Dictator’ from inside the depths of the camp and their voices projected by loudspeaker to the outside of the camp where the families wait and weep for their lost ones.

One young woman in a white ‘Chanel’ headscarf weeps for her lost father. He has been, she explains, in Camp Ashraf for23 years. He was captured as a POW in Iraq 25 years ago and after two years was among those transferred to the MEK camp where he has been ever since. She hasn’t seen him for 25 years. She wants him to come home with her, and, she says, she will not leave until she can take him out of the camp.

Still the families wait and call out to their long-lost relatives in the hope of reaching them. Although the gates of Camp Ashraf are now open, there is still no access to the people held hostage inside. The MEK have simply withdrawn into a smaller circle, surrounding themselves with barbed wire, embankments and barriers. They have stationed trucks to hide their broadcasting equipment, and covered others with sacking to pretend they do not exist. But worst of all is that now, Massoud Rajavi’s special suppressive forces are patrolling the perimeter of the camp and aggressively engaging with and attacking the families, swearing at them, throwing stones and even catapulting metal missiles at the defenceless families. Several of them have been hit and hurt by these missiles.

The MEK’s backers in Europe and North America continue to raise false alarms and problems concerning the camp and to introduce false information in their various parliaments. In response, government officials have continued to put the record straight. The MEK are not protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The UNHCR has not granted them refugee status in Iraq. The camp continues to be monitored weekly by UNAMI with a separate American presence.

The Iraqi authorities are ensuring that the camp is safe and secure and that the MEK inside receive regular supplies of food, medicine and other essentials, while preventing non-essentials such as barbed wire and weapons being imported into the camp.

But what no one can explain, whether MEK backers or government officials, is why these families are not being helped and why the MEK continue to be allowed to hold 3500 people hostage inside the camp with no recourse to help or rescue. Why are the human rights abuses taking place inside Camp Ashraf not being investigated?

Link to Video file (85 MB)

Link to Video file (85 MB)

Camp Ashraf.March 2011

(Mojahedin Khalq Rajavi cult)

*     *     *

Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, NCRI, Rajavi cult) leaders use sophisticated parasite equipment to intimidate families at the gates of Camp Ashraf

 *     *     *

Families at the gate of Camp Ashraf

Mojahedin Khalq Rajavi cult camp ashraf December 2010

(Part one)

Families at the gate of Camp Ashraf

Mojahedin Khalq Rajavi cult camp ashraf December 2010

(Part two)

 *     *     *

 *     *     *

*     *     *

(Saddam used Rajavi in the massacar of Iraqi Kurds)

  

———–

Also
http://iran-interlink.org/?mod=view&id=9216

Wondering at those Americans who stand under the flag of Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, NCRI, Rajavi cult) only to LOBBY for the murderers of their servicemen

.

… Massoud Rajavi was on the stage and while he had his hands on his waist he began a war cry against the USA, and in his admiration for Osama Ben Laden and his organization, Al Qaeda, he said, ”This was fanatical Islam which trembled and shacked the basis of US Imperialism and they destroyed the twin towers which were the symbol of their power, and successfully reduced it to rubble through their successful mission”. Then he (Massoud Rajavi) with a smile on his face continued his war cry and said, ”What will happen to the USA if revolutionary Islam with our Ideology and Maryam’s leadership comes to power, then this paper tiger (the USA) will be destroyed as a whole.” …


(Rajavi from Saddam to AIPAC)

(Alejo Vidal-Quadras , Mojahedin Khalq logo, Struan stevenson )  

Iran Interlink, January 03, 2011
http://www.iran-interlink.org

A documentary about Washington backed Mojahedin Khalq terrorists

Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, MEK, NCRI, Rajavi cult terrorism in Iran and Iraq

link to download the video file

link to download the video file

————-

Also read:
http://www.iran-interlink.org/?mod=view&id=7264

Silent Cry

Press TV, November 23, 2009
www.presstv.com

This documentary takes us beneath the surface of acts of terror against Iran and shows how Iranians have been targeted by various terrorist groups, some of which enjoying the support of human right organizations.

(part one)

(part two)

———–

link to one of the Mojahedin Khalq songs advocating killing Americans (In Persian) 


Captain Lewis Lee Hawkins
(Photograph courtesy Annette Hawkins)


Lets create another Vietnam for America(pdf).
(Mojahedin English language paper April 1980)

Letter to Imam (Khomeini) (pdf).
(Mojahedin English Language paper April 1980)

Some questions unanswered regarding the US military invasion of Iran (pdf).
(Mojahedin English Language paper June 1980)


(Rajavi from Saddam to AIPAC)

(Alejo Vidal-Quadras , Mojahedin Khalq logo, Struan stevenson )


(Izzat Ebrahim and Massoud Rajavi still at large)


(Washington backed Maryam Rajavi in terrorist cult’s HQ in Paris)


(British Lord!! Corbett promoting terrorism under the Logo of MKO for the past 25 years)


(In the streets of London with Lord Corbett!!)


(MKO members in European Countries 2003)


(Abdolmalek Rigi on Voice of America, presented as a democratic alternative)


(Mojahedin’s Maryam Rajavi and Jondollah’s Abdolmalek Rigi)


Jafarzadeh on Fox News


Jafarzadeh representing terrorist organisation NCRI
(Picture form MKO/ NCRI clandestine television)


(Daniel Zucker, Maryam Rajavi and ALi Safavi)


(Ali Safavi as the commander of Saddam’s Private Army in Iraq)

Home


(massacre of Kurdish people)


Date:  06-05-2011

Copyright © 2006, iran-interlink.org

>

Mujahideen-e Khalq: Former U.S. Officials Make Millions Advocating For Terrorist Organization

First Posted: 8/8/11 09:53 AM ET Updated: 8/8/11 12:30 PM ET

React

share this story

Christina Montage
Get Politics Alerts
Submit this story

WASHINGTON — The ornate ballroom of the Willard Hotel buzzed with activity on a Saturday morning in July. Crowded together on the stage sat a cadre of the nation’s most influential former government officials, the kind whose names often appear in boldface, who’ve risen above daily politics to the realm of elder statesmen. They were perched, as they so often are, below a banner with a benign conference title on it, about to offer words of pricey wisdom to an audience with an agenda.

That agenda: to secure the removal of the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) from the U.S. government’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. A Marxian Iranian exile group with cult-like qualities, Mujahideen-e Khalq was responsible for the killing of six Americans in Iran in the 1970s, along with staging a handful of bombings. But for a terrorist organization with deep pockets, it appears there’s always hope.

Onstage next to former FBI director Louis Freeh sat Ed Rendell, the former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania and current MSNBC talking head; former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean; former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Hugh Shelton; former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Togo West; former State Department Director of Policy Planning Mitchell Reiss; former Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway; Anita McBride, the former chief of staff to First Lady Laura Bush; and Sarah Sewall, a Harvard professor who sits on a corporate board with Reiss.

All told, at least 33 high-ranking former U.S. officials have given speeches to MEK-friendly audiences since December of last year as part of more than 22 events in Washington, Brussels, London, Paris and Berlin. While not every speaker accepted payment, MEK-affiliated groups have spent millions of dollars on speaking fees, according to interviews with the former officials, organizers and attendees.

Rendell freely admits he knew little about the group, also known as People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI), before he was invited to speak just days earlier. But he told the audience that the elite status of his fellow panelists and the arguments they made for delisting the group were enough to convince him that it was a good idea.

The event where Rendell spoke was just part of a surge in pro-MEK lobbying efforts in Washington during the past year, spurred by an ongoing State Department review of the group’s status, which is expected to be completed this month. In addition to funding conferences with influential speakers, supporters have taken out issue ads in newspapers, placed op-eds in major publications, commissioned academic papers, hired new lobbying firms and made scores of visits to lawmakers.

At first glance, these methods seem like standard Washington lobbying practices. But the MEK is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, and providing direct assistance or services to them is against the law, as is taking payment from them. So why isn’t Howard Dean under arrest? The operative word is “direct”.

The MEK’s delisting campaign is funded by a fluid and enigmatic network of support groups based in the United States. According to an MEK leader, these groups are funded by money from around the world, which they deliberately shield from U.S. authorities. These domestic groups book and pay for their VIP speakers through speaker agencies, which in turn pay the speakers directly and take a fee for arranging appearances. That way, the speakers themselves don’t technically accept money from the community groups. If they did, they might discover what their speaker agents surely know: That most of the groups are run by ordinary, middle-class Iranian Americans working out of their homes — people who seem unlikely to have an extra few hundred thousand dollars laying around to pay speaker fees and book five-star hotels to bolster the MEK’s cause.

The speakers are just the type of national-security heavyweights a plaintiff terrorist organization needs. In addition to those named above, the commissioned figureheads include Obama’s recently-departed National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones; former Bush Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge; onetime State Department Counselor Philip Zelikow and former CIA directors Porter Goss and James R. Woolsey.

Retired military officers are popular — former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Wesley K. Clark and former Commander in Chief of United States Central Command Gen. Anthony Zinni have both addressed MEK groups. Yet more speakers appear to have been chosen for their deep political ties, such as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former New Mexico Gov. and U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson, former Bush White House Chief of Staff Andy Card, former Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh and former 9/11 Commission Chairman Lee Hamilton.

Hamilton acknowledged to IPS News that he was paid for his appearances, describing his fee at the time as “significant.” Dean also acknowledged that he was paid for at least a portion of the speeches he gave to MEK groups in London, Paris and Washington, as did Gen. Clark. Gen. Jones told The Wall Street Journal that he received a “standard speaking fee.” Gen. Zinni’s speaker agent confirmed that Zinni was also paid his “standard speaking fee” for an eight-minute address at an MEK-related conference in January — between $20,000 and $30,000, according to his speaker profile. The same firm arranged for Zelikow to speak at two MEK-affiliated events this spring, and it recruited John Sano, the former deputy director of the National Clandestine Service, for his first MEK-related appearance on July 26.

Goss’s first speech to an MEK support group was in April. He told The Huffington Post that it had been handled entirely by his speaker agent and that his payment came from his agent. According to his profile, Goss commands a minimum of $20,000 to $30,000 per engagement.

“I never discuss my speaking fees,” Card told HuffPost when asked how much he was paid for seven minutes’ worth of remarks in late July on Capitol Hill. His standard fee, however, is between $25,000 and $40,000 per speech. Gov. Richardson’s office referred questions to his speaker agent, who did not return a call for comment, but Richardson’s standard speaker fees are the same as Card’s.

Woolsey was the only one of the speakers who reported that he waived his standard fees for MEK-supporting events, citing his belief in the cause as his motivation for appearing.

Sewall, on the other hand, carefully distanced herself from the MEK’s objectives. “I was invited to speak at a conference on the Arab Spring and I received a speaker fee,” she said of her July 16 speech. “My remarks were aimed at an Iranian American audience that was concerned about Camp Ashraf. I, too, am concerned about the ongoing humanitarian situation there. But I would not want my presence at the conference to be equated with a position on the delisting of the MEK.”

The rest of the speakers did not respond to repeated requests for comment by email and phone from The Huffington Post. Nevertheless, the sheer size of the roster of marquis names illustrates just how far some elder statesmen on government pensions will go to fund their (very) golden years.

But not everyone accepts invitations to speak at MEK-related events. Despite offers of up to $40,000 for notably brief remarks, sources with knowledge of speaker negotiations said at least four invited speakers have declined this year because they had questions about the ultimate goals.

The payment of a speaker’s fee does not, of course, imply that the speaker has been told what to say. Indeed, while most of the panelists at MEK-affiliated conferences support at least part of the Iranian network’s agenda, others avoid mentioning the exile group at all.

In both cases, what they say is less important to the group’s cause than the mere fact that they show up and say it. Unless a speaker has a can’t-lose stock tip, nobody is inherently worth $20,000 for a six-minute speech — it’s the shine of the speaker’s credibility that the MEK’s supporters are buying. The group has a well-documented history of conflating speakers’ attendance at these events and deducing from that a broad endorsement of their agenda. Facilitating this is the point of the invitation, and both sides are sophisticated enough to know it, whether it’s written in their speaker contracts or not.

MEK Protest at The State Department July 15
previous
A few hundred protesters outside the State Department July 15 banged drums and made speeches pressing for MEK de-listing.

On July 16 at the Willard, first-time MEK conference speaker Rendell said that he initially declined the invitation to speak because, “I don’t know hardly anything about this subject …[and] I don’t think I’m qualified to come.” To his surprise, conference organizers wanted to book him anyway. To help prepare for the event, Rendell told the audience that he had a long phone call with one of the group’s representatives. He also studied a packet of materials the organization sent him about the MEK and their Iraq compound, Camp Ashraf. On the morning of the conference, Rendell met with more MEK supporters, as well as with Dean, a frequent MEK conference speaker.

Rendell’s rhetorical ability to quickly distill an issue didn’t fail him behind the podium. “It’s been a great learning experience for me,” he told the crowd. “As a result of what I’ve learned [from the MEK supporters], on Monday I will send a letter to President Obama and to Secretary Clinton telling them [first], that the United States is morally bound to do everything we can to ensure the safety of the residents of Camp Ashraf. And two, if Director Freeh and General Shelton and General Conway and Governor Dean and the rest of these great panelists say that MEK is a force for good and the best hope we have for a third option in Iran, then, good Lord, take them off the terrorist list! Take them off the terrorist list!”

As Rendell’s applause died down, he added that he had never heard of Camp Ashraf until the group invited him to speak.

Conference organizer Ahmad Moein later defended the decision to book Rendell, despite his professed ignorance on the topic at hand. “It is the responsibility of Iranian American communities, including ours, to invite officials with impeccable service to this country … and to provide them the opportunity to speak about the issues of mutual concern,” Moein wrote in an email, noting that, like the organization, Rendell had previously condemned the Iranian regime.

The former governor’s decision and subsequent endorsement highlights a kind of intellectual peer pressure that pervades MEK-related conferences and seeps into the public debate. Fueled by standing ovations, the speakers shower praise on one another and on their hosts, leading one speaker to even compare the aura around events to that of a religious revival.

Rendell isn’t the only paid speaker MEK supporters have personally prepped in recent weeks. After Sano accepted a last-minute invitation to speak at a July 26 event, he described how he “sat down with two members of the Iranian committee for a couple of hours … and they gave me some background” on the organization and related issues. Sano added that their information “meshed up with some of the things I had done in the government.”

As for whether he had any qualms about how much the speakers were compensated for addressing the groups, Sano, who delivered the day’s longest remarks with a 14 minute speech, paused and thought. “I mean, I guess you can interpret it either way. I was familiar with the situation in Iran both from my previous life and from what I’ve read in the press,” he said, adding that he believes in delisting the group. But in the end, Sano admired the panel’s big names more than anything else. “That was convincing for me … the other panel members.”

On May 12, a large-type, full-page ad appeared in The Washington Post demanding that the United States, “Delist the MEK, Iran’s Main Opposition.” Listed below the call to action were the names of 10 prominent national security bigwigs — some of whom never agreed to be on the list. Asked why his name was on the ad, Zelikow told The Huffington Post that he had “nothing to do with” it and that “no one had asked for my permission to sign off on it.” He added that he was “surprised to see it.” The same ad also listed Gen. Clark without his permission, according to a spokeswoman who said Clark never authorized the use of his name, and first learned of the ad when he saw it in print.

The promotion was paid for by a British MEK support group, but neither the phone nor email address listed on the ad was functioning at press time. At least two of the listees — Dean and Woolsey — agreed to have their names used. The other individuals did not reply to inquiries on the matter.

Zelikow and Clark’s experiences are typical of interactions with MEK groups, said Dr. Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and a critic of the MEK. “You do one thing with [MEK-related groups], and from then on they sign your name to anything they want to. They figure it’s more difficult for a public figure to complain and draw attention to themselves than it is to just live with it,” he said.

Given the organization’s controversial history, it’s easy to see why some speakers might choose not to publicize their affiliation.

Founded on Marxist principles in 1963, the Mujahideen-e Khalq carried out a number of bombings and assassinations in Iran during the 1970s, including one that killed six Americans. It was initially aligned with the 1979 Islamic revolution, but Ayatollah Khomeini quickly deemed the MEK a threat to his newly-installed government. Forced out of Iran, they eventually settled near Khalis, Iraq, at Camp Ashraf, a desert compound about 75 miles from the Iranian border where the majority of MEK loyalists reside today.

From 1980-’88, a militant wing of the MEK supported Saddam Hussein in his war against their former countrymen, a conflict which resulted in massive casualties on both sides — further fueled by U.S. financial support for Iraq. As a result of their actions in the war, the group is reviled today within Iran by major segments of the pro-democracy Green Movement and by those loyal to the ayatollahs. In post-Saddam Iraq, the MEK is best known for having allegedly carried out attacks on Kurds and Shiite Iraqis during the early 1990s, under orders from Hussein. MEK supporters deny that the group participated in either of the conflicts. If the alliance with Saddam in the 1980s helped to keep them on the U.S.’s good side throughout the decade, that changed in the 1990s. In 1996, Congress created the Foreign Terrorist Organization List as part of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, and when it went into effect in 1997, the MEK was one of the first groups placed on the list.

Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the MEK agreed to give up its weapons arsenal in exchange for protection from the U.S. military. But following a review in 2007, the U.S. State Department maintained the organization’s classification as a Foreign Terrorist Organization when it ruled the group still possessed the “capacity and will” to commit terrorist acts.

Throughout all this, the MEK has been led by the same two charismatic figures: Maryam Rajavi and her husband, Massoud Rajavi. Mrs. Rajavi is based in Paris, where she leads an Iranian shadow-government known as the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI). Massoud Rajavi’s whereabouts are unknown. Members have long argued that the NCRI is a separate organization from the MEK, but an extensive FBI investigation concluded in 2004 that the NCRI is “not a separate organization, but is instead, and has been, an integral part of the MEK.”

As part of its advocacy, the NCRI offers itself as the viable alternative to the current regime, and a democratic opposition. But U.S. officials don’t see it that way. “We do not view the MEK as a viable opposition movement for Iran,” a senior government official with knowledge of the issue told The Huffington Post. “Its own structure is not democratic, so how can the Iranian people expect it to enact democratic change within the country? There is a viable democratic movement afoot in Iran, and the world saw that in 2009.”

The question of the MEK’s structure arouses intense debate. Independent reports from Human Rights Watch and from the RAND Corporation have cataloged the group’s cult practices at Camp Ashraf, which according to RAND, include “a near-religious devotion to the Rajavis … public self-deprecation sessions, mandatory divorce, celibacy, enforced separation from family and friends and gender segregation.” MEK members and supporters deny that the group is a cult, and they dismiss the reports as propaganda by the Iranian regime.

Visitors to the White House surely recognize the name Camp Ashraf. For months, MEK supporters have stationed themselves in a tent on Pennsylvania Avenue, pleading for U.S. troops to protect the encampment from retaliation by Iraqi forces aligned with Iran, and providing passersby with evidence of massacred supporters.
Following a particularly brutal assault on the camp by Iraqi soldiers in April of this year, Howard Dean defended the Mujahideen-e Khalq on MSNBC.

As the U.S. military prepares to leave Iraq later this year, the fate of Camp Ashraf’s 3,400 residents is uncertain. Most recently, officers on the ground hoped to convince Ashraf residents to relocate to a safer camp, but they have so far refused. Complicating matters, the House Foreign Affairs Committee recently approved an amendment aimed at preventing the “forcible relocation” of Ashraf residents. At a recent Capitol Hill conference, members of Congress and some of the group’s past paid speakers passionately objected to any attempts to move followers out of camp. But time is running out — without the U.S. military’s constant protection, the residents are in very real danger of more attacks by local troops like the one in April.

MEK supporters argue that the only way to save the residents of Ashraf is by delisting the MEK from the State Department’s terrorist list. But the group’s detractors say this is false, and that other military and diplomatic options exist which have nothing to do with the FTO listing. The European Union did remove the group from its terrorist list in 2009, however, following a series of court cases.

In July, Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, testified at a House Foreign Relations Committee hearing that, “[While] the MEK emphasizes its commitment to democracy and free expression, in neither deed nor word has it forsworn its violent pedigree.” Former Bush Attorney General and frequent MEK conference panelist Michael Mukasey disagreed, telling lawmakers that the MEK’s terrorist designation is “based on acts that are alleged to have occurred at the time the Shah was in power in Iran,” and “the State Department has no evidence of any violent act even attributed to the group since then.”

Mukasey’s claim is disputed by a number of sources, but the question of whether the MEK has renounced its militant origins lies at the core of the State Department’s review. A spokesman for the State Department declined to comment on the ongoing examination.

During the past year, two court cases in the United States have affected the MEK support groups’ U.S. operations. In June 2010, the Supreme Court upheld a broad definition of the kind of “material support” that would be illegal to provide to designated terrorist organizations, including the MEK. The following month, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of a lawsuit brought by the MEK support groups seeking FTO status review, which the State Department has since undertaken.

In the meantime, the MEK’s supporters skirt the financial restrictions placed on Foreign Terrorist Organizations using a web of dozens of Iranian American community groups whose members live in the United States. Many of these groups were created in 2003, when the U.S. government shut down the stateside office of the MEK’s sister operation, the NCRI. In Texas, three separate Iranian American societies were registered between January and April of 2003, with two of them registered within a day of each other, according to state records. Only one of these three groups, the Iranian American Community of North Texas, is still operating.

Members of these groups closely guard the details of their activities and financing, a practice that leads to widespread speculation in foreign policy circles that they serve as illegal front groups for the MEK. “Anytime there’s an influx of money this big, you have to question the motives,” said Dr. Parsi.

Spokesmen for active MEK support groups in Missouri and California say their secrecy reflects a need to protect family members in Iran from retaliation, and is not intended to cover up illegal financing. According to Kasra Nejat, president of the MEK-affiliated group the Iranian American Cultural Association of Missouri (IACAM), “The Iranian regime’s agents spy on … community members … [so] the communities have made it their policy to keep details of activities of their members private.”

But a senior NCRI leader, Mahin Filabi, says that the secrecy will continue only as long as the FTO restrictions remain in place. A former Iranian Olympic wrestler, Filabi says that the primary reason MEK-related groups in the U.S. hide their funding sources is because of the constraints of the FTO restriction. The State Department “has to take that list off, and let us have bank accounts,” he told HuffPost following a congressional briefing in late July. “Then they [will] know where [the money] is coming from. You call me ‘terrorist’ and say, ‘Hey, where is your money coming from?’ I’m not going to tell you.”

According to Filabi, the MEK raises money all over the world through televised pledge drives on its Internet TV channel, Sima TV, among other modes of outreach. He described how “for three days [recently] they were collecting money. One guy in Australia, his name was Ahmed, called the TV and said ‘OK, I have a house, worth $250,000, I am selling. I give [the money] to you.’” Filabi claimed not to know where Sima TV is based, or how its proceeds reach the United States, but he said MEK supporters watch it “in every country,” including Iran.

For the highly paid speakers, however, the murky origins of the group’s money appear to offer just enough cover for them to deny having ever knowingly provided material support to a Foreign Terrorist Organization. VIP speaker agents offer them another layer of separation by dealing directly with the MEK-related community groups — signing contracts, taking money and conducting the actual financial business involved. Of the 33 MEK speakers, nearly all of them are represented by one of three major speaker bureaus: Leading Authorities, Washington Speakers Bureau (WSB) and the International Speakers Bureau (ISB). Senior executives from each bureau declined to respond to calls and emails from The Huffington Post.

Given how much money MEK support groups spent on speakers this year, it’s no surprise that speaker agencies closed ranks. What’s hard to believe, however, is how these brokers could possibly ignore the obvious disparities between many of the inscrutable, scattered community groups that sign their contracts, and the enormous amounts of money these groups pay to hire the nation’s most prestigious speakers.

One of the groups in question, the Iranian American Community Association of Missouri (IACAM), sponsored two high-profile events in Washington this winter, each of which entailed a half-dozen expensive speakers, according to the events’ organizer, Dr. Neil Livingstone. But the group doesn’t even have a website, and its president Kasra Nejat, refused to say whether his group sponsored the events, or what they cost. The group is headquartered in Nejat’s house, and registered as a non-profit in Missouri, but not with the federal government. Nejat and his wife, Rahelph Nejat, each personally donated $1,000 to Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) in June of last year, less than two weeks after Clay backed a measure in the House to remove the MEK from the FTO list.

Similar MEK-affiliated organizations are registered as non-profits in Virginia, Colorado, and Florida. Like the Missouri group, none of them has a federal tax-exempt status, and none of them maintains a website.

in January of this year, the Iranian American Community of North Texas (IACNT) hired the K Street lobbying firm diGenova & Toensing specifically to advocate on behalf of MEK delisting. According to lobbying registration forms, the IACNT’s headquarters are a Carrollton, Texas, home belonging to physicist Homeira Hessami, but the crude website offers no indication of how the community is funded. Records do, however, reveal that Hessami has personally donated nearly $5,000 to pro-MEK lawmakers since 2009. A phone call and email to the group by The Huffington Post were not returned.

In March, one of the largest MEK support groups, the Iranian American Community of Northern California (IACNC) hosted a lavish conference on Capitol Hill with eight professional speakers, including Sec. Ridge, Gov. Dean and Mukasey, as well as nine members of Congress. One month later, the group hired a prestigious D.C. law firm, Akin Gump, to lobby directly for delisting the MEK.

Reached via email, a spokesman for the IACNC claimed that all their funding comes from “community members,” and that his community is “fully responsible for paying [Akin Gump] and we raise the reasonable fee for the firm among our community members.” He acknowledged that his group sponsored four major speaker events in Washington this spring, including the July 16 Willard conference, but said he was not “authorized to divulge the information about the cost of our activities such as rallies, demonstrations, conferences and meeting our representatives and church leaders.”

But it’s not just the MEK’s support groups that are secretive: The U.S. contractors they do business with keep secrets, too.

One of them is former Sen. Bob Torricelli (D-N.J.), who dropped his reelection bid in 2002 amid allegations of accepting improper donations. Torricelli founded a lobbying firm, Rosemont Associates, and in 2007 watchdog groups questioned donations he made from his leftover campaign account. Torricelli has denied any wrongdoing in either case. In 1995, Torricelli received $2,000 in campaign contributions from Nejat, the president of the Missouri-based MEK support group, the IACAM.

In January, February and July of this year, Torricelli moderated well-publicized Washington conferences for MEK-affiliated groups. Asked about his pay structure for the first two events, a spokesman for Rosemont Associates said that Torricelli “is part of the legal team involved in the FTO delisting effort of the MEK. He works through the law firm Mayer Brown … [and] any questions about the legal team [should be directed to the firm].”

Mayer Brown partner Andrew Frey confirmed that Torricelli had been retained as part of a legal team, but told HuffPost the firm had “no involvement in the conferences or in payment for them,” and Frey did not “really know,” how Torricelli was involved in the events.

Another of the MEK-related groups’ go-to men in Washington is Dr. Neil Livingstone, a security expert who has worked for unnamed MEK supporters since at least 2005. Livingstone is currently mounting a campaign for governor of Montana on the GOP ticket.

During the past six years, Livingstone has written three reports and organized three conferences that were paid for by MEK-related entities follwing with a massive 2005 report he co-authored with FreedomWorks founder Dick Armey, then a partner at DLA Piper. The 236 page document contains 1,194 references to the MEK, as well as a disclaimer that “[None of this report was] prepared under the direction, control, or with any financing from MEK or NCRI.”

Livingstone’s next two reports both accuse other groups of anti-MEK bias. The first attacks the RAND Corporation study on the MEK. The second report accuses the State Department of bias against the MEK. Livingstone refused to say who paid for any of the reports, which are occasionally distributed at MEK supporters’ conferences.

The three events Livingstone organized were all in Washington, on Dec. 17 of last year, Jan. 20 and Feb. 19. According to transcripts, Livingstone told guests that his company, ExecutiveAction LLC “sponsored” two of the events, but he later told The Huffington Post that the bills were in fact paid by the Iranian American Cultural Association of Missouri. He declined to say how much the MEK-affiliated groups paid him for planning the events. Now that the State Department’s decision regarding the MEK is imminent, Livingtsone is moving on. He is in the process, he told The Huffington Post, of closing down his company to focus on his gubernatorial campaign.

FOLLOW HUFFPOST POLITICS

ON
Facebook:
Twitter:
CONTRIBUTE

TO THIS STORY
>

Iran exile group claims blast near Tehran hit closely guarded missile base

By Associated Press, Updated: Saturday, November 12, 6:31 PM

WASHINGTON — An explosion at a Revolutionary Guard ammunition depot west of Tehran Saturday killed at least 17 soldiers, including a senior commander of the powerful military force, Iranian officials said.Guard spokesman Gen. Ramazan Sharif said the blast occurred as the result of an accident during the transport of munitions at the base. The site is located outside Bidganeh village, 25 miles southwest of the capital.
“My colleagues at the Guard were transporting ammunition at one of the depots at the site when an explosion occurred as a result of an accident,” Sharif said.At least 17 Guard members were killed, state TV reported. The broadcast said 16 other soldiers were injured and hospitalized. Sharif said some of them were in critical condition.Earlier, Sharif had said that 27 soldiers were killed but later retracted his statement, explaining that the error was due to an illegible fax from officials at the site of the blast. Among those killed was Hasan Moghaddam, a senior Guard commander.While the explosion occurred during a time of heightened tension with Israel, the U.S. and other Western powers, Iranian lawmaker Parviz Soroori ruled out sabotage.“No sabotage was involved in this incident. It has nothing to do with politics,” Soroori was quoted as saying by the parliament’s website, icana.ir.An exiled Iranian dissident group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq or MEK, meanwhile claimed that the blast hit a missile base run by the Revolutionary guard rather than an ammunition depot.Former MEK spokesman Alireza Jafarzadeh, citing what he called reliable sources inside Iran, said that the explosion hit the Modarres Garrison of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps west of Tehran.Jafarzadeh said in an email that the Modarres Garrison belongs to the IGRC’s missile unit and the blasts “resulted from the explosion of IRGC missiles.” He did not say what he believes triggered the explosion.The MEK in the past has disclosed the sites of several key Iranian nuclear installations as well as details of their operations, although their reports have not always been reliable.The MEK fought the Tehran regime on the side of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and is listed as a terrorist organization by the State Department. But the group says it has renounced violence and some former senior government officials and members of Congress are calling for the Obama administration to remove the group from the list.The blast comes just days after a new report by the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency that Iran is conducting nuclear weapons-related research and follows unconfirmed reports that Israel was considering a military strike on Tehran’s nuclear program.In the past, Tehran has accused the West of engaging in a campaign of sabotage and assassination against the regime.Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
>

People’s Mujahedin of Iran

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran
سازمان مجاهدين خلق ايران
People's Mujahedeen of Iran logo.png
Leader Zohreh Akhyani [1]
Founded September 5, 1965
Headquarters France Paris, France
Iraq Camp Ashraf, Iraq
Ideology Previously “Islamic Marxist“; Today claims to be secular and democratic[2]
Political position Left-Wing
Website
Official Website of the PMOI
Party flag
Ir mohajedin.gif
Politics of Iran
Political parties
Elections

The People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI, also MEK, MKO) (Persian: سازمان مجاهدين خلق ايران sāzmān-e mojāhedin-e khalq-e irān) is a militant organization that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Founded in September 5, 1965 by a group of leftist Iranian college students as an Islamic and Marxist political mass movement[3] MEK was originally devoted to armed struggle against the Shah of Iran, capitalism, and ‘Western imperialism‘.[4] In the aftermath of 1979 Iranian Revolution, at first the MEK and the Tudeh Party, 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.[5][6][7] During the Iran-Iraq War, the group was given refuge by Saddam Hussein and mounted attacks on Iran from within Iraqi territory.[8] Government sources claim that over 17,000 Iranians were killed by the MKO.[9]

The group claims to have renounced violence in 2001[10] 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. The group has had thousands of its members for many years in bases in Iraq, but according to the British Broadcasting Corporation “they were disarmed in the wake of the US-led invasion and are said to have adhered to a ceasefire.”[11]

The United States, Canada, Iraq and Iran have designated the PMOI a terrorist organization.[12][13] On January 26, 2009, following what the group called a “seven-year-long legal and political battle”, the Council of the European Union removed the PMOI from the EU list of organisations it designates as terrorist.[14][15][16][17]

The PMOI and the NCRI claim to have provided the United States with intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program in 2002 and 2008.[18][19] On September 6, 2011, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) elected Zohreh Akhyani as its new Secretary General for a two-year term.[20] The new Secretary General joined the PMOI 32 years ago following the anti-monarchic revolution in Iran in 1979.[21]

Contents

[hide]

[edit] Other names

The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran is known by a variety of names including:

  • Mojahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MEK)
  • The National Liberation Army of Iran (the group’s armed wing)
  • (Disputed) National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) – the PMOI is the founding member of a coalition of organizations called the NCRI, while others including the U.S. FBI claims that the NCRI is either an “alias” for or a front group for the PMOI. Both organizations share the same leader and offices. The PMOI itself described the NCRI as its “Political Branch” in documents found by the FBI in December 2001.[22][23]
  • Monafiqeen – the Iranian government consistently refers to the People’s Mujahedin with this derogatory name, meaning “the hypocrites“.[24]

Note: The acronyms MEK and PMOI are used interchangeably throughout this article as the abbreviation MEK is commonly used by the media and national governments around the world to refer to the People’s Mujahedin.

[edit] Membership

The PMOI was believed to have a 5,000 – 7,000 strong armed guerrilla grouplet, based in Iraq before the 2003 war, but a membership of between 3,000 – 5,000 is considered more likely.[25] In 2005 the US think-tank, Council on Foreign Relations, believed that the PMOI had 10,000 members, one-third to one-half of whom were fighters. The think-tank claims PMOI membership has dwindled, the organization has had little success attracting new recruits.[26] According to a 2003 article by the New York Times, the PMOI would be composed of 5,000 — many of them female — fighters based in Iraq.[27]

[edit] History

[edit] Before the Islamic Revolution

[edit] Foundation

The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran was founded in September 5, 1965 by six former members of the Liberation or Freedom Movement of Iran, middle-class students at Tehran University, including Mohammad Hanifnejad, Saied Mohsen and Ali-Asghar Badizadegan. The PMOI opposed the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, considering him corrupt and oppressive and considered the Liberation Movement moderate and ineffective.[28] It’s membership has been described as part of the Iranian generation “shaken by the events of June 1963” and the radical generation Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Vo Nguyen Giap, the Tupamaros in South America, the Algerian Mojahedin, and the Palestinian fedayeen. They were more “religious, radical, anti-American” than the earlier generation of Iranian leftists.[29] In its first five years, the group primarily engaged in ideological work,[citation needed] their interpretation of Islam and economic and political ideas, though the group “never once” used the terms socialist, communist, Marxist or eshteraki to describe itself.[30]

Its first military activities, a bombing of the Tehran electrical works and unsuccessful airplane hijacking, were conducted in August 1971 in protest against the Pahlavi’s extravagant 2,500 year celebration of Iran’s monarchy. Nine Mujahedin were arrested and under torture one member gave out information leading to the arrests of another 66 members. Within a few months SAVAK had eliminated “the whole of its original leadership through executions or street battles.” Other members remained incarcerated for many years, with the last group, including Massoud Rajavi, being released just before Khomeini arrived in Tehran in January 1979. However, in the mean time, the group survived and continued to carry out violent attacks on the regime.[31]

[edit] Schism

In October 1975 the PMOI underwent an ideological split. While the remaining primary members of MEK were imprisoned, some of the original low-level members of MEK formed a new organization that followed Marxist, not Islamic, ideals; these members appropriated the MEK name to establish and enhance their own legitimacy.[32] This was expressed in a book entitled Manifesto on Ideological Issues, in which the central leadership declared “that after ten years of secret existence, four years of armed struggle, and two years of intense ideological rethinking, they had reached the conclusion that Marxism, not Islam, was the true revolutionary philosophy.” Mujtaba Taleqani, son of Ayatallah Taleqani, was one of these converts to Marxism. Thus after May 1975 there were two rival Mujahedin, each with its own publication, its own organization, and its own activities.[33] A few months before the Iranian Revolution the majority of the Marxist Mujahedin renamed themselves “Peykar“, on December 7, 1978 (16 Azar, 1357), the full name is: Organization of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class.This name was after the “St. Petersburg League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class”, which was a left wing group in St. Petersburg, Russia. It was founded by Lenin in the autumn of 1895.[34]

[edit] Anti-American Campaign

It has been alleged that MEK killed six Americans in 1973, 1975, and 1976.[35]

  • The PMOI failed in an attempt to kidnap the U.S. Ambassador to Iran, Douglas MacArthur II, on 1971-11-30.[36]
  • USAF Brig. Gen. Harold Price was wounded in a May 1972 assassination attempt.[37][38]
  • The first success in the assassination campaign was the murder of Lt. Col. Louis Lee Hawkins, a U.S. Army comptroller. He was shot to death in front of his home in Tehran by two men on a motorcycle on 1973-06-02.[37][36][39][40][41]
  • A car carrying U.S. Air Force officers Col. Paul Shaffer and Lt. Col. Jack Turner was trapped between two cars carrying armed men. They told the Iranian driver to lie down and then shot and killed the Americans. Six hours later a woman called reporters to claim the PMOI carried out the attack as retaliation for the recent death of prisoners at the hands of Iranian authorities.[37][36][40][42]
  • A car carrying three American employees of Rockwell International was attacked in May 1976. William Cottrell, Donald Smith, and Robert Krongard were killed. They had been working on the Ibex system for gathering intelligence on the neighboring USSR.[36][43]

Leading up to the Islamic Revolution the Marxist wing of the PMOI conducted attacks and assassinations against both Iranian and Western targets.[13] According to the U.S. Department of State and the presentation of the PMOI by the Foreign Affairs group of the Australian Parliament, the group conducted several assassinations of U.S. military personnel and civilians working in Iran during the 1970s. After the revolution the group actively supported the U.S. embassy takeover in Tehran in 1979, and opposed the release of the diplomats in 1981 by the Iranian regime, and called for their execution instead. As a result they staged a large demonstration. [25]

[edit] Ideology

[edit] Before 1979 Iranian Revolution

The PMOI’s ideology of revolutionary Shiaism is based on an interpretation of Islam so similar to that of Ali Shariati that “many concluded” they were inspired by him. According to historian Ervand Abrahamian, it’s clear that “in later years” that Shariati and “his prolific works” had “indirectly helped the Mujahedin.”[44] According to the U.S. Department of State‘ presentation of the PMOI, the philosophy of the PMOI is a combination of Marxism, Nationalism and Islam.[13]

In the group’s “first major ideological work,” Nahzat-i Husseini or Hussein‘s Movement, authored by one of the groups founders, Ahmad Reza’i, it was argued that Nezam-i Towhid (monotheistic order) sought by the prophet Muhammad, was a commonwealth fully united not only in its worship of one God but in a classless society that strives for the common good. “Shiism, particularly Hussein’s historic act of martyrdom and resistance, has both a revolutionary message and a special place in our popular culture.”[31]

[edit] After the revolution

In more recent years under the guidance of Maryam Rajavi the organization has adopted strong principles in favor of women. Women have now assumed some senior positions of responsibility within the ranks of the PMOI and although women make up only a third of fighters, two-thirds of its commanders are women. Rajavi ultimately believes that women should enjoy equal rights with men.[45]

In 1981, the PMOI formed the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) with the stated goal of uniting the opposition to the Iranian government under one umbrella organization. The PMOI claims that in the past 25 years, the NCRI has evolved into a 540-member parliament-in-exile, with a specific platform that emphasizes free elections, gender equality and equal rights for ethnic and religious minorities. The PMOI claims that it also advocates a free-market economy and supports peace in the Middle East. However, the FBI claims that the NCRI “is not a separate organization, but is instead, and has been, an integral part of the [PMOI] at all relevant times” and that the NCRI is “the political branch” of the PMOI, rather than vice versa. Although the PMOI is today the main organization of the NCRI, the latter previously hosted other organizations, such as the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran.[22]

According to the publicly stated ideology of the PMI, elections and public suffrage are the sole indicators of political legitimacy. According to their publications, the Word of God and Islam are meaningless without freedom and respect for individual volition and choice. Their interpretation of Islam the Quran says that the most important characteristic distinguishing man from animals is his free will. It is on this basis that human beings are held accountable. Without freedom, no society can develop or progress. Although its leaders presents themselves as Muslims, the PMOI describes itself as a secular organization: “The National Council of Resistance believes in the separation of Church and State.”[46]

[edit] Armed conflict with the Islamic government

Following the 1979 revolution, the newly established theocratic government of Ayatollah Khomeini moved to squash dissent. Khomeini attacked the MEK as elteqati (eclectic), contaminated with Gharbzadegi (“the Western plague”), and as monafeqin (hypocrites) and kafer (unbelievers).[47] In February 1980 concentrated attacks by hezbollahi pro-Khomeini militia began on the meeting places, bookstores and newsstands of Mujahideen and other leftists[48] driving the Left underground in Iran. Hundreds of PMOI supporters and members were killed from 1979 to 1981, and some 3,000 were arrested.[49]

The MEK responded in turn, and on 28 June 1981, bombs were detonated at the headquarters of the since-dissolved Islamic Republic Party. Around 70 high-ranking officials, including Chief Justice Mohammad Beheshti (who was the second most powerful figure in the revolution after Ayatollah Khomeini at the time), cabinet members, and elected members of parliament, were killed. The Mujahedin never publicly confirmed or denied any responsibility for the deed, but stated the attack was `a natural and necessary reaction to the regime’s atrocities.` The bomber was identified as a Mujahedin operative by the name of Mohammad Reza Kolahi, who had secured a job in the building disguised as a sound engineer.[50] Khomeini accused them of culpability and, according to BBC journalist Baqer Moin, the Mujahedin were “generally perceived as the culprits” for it in Iran.[51] Two months later on August 30, another bomb was detonated killing the popularly elected President Rajai and Premier Mohammad Javad Bahonar. An active member of the Mujahedin, Massoud Kashmiri, was identified as the perpetrator, and according to reports came close to killing the entire government including Khomeini.[52] The reaction following both bombings was intense with many arrests and executions of Mujahedin and other leftist groups, but “assassinations of leading officials and active supporters of the regime by the Mujahedin were to continue for the next year or two.”[53] This occurred following Saddam’s invasion as the Iranian regime focused more resources on national defense than confronting dissidents.

Eventually, the majority of the PMOI leadership and members fled to France, where it operated until 1986, when tension arose between Paris and Tehran over the Eurodif nuclear stake and the French citizens kidnapped in the Lebanon hostage crisis. After Rajavi flew to Baghdad, French hostages were released.

[edit] Relations with Iraq under Saddam Hussein

The PMOI transferred its headquarters to Iraq in 1986, during the Iran–Iraq War. According to the US State Department, the PMOI received all of its military support and most of its financial assistance from Saddam’s government until the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. The PMOI also has used front organizations to solicit contributions from expatriate Iranian communities. PMOI’s main economic development is based on tributes and endowments from its supporters all over the world.

As a result of the PMOI’s decision to move its headquarters to Iraq at the height of the Iran Iraq War, the group is believed to have lost most of its supporters among Iranians, regardless of their views towards the Iranian government.[54] [25]

[edit] National Liberation Army of Iran

Further information: Operation Mersad

Near the end of the 1980-1988 war with Iran, a military force of 7000 members of the PMOI, armed and equipped by Saddam’s Iraq and calling itself the National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA), went into action. On July 26, 1988, six days after the Ayatollah Khomeini had announced his acceptance of the UN brokered ceasefire resolution, the NLA advanced under heavy Iraqi air cover, crossing the Iranian border from Iraq. It seized and razed to the ground the Iranian town of Islamabad-e Gharb. As it advanced further into Iran, Iraq ceased its air support and Iranian forces cut off NLA supply lines and counterattacked under cover of fighter planes and helicopter gunships. On July 29 the NLA announced a voluntary withdrawal back to Iraq. The PMOI claims it lost 1400 dead or missing and the Islamic Republic sustained 55,000 casualties (either IRGC, Basij forces, or the army). The Islamic Republic claims to have killed 4500 NLA and Iraqi troops during the operation.[55] The operation was called Foroughe Javidan (Eternal Light) by the PMOI and the counterattack Operation Mersad by the Iranian forces.

[edit] 1988 executions of Iranian political prisoners

A large number of prisoners from the PMOI, and a lesser number from other leftist opposition groups (somewhere between 1,400 and 30,000),[56] were executed in 1988, following Operation Eternal Light.[57][58][59][60][61] Dissident Ayatollah Montazeri has written in his memoirs that this massacre, deemed a crime against humanity, was ordered by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and carried out by several high-ranking members of Iran’s current government. Recently The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights violations for Iran, to take action on such actions since 1988[62].

[edit] Relations with France in the mid-1980s

In 1986, after French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac struck a deal with Tehran for the release of French hostages held prisoners by the Hezbollah in Lebanon, the PMOI was forced to leave France and relocated in Iraq. Investigative journalist Dominique Lorentz has related the 1986 capture of French hostages to an alleged blackmail of France by Tehran concerning the nuclear program.[63]

[edit] Post-war

According to presentations of the PMOI by the U.S. Department of State and the Foreign Affairs group of the Australian Parliament, the PMOI assisted the Iraqi Republican Guard in suppressing the Kurdish and Shiite uprisings in Iraq after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.[25] Maryam Rajavi, who assumed the leadership role of the PMOI after a series of years as co-leader alongside her husband Massoud Rajavi, has been reported by former members of the PMOI as having said: “Take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.”[27]

In the following years the PMOI conducted several high-profile assassinations of political and military figures inside Iran, including Asadollah Lajevardi, the former warden of the Evin prison, in 1998 and deputy chief of the Iranian Armed Forces General Staff, Brigadier General Ali Sayyad Shirazi, who was assassinated on the doorsteps of his house on April 10, 1999.

[edit] In Iraq after the 2003 invasion

After the 2003 invasion of Iraq, PMOI camps were bombed by coalition forces because of its alliance with Saddam Hussein. On April 15, U.S. Special Forces brokered a ceasefire agreement with the leaders of the PMOI and entered into a ceasefire agreement with the coalition after the attack. Each compound surrendered without hostilities.[64][65][66] In the operation, the US reportedly captured 6,000 PMOI fighters and over 2,000 pieces of military equipment.[67][68] This was a controversial agreement both in the public sphere and privately among the Bush administration due to the MEK’s designation as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.[69]

In the operation, the US reportedly captured 6000 MEK soldiers and over 2000 pieces of military equipment, including 19 British-made Chieftain tanks.[68][70] The MEK compound outside Fallujah became known as Camp Fallujah and sits adjacent to the other major base in Fallujah, Forward Operating Base Dreamland. Captured MEK members were kept at Camp Ashraf, about 100 kilometers west of the Iranian border and 60 kilometers north of Baghdad.[71]

After a four-month investigation by several U.S. agencies, including the State Department, only a handful of charges under U.S. criminal law were brought against PMOI members, all American citizens. The PMOI remains listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the Department of State.[72] Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared PMOI personnel in Ashraf protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention. They are currently under the guard of US Military. Defectors from this group are housed separately in a refugee camp within Camp Ashraf, and protected by U.S. Army military police (2003-current), U.S. Marines (2005–2007), and the Bulgarian Army(2006-current).[73]

On January 1, 2009 the U.S. military transferred control of Camp Ashraf to the Iraqi government. On the same day, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced that the militant group would not be allowed to base its operations from Iraqi soil.[74]

[edit] Iraqi government’s crackdown

On January 23, 2009, and while on a visit to Tehran, Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie reiterated the Iraqi Prime Minister’s earlier announcement that the MEK organisation will no longer be able to base itself on Iraqi soil and stated that the members of the organisation will have to make a choice, either to go back to Iran or to go to a third country, adding that these measures will be implemented over the next two months.[75]

On July 29, 2009, eleven Iranians were killed and over 500 were injured in a raid by Iraqi security on the MEK Camp Ashraf in Diyala province of Iraq.[76] U.S. officials had long opposed a violent takeover of the camp northeast of Baghdad, and the raid is thought to symbolize the declining American influence in Iraq.[77] After the raid, the U.S. Secretary of State stated the issue was “completely within [the Iraqi government’s] purview.”[78] In the course of attack, 36 Iranian dissidents were arrested and removed from the camp to a prison in a town named Khalis where the arrestees went on hunger strike for 72 days, 7 of which was dry hunger strike. Finally, the dissidents were released when they were in an extremely critical condition and on the verge of death.[79]

[edit] 2003 French raid

Further information: Irano-French relations

In June 2003 French police raided the PMOI’s properties, including its base in Auvers-sur-Oise, under the orders of anti-terrorist magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguière, after suspicions that it was trying to shift its base of operations there. 160 suspected PMOI members were then arrested. In response, 40 supporters began hunger strikes to protest the arrests, and ten immolated themselves in various European capitals. French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy (Union for a Popular Movement) declared that the PMOI “recently wanted to make France its support base, notably after the intervention in Iraq”, while Pierre de Bousquet de Florian, head of France’s domestic intelligence service, claimed that the group was “transforming its Val d’Oise centre [near Paris]… into an international terrorist base”.[80]

U.S. Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas and chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee on South Asia, then accused the French of doing “the Iranian government’s dirty work”. Along with other members of Congress, he wrote a letter of protest to President Jacques Chirac, while longtime PMOI supporters such as Sheila Jackson-Lee, Democrat of Texas, criticized Maryam Radjavi’s arrest.[27] However, the PMOI members were quickly released.

[edit] A “bargaining chip” between Tehran and Washington?

During the Iraq war, U.S. troops disarmed the PMOI and posted guards at its bases.[81] The U.S. military also protected and gave logistical support to the MEK as U.S. officials viewed the group as a high value source of intelligence on Iran.[82] The PMOI is credited with revealing Iran’s nuclear program in 2003 and alerting Americans to Iranian advancements in nuclear technology.[83]

The same year that the French police raided the PMOI’s properties in France (2003), Tehran attempted to negotiate with Washington. Iranian officials offered to withdraw military backing for Hamas and Hezbollah, and to give open access to their nuclear facilities in return for Western action in disbanding the PMOI, which was revealed by Newsnight, a BBC current affairs program, in 2007. The BBC uncovered a letter written after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 where Tehran made this offer[84] The proposition was done in a secret letter to Washington via Switzerland. According to the BBC, the U.S. State Department received the letter from the highest levels of the Iranian government[citation needed]. According to Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff of Secretary of State Colin Powell, interviewed by the BBC, the State Department initially considered the offer, but it was ultimately rejected by the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.[85]

[edit] Nuclear issue

The PMOI and the NCRI claim to be the first entities that revealed Iran’s nuclear activities in 2002, which has turned to be a major concern for the US and some of its allies today.[18] Recently on Feb 20, 2008, the NCRI claimed to have revealed another nuclear site of Islamic Republic. This claim has never been independently verified.[19]

[edit] Designation as a terrorist organization

On December 14, 2006, Time Magazine published an article about PMOI and reported: “In 2003, French anti-terrorist police raided Maryam Rajavi‘s place in Auvers-sur-Oise, securing millions of euros and taking Maryam Rajavi and some of her collaborators into custody. Several of Rajavi‘s followers set themselves on fire to protest her arrest, confirming official French concerns about the cultish nature of the group.”[86]

On September 14, 1981, Time Magazine published an article about PMOI and reported: “The Mujahedin platform focused on anticapitalist, anti-Western slogans. It demanded the nationalization of all foreign businesses run by Iranians and continuation of the anti-imperialist struggle, especially against the U.S. Western intelligence sources doubt that the Mujahedin, though superbly organized, have as many followers as they claim. “They are not a popular movement,” one analyst asserts. “Their ideology is not understood by the masses. They are capable, of carrying out terror operations but not of governing Iran.””[87]

On April 21, 1997, Time Magazine published an article about PMOI and reported:

“There is a cult of personality around Massoud Rajavi and Maryam Rajavi that is unhealthy,”

says Michael Eisenstadt, an Iran expert at the Washington Institute on Near East Policy. “If they were to achieve power, it is unlikely they would give it up.”[88]

On August 28, 1988, New York Times published an article that after chemical attacks by PMOI against western Iranian cities, Alireza Jafarzadeh as then public spokesman for PMOI in the United States said:

“Mujahedeen have learned to take proper tactics when and if necessary. We have always adjusted tactics in our fighting. The form of fighting is secondary.”[89]

The Mujahedeen claimed to have inflicted 40,000 Iranian casualties.[89]

In 1991, Maryam Rajavi as then leader of PMOI’s army forces directly ordered the massacre of Iraqi Kurdish people

On July 13, 2003, New York Times published an article that in 1991 when Saddam Hussein used the PMOI and its tanks as advance forces to crush the Iraqi Kurdish people in the north and the Iraqi Shia people in the south, Maryam Rajavi as then leader of PMOI’s army forces commanded:

“Take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.”[90]

On December 14, 2006, Time Magazine published an article about PMOI and reported: “By the mid-1980s, the group (PMOI) had cozied up to Saddam Hussein, who provided them with funds and a compound, Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad. The U.S. government has accused the group of helping Saddam brutally put down Iraqi Kurdish people in the early 1990s, and of launching numerous attacks inside Iran.”[86]

On January 05, 2009, Time Magazine published an article about PMOI and reported: “Despite its position on the U.S. terrorist list since 1997, and reports by former members of abusive and cultlike practices at Ashraf, the MEK has gathered support from some surprising places abroad — especially since the U.S. invasion — by pitching itself as a viable opposition to the mullahs in Tehran. “They have been extremely clever and very, very effective in their propaganda and lobbying of members of Congress,” says Gary Sick, a Persian Gulf expert at Columbia University’s Middle East Institute and the author of All Fall Down: America’s Tragic Encounter With Iran. “They get all sorts of people to sign their petitions. Many times the Congressmen don’t know what they’re signing.” But others, Sick adds, “are quite aware of the fact that this is a designated terrorist organization, and they are quite willing to look the other way for a group that they think is a democratic alternative to the Iranian regime.””[91]

On May 18, 2005, Newsweek published an article about PMOI and reported: “Human Rights Watch alleges that the Iranian exile group known as Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) has a history of cultlike practices that include forcing members to divorce their spouses and to engage in extended self-criticism sessions. More dramatically, the report states, former MEK members told Human Rights Watch that when they protested MEK policies or tried to leave the organization, they were arrested, in some cases violently abused and in other instances imprisoned. They were held in solitary confinement for years in a camp operated by MEK in Iraq under the protection of Saddam Hussein. MEK representatives in the United States and France, where MEK is headquartered, did not respond to NEWSWEEK phone calls and an e-mail requesting comment. The new Human Rights Watch report does allege strange and sometimes brutal behavior by the group’s leaders and internal security apparatus. According to Human Rights Watch, following this 1988 military defeat, the Rajavi‘s leadership of MEK became increasingly authoritarian and cultlike. According to an MEK defector’s memoir, Rajavi claimed to have a mystical relationship with a prophet known as Imam Zaman, who is Shia Islam’s version of the long-awaited Messiah. In order to better cement their relationship with their leader, and hence ultimately their Messiah, Rajavi then instructed his followers to divorce their spouses. The group had already established a practice of “self criticism,” under which members were asked to undergo their own personal “ideological revolution” by confessing personal inadequacies in cultlike confession sessions. Human Rights Watch says the testimony of former MEK prisoners paints a grim picture of how the organization treated its members, particularly those who held dissenting opinions or expressed an intent to leave the organization. Other witnesses told Human Rights Watch claimed it was the practice of MEK interrogators to tie thick ropes around prisoners’ necks and drag them along the ground. One witness told investigators: “Sometimes prisoners returned to the cell with extremely swollen necks–their head and neck as big as a pillow.” In a statement accompanying its investigative report, Joe Stork, a Human Rights Watch expert on the Middle East, commented:

“The Iranian government has a dreadful record on human rights. But it would be a mistake to promote an opposition group that is responsible for serious human rights abuses.”[92]

[edit] MEK’s Human Rights record

In May 2005, Human Rights Watch claimed that the PMOI were running prison camps within Iraq and were committing severe human rights violations against former PMOI members.[93] The report described how the PMOI was held under tight control of the husband and wife team of Masoud and Maryam Rajavi. The report prompted a response by the PMOI and a few friendly MEPs (European MPs), who published a counter-report in September 2005.[94] They noted that HRW had “relied only on 12 hours interviews with 12 suspicious individuals”, and stated that “a delegation of MEPs visited Camp Ashraf in Iraq” and “conducted impromptu inspections of the sites of alleged abuses.” Alejo Vidal-Quadras Roca (PP), one of the Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament, alleged that Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) was the source of the evidence against the PMOI.[94]

Prompted by the FOFI document, Human Rights Watch re-interviewed all 12 of the original witnesses, conducting private and personal interviews lasting several hours with each of them in Germany and the Netherlands, where the witnesses now live. All of the witnesses restated their claims about the PMOI camps from the 1991-2003 period, saying PMOI officials subjected them to various forms of physical and psychological abuses once they made known their wishes to leave the organization.[95]

According to Mohsen Kadivar and Ahmad Sadri writing Salon.com,

Countless first-rate analysts, scholars and human rights organizations — including Human Rights Watch — have determined that the MEK is an undemocratic, cultlike organization whose modus operandi vitiates its claim to be a vehicle for democratic change.[96]

In an interview with RFERL escaped MEK leader Abdul Latif Shardouri (aka Abdollatif Shadvari) who says he had been in the MEK for 25 years stated that his family thought he was dead because he had had no contact with them during those 25 years. “Using the telephone, mobile phone, Internet, and even listening to radio is forbidden in the organization.”[97]

The issue is, as [MKO leader Massoud] Rajavi has said many times, whoever wants to escape from Ashraf will be punished with death and execution. Not only me, but many of my friends who are now in Ashraf don’t have the possibility to leave the camp. Escape is the only way.[97]

[edit] Hunger Strike

The Ashraf City camp was attacked by Iraqi forces on 28 July 2009. They had depended on the American forces for protection. When Americans withdrew to bases, the Iraqi government stated they weren’t bound by previous agreements. At least 11 died, and a hunger strike ensued among the People’s followers.[98]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ http://www.ncr-iran.org/en/ncri-statements/iran-resistance/11213-pmoimek-abbual-congress-elects-zohreh-akhyani-as-new-secretary-general#PMOI(MEK) Annual Congress elects Zohreh Akhyani as new Secretary General
  2. ^ http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/06644d70-b23e-11e0-9d80-00144feabdc0.html
  3. ^ ,The Iranian Mojahedin By Ervand Abrahamian, 1989
  4. ^ Keddie, Nikkie, Roots of Revolution, (1981), p.238
  5. ^ http://www.ploughshares.ca/libraries/ACRText/ACR-Iran.html#Parties
  6. ^ Takeyh, Ray (27-05-2009) (in English). Guardians of the Revolution: Iran and the World in the Age of the Ayatollahs (1st ed.). USA: Oxford University Press. p. 27. ISBN 9780199754106. Retrieved 04-06-2011.
  7. ^ Buchta, Wilfried (01-02-2002) (in English). Who Rules Iran? The Structure of Power in the Islamic Republic. USA: Washington Institute for Near East Policy. p. 113. ISBN 0944029361. Retrieved 04-06-2011.
  8. ^ The curious case of Iran’s Mujahideen, David Shariatmadari, guardian.co.uk 26 June 2009
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ BBC News, 12 Dec 2006, EU unfreezes Iran group’s funds
  11. ^ BBC News, “Iranian group in UK terror win”, 24 June 2008
  12. ^ “Council Common Position 2005/847/Cfsp” (PDF). Official Journal of the European Union L 314: 44. 2005.
  13. ^ a b c “Chapter 6 — Terrorist Organizations”. US Department of State. 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  14. ^ http://www.iht.com/articles/reuters/2009/01/26/africa/OUKWD-UK-IRAN-EU-OPPOSITION.php
  15. ^ http://euobserver.com/9/27472
  16. ^ http://www.upi.com/Emerging_Threats/2009/01/26/EU_removes_PMOI_from_terrorist_list/UPI-44751232989491/
  17. ^ John, Mark (January 26, 2009). “EU takes Iran opposition group off terror list”. Reuters.
  18. ^ a b Blowup? America’s Hidden War With Iran – Newsweek: World News – MSNBC.com
  19. ^ a b north korea education no link to original story
  20. ^ http://www.ncr-iran.org/en/ncri-statements/iran-resistance/11213-pmoimek-abbual-congress-elects-zohreh-akhyani-as-new-secretary-general
  21. ^ http://www.mojahedin.org/pagesen/detailsNews.aspx?newsid=14188
  22. ^ a b DC Court of Appeals Rules Against NCRI Petition for Review of “Foreign Terrorist Organization” Designation, July 9, 2004, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
  23. ^ Kliger, Rachelle (January 11, 2006). “Resistance group claims evidence of Iranian bomb ambitions”. The Media Line. Retrieved 2006-12-28.
  24. ^ “Secret memo says Iran’s new president “fired coups de grace””. Iran Focus. 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-06.
  25. ^ a b c d Nigel Brew (2003). “Behind the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MeK)”. Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Group, Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  26. ^ “Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (Iranian rebels)”. Council on Foreign relations. 2005. Retrieved 2006-09-05.
  27. ^ a b c Rubin, Elizabeth, New York Times. “The Cult of Rajavi”. Retrieved 2006-04-21. (English)
  28. ^ Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, Princeton University Press, 1982, p.489
  29. ^ The Iranian Mojahedin By Ervand Abrahamian, p.84
  30. ^ The Iranian Mojahedin By Ervand Abrahamian, p.2
  31. ^ a b Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, Princeton University Press, 1982, p.491
  32. ^ Ervand Abrahamian, Yale University Press, The Iranian Mojahedin, p.137
  33. ^ Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, Princeton University Press, 1982, p.493-4
  34. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand, Tortured Confessions, University of California Press, (1999), p.151
  35. ^ SeeMEK Profile – MIPT, supranote 405
  36. ^ a b c d Bill, James A. (1989). The Eagle and the Lion. Yale University Press. p. 181.
  37. ^ a b c Afkhami, Gholam Reza (2009). The Life and Times of the Shah. University of California Press. p. 398.
  38. ^ Borowiec, Andrew (1975-05-21). “Iran leftists Gun Down Two A.F. Officers”. Washington Post.
  39. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand (1992). The Iranian Mojahedin. Yale University Press. p. 141.
  40. ^ a b Ganji, Manouchehr (2002). Defying the Iranian Revolution. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 3.
  41. ^ “Louis Lee Hawkins”.
  42. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand (1992). The Iranian Mojahedin. Yale University Press. p. 142.
  43. ^ “Iran Kills Man Accused of Slaying of 3 Americans”. Washington Post. 1976-11-18.
  44. ^ Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, Princeton University Press, 1982, p.490
  45. ^ Maryam Rajavi Freedom and democracy for Iran is best achieved by the Iranian people and their Resistance
  46. ^ National Council of Resistance of Iran
  47. ^ Moin Khomeini, 2001, p.234, 239
  48. ^ Bakhash, The Reign of the Ayatollahs, (1984) p. 123.
  49. ^ http://www.tkb.org/Group.jsp?groupID=3632
  50. ^ http://www.shahsawandi.com/index.php?option=com_zoom&Itemid=39&page=view&catid=8&PageNo=1&key=16&hit=1
  51. ^ Moin, Baqer, Khomeini, Thomas Dunne Books, (2001), p.241
  52. ^ Moin, Baqer, Khomeini, Thomas Dunne Books, (2001), p.242-3
  53. ^ Moin, Baqer, Khomeini, Thomas Dunne Books, (2001), p.243
  54. ^ Scott Peterson (2003). “Inside a group caught between three powers”. Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  55. ^ Hiro, Dilip, The Longest War, (1999), p.246-7
  56. ^ Iranian party demands end to repression
  57. ^ 1988 massacre
  58. ^ In this operation PMOI penetrated as deep as 170 km into Iranian soil and very close to Kermanshah, the most important city in western Iran.1988 massacre
  59. ^ Memories of a slaughter in Iran
  60. ^ Nasrin Alavi (2005), We Are Iran.
  61. ^ Khomeini fatwa ‘led to killing of 30,000 in Iran’, The Telegraph, February 2, 2001
  62. ^ Mass Execution of Political Prisoners in Iran Left Unanswered
  63. ^ Lorentz, Dominique and Carr-Brown, David, La République atomique (“The Atomic Republic”), broadcast on November 14, 2001 on Arte TV
  64. ^ Labeled terrorist group turns over weapons to U.S. ; Members of MEK — backed by Saddam Hussein — also agree to be interviewed by intelligence officials.; Eric Slater / The Los Angeles Times. The Grand Rapids Press. Grand Rapids, Mich.: May 12, 2003. pg. A.3
  65. ^ U.S. gets Iranian rebels in Iraq to disarm; [Chicago Final Edition] EA Torriero, Tribune staff reporter Tribune news services contributed to this report. Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Ill.: May 11, 2003. pg. 8
  66. ^ Agreement disbands Iranian exile force; [Final Edition] Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Milwaukee, Wis.: May 11, 2003. pg. 14.A
  67. ^ Armed Iranian exiles surrender ; 6,000-member unit accepts U.S. terms; JOHN SULLIVAN, Knight Ridder Newspapers. The Record. Bergen County, N.J.: May 11, 2003. pg. A.17
  68. ^ a b US DOD: DoD News Briefing M2 Presswire. Coventry: Jun 19, 2003. pg. 1
  69. ^ Nicole Cafarella (2005-03-15). “Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) Dossier” (pdf).
  70. ^ “Armed Iranian exiles surrender; 6,000-member unit accepts U.S. terms” John Sullivan, Knight Ridder Newspapers. The Record. Bergen County, N.J.: May 11, 2003. pg. A.17
  71. ^ http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/iraq/camp-ashraf.htm “Camp Ashraf” US Military Occupation Facilities GlobalSecurity.org
  72. ^ Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs)
  73. ^ Bulgaria: Bulgaria Sends New Unit to Iraq
  74. ^ Hauslohner, Abigail (2008-01-05). “Iranian Resistance Group a Source of Contention in Iraq”. Time Magazine. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
  75. ^ “العراق يقرر طرد أعضاء مجاهدي خلق من أراضيه [Iraq Decides to Expel MKO Members from its Territory]” (in Arabic). Al-Jazeera. 2009-01-24. Retrieved 2011-12-07.
  76. ^ Cohn, Alicia M (2009-09-23). “Iranian Exiles’ White House Hunger Strike Continues”. Retrieved 2011-12-07.
  77. ^ Londoño, Ernesto; Jaffe, Greg (2009-07-29). “Iraq Raids Camp of Exiles From Iran”. Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-12-07.
  78. ^ Abouzeid, Rania (2009-07-29). “Iraq Cracks Down on Iranian Exiles at Camp Ashraf”. Time Magazine. Retrieved 2011-12-07.
  79. ^ “36 Ashraf Residents Hostages Released on 72nd Day of Hunger Strike”. Iran Liberty Association. Retrieved 2011-12-07.
  80. ^ “France investigates Iran exiles”. BBC News. June 22, 2003. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
  81. ^ Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (MEK) by Holly Fletcher, Updated: April 18, 2008
  82. ^ Fayazmanesh, Sasan (2008). The United States and Iran: Sanctions, wars and the policy of dual containment. ISBN 9780415773966.
  83. ^ U.S. protects Iranian opposition group in Iraq, April 6, 2007
  84. ^ BBC Newsnight article
  85. ^ “Washington ‘snubbed Iran offer'”. BBC News. January 18, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  86. ^ a b Graff, James (2006-12-14). “Iran’s Armed Opposition Wins a Battle — In Court”. Time Magazine.
  87. ^ Muller, Henry (1981-09-14). “Iran: A Government Beheaded”. Time Magazine.
  88. ^ Barnes, Edward (1997-04-21). “The ARMED WOMEN OF IRAN”. Time Magazine.
  89. ^ a b Cowell, Alan (1988-08-28). “A Gulf Truce Leaves Rebels In a Quandary”. New York Times.
  90. ^ Rubin, Elizabeth (2003-07-13). “The Cult of Rajavi”. New York Times.
  91. ^ Hauslohner, Abigail (2009-01-05). “Iranian Group a Source of Contention in Iraq”. Time Magazine.
  92. ^ Isikoff, Michael (2005-05-18). “Terror Watch: Consider the Source”. Newsweek.
  93. ^ “Human Rights Abuses in the MKO camps”. Human Rights Watch. May 2005.
  94. ^ a b “People’s Mojahedin of Iran – Mission report” (PDF). Friends of Free Iran – European Parliament. 2005. Retrieved 2006-08-29.
  95. ^ “Statement on Responses to Human Rights Watch Report on Abuses by the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK)”. Human Rights Watch. 2003. Retrieved 2006-08-29.
  96. ^ Hillary Clinton’s crucial choice on Iran, Mar 26, 2011
  97. ^ a b Camp Ashraf Escapee Says MKO Bans Marriage, Radio, Internet, RFERL April 21, 2011
  98. ^ http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2009/08/25/PMOI-on-hunger-strike/UPI-38171251234356/

[edit] External links

[edit] Official

[edit] Other

>

Maryam Rajavi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page.
Maryam Rajavi
President elect of National Council of Resistance
Incumbent
Assumed office
28 August 1993
Preceded by Massoud Rajavi
Leader of People’s Mojahedin Organization
Incumbent
Assumed office
2 February 1993
Preceded by Massoud Rajavi
Deputy Leader of People’s Mojahedin Organization
In office
9 December 1989 – 2 February 1993
Leader Massoud Rajavi
Preceded by None
Succeeded by Fahimeh Arvani
Personal details
Born February 3, 1953 (age 58)
Tehran, Iran
Political party People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran
Spouse(s) Massoud Rajavi
Religion Twelver Shia Islam

Maryam Rajavi (born Maryam Azodanlu in 3 March 1953 in Tehran, Iran) is an Iranian politician who is President elect of National Council of Resistance of Iran, a front group for People’s Mujahedin of Iran, since 1993. She is the wife of Massoud Rajavi, a founder of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI). She’s the “president-elect” of the National Council of Resistance of Iran,[1] a coalition of exiled groups opposed to the Islamic Republic regime.

[edit] Public Image

On April 21, 1997, Time Magazine published an article about PMOI and reported: “There is a cult of personality around Massoud Rajavi and Maryam Rajavi that is unhealthy,” says Michael Eisenstadt, an Iran expert at the Washington Institute on Near East Policy. “If they were to achieve power, it is unlikely they would give it up.”[2]

On July 13, 2003, New York Times published an article that in 1991 when Saddam Hussein used the PMOI and its tanks as advance forces to crush the Iraqi Kurdish people in the north and the Iraqi Shia people in the south, Maryam Rajavi as then leader of PMOI‘s army forces commanded:

“Take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.”[3]

On December 14, 2006, Time Magazine published an article about PMOI and reported: “By the mid-1980s, the group (PMOI) had cozied up to Saddam Hussein, who provided them with funds and a compound, Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad. The U.S. government has accused the group of helping Saddam brutally put down Iraqi Kurdish people in the early 1990s, and of launching numerous attacks inside Iran.”[4]

On December 14, 2006, Time Magazine published an article about PMOI and reported: “In 2003, French anti-terrorist police raided Maryam Rajavi’s place in Auvers-sur-Oise, securing millions of euros and taking Rajavi and some of her collaborators into custody. Several of Rajavi’s followers set themselves on fire to protest her arrest, confirming official French concerns about the cultish nature of the group.”[4] Maryam Rajavi, congratulated Zohreh Akhyani’s election as the new Secretary General of the PMOI on September 7, 2011.”[5]

[edit] References

  1. ^ “Introduction to the National Council of Resistance of Iran”. National Council of Resistance of Iran. 16 February 2009.
  2. ^ Barnes, Edward (1997-04-21). “The ARMED WOMEN OF IRAN”. Time Magazine.
  3. ^ Rubin, Elizabeth (2003-07-13). “The Cult of Rajavi”. New York Times.
  4. ^ a b Graff, James (2006-12-14). “Iran’s Armed Opposition Wins a Battle — In Court”. Time Magazine.
  5. ^ – (07 September 2011). “Maryam Rajavi lauds election of the new Secretary General of the PMOI”. ncri.

[edit] External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
None
Deputy Leader of People’s Mujahedin of Iran
1989-1993
Succeeded by
Fahimeh Arvani
Preceded by
Masoud Rajavi
Leader of People’s Mujahedin of Iran
1993-present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Masoud Rajavi
President of National Council of Resistance
1993-present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
>

Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (MEK) (aka People’s Mujahedin of Iran or PMOI)

Author:
Holly Fletcher

Updated: April 18, 2008


Introduction

The U.S. State Department lists the Mujahadeen-e-Khalq as a terrorist organization for its association with Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime until the dictator’s ouster by the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. The MEK was blamed for Western targets in the 1970s and for supporting the 1979 American embassy takeover in Tehran. Over the last two decades, however, the group’s continued presence on the U.S. terrorist group list primarily involves its activities directed from Iraqi territory against Iran. After the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, the MEK was disarmed and confined by American forces to the grounds of a former Iraqi military base. Still, the 2007 State Department report says that MEK maintains “the capacity and will” to attack “Europe, the Middle East, the United States, Canada, and beyond.”

What is Mujahadeen-e-Khalq?

Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (MEK) is the largest and most militant group opposed to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Also known as the People’s Mujahadeen Organization of Iran, MEK is led by husband and wife Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. MEK was added to the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign terrorist groups in 1997 and to the European Union’s terrorist list in 2002 because its attacks have often killed civilians.

MEK was founded in 1963 by a group of college-educated Iranian leftists—supporters of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq—opposed to the country’s pro-Western ruler, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The group participated in the 1979 Islamic revolution that replaced the shah with a Shiite Islamist regime led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. But MEK’s ideology, a blend of Marxism, feminism, and Islamism, put it at odds with the post-revolutionary government, and its original leadership was soon executed by the Khomeini regime. In 1981, the group was driven from its bases on the Iran-Iraq border and resettled in Paris, where it began supporting Iraq in its eight-year war against Khomeini’s Iran. In 1986, after France recognized the Iranian regime, MEK moved its headquarters to Iraq, which used MEK to harass neighboring Iran. MEK maintained its headquarters in Iraq until the American invasion in 2003 when many members surrendered their weapons.

Who are MEK’s leaders?

Maryam Rajavi, who hopes to become president of Iran, is MEK’s principal leader. Her husband, Massoud Rajavi, heads up the group’s military forces. Maryam Rajavi was born in 1953 to an upper-middle class Iranian family, and she joined MEK as a student in Tehran in the early 1970s. After relocating with the group to Paris in 1981, she was elected its joint leader and later became deputy commander-in-chief of its armed wing. Experts say that MEK has increasingly come to resemble a cult that is devoted to Massoud Rajavi’s secular interpretation of the Koran and is prone to sudden, dramatic ideological shifts. In June 2003, French authorities raided a MEK compound outside Paris and arrested 160 people, including Maryam Rajavi. She was released in 2006 but resides in Paris where she bases her campaign to remove the Iranian theocracy. Massoud Rajavi was last known to be living in Iraq, but authorities aren’t certain of his whereabouts or whether he is alive.

Despite MEK’s violent tactics, the group’s strong stance against Iran—part of President Bush’s “axis of evil”—and pro-democratic image have won it support among some U.S. and European lawmakers, according to a 2005 Center for Policing Terrorism report, and there has been an ongoing, vigorous campaign by its supporters in the U.S. Congress to have it removed from the terrorist list.

Where does MEK operate?

The group’s armed unit operated from camps in Iraq near the Iran border since 1986. During the Iraq war, U.S. troops disarmed MEK and posted guards at its bases. In addition to its Paris-based members, MEK has a network of sympathizers in Europe, the United States, and Canada. The group’s political arm, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, maintains offices in several capitals, and used to have a branch in Washington, DC before U.S. officials closed it down in August 2003.

Until 2003 the MEK received funds, arms, and state sponsorship from Saddam Hussein. Following Operation Iraqi Freedom, the MEK relies on donations from Iranian expatriates and front organizations that often campaign for greater human rights in Iran, according to the State Department.

What is MEK’s current status?

During the Iraq war, U.S. forces cracked down on the MEK. About 3,400 people were disarmed at Camp Ashraf, surrendering two thousand tanks, armored personnel carriers, and heavy artillery pieces, according to the 2006 report. Those living at Camp Ashraf are designated as “protected persons” under Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which prevents extradition or forced repatriation to Iran as long as the United States maintains a presence in Iraq. The Unites States has no plans to charge and prosecute people living in this camp. The “protected persons” designation applies solely to those living at Camp Ashraf, not other members of the group, nor does it affect the MEK’s listing on the State Department terrorist list.

The MEK currently seeks to overthrow the Iranian theocracy and install a democratic government that is headed, at least initially, by MEK leader Maryam Rajavi. The MEK opposes the Iranian regime that governs under Islamic code. Instead, the MEK wants to establish a government to follow a sixteen-point plan that stemmed from a 1995 conference, which ensures rights like the freedoms of speech and religion, adheres to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and improves ties with foreign governments, according to the Center for Policing Terrorism.

How big is MEK?

MEK is believed to have several thousand members, with communities in Paris as well as other large European capitals, according to the State Department. Experts say its activities have dropped off in recent years as its membership has dwindled but, according to Rajavi, the group is still strong and active. MEK has had little success luring new recruits and is composed mostly of its founding members.

What major attacks has MEK been responsible for?

The group has targeted Iranian government officials and government facilities in Iran and abroad, and during the 1970s, it attacked Americans in Iran. While the group says it does not intentionally target civilians, it has often risked civilian casualties. It routinely aims its attacks at government buildings in crowded cities. MEK terrorism has declined since late 2001. Incidents linked to the group include:

  • the series of mortar attacks and hit-and-run raids during 2000 and 2001 against Iranian government buildings; one of these killed Iran’s chief of staff;
  • the 2000 mortar attack on President Mohammed Khatami’s palace in Tehran;
  • the February 2000 “Operation Great Bahman,” during which MEK launched twelve attacks against Iran;
  • the 1999 assassination of the deputy chief of Iran’s armed forces general staff, Ali Sayyad Shirazi;
  • the 1998 assassination of the director of Iran’s prison system, Asadollah Lajevardi;
  • the 1992 near-simultaneous attacks on Iranian embassies and institutions in thirteen countries;
  • Saddam Hussein’s suppression of the 1991 Iraqi Shiite and Kurdish uprisings;
  • the 1981 bombing of the offices of the Islamic Republic Party and of Premier Mohammad-Javad Bahonar, which killed some seventy high-ranking Iranian officials, including President Mohammad-Ali Rajaei and Bahonar;
  • the 1979 takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by Iranian revolutionaries;
  • the killings of U.S.military personnel and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran in the 1970s.

It’s unclear how many attacks MEK has carried out; according to experts, the group’s claims of responsibility for attacks in Iran are often exaggerated, and sometimes MEK is blamed by the Iranian government for attacks it didn’t stage.

Weigh in on this issue by emailing CFR.org.

>
TERRORIST ORGANISATIONS
Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO)

Other Names
Mujahedin-e Khalq
the National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA, the militant wing of the MEK)
People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI)
National Council of Resistance (NCR)
Organization of the People’s Holy Warriors of Iran
Sazeman-e Mujahedin-e Khalq-e Iran
Muslim Iranian Student’s Society (front organization used to garner financial support)Description
Formed in the 1960s by the college-educated children of Iranian merchants, the MEK sought to counter what it perceived as excessive Western influence in the Shah’s regime. Following a philosophy that mixes Marxism and Islam, has developed into the largest and most active armed Iranian dissident group. Its history is studded with anti-Western activity and, most recently, attacks on the interests of the clerical regime in Iran and abroad.Activities
Worldwide campaign against the Iranian Government stresses propaganda and occasionally uses terrorist violence. During the 1970s the MEK staged terrorist attacks inside Iran and killed several US military personnel and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran. Supported the takeover in 1979 of the US Embassy in Tehran. In April 1992 conducted attacks on Iranian embassies in 13 different countries, demonstrating the group’s ability to mount large-scale operations overseas. The normal pace of anti-Iranian operations increased during the “Operation Great Bahman” in February 2000, when the group claimed it launched a dozen attacks against Iran. During the remainder of the year, the MEK regularly claimed that its members were involved in mortar attacks and hit-and-run raids on Iranian military, law enforcement units, and government buildings near the Iran-Iraq border. The MEK also claimed six mortar attacks on civilian government and military buildings in Tehran.Strength
Several thousand fighters based in Iraq with an extensive overseas support structure. Most of the fighters are organized in the MEK’s National Liberation Army (NLA).Location/Area of Operation
In the 1980s the MEK’s leaders were forced by Iranian security forces to flee to France. Most resettled in Iraq by 1987. In the mid-1980s the group did not mount terrorist operations in Iran at a level similar to its activities in the 1970s. In the 1990s, however, the MEK claimed credit for an increasing number of operations in Iran.External Aid
Beyond support from Iraq, the MEK uses front organizations to solicit contributions from expatriate Iranian communities.
>
Iranian Terrorists Expose U.S. Hypocrisy   Topic List   < Prev Topic  |  Next Topic >
Reply < Prev Message  |  Next Message >

U.S. Sees No Basis to Prosecute Iranian
Opposition ‘Terror’ Group Being Held in Iraq
By Douglas Jehl
The New York Times

Tuesday 27 July 2004

http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/072804J.shtml

Washington – A 16-month review by the United States has found no
basis to charge members of an Iranian opposition group in Iraq with
violations of American law, though the group is listed as a terrorist
organization by the United States government, according to senior
American officials.

The case of the group, the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, or
Mujahedeen Khalq, whose camp was bombed by the United States military
in April 2003, has been watched closely as an important test of the
Bush administration’s policy toward terrorism and toward Iran.

About 3,800 members of the group are being held in de facto
American custody in Camp Ashraf, about 60 miles northeast of Baghdad.
The group remains on the United States terrorist list, though it is
not known to have directed any terrorist acts toward the United
States for 25 years. But it does stage attacks against Iran, which
has demanded that the Iraqi government either prosecute its members
or deport them to Iran.

But senior American officials said extensive interviews by
officials of the State Department and the Federal Bureau of
Investigation had not come up with any basis to bring charges against
any members of the group. In a July 21 memorandum, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey
D. Miller, the deputy commanding general in Iraq, said its members
had been designated “protected persons” by the United States
military, providing them new rights.

The American approach appears to reflect the limits of the
government’s counterterrorism policy. In the case of the People’s
Mujahedeen, the United States does not appear to have evidence to
charge individual members of the group with acts of terrorism, but it
also appears unwilling to surrender its members to their enemy, Iran.

Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which governs treatment of
civilians in wartime, “protected persons” are those who fall under
the control of an occupying power or a country involved in the
conflict. Among the most significant rights they are granted are
protection against collective punishment and against expulsion.

The formal American determination came after members of the group
signed an agreement rejecting violence and terrorism, General Miller
said in his July 21 letter, addressed to the “people of Ashraf.” That
agreement “sends a strong signal and is a powerful first step on the
road to your final individual disposition,” the general’s letter
said, according to a copy that was made available to The New York
Times.

The State Department said Monday that the determination of the
status of the group in Iraq did not affect its designation as a
terrorist organization. The 3,800 members at Camp Ashraf are still
being vetted to determine whether any took part in terrorist
activities, said Adam Ereli, the department’s deputy spokesman.

But in the memorandum, General Miller struck a warm tone, saying
he was “writing to congratulate each individual living in Camp
Ashraf” on their status. Senior American officials said it that was
still possible that some members of the group might be charged with
crimes in European countries, but that they did not expect any of
them to be charged in American courts.

“A member of a terrorist organization is not necessarily a
terrorist,” a senior American official said. “To take action against
somebody, you have to demonstrate that they have done something.”

Muhammad Mohaddessin, a senior official of the People’s
Mujahedeen, said in a telephone interview from Paris on Monday that
the absence of American charges against members of the group, after
months in which they have been held, should raise questions about the
organization’s terrorist designation.

“I think the fact of the matter is that there is no reason for
keeping the Mujahedeen on the terrorism list at all,” Mr. Mohaddessin
said, “because if these thousands of people who are in Iraq are not
terrorists – when they all have been screened, and no terrorism link
has been found – then really there is no basis whatsoever for
accusing the Mujahedeen of being a terrorist organization.”

The American military has kept the members confined to their camp
since April 2003, when the organization signed an agreement with
United States commanders. Their designation as “protected persons”
reflects a final determination that they were not involved in acts of
belligerence against the American military during the war, American
officials said.

The designation would make it all but impossible for members of
the group to be extradited to Iran, senior American officials said.
In December, the interim Iraqi government ordered that members of the
group be expelled, but the move was opposed by the United States, and
the directive was never carried out.

Some opponents of Iran, including dozens of members of Congress,
have argued that the People’s Mujahedeen serves as an effective
source of pressure on the Iranian government and should be rewarded,
not punished, by the United States.

Nevertheless, Mr. Ereli, the State Department spokesman, said the
group “continues to be a designated foreign terrorist organization,”
a status that was imposed by the Clinton administration.

He said that “we will continue to treat individuals who can be
determined to have been involved in terrorist incidents consistent
with the laws that apply.” But privately, senior American officials
noted that it has been more than 25 years since members of the
People’s Mujahedeen were last believed to have been involved in
attacks against the United States, and that most of its recent
violent acts were directed at Iran.

In Iran, a government spokesman, Abdollah Ramazanzadeh, said any
American move to grant the People’s Mujahedeen protected status would
undermine the United States’ claims to be fighting terrorist
groups. “I hope those who claim they are combating terrorism prove
the truth and confront the ones who have committed extensive crimes
against the Iranian nation,” he said.

A senior American official said the United States opposed Iran’s
request that members of the group be handed over for trial
because “we have real questions about the fairness and transparency
of justice” there.

Until the American invasion of Iraq last year, the People’s
Mujahedeen maintained armed camps near the Iranian border that
included tanks, artillery and other modern weapons. The group had
operated inside Iraq since the late 1980’s with the support of the
Iraqi government.

The American bombing raids on the camps represented the most
aggressive approach by the United States in the handling of the
group. It was followed by a gentler approach, including prolonged
cease-fire negotiations and a cordial relationship between the group
and the American military police units that have guarded the camp,
preventing members from leaving except under American military
escort.

———————————————————————-
———-

Go to Original

Tehran Warns Washington after
Armed Opposition Claims Protected Status
Agence France Presse

Tuesday 27 July 2004

‘We hope the ones who accuse others of supporting terrorism act
honestly themselves’.
Tehran – The Iranian government gave a cautious warning to the
United States on Monday after the main Iranian armed opposition group
claimed the US-led coalition had granted its militants in Iraq
protected status.

“I have no information about the truth of such a thing,”
government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh told reporters, the day
after its public enemy No. 1 boasted it was now immune from being
handed over.

But even though Ramazanzadeh said the “hypocrites” – as the
People’s Mujahideen are referred to by the Iranian regime –
have “never told the truth,” he did warn Washington against making
any concessions toward the group.

“The attitude toward the hypocrites in Iraq will show the truth
of the claims from anybody who claims to be fighting terrorism
globally,” he said.

“We hope the ones who accuse others of supporting terrorism act
honestly themselves,” he added, a clear reference to fresh US
allegations of an Iranian link to the Al-Qaeda network.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran said Sunday it had
received notification from coalition commanders that People’s
Mujahideen fighters confined to camp in Iraq since last year’s US-led
invasion had been accorded recognition as protected non-combatants
under the fourth Geneva Convention.

No confirmation from the US-led coalition was immediately
available.

Iran has been pushing for repatriation of the several thousand
Mujahideen fighters under US military guard at Camp Ashraf northeast
of Baghdad, and last December Iraq’s coalition-installed interim
leadership voted unanimously to expel them.

The People’s Mujahideen set up base in Iraq in 1986 and carried
out regular cross-border raids into Iran, with which Iraq fought a
bloody war between 1980 and 1988.

The group also participated in Saddam Hussein’s crackdown on an
uprising by Shiites and Kurds in 1991.

Several thousand Mujahideen militiamen were disarmed by US forces
following the fall of then President Saddam Hussein’s regime in April
2003 and barred from undertaking military operations.

Both the United States and the European Union have officially
listed the group as a terrorist organization.

But their fate has been a prickly question for Washington as it
prosecutes its worldwide “war on terror,” with some US officials
espousing their possible use against Iran – lumped into an “axis of
evil” by US President George W. Bush – should “regime change” in
Tehran become a formal American policy.

The National Council statement said the coalition had undertaken
to provide continued protection for the Mujahideen fighters at Camp
Ashraf.

While recognition as protected individuals removes controls on
the fighters’ movement, potentially allowing them to emigrate to
third countries, a National Council official said all were likely to
stay as they wanted to remain close to Iran.

If the claims are confirmed, such a step would be certain to
further damage the already appalling relations between Tehran and
Washington.

Furthermore, Iran could dig in on its refusal to extradite senior
Al-Qaeda operatives it has detained here. Negotiations between Iran
and the US on a possible swap of Al-Qaeda and Mujahideen detainees
reportedly broke down last year.

>

Peoples Mujahedin Khalq of Iran (PMOI), Rajavi cult

.

Shadowspear, June 07, 2007:

http://shadowspear.com/terrorism.htm  

http://shadowspear.com/mek.htm

The People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI) (Persian: سازمان مجاهدين خلق ايران) (also known as Monafeghin) is a political party that advocates overthrowing the government in the Islamic Republic of Iran and replacing it with its own leadership. It is the main organization of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an “umbrella coalition”, while organizations such as the FBI and individuals including Michael Axworthy, a senior public servant in the United Kingdom and Nathan Hunerwadel, in an article published by the National Iranian American Council, claim the reverse, that NCRI is a front group for the PMOI. The PMOI’s armed wing is called the National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA). Iran officially refers to the organization as the Monafeqin (Hypocrites).[5]

PMOI is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada, and Iran. According to Wall Street Journal “senior diplomats in the Clinton administration say the MEK figured prominently as a bargaining chip in a bridge-building effort with Tehran.” The PMOI is also on the European Union (EU) ‘s blacklist of terrorist organizations, which lists 28 organizations, since 1997 . Its bank accounts were frozen in 2002 after the September 11, 2001 attacks and a call by the EU to block terrorist organizations’ funding. However, the European Court of Justice has overturned this in December 2006 and has criticized the lack of “transparency” with which the blacklist is composed . According to Yves Bonnet, former director of the French RG intelligence agency, the PMOI has been blacklisted on the basis of false information given by the Islamic regime of Teheran .

Other Names
The People’s Mujahedin of Iran is known by a variety of names including

Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK)
Mojahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO)
The National Liberation Army of Iran
(disputed) National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) – the PMOI is the founding member of a wide coalition of organizations called the NCRI, while others including the FBI claim that the NCRI is either an “alias” for or a front group for the PMOI.
Note: the MEK alias is often used when the PMOI is referenced in the media, or by national governments around the world. The term MEK and PMOI are therefore interchangeable throughout this article.

History
The People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran was founded by middle-class students at Tehran University, Mohammad Hanifnejad, Saied Mohsen and Ali-Asghar Badizadegan in 1965. The PMOI opposed the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi because it considered it corrupt and oppressive. In its first five years, the group primarily engaged in ideological work, rejecting both fundamentalist interpretations of Islam and Marxist philosophy. Before carrying out any military operations against the Shah’s regime, a raid by the Shah’s secret police, SAVAK, arrested the entire leadership and 90 percent of its cadres. All but one of its leaders were executed. Other members remained incarcerated for many years, with the last group, including Massoud Rajavi, being released just before Khomeini arrived in Tehran in January 1979.

The PMOI conducted anti-Western attacks prior to the Islamic Revolution. Since then, it has conducted militant attacks against the interests of the cleric-dominated governmental system in Iran and abroad. According the U.S. Department of State and the Foreign Affairs group of the Australian Parliament, the MEK conducted several assassinations of U.S. military personnel and civilians working in Iran during the 1970s and actively supported the U.S. embassy takeover in Tehran in 1979.

After playing a key role in the 1979 Iranian Revolution because of its Muslim identity and the ability to mobilize hundreds of thousands of workers, students, and most importantly, many younger army officers, the PMOI emerged as the largest opposition group in the country. Its daily publication, Mojahed, had a circulation of 600,000 copies. The newly established regime of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran began to feel threatened by the MEK and started to launch a fierce campaign to crush it. Hundreds of PMOI supporters and members were killed from 1979 to 1981, and some 3,000 were arrested. Ultimately, the organization called for a massive demonstration on June 20, 1981, to protest against the new leadership under the banner of Islam. Khomeini ordered the guards to open fire of the protesters. Hundreds were killed and many more wounded. That night, hundreds were summarily executed in Evin Prison and elsewhere, some without their identities ever being established. This was considered one of the most severe human-rights violations in the history of the Islamic Republic. Eventually, PMOI relocated to France, where it operated until 1986.

To bring the opposition to the regime under one umbrella organization, the PMOI formed the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). The MEK claims that in the past 25 years, the NCRI has evolved into a 540-member parliament-in-exile, with a specific platform that emphasizes free elections, gender equality and equal rights for ethnic and religious minorities. The MEK claims that it also advocates a free-market economy and supported peace in the Middle East. The FBI claims that the NCRI “is not a separate organization, but is instead, and has been, an integral part of the MEK at all relevant times” and that the NCRI is “the political branch” of the MEK, rather than vice versa.

In 1986, after then French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac struck a deal with Tehran for the release of French hostages held prisoners by the Hezbollah in Lebanon, PMOI was forced to leave France and relocated in Iraq, where they received all of their military support and most of their financial support from the Iraqi regime until the 2003 American invasion of Iraq. Investigative journalist Dominique Lorentz has related the 1986 capture of French hostages to an alleged blackmail of France by Tehran concerning the nuclear program

Near the end of the 1980-1988 war with Iran, Baghdad armed the MEK with military equipment and sent it into action against Iranian forces.[13] The MKO’s decision to move its headquarters to Iraq in the middle of the war, caused the MKO to lose most of its supporters in Iran, regardless of their views towards the Iranian government. The NIAC (National Iranian American Council) claims that “as a result [of their alliance with Saddam Hussein during the war], they are viewed as traitors by the overwhelming majority of Iranians and Iranian Americans.”.[17] A report by the Foreign Affairs group of the Australian Parliament states “[The MEK] is believed to have lost much of its popular support within Iran since siding with Iraq”. The MKO claims it has always maintained its independence from its Iraqi host and denies “siding with Iraq” during the Iran-Iraq War. Accounts of the MKO’s advance into Iran 1988 depict a scenario where MKO forces positioned Anti-Aircraft (flak) guns on hilltops, pointing them down on highways, and opening fire on civilians attempting to flee their advance. Local Basiji forces, with help from the IRIAF and IRGC, was able to crush the incursion, whose initial goals were to reach Tehran.

According to the U.S. Department of State and the Foreign Affairs group of the Australian Parliament, the MEK assisted the Iraqi Republican Guard in suppressing the Kurdish and Shiite uprisings in Iraq after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Maryam Rajavi, who assumed the leadership role of the MEK after a series of years as co-leader alongside her husband Massoud Rajavi, had the following to say during a moral-boosting speech to an audience of MEK troops: “Take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.”

Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the group received all of its military assistance, and most of its financial support, from the former Iraqi government. The MEK also has used front organizations to solicit contributions from expatriate Iranian communities.

Designation as a Terrorist Organization
The PMOI has been officially designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the United States and is proscribed by the European Union (EU),. However EU-freezing of funds was lifted on December 12 2006 by the European Court of First Instance.

The MEK has now lost three appeals (1999, 2001 and 2003) to the US Government to be removed from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, and its terrorist status was reaffirmed each time. The MEK has continued to protest worldwide against its listing, with the overt support of some US political figures.

Major Operations
In 28 June 1981, two years after the Islamic Revolution of Iran, the MEK detonated bombs in the office of the Premier of Iran’s newly established regime, during a meeting of the now dissolved Islamic Republic Party. Around 70 high ranking officials including President Rajai, Premier Mohammad Javad Bahonar and Chief Justice Mohammad Beheshti were killed. This is considered the most important attack in the history of the MEK against the Iranian government.

In 1991, the MEK assisted the Government of Iraq in suppressing the Shia uprisings in southern Iraq and the Kurdish uprisings in the northern Iraq.

In the following years the MEK conducted several assassinations of political and military figures of the Islamic Republic, including deputy chief of the Iranian Armed Forces General Staff,[13] Brigadier General Ali Sayyaad Shirazi, who was assassinated on the doorsteps of his house on April 10, 1999.

In April 1992, the MEK conducted near-simultaneous attacks on Iranian embassies and installations in 13 countries, demonstrating the group’s ability to mount large-scale operations overseas.

After the Invasion of Iraq
After the 2003 American invasion of Iraq, MEK camps were bombed by coalition forces because of its alliance with Saddam Hussein. The leaders of the MEK entered into a ceasefire agreement with the coalition after the attack, and handed over its weaponry to the US military. However there was no independent confirmation at the time by either the U.S. military or any third party whether all weapons had been handed over. Major General Geoffrey Miller, concluded the agreement with the MEK. After a 4 month investigation by several US agencies, including the State Department, only a handful of charges under U.S. criminal law were brought against MEK members, all American citizens. The MEK aka PMOI remains listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the Department of State. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared MEK personnel in Ashraf protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention. They are currently under the guard of US Military. Defectors from this group are housed separately in a refugee camp within Camp Ashraf, and protected by the Bulgarian Army.

The PMOI exists as a cult as described by the Human Rights Watch in its devastating report No Exit: Human Rights Abuses Inside the Mojahedin Khalq Camps , under the control of Maryam Rajavi. The leaders of this cult have enjoyed long periods of freedom and the support of a handful of marginal public figures within the Western world while it remained despised by Iranians (for its role in fighting with Saddam Hussein) and Iraqis (for its participation in the suppression of the Kurds and Marsh Shia). The world wide headquarters was for many years in Paris, France until the group was deported to Gabon by the French government. Saddam Hussein invited PMOI leaders to move to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War in 1986. Similarly its operatives were – legally or at least well tolerated – active in Germany, Denmark and many other countries of the European Union. The NCRI maintained an Information Office in Washington DC, USA until August 2002, when US Secretary of State Colin Powell issued an order to shut down the offices.[23]

In 2002, 150 members of the United States Congress signed a letter calling for the lifting of this designation. The MEK have also tried to have the designation removed through several court cases in the U.S. It has lost every time.{{United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Argued April 2, 2004 Decided July 9, 2004,No. 01-1480: National Council of Resistance of Iran v. Department of State}} Similarly, the activities in France were allowed to continue long after the official proscription in the EU. It was only in June 2003 that the group had some of its French properties raided, after suspicions that it was trying to shift its base of operations there. Many believe the French action against the NCRI was payment on the part of the French government to secure lucrative business deals with Tehran worth hundreds of billions of dollars. However, the role of the MEK in the slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians through bombing campaigns, assassinations and violent attacks on embassies and the UN headquarters in NY are the basis for its designation as a terrorist group. The MEK claims that after three years, there is nothing in the files that would implicate the NCRI and Mrs. Rajavi in any wrong doing and the case has essentially died. The reality is that thousands of innocent people have died in the terror campaigns conducted by the MEK aka PMOI. Maryam Rajavi remains freely living in Paris with no apparent cource of income driving a Bentley. The PMOI maintains its web presence without any obvious difficulties by using the unpaid labor of individuals held against their will in Ashraf.

Alleged MEK Activity in Iran
In 2006 news reports linked the PMOI with US threats to attack Iran, specifically use of the PMOI to “prepare the battlefield” for US military action against Iran.

According to the news organization Rawstory, an intelligence official said that following the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, “We [the US] disarmed [the MEK] of major weapons, but not small arms. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was pushing to use them as a military special ops team, but there was infighting between Rumsfeld’s camp and then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, but she was able to fight them off for a while”.

According to another intelligence source, the policy infighting ended last year when Rumsfeld, under pressure from Vice President Dick Cheney, came up with a plan to “convert” the MEK by having them simply quit their organization.” “These guys are nuts,” the intelligence source said. “Stephen Cambone and those guys made MEK members swear an oath to Democracy and resign from the MEK and then our guys incorporated them into their unit and trained them” for action in Iran. A UN source close to the United Nations Security Council, again according to Rawstory, said in April 2006 that “the clandestine war had been going on for roughly a year”.

According to a former Iranian ambassador and UPI, “The Iranian accusations are true, but it is being done on such a small scale – a series of pinpricks – it would seem to have no strategic value at all.”

Tehran Requests Disbanding of PMOI
News night, a BBC current affairs program, has uncovered a letter written after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 where Tehran offers to withdraw military backing for Hamas and Hezbollah as well as give open access to their nuclear facilities in return for Western action in disbanding the PMOI.

Ideology and Alleged Human Rights Abuses
Ideologically, the MKO is difficult to describe. Originally being based on a syncretic amalgamation of Marxist and Islamic ideas, the MKO was subject to a number of rapid ideological shifts (each allegedly accompanied by severe internal purges) and has developed a strong sense of veneration for its leading couple, Masoud Rajavi and Maryam Rajavi, which some have described as a personality cult. It describes itself as a secular organization. While its leaders are Muslim, “The National Council of Resistance believes in the separation of Church and State.”

In more recent years under the guidance of Maryam Rajavi the organization has adopted strong feminist principles. Women have now assumed the most senior positions of responsibility within the ranks of the MKO and although women make up only a third of fighters, two-thirds of its commanders are women. Rajavi ultimately believes that women should exert hegemony and dominance over men.

According to the U.S. Department of State, the philosophy of the MEK is a combination of Marxism, Nationalism and Islam.

In May 2005, Human Rights Watch reported the PMOI were running prison camps within Iraq and were committing severe human rights violations.

In July 2005 a delegation from a group known as Friends of a Free Iran (FOFI) visited Camp Ashraf for 5 days and interviewed 19 people. The delegation did not interview any of the individuals who originally gave testimonies to Human Rights Watch. As a result of these interviews FOFI issued a 132 page document on September 21, 2005 claiming the alleged abuses did not occur and calling for the People’s Mujahedin of Iran to be removed from the list of terrorist organisations.

Prompted by the FOFI document Human Rights Watch re-interviewed all 12 of the original witnesses, conducting private and personal interviews lasting several hours with each of them in Germany and the Netherlands, where the witnesses now live. All of the witnesses recounted in extensive detail their experiences inside the MKO camps from the 1991-2003 period, and how MKO officials subjected them to various forms of physical and psychological abuses once they made known their wishes to leave the organization.

Membership
The PMOI claims to have a 30,000 – 50,000 strong armed guerrilla force, based in Iraq, but a membership of between 15,000 – 20,000 is considered more likely. As of 2005 the Council for Foreign Affairs believes the PMOI has 10,000 members, one-third to one-half of whom are fighters. The Council claims PMOI membership has dwindled, the organization has had little success attracting new recruits and is composed mostly of its founding members.

Support from Outside Sources
In the late 1980s the MKO transferred its headquarters to Iraq. According to official sources the MEK received all of its military support and most of its financial assistance from Saddam’s regime until the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.[15] But the MEK denies these accusations and insists that it had always remained independent of Iraq.

Saddam Hussein frequently recorded meetings without the knowledge of participants. A video tape captured by the Americans after they took control of Saddam’s possessions was later leaked as evidence that Saddam supported terrorists and was connected to terrorist groups. The tapes show Massoud Rajavi meeting with Sadam Hussein, and at one point show large quantities of money being handed over to PMOI officials. The PMOI claims that one of the tapes is of a meeting that PMOI officials regularly held with Iraqi government officials, and that this was nothing out of the ordinary because PMOI officials met officials from many other governments as well. The video is available on the Internet in RealAudio format and in Windows Media Player format.

Another key source of support for the MKO has included members of the U.S. Congress, including former Attorney General John Ashcroft, “who became involved with the MKO while a Republican senator from Missouri.” In 2000, 200 U.S. Congress members signed a statement endorsing the organization’s cause.

Links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mujahideen_al-Khalq

Evidences Dismissing MKO Mojahedin Khalq Organisation, Rajavi cult headed by Massoud Rajavi and Maryam Rjavi) Disclaim of Terrorism

State Department Report on Mojahedin Khalq Orgainsation. Rajavi cult headed by Massoud Rajavi and Maryam Rajavi

The European Parliament Held an Assembly, Considering the MKO’s Present Situation (February 28, 2007)

UK Secretary of State: Mojahedin Assets still frozen in EU and UK (18 January 2007)

Iranian People Do not Want MEK says Thomas Pickering in US Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing (January 11, 2007)

Home


>
see
Providing Material Support to a Foreign Terrorist Organization:
The Pentagon, the Department of State, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran,
& The Global War on Terrorism
By Margaret D. Stock1
“The United States will make no concessions to terrorist demands and strike no deals with them. We make no distinction between terrorists and those who knowingly harbor or provide aid to them.”
–National Security Strategy of the United States (2002)
link HERE
Document below
Providing Material Support to a Foreign Terrorist Organization:
The Pentagon, the Department of State, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran,
& The Global War on Terrorism
By Margaret D. Stock1
“The United States will make no concessions to terrorist demands and strike no deals with them. We make no distinction between terrorists and those who knowingly harbor or provide aid to them.”
–National Security Strategy of the United States (2002)
A. Introduction
In 1996, Congress declared that any non-citizen who provides material support to any organization designated by the U.S. Department of State as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” (“FTO”) should be inadmissible to the United States and deportable. Congress also made it a felony offense for any U.S. person to provide material support to any FTO. Later, Congress extended extraterritorial jurisdiction for such offenses.
In 1997, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright designated the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and the group remains on the FTO list today. The Department of Justice has been prosecuting and deporting persons who provide material support to the PMOI.
At the same time, the Department of Defense has designated Iraq-based members of the PMOI as “protected persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention, and is maintaining PMOI
1 Associate Professor, U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York & Lieutenant Colonel, Military Police Corps, U.S. Army Reserve. The opinions expressed in this paper are the author’s only and do not purport to be the opinions of the United States Military Academy, the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or any other U.S. government agency. The author would like to thank Kevin H. Govern, Daniel M. Kowalski, and Neil T. O’Donnell for reviewing and commenting on an earlier draft of this article. COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
members at Camp Ashraf in Iraq. At Camp Ashraf, and in full awareness of DOS’s designation of the PMOI as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, U.S. military personnel provide “material support” to the PMOI. Thus, as a technical matter, non-citizen U.S. soldiers who have served at Camp Ashraf are inadmissible to and deportable from the United States; they can also be denied U.S. citizenship and other immigration benefits. Additionally, all U.S. military personnel at Camp Ashraf can potentially be prosecuted criminally for providing “material support” to the PMOI. As a practical matter, such prosecutions are unlikely to occur—but the laws against providing material support to foreign terrorist organizations are being openly violated by Pentagon personnel.
This bizarre situation illustrates several problems with current federal “material support to terrorism” legislation: The law is overly broad, in that it criminalizes without exception even behavior that is officially authorized in support of U.S. military and foreign policy objectives. Next, the conflict between the State Department and the Pentagon over the PMOI makes the United States look hypocritical in the eyes of the world: The Pentagon is supporting an organization that the U.S. Executive Branch officially says is a terrorist organization, even as it fights a Global War on Terrorism and accuses other countries of being state sponsors of terrorism. Finally, inconsistency on this issue is just plain silly: As coordinate members of the Executive Branch, the State Department and the Department of Defense should be in agreement on what organizations are Foreign Terrorist Organizations. If they are not, two different branches of the Executive Branch are working at cross-purposes, with potentially disastrous security and foreign policy ramifications. At the very least, Congress should amend the Immigration & Nationality Act (“INA”) and the criminal code to provide an exception to the “material support” laws where U.S. foreign policy and military leaders publicly direct such support in the case of a particular group and in the context of a Congressionally-authorized military conflict.
Page 2
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
B. The “Foreign Terrorist Organization” Designation
1. Passage of AEDPA
In 1996, spurred on by the bombings of the World Trade Center and the Oklahoma City federal building, Congress enacted the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”).2 AEDPA sought to “prevent persons within the United States, or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, from providing material support or resources to foreign organizations that engage in terrorist activities.”3 In pursuit of that goal, AEDPA created a new section of the Immigration & Nationality Act, Section 219, authorizing the U.S. Secretary of State to designate certain organizations as FTOs.4 Under INA §219(a), the Secretary of State
is authorized to designate an organization as a foreign terrorist organization in accordance with this subsection if the Secretary finds that–
(A) the organization is a foreign organization;
(B) the organization engages in terrorist activity . . . or terrorism . . . or retains the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism; and
(C) the terrorist activity or terrorism of the organization threatens the security of United States nationals or the national security of the United States.5
This law has withstood challenges that it is an unconstitutional infringement of First Amendment and Fifth Amendment rights.6 Additionally, the D.C. Circuit
2 Anti-Terrorism & Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214-1319 (1996).
3 AEDPA §301(b), codified at 8 USC §1189(a).
4 AEDPA §302(a) (creating Section 219 of the Immigration & Nationality Act).
5 INA §219(a)(1), 8 USC §1189(a)(1). Prior to passage of AEDPA, the Immigration Act of 1990 had created the first “material support” bar to entry. This change excluded any alien who “engaged in a terrorist activity” and defined “terrorist activity” to include “[t]he providing of any type of material support” to an individual who has committed or plans to commit terrorist activity. See Immigration Act of 1990, §601(a), Nov. 29, 1990, P.L. 101-649, 104 Stat. 4978.
6 See, e.g., Humanitarian Law Project v. Reno, 205 F.3d 1130, 1133 (9th Cir. 2000) (giving money to a terrorist organization is not protected speech); United States v. Hammoud, 381 F.3d 316 (4th Cir. 2004)(en banc) (rejecting argument that material support statute denies due process because it prohibits collateral attacks on FTO designations); but see Nat’l Council of Resistance of Iran v. Dep’t of State, 346 U.S. App. D.C. 131, 251 F.3d 192, 196, 200 (D.C. Cir. 2001) (finding that designation did deny a group due process, but denying relief because designation would expire shortly).
Page 3
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Court of Appeals has specifically held that the Secretary has unreviewable discretion to decide whether a particular organization “threatens the security” of the United States.7 Court challenges to Part (C) of the statute have failed on the ground that this “national security” determination by the Secretary is a political question.
2. Identifying Terrorist Organizations
According to the State Department, “FTO designations play a critical role in our fight against terrorism and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business.”8 The State Department claims that these designations “deter donations or contributions to, and economic transactions with, named entities and individuals” as well as heightening “public awareness and knowledge of terrorist organizations.”9
To fulfill the State Department’s duties under this statute, the Secretary has charged the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism in the State Department (S/CT) with the task of monitoring terrorist groups worldwide and identifying potential FTOs. In making its evaluation, S/CT is required to look not only at a group’s past activities, but also at whether the group may engage in future terrorist activities or has “the capability and intent” to carry out terrorist activities. The S/CT is permitted to look at classified and unclassified materials when making this determination; it can also consider “third hand accounts, press stories, material on the Internet or other hearsay regarding the organization’s activities.”10
7 People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran v. U.S. Dep’t of State, 337 U.S. App. D.C. 106, 182 F.3d 17, 23 (D.C. Cir. 1999) (“Of the three findings mandated . . . the third—‘(C) the terrorist activity of the organization threatens the security of United States nationals or the national security of the United States’—is nonjusticiable.”).
8 State Department Fact Sheet, available at http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/fs/2003/17067.htm (last visited April 21, 2006); see also U.S. Dep’t of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2005 (April 2006), at 34.
9 U.S. Dep’t of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2005 (April 2006), at 34.
10 PMOI v. U.S. Dep’t of State, 182 F.3d 17, 19 (D.C. Cir. 1999).
Page 4
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
3. Definitions
Crucial to DOS’s determination that an organization should be designated as an FTO is the definition of “engaging in terrorist activity.” The statute defines “engaging in terrorist activity” as committing “in an individual capacity or as a member of an organization, an act of terrorist activity or an act which the actor knows, or reasonably should know, affords material support to any individual, organization, or government in conducting a terrorist activity at any time.”11
As a basic matter, any foreign organization that engages in either “terrorist activity” or “terrorism” could potentially qualify as an FTO. Congress chose to define these terms very broadly. The INA defines “terrorist activity” as
any activity which is unlawful under the laws of the place where it is committed (or which, if committed in the United States, would be unlawful under the laws of the United States or any State) and which involves any of the following:
(I) The highjacking [sic] or sabotage of any conveyance (including an aircraft, vessel, or vehicle).
(II) The seizing or detaining, and threatening to kill, injure, or continue to detain, another individual in order to compel a third person (including a governmental organization) to do or abstain from doing any act as an explicit or implicit condition for the release of the individual seized or detained.
(III) A violent attack upon an internationally protected person (as defined in section 1116(b)(4) of title 18, United States Code) or upon the liberty of such a person.
(IV) An assassination.
(V) The use of any–
(a) biological agent, chemical agent, or nuclear weapon or device, or
(b) explosive, firearm, or other weapon or dangerous device (other than for mere personal monetary gain), with intent to endanger, directly or indirectly, the safety of one or more individuals or to cause substantial damage to property.
(VI) A threat, attempt, or conspiracy to do any of the foregoing.12
11 As defined in INA 212(a)(3)(B).
12 INA §212(a)(3)(B), 8 USCS §1182(a)(3)(B).
Page 5
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
(Emphasis added.) Thus, an act as common and simple as fighting another person with a knife, if punishable under the criminal code of the country in which the fight takes place, constitutes “terrorist activity” under this law. This definition has withstood challenges that it is vague and/or unconstitutionally overbroad.13
An organization that engages in “terrorism” can also qualify for FTO status. To define “terrorism” for purposes of this statute, Congress referenced section 140(d)(2) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989, which defines “terrorism” as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.”14 Interestingly, the statute says that either engaging in “terrorist activity” or “terrorism” will allow a foreign organization to be designated as an FTO—and the statute appears to be a bit redundant, as the definition of “terrorist activity” is so broad that it is hard to think of any act—except perhaps politically-motivated fist-fighting—that would constitute “terrorism” and not also fall within the definition of “terrorist activity.” It is also important to note that having the potential to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism is enough, even if a group has never actually committed any such act.
4. Designating Terrorist Organizations
When S/CT believes that a group should be designated as an FTO, S/CT will prepare an “administrative record” detailing information on the group’s activities.15 As stated above, S/CT may rely on both classified and unclassified information to compile the record.16 If the activities of the group indicate that it meets the statutory criteria for designation, the Secretary of State, in
13 See, e.g., McAllister v. Att’y Gen’l of the U.S., 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 8701 (3rd Cir., Apr. 10, 2006) (holding that the statute is neither vague nor overbroad in that it does not infringe on Constitutionally-protected behavior; rejecting argument that statute is overbroad because it encompasses common crimes that no reasonable person would consider to be terrorist acts).
14 22 U.S.C. §2656f(d)(2)).
15 INA §219(a)(3)(A), 8 USC §1189(a)(3)(A).
16 INA §219(a)(3)(B), 8 USC §1189(a)(3)(B).
Page 6
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury, will decide whether to formally designate the group, and will notify Congress.17 Congress has seven days to review the designation.18 Upon the expiration of the seven-day waiting period, the Secretary of State will publish notice of the designation in the Federal Register, at which point the designation takes effect.19 An organization designated as an FTO may seek judicial review of the designation in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit not later than 30 days after the designation is published in the Federal Register.20
FTO designations remain in effect unless revoked by an Act of Congress; alternatively, the Secretary of State can revoke a designation if circumstances have changed, or “the national security of the United States warrants revocation.”21 The designated FTO may file a petition with the Secretary of State asking for such revocation, but it must wait until two years have passed since the original designation, or two years from a prior petition for revocation, and it must prove that circumstances have changed such that revocation is warranted.22 A designation may also be set aside by a Court order.23
Although the law gives any organization designated as an FTO the right to appeal the designation in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, this right is fairly limited and based solely on the administrative record.24 The law does not allow any collateral challenges to the designation: “If a designation . . . has become effective . . . a defendant in a criminal action or an alien in a removal proceeding shall not be permitted to raise any question
17 INA §219(a)(2)(A)(i), 8 USC §1189(a)(2)(A)(i).
18 Id.
19 INA §219(a)(2)(A)(ii) & (a)(2)(B), 8 USC §1189(a)(2)(A)(ii) & (a)(2)(B).
20 INA §219(c)(1), 8 USC §1189(c)(1).
21 INA §219(a)(5) & (6), 8 USC §1189(a)(5) & (6).
22 INA §219(a)(4)(B), 8 USC §1189(a)(4)(B).
23 INA §219(c)(3), 8 USC §1189(c)(3).
24 INA §219(c)(2) & (3), 8 USC §1189(c)(2) & (3); see also U.S. v. Afshari, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 9572 (9th Cir., Apr. 17, 2006) (discussing the limitation nature of review under the statute).
Page 7
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
concerning the validity of the issuance of such designation or redesignation as a defense or an objection at any trial or hearing.”25
C. Legal Consequences of FTO Designation
1. Criminal Provisions
The designation of an organization as an FTO carries severe legal ramifications: First, it is a felony—punishable by a possible lifetime jail sentence26—for a person in the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to knowingly provide “material support or resources” to a designated FTO.27 “Material support or resources” includes “currency or other financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel, transportation, and other physical assets, except medicine or religious materials.” 28 The person need not be a member of the organization. The law criminalizes any conspiracies, attempts, and threats to commit terrorist acts as well.29 Congress has also specifically granted extraterritorial federal jurisdiction over these offenses.30
2. Immigration Provisions
In addition to potential criminal penalties, this law creates serious immigration consequences for non-citizens who support FTOs. Non-citizen representatives and members of a designated
25 INA §219(a)(8), 8 U.S.C. §1189(a)(8).
26 18 USCS §2339B(a)(1) (“Whoever knowingly provides material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both, and, if the death of any person results, shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life.”).
27 18 U.S.C. §2339B.
28 AEDPA §§303, 323 (enacting 18 USC §2339A(b) and §2339B(g)(4) (“‘material support or resources’ has the same meaning as in section 2339A”)). The statute defines “training” as “instruction or teaching designed to impart a specific skill, as opposed to general knowledge” and “expert advice or assistance” as “advice or assistance derived from scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge.” 18 USC §2339A(b)(2) & (3).
29 18 USC §2339B(a)(1).
30 AEDPA §303(a) (enacting 18 USC §2339B(d)).
Page 8
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
FTO are inadmissible to and removable from the United States.31 INA §212(a)(3)(B)(i) states that any alien who “has engaged in a terrorist activity” is inadmissible to the United States—and “engaged in terrorist activity” includes the act of giving “material support” to an FTO. The definition of “material support” in this section of the law is broader than in the criminal section, and does not contain an exemption for medicine or religious materials.32 Persons who provide material support are also removable33 and may be barred from becoming United States citizens if they are found not to be of “good moral character” or if they are placed in removal proceedings to be deported for having engaged in terrorist activities.34 The law does not require that a person charged with immigration violations under this material support provision have actual knowledge of any unlawful acts of the FTO or have any intent to further any unlawful acts.35
3. Financial Sanctions
Lastly, the law imposes serious economic sanctions on FTOs. Under Executive Order (EO) 13224,36 the U.S. Government can block the assets of individuals and organizations that provide support to FTOs. American financial institutions must freeze the assets of FTOs. The statute also serves to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267—which requires states to impose sanctions on groups and individuals associated with Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and the
31 See 8 U.S.C. §§1182 (a)(3)(B)(i)(IV)-(V), 1227 (a)(1)(A).
32 INA §212(a)(3)(B)(iv)(VI); 8 USC §1182(a)(3)(B)(iv)(VI) (stating that “material support” includes “safe house, transportation, communications, funds, transfer of funds or other material financial benefit, false documentation or identification, weapons (including chemical, biological, or radiological weapons), explosives, or training”).
33 INA §237(a)(4)(B) (“Any alien who is described in subparagraph (B) or (F) of section 212(a)(3) [8 U.S.C.A. §1182(a)(3)] is deportable.”).
34 Once a person is placed in removal proceedings, she is normally barred from obtaining U.S. citizenship until the proceedings are terminated favorably with a decision allowing her to retain her lawful permanent residence status.
35 Compare INA §212(a)(3)(B)(iv)(VI)(cc) with INA §212(a)(3)(B)(iv)(VI)(dd) (the latter allows the alien to escape the ground of inadmissibility if he “did not know, and should not reasonably have known, that the act would further the organization’s terrorist activity”).
36 E.O. 13224, Sept. 23, 2001.
Page 9
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Taliban—and UN Security Council Resolution 1624—which asks states to take measures to halt the incitement of terrorist acts.37
4. Waiver for Immigration Law Violations
In later amendments to the material support language, Congress created a waiver provision for the immigration violations of the material support laws (but not for violations of the criminal statute). The waiver provides that
The Secretary of State, after consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the Secretary of Homeland Security, after consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, may conclude in such Secretary’s sole unreviewable discretion that . . . [the ground of inadmissibility for material support] shall not apply with respect to any material support an alien afforded to an organization or individual that has engaged in a terrorist activity. . . The Secretary of State may not, however, exercise discretion under this clause with respect to an alien once removal proceedings against the alien are instituted . . . 38
DOS issued the first waiver under this authority in 2006, but it was given only to a single group of refugees who were living in a camp outside the United States, awaiting admission for resettlement in the U.S.39 As a practical matter, only people who are outside the United States (refugees, for example) would be eligible for such a waiver. Most other people charged with violating the material support provisions would not qualify for a waiver because the bureaucratic reality is that they are likely to have already been placed into removal proceedings by the time the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Homeland Security approves their request for a waiver. If they have been stopped at the border and placed in removal proceedings, they will not be eligible; if the Government has later
37 As of December 31, 2005, the U.S. had designated more than 400 individuals and entities as terrorists or their financiers and facilitators. U.S. Dep’t of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2005, at 36.
38 Language added by the REAL ID Act of 2005. Division B, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, & Tsunami Relief, May 1, 2005, P.L. 109-13, 119 Stat. 231.
39 DOS announced that it would give a waiver to the Burmese Karen Refugees at the Tham Hin Camp in Thailand. See Rachel L. Swarns, “U.S. Eases Curbs on Resettling Burmese Refugees,” N.Y.Times, May 5, 2006, at A1; Bradley Graham, “Immigration Waiver Granted to Refugees: Some Burmese Lose Pro-Terrorism Label,” Washington Post, May 5, 2005, at A14; U.S. Dep’t of State, Fact Sheet, “Secretary Decides Material Support Bar Inapplicable to Ethnic Karen Refugees in Tham Hin Camp, Thailand,” available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2006/65911.htm.
Page 10
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
identified them as deportable aliens for having provided material support, they will probably already be in removal proceedings as well.
5. Additional Changes made by the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001
Adding to the scheme created by AEDPA for designating certain organizations as FTOs under INA §219, the USA PATRIOT Act40 of 2001 created two other kinds of foreign terrorist organizations to which the “material support” provisions can apply: Under USA PATRIOT, in addition to the Section 219 FTOs, (1) “otherwise designated” organizations, and (2) any group of two or more persons, whether organized or not, who engage in certain activities can be considered “terrorist organizations.” Today, in other words, an organization can be deemed a foreign terrorist organization—and supporting it can trigger criminal and immigration sanctions—even if the Secretary of State has not published notice of its designation in the Federal Register.
The Secretary’s authority to designate any group, foreign or domestic, as a terrorist organization, upon publication in the Federal Register;41 is also virtually unreviewable. The USA PATRIOT Act also made a deportable offense any fundraising, solicitation for membership, or material support—even for humanitarian projects—of all groups that are designated terrorist organizations by the Secretary of State (without regard to whether such activities furthered actual terrorist activity); made a deportable offense any solicitation of funds or other material support for groups not officially designated as “terrorist organizations” unless the person can prove that he “did
40 Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (USA PATRIOT Act), P. L. 107-56, 115 Stat. 272 (Oct. 26, 2001).
41 The State Department had designated some thirty-nine (39) such groups as of December 5, 2001. See Press Statement, Philip T. Reeker, Statement on the Designation of 39 Organizations on the USA PATRIOT Act’s “Terrorist Exclusion List” (Dec. 6, 2001), available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2001/index.cfm?docid=6695.
Page 11
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
not know, and should not reasonably have known, that the solicitation would further the organization’s terrorist activity.”42
Thus, after the USA PATRIOT Act, the law defines a “terrorist organization” as an organization (1) designated under section 21943 of the INA; (2) otherwise designated in the Federal Register by the Secretary of State in consultation with or upon the request of the Attorney General or the Secretary of Homeland Security, as a terrorist organization; or (3) a group of two or more individuals, whether organized or not, which engages in, or has a subgroup which engages in, the “terrorist activities” described above.44
Section 412 of the PATRIOT Act granted the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General a non-delegable power to certify an alien as a terrorist if the Attorney General has “reasonable grounds” to believe that the alien is a terrorist or has committed a terrorist activity.45 The law requires immigration officials to detain a person so certified.46 The law allows a suspected terrorist alien to be detained for seven days before the government brings immigration or criminal charges.47 Aliens who are detained by immigration authorities under this section can get review of their detention by filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in a federal court, but their only appeal shall be to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.48 If a person has a final order for removal but has been certified as a terrorist, and cannot be removed, the Attorney General can detain the person but must review the detention every six months. The Attorney General can
42 USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, §411(a)((1)(F).
438 USCS §1189.
44 The USA PATRIOT Act also added new grounds of inadmissibility for representatives of foreign terrorist organizations or any group that publicly endorses acts of terrorist activity, and spouses and children of aliens who are inadmissible on any of the terrorism-related grounds.
45 USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, §412(a).
46 Id. If the person is determined not to be removable from the United States, the person may no longer be detained.
47 Id.
48 USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, §412(b)(3). Any district court handling such a habeas case is also bound by the decisions of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Id. at §412(b)(4).
Page 12
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
continue to detain the person past six months if he can show that “the release of the alien will endanger the national security of the United States or the safety of the community or any person.”49
6. The Net Effect of the “Material Support” Provisions
What is the net effect of the “material support” provisions of the U.S. Code? As a result of AEDPA, USA PATRIOT Act, and the REAL ID Act of 2005, anyone who today acts as a member of a group fighting against an established government would by definition be engaging in “terrorist activity” if that government treats the members of the group as criminals under its domestic laws. Put another way, if the person uses a firearm or other weapon to fight against the government, she has engaged in “terrorist activity” if her fighting is “unlawful under the laws of the place where it is committed.” If a person provides “material support” to someone who engaged or is engaging in such activity, the person violates U.S. immigration and criminal laws. The language is so broad that it punishes “people who fought for freedom from apartheid in South Africa, Jews who resisted persecution in Nazi Germany and Vietnamese and Hmong who aided the United States forces during the Vietnam War.”50
Had this law been in effect in 1778, for example, Mary Hays McCauly—better known as Molly Pitcher, the famous American Revolutionary War heroine—would have engaged in “terrorist activity” when she helped her husband fight at the Battle of Monmouth during the Revolutionary War; under British law at the time, a British subject (colonist) who attacked the British Army was a criminal and could be tried in British criminal courts. Molly Pitcher’s act of providing water to the
49 USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, §412(a)(6).
50 Letter from Robert D. Evans, Director, Governmental Affairs Office, American Bar Association, to Senator Arlen Specter, Apr. 26, 2006, available at http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=19233 (document can also be downloaded from American Bar Association website).
Page 13
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
other Revolutionary War fighters51 during the battle would have been an act of providing “material support” to terrorists.52 Because the law is retroactive, today any non-citizen Daughters of the American Revolution could technically face deportation for being members of the organization.53
D. The People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI): DOS versus DOD
1. The History of the PMOI/MEK
The group known as the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (“PMOI”)—and also called, variously, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (“MEK”), the Muslim Iranian Students’ Society, the National Council of Resistance (NCR), the Organization of the People’s Holy Warriors of Iran, the National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA), the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), or the Sazeman-e Mujahedin-e Khalq-e Iran54—was formed in 1965; its goal then was to overthrow the Shah of Iran.55 In the 1970s, members of the group killed American military and civilian personnel who were working in Iran; it also supported the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in 1979. After the Iranian Islamic Revolution, however, the group began to fight against the Khomeini regime, and most of its members fled Iran. Many ended up in Europe, but a large group found safe haven in Iraq. Saddam Hussein armed the group and sent its members into action against Iran. Throughout the 1990s, the PMOI engaged in an ongoing campaign of violent terrorist attacks, mostly targeting the Iranian regime.
51 Georgetown University Law Center, Unintended Consequences: Refugee Victims of the War on Terror, at ii (May 2006) (“As the law went into effect in late 2004, UNHCR officials in Ecuador were told by U.S. government representatives that ‘even a glass of water’ could constitute prohibited support.”).
52 I rely on the facts about Molly Pitcher found at http://sill-www.army.mil/pao/pamolly.htm (last accessed April 30, 2006).
53 Interestingly, the Daughters of the American Revolution allow membership for women whose ancestors provided “material aid” to the Revolutionary War fighters. See http://www.dar.org/natsociety/content.cfm?ID=145&hd=n&FO=Y (allowing membership for female descendants of “[t]hose who rendered material aid such as furnishing supplies with or without remuneration, lending money to the Colonies, munitions makers, gunsmiths, etc.”).
54 U.S. Dep’t of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2005 (April 2006), at 212.
55 Ervand Abrahamian, The Iranian Mojahedin (1989).
Page 14
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
In 1997, the Secretary of State Madeleine Albright designated the PMOI/MEK as a foreign terrorist organization under INA §219.56 This designation was somewhat controversial,57 but it withstood three separate court challenges.58 Despite numerous attempts by MEK—and some of its prominent supporters59—to get DOS to lift the designation, it remains in place today.60 In April 2006, the State Department described the group as follows:
Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK): The MEK, a largely Iranian group, mixes Marxism, nationalism, and Islam. The MEK was formed in the 1960s and was expelled from Iran after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Since the late 1908s, its primary support came from the former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. The MEK conducted anti-Western attacks prior to the Islamic Revolution. Since then, it has conducted terrorist attacks against the interests of the clerical regime in Iran and abroad.61
This official State Department description lacks the color of other accounts of the PMOI/MEK, which has been the subject of several high-profile news reports. In 2003, for example, Elizabeth Rubin published a lengthy profile of the group in the New York Times magazine. She described how the group was led by its “charismatic husband-and-wife duo, Maryam and Massoud Rajavi,” and how it had “transformed itself into the only army in the world with a commander corps composed mostly of women.”62 Characterizing the group as “bizarre,” Rubin reported that they were conducting small arms and artillery training, maintaining tanks, and driving
56 8 U.S.C. §1189.
57 The news media and some scholars have described the designation as “a goodwill gesture toward Iran’s newly elected reform-minded president, Mohammad Khatami.” Elizabeth Rubin, The Cult of Rajavi, N.Y. Times Magazine, July 13, 2003; see also Ilan Berman, Tehran Rising at 31 (2005).
58 See United States v. Afshari, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 9572 (April 17, 2006) (recounting history of the designation of the PMOI/MEK as a foreign terrorist organization). MEK appealed its designation three times—in 1999, 2001, and 2003, losing each time.
59 One such supporter is Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado. See John P. Gramlich, “Iranian ‘Terror’ Group Divides Washington,” United Press Int’l, Dec. 20, 2005 (describing how Congressman Tancredo has “publicly expressed support for” the PMOI/MEK). Congressman Tancredo, ironically, has campaigned vigorously in favor of anti-terrorism provisions of the immigration laws, and was a staunch support of the REAL ID Act of 2005.
60 John P. Gramlich, “Iranian ‘Terror’ Group Divides Washington,” United Press Int’l, Dec. 20, 2005.
61 U.S. Dep’t of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2005 (April 2006), at 132.
62 Elizabeth Rubin, The Cult of Rajavi, N.Y. Times Magazine, July 13, 2003, at 26.
Page 15
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Katyusha rocket trucks while going through “routine self-criticism” and “weekly ideological cleansings.” She also quoted a former member of the group who described it as “a totalitarian mini-state” and others who opined that “the Rajavis, given the chance, would have been the Pol Pot of Iran.” Her account of the group was reinforced by other reports, including a widely-publicized Human Rights Watch report in which escapees from the group described various human rights abuses perpetrated by the PMOI/MEK on its members and former members from 1991 to 2003.63
In any event, U.S. Army General Ray Odierno negotiated the group’s “surrender” to U.S. forces in May 2003. General Odierno “thought that the group’s commitment to democracy in Iran meant its status as a terrorist organization should be reviewed.”64 An unidentified administration official said that “Pentagon hard-liners” wanted to use the PMOI/MEK to help overthrow the Iranian regime and provide intelligence on the Iranian nuclear program.65
Notwithstanding high-profile attempts to describe the group as benign, however, in its most recent terrorism report, dated April 2006, the State Department reaffirmed that the PMOI/MEK is a terrorist organization.66 At the same time, DOS states that “MEK leadership ordered its members not to resist Coalition forces at the outset of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and they surrendered their arms to Coalition forces in May 2003.”67 DOS states further that the PMOI no longer have weapons, tanks armored vehicles, or heavy artillery.68 DOS also reports that a “significant number
63Human Rights Watch, No Exit: Human Rights Abuses Inside the MKO Camps (May 2005), available at http://hrw.org/backgrounder/mena/iran0505/iran0505.pdf; see also Human Rights Watch, Statement on Responses to Human Rights Watch Report on Abuses by the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), available at http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/02/15/iran12678_txt.htm.
64 Rubin, at 26.
65 Id.
66 U.S. Dep’t of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2005 (April 2006), at 132.
67 Country Reports at 213.
68 Id.
Page 16
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
of MEK personnel have voluntarily left the . . . group, and several hundred of them have been voluntarily repatriated to Iran.”69
2. PMOI Prosecutions in the United States
Following the PMOI’s designation as an FTO, the Department of Justice prosecuted and convicted many people for providing “material support” to the organization. Although these defendants have frequently challenged their convictions as unconstitutional, the courts have rejected their arguments. The courts have also rejected their attempts to attack collaterally the designation of the PMOI as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
In the recent case of United States of America v. Hossein Afshari,70 for example, a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a petition for rehearing and the Court also denied a petition for rehearing en banc, thus upholding the convictions of seven defendants who had given money to the PMOI between 1997 and 2001. They had been convicted of providing “material support” to a terrorist organization in violation of 18 U.S.C. §2339B(a)(1).
The Department of Homeland Security and its predecessor agency, the Immigration & Naturalization Service have also sought to deport those non-citizens who have provided material support to the PMOI/MEK. In 2002, for example, the Board of Immigration Appeals upheld a removal order for an Iranian national who had provided support to the PMOI/MEK, denying him asylum and withholding of removal.71
3. PMOI and the Department of Defense
At the same time that DOJ has been vigorously prosecuting supporters of PMOI/MEK inside the United States, the Pentagon has been protecting the group in Iraq. The U.S. State
69 Id.
70 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 9572 (9th Cir., Apr. 17, 2006).
71 In re U—H—, Int. Dec. 3469, 2002 BIA LEXIS 9, 23 I&N Dec. 355 (BIA 2002).
Page 17
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Department and the Department of Defense have acknowledged that the U.S. military “has allowed the MEK to maintain an operational training facility in Iraq.”72 Human rights groups have documented the fact that PMOI/MEK members are being held by the Pentagon at Camp Ashraf in Iraq. When the group’s presence at the camp was first noticed, the Pentagon equivocated about their status,73 but eventually the Pentagon acknowledged that the “3,500 Iranian refugees” located at Camp Ashraf are in fact members of PMOI/MEK.74 The PMOI/MEK receive very unusual treatment for denizens of a refugee camp. According to press reports, “Camp Ashraf is not really a camp. . . . [I]t has a convention centre, two museums, a pool, park, garden, hospital and university.”75 Members of the PMOI/MEK parade “in their military uniforms—green fatigues adorned with scarlet berets, scarves and sashes.”76
Human Rights Watch and other groups, as well as the U.S. State Department, claim that PMOI/MEK remains dangerous.77 A group calling itself “The Association for the Support of Victims of the Mojahedin-e Khalq” has held press conferences recently, accusing MEK of ongoing human rights abuses.78 The Canadian Security Intelligence Service apparently thinks that the group is enough of a threat that it has been warning Canadian politicians not to associate with the PMOI/MEK.79
72 John P. Gramlich, “Iranian ‘Terror’ Group Divides Washington,” United Press Int’l, Dec. 20, 2005 (quoting DOS spokesman Gregg Sullivan).
73 This equivocation was apparently the result of internal conflict in the administration: According to news reports, some factions at the State Department wanted the PMOI/MEK disarmed, but the Pentagon wanted to use them in Iran. See Connie Bruck, “Exiles: How Iran’s Expatriates Are Gaming the Nuclear Threat,” The New Yorker, Mar. 6, 2006, at 48.
74 John P. Gramlich, “Iranian ‘Terror’ Group Divides Washington,” United Press Int’l, Dec. 20, 2005.
75 Stewart Bell, “U.S. Holds Canadians on Iran-Iraq Border: 50 People Left Canada to Join ‘Terror’ Group,” National Post (Canada), Apr. 17, 2004, at A1.
76 Id.
77 John P. Gramlich, “Iranian ‘Terror’ Group Divides Washington,” United Press Int’l, Dec. 20, 2005 (quoting DOS spokesman Gregg Sullivan for the proposition that “this is a group that is engaged in terrorist activity”).
78 Press Conference in Paris on Human Rights Abuses in the Mojahedin-e Khalq Since the Fall of Saddam Hussein, U.S. Newswire, Mar. 7, 2006.
79 Stewart Bell, “CSIS Visits B.C. Tory MP After Iran Rally: Agents Accuse Exile Group of Terrorism,” National Post (Canada), Apr. 15, 2004, at A1.
Page 18
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Yet the U.S. military, reportedly on the orders of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, has now designated members of the PMOI/MEK as “protected persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention.80 They appear to be the only FTO in the world that is publicly receiving such protection; under the rules of the Administration’s Global War on Terrorism, the majority of terrorists are deemed “unlawful enemy combatants” and said to fall outside the Geneva Conventions.81 Thus, the designation of the PMOI as “protected persons”—in light of the State Department position that the group is an FTO—is more than a bit puzzling.
The Fourth Geneva Convention82 concerns the protection of civilians during times of war and under occupation by a foreign power. Article 4 of this Convention defines “protected persons” as “[p]ersons protected by the Convention . . . who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in the case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals.”83 While the Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly excludes “Nationals of a States which is not bound by the Convention”84 and anyone who is a citizen of a neutral or allied state,85 Iran is a Party to the Convention and its nationals who are members of the PMOI/MEK can thus qualify as “protected persons.”
80 “Iraq: Two Members of PMOI Abducted,” U.S. Fed News, Dec. 11, 2005 (citing a U.S. Central Command press release for the proposition that “[t]he residents of Camp Ashraf have been considered protected persons under the fourth Geneva Convention since June 2004”).
81 Dep’t of Defense, Background Briefing, May 20, 2004 (“[T]he secretary of defense has instructed his combatant commanders that for those people that the armed forces detain in the global war on terrorism that are unlawful combatants, that are not subject to the Geneva Convention, shall be treated humanely and consistent with military necessity, consistent with the principals [sic] of the Geneva Convention”), available at http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2004/tr20040520-0788.html.
82 Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, opened for signature Aug. 12, 1949, 75 U.N.T.S. 287, 6 U.S.T. 3516 [hereinafter Fourth Geneva Convention or GCIV].
83 GCIV Article 4.
84 GCIV Article 4.
85 GCIV Article 4.
Page 19
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Under Article 3 of the Convention,86 protected persons must be given humane treatment. Additionally, many of the remaining articles in the Fourth Geneva Convention grant extra protections to protected persons. Under those articles, “protected persons” may not be subjected to any “physical or moral coercion,” “physical suffering or extermination,” collective punishment, pillage, or reprisals.87 They are allowed to leave the country or occupied territory if they like.88 They are allowed to work but cannot be compelled to do so.89
Many U.S. military units have been ordered to Camp Ashraf to help and protect the PMOI/MEK, and in some cases to help repatriate their members to Iran. The Army Times, for example, reported on March 13, 2006 that the Army Reserve’s 344th Combat Support Hospital was running “combat health facilities at . . . Camp Ashraf, where they treat coalition forces, detainees, civilian contractors[,] and some local Iraqis.”90 The Massachusetts National Guard had approximately 150 soldiers guarding the PMOI/MEK at Camp Ashraf until recently;91 so did the Minnesota National Guard.92 MEK members are apparently accorded privileges such that they are permitted to go on “routine logistics trip[s]” to Baghdad in which they are often transported by U.S.
86 Also referred to as “Common Article 3” because identical language is found in Article 3 of all four of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949. Common Article 3 is also the international law protecting noncombatants in most cases of non-international armed conflict. Common Article 3 provides protection against violence and outrages to personal dignity, as well as assuring fair trial standards. Common Article 3 has attained the status of customary international law, and in recent years has been used as a basis for international war crimes prosecutions.
87 GCIV Articles 31, 32, 33.
88 GCIV Article 35.
89 GCIV Articles 39, 40.
90 Michelle Tan, “Hospital Has The Right Stuff,” Army Times (Mar. 13, 2006), at 28.
91 Connie Paige, “Troops Home for the Holidays,” Boston Globe (Dec. 17, 2005) (describing how Massachusetts National Guard soldiers were assigned to perform “detainee operations” at Camp Ashraf).
92 Tracey Compton, “1-194th’s Soldiers Roll Into St. Cloud,” St. Cloud Times, Dec. 7, 2005, at A1.
Page 20
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
soldiers.93 Furthermore, the press has reported that MEK’s “terrorist military base has been left intact with its own command structure to govern the camp.”94
E. Providing Material Support to Terrorists
Under the definition of “material support” in the INA and other U.S. laws, however, members of U.S. military units are clearly providing “material support” to the PMOI/MEK. As described above, the definition of “material support” is extremely broad. In the case Singh-Kaur v. Ashcroft, for example, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that an alien who admitted only to providing food and shelter to a group of militant Sikhs who opposed the Indian government was properly found to have provided “material support” to those “engaged in terrorist activities.”95 Under U.S. case law and the interpretations of U.S. immigration authorities, feeding members of an FTO; transporting them; and providing them with shelter—all constitute “material support.” The only support that is not considered criminally-punishable “material support” is the provision of medical care and religious items, as those two types of support are specifically excluded from the criminal “material support” definition—yet supplying aspirin or a Koran to a member of an FTO could still get a non-citizen deported.96 According to an attorney for the Department of Homeland Security, there is no de minimis exception to the concept of material support; a person falls within the ambit of the “material support” statutes by giving even a dime to a terrorist.97
93 Dep’t of Defense U.S. Central Command Press Release, Iraq: Two Members of PMOI Abducted (Update 1), Dec. 11, 2005 (describing how two PMOI members were “abducted on Aug. 4 in eastern Baghdad while on a routine logistics trip”).
94 Press Conference in Paris on Human Rights Abuses in the Mojahedin-e Khalq Since the Fall of Saddam Hussein, U.S. Newswire, Mar. 7, 2006.
95 Singh-Kaur v. Ashcroft, 385 F.3d 293, 299-301 (3rd Cir. 2004).
96 Compare 18 USC §2339A(b) with 8 USC §1182(a)(3)(B)(iv)(VI).
97 Oral Argument of DHS Attorney George Martin, Transcript of Oral Argument, Board of Immigration Appeals, In the Matter of Ma San Kywe, A97-901-756 (Jan. 26, 2006) (on file with author) (“So, if someone provides a pocket full of change knowing that the organization might be a terrorist organization, that’s sufficient in your view? . . .[T]hat’s correct.”); see also Georgetown University Law Center, Unintended Consequences: Refugee Victims of the War on Terror, at ii-iii (May 2006) (describing lack of a de minimis exception to material support bar).
Page 21
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
U.S. immigration authorities have interpreted the “material support” laws to deny admission to the United States to large numbers of people, including refugees who would otherwise be accepted for resettlement in America.98 As described in a recent report from the Georgetown University Law Center, the U.S. Government has
indefinitely deferred U.S. resettlement of a Liberian woman who was gang-raped and held hostage by the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD). Relying on the material support bar, DHS classified the laundry and chores that the rebels forced her to do while she was held hostage as prohibited material support to a terrorist organization. A Sri Lankan refugee was forced to pay a ransom for his release after he was abducted by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE); the U.S. judge denied him asylum on account of this provision of material support to a designated terrorist organization. The expansive U.S. definition has denied U.S. protection to anti-Communist Alzados who challenged Castro’s dominance in Cuba; Vietnamese Montagnards who supported U.S. military action during the Vietnam War; and thousands of pro-democracy Burmese who supported resistance to a totalitarian regime that the U.S. also opposes.99
According to Human Rights Watch, the law “is now being applied so broadly, that supporters of movements that the United States once fought alongside, such as members of the Northern Alliance, are barred [from] admission.”100 The bar “fails to include exceptions for individuals who have provided ‘support’ under implied or explicit threats of death, who support pro-democracy groups in conflict with repressive regimes, for minors forced to work for terrorist organizations, or for those who have provided such negligible ‘support’ as a glass of water or a bowl of rice.”101 According to the Miami Herald, “one DHS lawyer argued in an immigration appeals case
98 See Georgetown University Law Center, Unintended Consequences: Refugee Victims of the War on Terror (May 2006) (describing how the material support bar has been used to deny admission to the United States to numerous refugees).
99 Id. at ii.
100 Human Rights Watch Draft Memo, Mar. 5, 2006 (in possession of the author) [hereinafter “HRW Memo”].
101 Letter from Robert D. Evans, Director, Governmental Affairs Office, American Bar Association, to Senator Arlen Specter, Apr. 26, 2006 (in possession of the author).
Page 22
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
that any level of support—as little as a dime provided under duress or unwittingly—would bar a deserving refugee from U.S. entry.”102 The Human Rights Watch reports that
In a recent Board of Immigration Appeals case, lawyers for the Department of Homeland Security even opined that the law would bar admission to the Iraqi nationals that provided the United States Marines information directing them to Jessica Lynch, because [] they aided a force that was taking up arms against the ruling Iraqi government.103
The law makes no exception for material support provided under duress.104 Nor do the criminal statute or the immigration laws make an exception for U.S. military personnel who provided the material support or resources pursuant to orders by the Pentagon chain-of-command.
Thus, U.S. soldiers who have been assigned to Camp Ashraf potentially face criminal charges for having provided material support to a FTO; any non-US citizens among the force are inadmissible to the United States and subject to deportation. Should any of these non-citizen U.S. soldiers end up in removal proceedings later in their lives, their assignment to Camp Ashraf would mean that they are ineligible for most relief from removal, including temporary protected status,105 asylum,106 withholding of removal,107 cancellation of removal,108 and adjustment of status.109 While providing material support to a FTO is not an absolute bar to obtaining U.S. citizenship, an
102 “Commentary: Sweeping Legislation, Unintended Harm,” Miami Herald, Mar. 27, 2006, at A26.
103 Human Rights Watch Memo at 2.
104 Id.
105 INA §244(c)(2)(A)(iii)(III), 8 U.S.C. §1254a(c)(2)(A)(iii)(III) (no waivers of inadmissibility for national security grounds).
106 INA §208(b)(2)(A)(v), 8 USC §1158(b)(2)(A)(v) (finding aliens ineligible for asylum if they fall under certain portions of Section 1182(a)(3)(B), the statutory provision defining terrorist activities).
107 INA §241(b)(3)(B)(iv), 8 USC §1231(b)(3)(B)(iv) (refusing to allow withholding of removal to aliens if there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that the alien is “a danger to the security of the United States” and specifically referring to Section 1227(a)(4)(B), which states that the definition includes any alien described under Section 1182(a)(3)(B)—the statutory provision defining terrorist activities).
108 INA §240A(c)(4), 8 U.S.C. §1229b(c)(4).
109 An alien who seeks adjustment of status must be “admissible” to the United States. See INA §245(a), 8 U.S.C. §1255(a).
Page 23
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
immigration examiner could surely deny a citizenship applications on the grounds that providing material support to a FTO demonstrates a lack of good moral character.110
F. Ensuring A Coherent Military, Foreign, and Immigration Policy
Having said all this, is it likely that American immigration officials will deny entry to the United States or deport non-citizen U.S. soldiers who have followed the orders of their commanders and performed duties that required them to provide “material support” to the PMOI/MEK? One would hope that these officials have a sense of the justifiable public outrage that would accompany such actions, even if the law technically requires them. Yet the situation illustrates why Congress should amend the material support law at the first opportunity.
The FTO laws and their related “material support” provisions are currently being violated in Iraq as a matter of official U.S. military and foreign policy. When U.S. law criminalizes without exception behavior that is officially and publicly authorized and directed in support of U.S. military and foreign policy objectives, those in the Executive Branch who are tasked to carry out the policy are placed in a dilemma. If they perceive the dilemma, they may have to disobey orders from their superiors in order to avoid legal sanctions later. If they do not see the dilemma, they may later suffer criminal and administrative sanctions for behavior that appeared to be required by their official duties. In any event, this conflict is repugnant to a society which is supposed to operate under the rule of law.
U.S. law should also encourage the State Department and the Department of Defense to be legally consistent,111 rather than opening the U.S. government up to charges of hypocrisy. The
110 INA §316(a), 8 U.S.C. §1427.
111 Others have pointed out similar inconsistencies in other government lists of terrorist organizations. See Mark P. Denbeaux, Joshua Denbeaux, David Gratz, John Gregorek, Matthew Darby, Shana Edwards, Shane Hartman, Daniel Mann, & Helen Skinner, Second Report on the Guantanamo Detainees: Inter- and Intra-Departmental Disagreements About Who Is Our Enemy, undated manuscript (in possession of the author) (explaining how DOD has 72 organizations on its Combatant Status Review Tribunals list, but these organizations differ from the ones on the Patriot Act Terrorist Exclusion list and other lists maintained by the Department of State).
Page 24
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
current situation with respect to “material support” of terrorists allows opponents of the current administration to accurately describe the Administration as providing support to a terrorist organization in violation of law, and in violation of the publicly-announced policy of the United States to deny any support to terrorists. Under the express terms of the current law, the United States is itself “a state sponsor” of terrorism.
The Department of Defense and the Department of State should be in official agreement on what organizations constitute FTOs. Even if they cannot agree, Congress should amend current “material support” laws so as to preclude the possibility that a person could be denied immigration benefits or criminally prosecuted for supporting a group that is itself being supported and protected by the United States Government as an official and public matter. In the context of the Congressionally-authorized Global War on Terrorism, support for such organizations should be encouraged, not punished.
The American Bar Association and various human rights groups have recommended changes to the law to protect legitimate refugees from being barred from the United States under the material support provisions. These proposals will go far to resolve unfair “material support” bars pertaining to those refugees. They do not, however, resolve the problem with the PMOI/MEK. For that problem to be resolved, Congressional action is necessary.
G. Conclusion
This paper has explored one of the stranger and more embarrassing legal conundrums arising out of recent efforts by Congress to tighten the immigration and criminal laws relating to terrorism. Unfortunately, Congress’s efforts in the “material support” arena have seemingly done more to embarrass the United States and hurt our allies and friends than they have helped achieve U.S. foreign and military policy goals. To avoid the serious public diplomacy fallout and potential
Page 25
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
private pain created by the current policy, Congress should amend the “material support to terrorism” laws at the first opportunity.
Page 26
COPYRIGHT 2006 BENDER’S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
<><><><><>
>

The Material Support of Hillary Clinton and Tarek Mehanna

18 USC 2339(A) and 18 USC 2339(B) proscribe the material support of terrorism and designated foreign terrorist organizations. In short, it is the “material support” law:

the term “material support or resources” means any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel (1 or more individuals who may be or include oneself), and transportation, except medicine or religious materials;

During oral argument on the now seminal defining case as to the astounding reach of this statute, Holder v. HLP, now Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan argued, as Solicitor General, that even humanitarian lawyers could be charged and convicted under the wide ranging provisions:

JUSTICE KENNEDY: Do you stick with the argument made below that it’s unlawful to file an amicus brief?

GENERAL KAGAN: Justice Kennedy –

JUSTICE KENNEDY: I think I’m right in saying it that that was the argument below.

GENERAL KAGAN: Yes, I think that would be a service. In other words, not an amicus brief just to make sure that we understand each other. The Petitioners can file amicus briefs in a case that might involve the PKK or the LTTE for themselves, but to the extent that a lawyer drafts an amicus brief for the PKK or for the LTTE, that that’s the amicus party, then that indeed would be prohibited.

Kagan argued for an interpretation so broad that even the filing of an amicus brief would be violative of the material support prohibitions and the Supreme Court so held.

So, surely, the DOJ is going to heed the words and intent of the right honorable Justice Kagan over this report then, right?

The Iraqi government has promised to shutter Camp Ashraf — the home of the Iranian dissident group Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK) — by Dec. 31. Now, the United Nations and the State Department are scrambling to move the MEK to another location inside Iraq, which just may be a former U.S. military base.

The saga puts the United Nations and President Barack Obama’s administration in the middle of a struggle between the Iraqi government, a new and fragile ally, and the MEK, a persecuted group that is also on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.

The Marxist-Islamist group, which was formed in 1965, was used by Saddam Hussein to attack the Iranian government during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, and has been implicated in the deaths of U.S. military personnel and civilians. The new Iraqi government has been trying to evict them from Camp Ashraf since the United States toppled Saddam in 2003. The U.S. military guarded the outside of the camp until handing over external security to the Iraqis in 2009. The Iraqi Army has since tried twice to enter Camp Ashraf, resulting in bloody clashes with the MEK both times. (emphasis added)

Well, no, there will be no prosecution for aiding and abetting these terrorists. Now, in all seriousness and fairness, Secretary of State Clinton is probably exempted under 18 USC 2339(B)(j) which provides:

No person may be prosecuted under this section in connection with the term “personnel”, “training”, or “expert advice or assistance” if the provision of that material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization was approved by the Secretary of State with the concurrence of the Attorney General. The Secretary of State may not approve the provision of any material support that may be used to carry out terrorist activity (as defined in section 212(a)(3)(B)(iii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act).

Still, the point being the hypocrisy of the US Government who on one hand is willing to prose3cute even attorneys trying to give humanitarian legal assistance to alleged terrorist organizations to help reform them, but is on the other hand willing to actively and affirmatively work to provide a former US military base and accoutrements to shelter a known and designated violent terrorist group, one that has a history of killing Americans, both military and civilian.

While there may be an exemption for the State Department itself, there certainly is not for other US citizens and officials who have, for years, directly aided and abetted the MEK within the definition of “material support. Again, from Josh Rogin’s report in FP’s The Cable linked above:

As part of its multi-million dollar lobbying effort, the MEK has paid dozens of top U.S. officials and former officials to speak on its behalf, sometimes at rallies on the State Department’s doorstep. MEK supporters have been stationed outside the State Department non-stop for months now, and are even showing up at Congressional hearings.

Their list of advocates, most who have admitted being paid, includes Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, former Sen. Robert Torricelli, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, former CIA Deputy Director of Clandestine Operations John Sano, former National Security Advisor James Jones, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers, former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card, Gen. Wesley Clark, former Rep. Lee Hamilton, former CIA Director Porter Goss, senior advisor to the Romney campaign Mitchell Reiss, Gen. Anthony Zinni, former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, former Sen. Evan Bayh, and many others.

The Department of Justice has just convicted a man, Tarek Mehanna, in Massachusetts for, in significant part, material support in the form of posting videos on the internet. Adam Serwer has a nice description of the parameters of the Mehanna case at Mother Jones that includes this analysis:

“This case is being used by the government to really narrow First Amendment activity in dangerous new ways,” says Nancy Murray of the Massachusetts branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. “It might be speech that horrifies people, but it’s the nature of the First Amendment to protect that speech, unless it’s leading to imminent lawless action.”

Civil liberties advocates say the case represents a slippery slope. In the 2010 case Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, which decided whether or not providing nonviolent aid (such as legal advice) to terrorist groups constitutes material support for terrorism, the Supreme Court ruled that even protected speech can be a criminal act if it occurs at the direction of a terrorist organization. Based on that ruling, you could be convicted of materially supporting terrorism merely for translating a document or putting an extremist video online, depending on your intentions.

Adam’s article is worth a full read to gain a glimpse of the fine line in material support cases.

Well, it is a fine line in some cases, not so much if it concerns our terrorists. You know, the good terrorists the US Government favors. Tarek Mehanna may think this a pretty inconsistent posture.

HERE is article indicated above

Does Posting Jihadist Material Make Tarek Mehanna a Terrorist?

How the outcome of Mehanna’s trial could rewrite the line between speech and crime.

—By Adam Serwer

| Fri Dec. 16, 2011 3:00 AM PST
gavel s_falkow/Flickr

Does posting militant videos on the internet make you a terrorist?

For Tarek Mehanna it just might. Arrested in 2009, Mehanna is a Massachusetts resident whom prosecutors describe as a longtime terrorist wannabe. He isn’t just being prosecuted for trying (and failing) to acquire terrorist training in Yemen and lying to federal investigators. He’s also being tried for posting pro-jihadist material on the internet.

Mehanna’s indictment says that since the early 2000s, he and his friends watched extremist videos on the web and discussed going abroad to receive training in Pakistan and later Yemen. When Mehanna and his alleged accomplice finally reached Yemen in 2004, they were turned away by an old man who told them “all that stuff is gone ever since the planes hit the Twin Towers.” Returning home, prosecutors say, Mehanna committed himself to battling the West by other means: spreading Al Qaeda’s ideology to the masses by translating extremist documents and posting terrorist propaganda on the Internet, in the hopes of converting more to the cause.

“This case is being used by the government to really narrow First Amendment activity in dangerous new ways,” says Nancy Murray of the Massachusetts branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. “It might be speech that horrifies people, but it’s the nature of the First Amendment to protect that speech, unless it’s leading to imminent lawless action.”

Civil liberties advocates say the case represents a slippery slope. In the 2010 case Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, which decided whether or not providing nonviolent aid (such as legal advice) to terrorist groups constitutes material support for terrorism, the Supreme Court ruled that even protected speech can be a criminal act if it occurs at the direction of a terrorist organization. Based on that ruling, you could be convicted of materially supporting terrorism merely for translating a document or putting an extremist video online, depending on your intentions.

“If he’s doing it on behalf of a designated group, he’s providing a service, and that’s the crime,” says Georgetown University law professor David Cole, who argued against the government in Humanitarian Law Project. “It doesn’t matter if the speech is itself violent or nonviolent.” The question is whether Mehanna’s actions were done at the direction of a terrorist group or whether his actions constituted “independent advocacy.”

Convicting Mehanna on conspiracy charges stemming from his alleged attempt to seek terrorist training or lying to investigators is one thing. Convicting him based on his alleged pro-jihadist internet advocacy could establish a legal path to stamping out extremist propaganda on the web. At the same time, in the view of some civil libertarians, the case could narrow the right to free speech by allowing the government to successfully prosecute the expression of radical or unpopular views as a crime. The verdict could come as soon as next week.

The Mehanna prosecution followed a series of terrorist incidents, including the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas, where the internet played some role in the individual’s radicalization. In September, the Obama administration announced it had killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical US-born Imam whose ability to give sermons in colloquial American English made him the symbol of a new era of homegrown extremism. Though administration officials insisted Awlaki’s activities in support of terrorism weren’t merely rhetorical, he was never indicted—his death was approved by a secret national security panel.

“The dominant narrative right now among Western counterterrorism experts is that because Al Qaeda can’t undertake a big attack in the United States, they’re advocating these lone-wolf attacks, and a big part of that is pushing out that stuff online,” says Will McCants, a former counterterrorism official at the State Department. For English-speaking extremists in particular, McCants says, the internet has been a crucial tool for finding kindred souls. Though “radicalization primarily takes place in the physical world,” McCants says, “you can point to a few cases where someone has been radicalized solely on internet material.”

Testifying before Congress in April, FBI Director Robert Mueller warned: “The increase and availability of extremist propaganda in English can exacerbate the problem. Ten years ago, in the absence of the internet, extremists would have operated in relative isolation, unlike today.”

Mehanna’s defense team has argued that his views have been misrepresented and that he doesn’t share Al Qaeda’s extremist worldview. Holding radical or abhorrent beliefs, however, is still protected by the Constitution. The basic legal standard for when speech becomes criminal is referred to as the “Brandenburg test.” Stemming from a 1969 Supreme Court case, the rule essentially stipulates that speech can’t be criminalized unless it is deliberately meant to incite “imminent lawless action” and there’s a reasonable belief that action could take place.

After all, if the government can kill someone for posting extremist sermons on the internet, why can’t it put someone in prison for doing the same thing?

“That’s a very hard standard to meet,” Cole says. “The court saw from experience that prosecutions for advocacy of illegal conduct often became politically motivated prosecution of dissenters where there was no actual nexus to crime.”

But, as Cole points out, the decision in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project created a key terrorism-related exception making even nonviolent, nonmonetary aid to a terrorist organization a crime.

The government has tried to argue that Mehanna’s speech isn’t protected for two reasons. One, that his actions reflect Al Qaeda’s call for its followers to preach its twisted gospel to Westerners. The second is that Mehanna posted extremist propaganda and responded to requests to translate materials from individuals associated with terror groups.

Scholars of Islamic extremism, however, frequently translate and post jihadist material on the internet for the purpose of study—something Mehanna’s attorneys have noted in their defense.

“The Supreme Court says the law makes a distinction between independent advocacy and advocacy at the direction and control of a group,” Cole says. Prosecuting someone for obeying a “general call” for extremists to spread Al Qaeda’s message, Cole says, seems like a reach.

The indictment alleges that Mehanna edited and translated materials at the request of known terrorists, saying of one video that he hopes it “leads to action.” Whether Mehanna acted on the direct suggestion of a terror group or not could ultimately make a huge difference.

The government has tried to prosecute other people on the basis of online activities in the past—without much success. In 2003, a University of Idaho graduate student named Sami Omar al-Hussayen was prosecuted for administering a website that linked to extremist sermons and jihadist sites that solicited donations to extremist groups.

Hussayen’s attorneys argued that he was a nonviolent man who wasn’t responsible for the material. When it came time to offer up a defense, his attorney relied on one man’s testimony—a former CIA official named Frank Anderson, who testified that people don’t become terrorists just because of what they read on the Internet. Hussayen was ultimately acquitted.

“Recruitment is personal and requires the identification, assessment, and persuasion of ‘candidates,'” Anderson told Mother Jones in an email. “Hussayen was involved in none of that…It’s not that it can or can’t be conducted over the internet.” Mehanna’s defense team is trying a similar gambit, calling former CIA official Marc Sageman to testify that Al Qaeda’s ability to recruit people over the internet is overhyped.

The political landscape has shifted dramatically since Hussayen was acquitted. Since then, the United States has killed at least two American citizens abroad whose roles, it appears, were primarily as Al Qaeda propagandists. Administration officials convicted them in a court of public opinion rather than law, testifying not on the stand but through anonymous statements to reporters. If the prosecution manages to convict Mehanna over posting and translating extremist materials without showing that he was acting on directions from people he believed to be Al Qaeda members, it could open the door to prosecution based on actions that have traditionally been seen as protected speech.

“Is a propagandist for Al Qaeda someone who works with Al Qaeda, or someone who just says positive things about Al Qaeda, or anyone the government has said is furthering the ends of Al Qaeda?” asks the ACLU’s Murray. In the post-Awlaki era, the line between “independent advocacy” and “direction or control” may not matter all that much to a jury. After all, if the government can kill someone for posting extremist sermons on the internet, why can’t it put someone in prison for doing the same thing?

Adam Serwer

Reporter

Adam Serwer is a reporter at the Washington, DC, bureau of Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here. You can also follow him on Twitter. Email tips and insights to aserwer [at] motherjones [dot] com. RSS | Twitter

>

MEK;U.S. politicians’ favorite terrorist group

August 13 2011
Given the supreme importance of the fight against terrorism and the terrible ramifications which ostensibly exist for providing material support to terrorists, it is puzzling to see prominent individuals within the U.S. political establishment openly lobbying for, and taking money from, an Iranian organization which is designated by the State Department as a terrorist group.Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) is an organization with a history of violent terrorism against Americans and others, and was a key strategic asset of Saddam Hussein during his brutal crackdown on Iraqi Kurds in the early 90’s. Despite being implicated in the deaths of numerous American and Iranian civilians, (and being designated as a terrorist organization by countries around the world for its actions) U.S. political figures such as Ed Rendell, Andrew Card and John Bolton are openly advocating for MEK and are in many cases receiving significant sums of money for doing so.Supporting designated terrorist organizations, especially in the context of the indefinitely ongoing War on Terror, is something for which a great number of individuals in the United States are currently serving lengthy prison sentences. It seems to defy logic then that members of MEK, a group which has attacked U.S. interests all over the world, are able to stroll the halls of Congress and exercise significant financial influence over U.S. government representatives in order to achieve their objectives. Make no mistake, the MEK is no less “terrorist” than any of the other groups for which one can go to jail for merely having contact with. In addition to openly acknowledging to have killed thousands of Iranians, MEK is directly implicated in the deaths of American civilians and military officials in Tehran during the 1970’s, killings for which no MEK member has ever been brought to justice. As recently as 2007 the State Department had this to say about the organization which currently enjoys the open support of so many prominent figures within the U.S. political establishment:

“MEK leadership and members across the world maintain the capacity and will to commit terrorist acts in Europe, the Middle East, the United States, Canada, and beyond.”
“MEK has also displayed cult-like characteristics…. members are also required to undertake a vow of “eternal divorce” and participate in weekly “ideological cleansings.” Additionally, children are reportedly separated from parents at a young age. MEK leader Maryam Rajavi has established a “cult of personality.”
“….. uses propaganda and terrorism to achieve its objectives and has been supported by reprehensible regimes, including that of Saddam Hussein.”

Not only did they receive the support and patronage of Saddam Hussein; the MEK were instrumental in the massacre of the Iraqi citizens whom the United States purportedly fought the Iraq War to “liberate.” MEK leader Maryam Rajavi had these words for her followers about how to deal with Iraqi Kurds during the 1991 crackdown: “Take the Kurds under your tanks, save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards”; this is the same woman about whom Howard Dean said last March, “Madame Rajavi does not sound like a terrorist to me; she sounds like a president….We should be recognizing her as the president of Iran.” The fact that U.S. officials are lobbying for the leader of a cult-like terrorist group with zero popular support in Iran to become the next president of that country should surely be filed for future reference under the heading, “Why Do They Hate Us.”

That an organization which is acknowledged to be involved in terrorism enjoys the open support of so many prominent figures in the U.S. political establishment is a prime example of the fundamental hypocrisy at the heart of the War on Terror. The fact that many of these individuals are receiving significant financial compensation in return for their support of MEK’s agenda is even more egregious; try and imagine the reaction if a non-favored terrorist group were using cash contributions to openly lobby the support of American politicians for its objectives.

What the U.S. relationship with Mujahedin-e-Khalq does is further clarify the inherent meaningless of the designation of individuals or groups as being “terrorist.” For their perpetration of deadly attacks against civilians and for their links to brutal regimes, MEK members could perhaps expect to be interned in Guantanamo Bay without due process; instead they are unabashedly lobbying for their cause in Washington and using large sums of money to exert influence over U.S. politicians. That these politicians are engaged in providing support for an FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organization), an activity for which countless individuals have been interned, tortured and killed, further illustrates that “supporting terrorism” in today’s parlance simply refers to providing support to an organization which commits violence of which the U.S. does not approve. MEK’s actions undoubtedly fit the objective definition of terrorism and they have been recognized for decades as being terrorists, but since their violence is convenient for U.S. foreign policy hawks at present they avoid that dangerous label and are instead able to freely propagate their agenda in the United States without fear of retribution.

The fact that U.S. officials are openly consorting with, and receiving funding from, a group with American blood on its hands in order to promote that group’s interests is something which may escape the notice of its citizenry, but it is keenly watched by Iranians and others who are looking to the gauge the level of integrity and consistency in U.S. policy. The selective application of the label of “terrorist” based on who the U.S. is choosing to fight at any given point is further evidence of the bankruptcy of this term. “Terrorists” are those who are interred in CIA black sites, subject to legally sanctioned torture and killed without public outcry; but as the case of the MEK shows the very definition of who is a terrorist is based not upon what acts individuals or groups commit, but upon how favorably or unfavorably those acts are viewed in Washington. The level to which the term is demonstrably hollow and meaningless can be glimpsed here in the fact that U.S. officials themselves feel little reticence about openly engaging in an act which they condemn others for; providing material support to terrorist groups.

By Murtaza Hussain – Salon.com


Date:  2011-08-13
See also
National Council of Resistance (Mojahedin Khalq Rajavi cult) terrorist Group HQ in France
MEPs intrigued by accounts of newly arrived escapees from Camp Ashraf Discussion of the Mojahedin-e Khalq/National Council of Resistance and its activities in the EU Parliament
Mr Teymur Khattar and Mrs Khattar Appeal to the Iraqi legal authorities
Mojahedin Khalq Organisation (Rajavi Cult) exposed on French TV. Who are Mojahedin Khalq?
Cult of the Chameleon (transcription and video file)
Breaking The Ties That Bind (A family torn apart by Mojahedin Khalq Organisation – Rajavi cult)
Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) TIMELINE
Cults and Terrorism – A Case Study (Rajavi cult -Mojahedin Khalq Organisation- headed by Massoud Rajavi and Maryam Rajavi)
The European Parliament Held an Assembly, Considering the MKO s Present Situation
remain in EU s terror list say European parliamentarians
Mojahedin Khalq (Rajavi cult) a bargaining chip in Iran – US negotiationsBBC, Newsnight, 17 January 2007
Petition asking for the indictment of Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, lifetime, self- appointed heads of the horrifying Mojahedin Khalq Organization.
Open letter to Mr. David Kilgour and some other 250 Canadians Who support Mojahedin,
UK expands terror funds list
Survivors Report
Is FOX News’ Foreign Affairs Analyst A Former Terrorist?
Masoud Banisadr Memoirs of an Iranian Rebel
[MEK – ready-made, single-use commodity for Iran s enemies]Iran: The Next War
TIMELINE Significant Dates in Mojahedin History
Human Rights Issue, MKO’s Predicament
Ali Reza Jafarzadeh, front man for the MKO and the NCRI in the United States
The Cult of Rajavi
Mojahedin-e Khalq Leaders
Fox News Employs NCR/MKO member
IRANIAN MUJAHEDIN KHALQ (MEK)
MKO Lies to Court to Save its Skin
U.S. Department of State All the same name for Terrorism
The Cult of Rajavi
The Cult of Rajavi
“We do have a problem with MEK” Secretary Rice
Statement on Responses to Human Rights Watch Report on Abuses by the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization
>

Bachmann supporting Iranian group State Dept labels as terrorist

by: The Big E

Thu Jan 13, 2011 at 19:00:00 PM CST

Ken Avidor over at Dump Bachmann found a gem concerning Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).  It appears she is providing material support for a terrorist organization.  Or at least that the US State Department labels this group a terrorist organization.  Specifically, Bachmann wants the People’s Mujahideen Organisation of Iran (PMOI) removed from the list of terrorist organizations.  However, this advocacy on PMOI’s behalf is itself illegal.The relevent bit starts at 8:30 into the vid.Is this support for PMOI in the same vein as the Minneapolis residents who have been subpoenaed to appear in Chicago for providing material support to a terrorist organization?  Or does the law apply differently to elected officials?And doesn’t she often spew conspiracy theories about Democrats colluding with terrorists?  Seems a wee bit hypocritical for her to now get busted providing material support for a terrorist organization.
The Big E :: Bachmann supporting Iranian group State Dept labels as terrorist

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , (All Tags)

>
as one commentator said

This government has been using the epithet “terrorist” to label, imprison or destroy anyone who they feel seriously challenges their rule, or, as the Mehanna case reveals, advocates for any other entity — even as a matter of Free Speech — which they oppose.

The hypocrisy is sickening, and who knows how many generations of new “terrorists” will be created, seeing in militant Islam, or some other ideology, an sharp rebuke to a society that wallows in such hypocrisy and crime.

But the MEK is only one instance.

>
>

Iranian Terrorist Group Enjoys US, EU Protection

By Joseph Fitsanakis* | intelNews | 01.29.2009
Mujahideen-e-Khalq
THE MUJAHEDEEN-E KHALQ (MEK), also known as the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, is one of several armed groups deemed terrorist by Washington and the European Union (EU). On January 26, however, the EU decided to remove MEK from its official list of terrorist organizations, a move that some observers believe was secretly supported by the US. This is because, despite MEK’s terrorist designation, Washington has routinely collaborated with it since 2003, prompted by the group’s fierce opposition to the regime in Tehran.

MEK, which operates under a peculiar breed of Marxist, feminist and Islamic ideology, began its political activities in 1963, when it emerged in opposition to the US puppet regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. In 1979, it was among several political groups that participated in Pahlavi’s ouster, which subsequently earned it its terrorist designation from Washington. Soon afterwards, however, the group fell out with the conservative elements in Iran’s Islamic Revolution and began an armed war against Tehran. Many in MEK’s armed wing resettled on the Iraqi side of the Iraq-Iran border, where they received funding and diplomatic support from the government of Saddam Hussein.

In 2003, when the US invaded Iraq, American forces entered Camp Ashraf, MEK’s main military base in Iraq, to find “armored personnel carriers, artillery, anti-aircraft guns and vehicles […] along with more than 2,000 well-maintained tanks”. However, even though the group if officially classified by the US as terrorist, US troops were ordered by the Pentagon to give military protection to MEK armed groups in Iraq. Since then, Western correspondents in Iraq have frequently reported that US military personnel “regularly escort MEK supply runs between Baghdad and […] Camp Ashraf”.

The main reason for Washington’s clandestine backing of an armed group it officially describes as terrorist is well publicized. It relates to America’s consideration of MEK as “a source of valuable intelligence on Iran”, particularly its assistance in “helping expose Iran’s secret nuclear program through spying on Tehran for decades”. Additionally, the group “has been secretly helping the CIA run operations against the Islamic regime” from Camp Ashraf.

While enjoying covert US protection, MEK has been tied to several attacks on civilian targets inside Iran, a recent one being the bombing of a girls’ school in the town of Zahedan. These attacks have infuriated the Iranian government, which has demanded that Iraq stops hosting MEK bases on its territory. Late last year, the Iraqi government, which is ideologically aligned to Tehran, pressured Washington to terminate MEK’s presence on Iraqi soil. The Bush Administration eventually succumbed to the pressures in the context of the broader US-Iraq security agreement. Accordingly, Camp Ashraf is scheduled to close down in 2009.

Interestingly, the EU’s surprise decision to remove MEK from its list of terrorist organizations came right at the point where the group’s leadership is considering where to relocate its thousands of supporters (many armed) currently in Iraq. Its removal from the EU’s official terrorist list has opened up the possibility that MEK members will resettle in Europe, thus “temporarily solving the problem of what to do with them once [Camp] Ashraf is closed”. Moreover, the EU move is expected to unlock MEK’s “untold millions of dollars” frozen in Europe and permit the group to increase its political campaigns, which could well catapult it to “a leading role in the Iranian opposition abroad”, according to one former US intelligence official, who also discerns “a hidden American hand in the EU decision”.

Meanwhile, US covert collaboration with MEK operatives is expected to intensify under a major CIA operation authorized in 2008 by former US President George W. Bush and now supervised by the Barack Obama Administration. Iran appears to have apprehended at least four operatives working on this project. Earlier this month, Tehran announced the arrest and secret trial of four individuals “seeking to topple [the government] with the backing of the US State Department and the CIA”. The four were apparently convicted after a secret trial, in which they were found guilty of trying to secretly instigate a “velvet revolution” in the Islamic state.

* Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis has been writing and teaching on the politics of intelligence for over ten years. His areas of academic expertise include the institutional analysis of the intelligence community; the interception of communications; and the history of intelligence with particular reference to international espionage during the Cold War. He is co-founder and Senior Editor of intelNews.org. His latest writings for intelNews.org are available here.

>

Our terrorists

 20  513 Share

Issue 426

Islamic fundamentalist militants are the enemies of Israel and Western governments, right? Think again. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed reports.

Once upon a time, the CIA trained, financed and supported Osama bin Laden and his mujahidin networks in Afghanistan to repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. After the end of the Cold War, bin Laden turned against the West and we no longer had any use for him. His persistent terrorist attacks against us for more than a decade, culminating in 9/11, provoked our own response, in the form of the ‘War on Terror’. This is the official narrative. And it’s false. Not only did Western intelligence services continue to foster Islamist extremist and terrorist groups connected to al-Qaeda after the Cold War; they continued to do so even after 9/11.

The CIA’s jihad

The story begins in the summer of 1979, six months before the Soviet invasion, when the CIA had already begun financing elements of an emerging Islamist mujahidin force inside Afghanistan. The idea, according to former US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and former CIA Director Robert Gates, was to increase the probability of a Soviet invasion, and entrap ‘the Soviets into a Vietnamese quagmire’.1

Osama bin Laden arrived in the country later that year, sent by then-Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki bin Faisal, where he set up the Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK) which helped finance, recruit and train mujahidin fighters.2 Bin Laden, the MAK, and the Afghan mujahidin in total received about half a billion dollars a year from the CIA, and roughly the same from the Saudis, funnelled through Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).3

By around 1988, as Jane’s Defence Weekly reports, ‘with US knowledge, Bin Laden created al-Qaeda (The Base): a conglomerate of quasi-independent Islamic terrorist cells spread across at least 26 countries’.4 US and Western intelligence agencies facilitated this process, seeing rightwing Islamist movements as a counterweight to Communist, leftwing and nationalist political trends. They supported the Saudis and other Gulf states, as well as Pakistan, Turkey and Azerbaijan among others, in proliferating Islamist extremist institutions in far-flung countries such as Algeria, Yemen, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Funding for these activities was intertwined with the establishment of organized criminal financial centres in Malaysia, Madagascar, South Africa, Nigeria, Latin America, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Turkestan, and elsewhere.5

Islamism and the CIA’s destabilization doctrine

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, and in particular in 1991 when the Saudis accepted the stationing of 300,000 US troops in the country due to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Osama bin Laden reportedly turned against his former masters in Riyadh and Washington. Since then, bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist network became our enemy, targeting Western citizens and interests throughout the 1990s, culminating in the most devastating strike of all in the form of the 9/11 atrocities in the US.

Unfortunately, this is where the official story begins to break down. Because after 1991, Islamists affiliated to bin Laden and al-Qaeda continued to receive selective support from Western intelligence services. The policy was alluded to by Graham Fuller, former Deputy Director of the CIA’s National Council on Intelligence, when he stated: ‘The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvellously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.’6

Afghanistan, Big Oil and the Taliban

Throughout the 1990s, the selective US intelligence sponsorship of Islamist extremist networks was linked not simply to destabilizing potential Russian and Chinese influence, but further to securing US-led Western control over strategic energy reserves. When bin Laden moved from Sudan to Afghanistan in June 1996, the State Department warned that the move ‘could prove more dangerous to US interests’, granting him ‘the capability to support individuals and groups who have the motive and wherewithal to attack US interests almost worldwide’.7 He had been offered protection by Pakistan in May on condition that he align his mujahidin forces with the Taliban. The new al-Qaeda-Taliban alliance was reportedly blessed by the Saudis.8

Yet as the respected Pakistani correspondent Ahmed Rashid reported, US intelligence supported the Taliban as a vehicle of regional influence at least between 1994 and 1998. This policy continued up to the year 2000, despite growing cautions. Thus, when the Taliban conquered Kabul in 1996, a State Department spokesperson explained that the US found ‘nothing objectionable’ in the event. One year later, a US diplomat commented: ‘The Taliban will probably develop like the Saudis… There will be Aramco (consortium of oil companies controlling Saudi oil), pipelines, an emir, no parliament and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that.’9

Continued US sponsorship of the al-Qaeda-Taliban nexus in Afghanistan was confirmed as late as 2000 in Congressional hearings. Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on South Asia, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher – former White House Special Assistant to President Reagan and now Senior Member of the House International Relations Committee – declared that ‘this administration has a covert policy that has empowered the Taliban and enabled this brutal movement to hold on to power’. The assumption is that ‘the Taliban would bring stability to Afghanistan and permit the building of oil pipelines from Central Asia through Afghanistan to Pakistan’.10 US companies involved in the project included UNOCAL and ENRON. As early as May 1996, UNOCAL had officially announced plans to build a pipeline to transport natural gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan through western Afghanistan.

US officials held several meetings with the Taliban from 2000 to summer 2001, in an effort to get the Taliban to agree to a joint federal government with their local enemies, the Northern Alliance, promising financial aid and international legitimacy if the deal was struck. By then, US policymakers had belatedly concluded that the Taliban would never bring the stability needed for the pipeline project. According to Pakistani Foreign Minister Niaz Naik, who was present at the meetings, US officials threatened the Taliban with military action if they failed to comply with the federalization plan. Even the date of threatened military action, October 2001, was proposed. Needless to say, the Taliban rejected the plan.11 So months before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a war on Afghanistan was already on the table. Jean-Charles Brisard, a former French intelligence officer, thus speculates that 9/11 may have been a pre-emptive attack by al-Qaeda to head off the declared US military invasion of Afghanistan.12

There is still keen interest in the pipeline. ‘Since the US-led offensive that ousted the Taliban from power,’ reported Forbes in 2005, ‘the project has been revived and drawn strong US support’ as it would allow the Central Asian republics to export energy to Western markets ‘without relying on Russian routes’. Then-US Ambassador to Turkmenistan Ann Jacobsen noted that: ‘We are seriously looking at the project, and it is quite possible that American companies will join it.’13 The problem remains that the southern section of the proposed pipeline runs through territory still de facto controlled by Taliban forces.

Mega Oil and mujahidin from the Balkans to the Caucasus

Unfortunately, we now know that US flirtations with the al-Qaeda-Taliban nexus in Afghanistan throughout the 1990s were only one moment in a much wider covert US geostrategy to secure control over strategic energy resources across the Eurasian continent, by co-opting Islamist networks affiliated with bin Laden.

In 1991, the first Bush Administration wanted an oil pipeline from Azerbaijan, across the Caucasus, to Turkey. That year, three US Air Force officers, Richard Secord (a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs), Heinie Aderholt and Ed Dearborn, landed in Baku, and set up a front company, ‘MEGA Oil’. They were veterans of previous CIA covert operations in Laos and later with Lt. Col. Oliver North’s Contra scandal. In Azerbaijan, they setup an airline to secretly fly hundreds of al-Qaeda mujahidin from Afghanistan into Azerbaijan. By 1993, MEGA Oil had recruited and armed 2,000 mujahidin, converting Baku into a base for regional jihadi operations.14

The covert operation contributed to the military coup that toppled elected president Abulfaz Elchibey that year, and installed US puppet Heidar Aliyev. A secret Turkish intelligence report leaked to the Sunday Times confirmed that ‘two petrol giants, BP and Amoco, British and American respectively, which together form the AIOC (Azerbaijan International Oil Consortium), are behind the coup d’état.15

From 1992 to 1995, the Pentagon flew thousands of al-Qaeda mujahidin from Central Asia into Europe, to fight alongside Bosnian Muslims against the Serbs. The mujahidin were ‘accompanied by US Special Forces equipped with high-tech communications equipment,’ according to intelligence sources. Bin Laden’s mercenaries were used as shock troops by the Pentagon ‘to coordinate and support Bosnian Muslim offensives’.16

The pattern continued in Kosovo, where ethnic violence broke out between Albanians and Serbs. In 1998, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization financed by bin Laden and the heroin trade. Bin Laden had sent a senior lieutenant, Muhammed al-Zawahiri (brother of al-Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri), to lead an élite KLA unit during the Kosovo conflict. He had direct radio contact with NATO leadership. Indeed, British SAS and American Delta Force instructors were training KLA fighters as early as 1996. The CIA supplied military assistance up to and during the 1999 bombing campaign, including military training manuals and field advice, under the cover of OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) ceasefire monitors.17

After the Kosovo War, when the KLA switched operations to Macedonia under the banner of the National Liberation Army (NLA), its links with al-Qaeda were as strong as ever according to US, Macedonian, Albanian and Yugoslav intelligence sources. Yet by 2001, Canadian military correspondent Scott Taylor reported after a visit to Tetovo that ‘there is no denying the massive amount of material and expertise supplied by NATO to the guerrillas’.18

So why the Balkans? Gen. Sir Mike Jackson, then-commander of NATO troops in the region, summed it up in 1999: ‘We will certainly stay here for a long time in order to guarantee the safety of the energy corridors which cross Macedonia.’ The General was talking about the Trans-Balkan pipeline passing through Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania, planned to be a primary route to the West for Central Asian oil and gas.19

Around the same time, US intelligence stepped up sponsorship of al-Qaeda mujahidin in Chechnya. Chechnya is traditionally a predominantly Sufi society, yet the increasing encroachment of US-sponsored mujahidin operatives linked to Osama bin Laden transformed the character of the Chechen resistance movement, empowering al-Qaeda’s hardline Islamist ideology. US intelligence ties had been established in the early 1990s in Baku under Dick Secord’s operation, where mujahidin activities had quickly extended into Dagestan and Chechnya, turning Baku into a shipping point for Afghan heroin to the Chechen mafia.20

From the mid-1990s, bin Laden funded Chechen guerrilla leaders Shamil Basayev and Omar ibn al-Khattab to the tune of several millions of dollars per month, sidelining the moderate Chechen majority.21 US intelligence remained deeply involved until the end of the decade. According to Yossef Bodanksy, then-Director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Washington was actively involved in ‘yet another anti-Russian jihad, ‘seeking to support and empower the most virulent anti-Western Islamist forces’. US Government officials participated in ‘a formal meeting in Azerbaijan’ in December 1999 ‘in which specific programmes for the training and equipping of mujahidin from the Caucasus, Central/South Asia and the Arab world were discussed and agreed upon’, culminating in ‘Washington’s tacit encouragement of both Muslim allies (mainly Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia) and US “private security companies”… to assist the Chechens and their Islamist allies to surge in the spring of 2000 and sustain the ensuing jihad for a long time.’ The US saw the sponsorship of ‘Islamist jihad in the Caucasus’ as a way to ‘deprive Russia of a viable pipeline route through spiralling violence and terrorism’.22

Algeria – state terrorism in disguise

Parallel covert operations were deployed in the same period in Algeria, where the army cancelled national democratic elections in 1992 that would have brought the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) to power in a landslide victory. Tens of thousands of FIS voters were rounded up into detention camps in the Sahara, while the FIS and other Islamist political parties were banned. Not long after the coup, hundreds of civilians were being mysteriously massacred by an unknown terrorist group, identified by the Algerian junta as a radical offshoot of the FIS calling itself the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). The GIA was formed largely of Algerian veterans of bin Laden’s mujahidin forces in Afghanistan who had returned in the late 1980s.23 To date, the total death toll from the massacres by the GIA is an estimated 150,000 civilians.24

Yet in the late 1990s, evidence began to emerge from dissident Algerian Government and intelligence sources that the GIA atrocities were in fact perpetrated by the state. ‘Yussuf-Joseph’, a career secret agent in Algeria’s sécurité militaire for 14 years, defected to Britain in 1997 and told the Guardian that civilian massacres in Algeria, blamed on the GIA, were ‘the work of secret police and army death squads… not Islamic extremists’. GIA terrorism was ‘orchestrated’ by ‘Mohammed Mediane, head of the Algerian secret service’, and ‘General Smain Lamari’, head of ‘the counter intelligence agency’. According to Joseph: ‘The GIA is a pure product of Smain’s secret service. I used to read all the secret telexes. I know that the GIA has been infiltrated and manipulated by the Government. The GIA has been completely turned by the Government… In 1992 Smain created a special group, L’Escadron de la Mort (the Squadron of Death)… The death squads organize the massacres… The FIS aren’t doing the massacres.’

Joseph also confirmed that Algerian intelligence agents organized ‘at least’ two of the bombs in Paris in summer 1995. ‘The operation was run by Colonel Souames Mahmoud, alias Habib, head of the secret service at the Algerian embassy in Paris.’ Joseph’s testimony has been corroborated by numerous defectors from the Algerian secret services.25

Western intelligence agencies are implicated. Secret British Foreign Office documents revealed in a terrorist trial in 2000 showed that ‘British intelligence believed the Algerian Government was involved in atrocities, contradicting the view the Government was claiming in public’. The documents referred to the ‘manipulation of the GIA being used as a cover to carry out their own operations’, and that ‘there was no evidence to link 1995 Paris bombings to Algerian militants’.26

Algeria has the fifth largest reserves of natural gas in the world, and is the second largest gas exporter, with 130 trillion proven natural gas reserves. It ranks fourteenth for oil reserves, with official estimates at 9.2 billion barrels. Approximately 90 per cent of Algeria’s crude oil exports go to Western Europe, including Britain, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain. Algeria’s major trading partners are Italy, France, the United States, Germany, and Spain.

Currently, the militant Algerian splinter group, the al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb – formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) – plays a predominant role in regional terrorist violence. Yet in a series of extensive analyses for the Review of African Political Economy, social anthropologist Dr Jeremy Keenan – Director of Sahara Studies at the University of East Anglia – documents ‘an increasing amount of evidence to suggest that the alleged spread of terrorist activities across much of the Sahelian Sahara, has indeed been an elaborate deception on the part of US and Algerian military intelligence services’. He discusses evidence that an al-Qaeda hostage-taking of European tourists in early 2003 ‘was initiated and orchestrated by elements within the Algerian military establishment’, an operation ‘condoned by the US’, and that al-Qaeda leader Ammar Saifi (also known as Abderazzak El Para, or ‘the Maghreb’s bin Laden’) ‘was “turned” by the Algerian security forces in January 2003’.27

Energy hegemony is a key priority. Reported al-Qaeda activity in North Africa has focused on oil-rich nations, particularly the Niger Delta, Nigeria, and Chad. Thus, in July 2003, Keenan reports, under US auspices Algeria, Chad, Niger and Nigeria ‘signed a co-operation agreement on counter-terrorism that effectively joined the two oil-rich sides of the Sahara together in a complex of security arrangements whose architecture is American’. This has now evolved into the $500 million Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative, in which Algeria plays a pivotal role in US plans for future regional military deployment. The region-wide security arrangement coincides with the inauguration of a $6 billion World Bank project, the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline.28

Islamist extremism and the Israeli connection

Curiously, Israel has played a key role in some of these policies, starting with the involvement of Congressman Charlie Wilson, who used his position in the House Select Committee on Intelligence, gained with the support of then Senator Dick Cheney, to ramp up billions of dollars’ worth of support for both Israel and the Afghan mujahidin.29 Gust Avracotos, the CIA’s Station Chief in Islamabad, commented that Wilson brought ‘the Israelis into the CIA’s Muslim jihad’, opening opportunities for Mossad penetration of the ISI and al-Qaeda and securing Israeli arms contracts and intelligence ties with Pakistan.30

Closer to home, Israel played a very similar game in its ambiguous relationship to Hamas. US Government and intelligence sources confirm that Israel provided direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas in the late 1970s as a counterbalance to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).31 According to the Israeli military affairs experts Ze’ev Schiff and Ehud Ya’ari, at the time of the first Intifadah, Fatah ‘suspected the Israelis of a plot first to let Hamas gather strength and then to unleash it against the PLO, turning the uprising into a civil war… many Israeli staff officers believed that the rise of fundamentalism in Gaza could be exploited to weaken the power of the PLO’.32

Israeli support for Hamas reportedly continued even after the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993, during the period of some of the worst suicide bombings.33 Even the late Palestinian Authority (PA) President Yassir Arafat said in 2001 that Hamas ‘continued to benefit from permits and authorizations, while we have been limited, even [for permits] to build a tomato factory… Some collaborationists of Israel are involved in these [terrorist] attacks.’34

Indeed, there are indications that the Israeli assassination of Hamas leader Abu Hanoud in November 2001 was a ploy to provoke more terror bombings. Three months earlier, the Israeli Insider reported Ariel Sharon’s plan for an all-out attack on the PA to permanently destroy its infrastructure, noting that the plan would only ‘be launched immediately following the next high-casualty suicide bombing’ – which was later provoked by Israel’s extrajudicial killing of Hanoud. As Israeli military security analyst Alex Fishman noted: ‘Whoever gave a green light to this act of liquidation knew full well that he was thereby shattering in one blow the gentleman’s agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Under that agreement, Hamas was to avoid in the near future suicide bombings inside the Green Line (pre-1967 border), having come to the understanding that it would be better not to play into Israel’s hands by mass attacks on its population centres. This understanding was, however, shattered by the assassination the day before yesterday – and whoever decided upon the liquidation of Abu knew in advance that that would be the price. The subject had been extensively discussed both by the military and the political echelon, before it was decided to carry out the liquidation.’35

Elements of the Israeli far-right, including senior cabinet officials, recognized that the plan to destroy the PA would facilitate the rise of Hamas. In an Israeli Cabinet meeting in December 2001, for instance, one minister declared: ‘Between Hamas and Arafat, I prefer Hamas.’ He added that Arafat is a ‘terrorist in a diplomat’s suit, while Hamas can be hit unmercifully… there won’t be any international protests’.36

Ties with terror

Islamist terrorism cannot be understood without acknowledging the extent to which its networks are being used by Western military intelligence services, both to control strategic energy resources and to counter their geopolitical rivals. Even now, nearly a decade after 9/11, covert sponsorship of al-Qaeda networks continues. In recent dispatches for the New Yorker, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh cites US Government and intelligence officials’ confirmation that the CIA and the Pentagon have funnelled millions of dollars via Saudi Arabia to al-Qaeda affiliated Sunni extremist groups, across the Middle East and Central Asia. The policy, which Hersh says began in 2003, has spilled over into regions like Iraq and Lebanon, fuelling Sunni-Shi’a sectarian conflict.37 The programme is part of a drive to counter Iranian Shi’a influence in the region. In early 2008, a US Presidential Finding to Congress corroborated Hersh’s reporting, affirming CIA funding worth $400 million to diverse anti-Shi’a extremist and terrorist groups. This was not contested by any Democratic members of the House.38 Now, President Obama has retained Bush’s Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, as his own. Yet Gates was the architect of the covert strategy against Iran. To date, Obama has given no indication that this strategy will change. The history outlined here throws into doubt our entire understanding of the ‘war on terror’. How can we fight a war against an enemy that our own governments are covertly financing for short-sighted geopolitical interests?

If the ‘war on terror’ is to end, it won’t be won by fighting the next futile oil war. It will be won at home by holding the secretive structures of government to account and prosecuting officials for aiding and abetting terrorism – whether knowingly or by criminal negligence. Ultimately only this will rein in the ‘security’ agencies that foster the ‘enemy’ we are supposed to be fighting.

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Development. His latest book is The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry (Duckworth, 2006).

This is an extended version of the article which appeared in the October 2009 issue of NI, Islam in Power.

  1. Le Nouvel Observateur (15-21 January 1998) p. 76; Robert Gates, From the Shadows – The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997) pp. 143-149
  2. Craig Unger, House of Bush, House of Saud – The Secret Relationship between the World’s Two Most Powerful Dynasties (London: Scribner, 2004) p. 100.
  3. Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (Yale: Yale University Press, 2000) p. 91
  4. Rahul Bedi, ‘Why? An attempt to explain the unexplainable,’ Jane’s Defence Weekly (14 September 2001)
  5. Richard Labeviere, Dollars For Terror: The United States and Islam (New York: Algora, 2000)
  6. Cited in ibid.
  7. Judicial Watch Press Release, ‘Clinton State Department Documents Outlined bin Laden Threat to the United States in Summer 1996’ (17 August 2005) www.judicialwatch.org/5504.shtml
  8. Gerald Posner, Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11 (New York: Ballantine, 2003) pp. 105-6
  9. Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2000) pp. 166, 179
  10. Dana Rohrabacher, ‘US Policy Toward Afghanistan,’ Statement before Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on South Asia (Washington DC: US Senate, 14 April 1999). Also see Rohrabacher, Statement before Hearing of the House International Relations Committee on ‘Global Terrorism And South Asia,’ (Washington DC: US House of Representatives, 12 July 2000).
  11. George Arney, ‘US ‘planned attack on Taleban’,’ BBC News (18 September 2001) news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/southasia/newsid1550000/1550366.stm
  12. Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, Forbidden Truth: US-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy and the Failed Hunt for Bin Laden (New York: Nation, 2002); George Arney, ‘US ‘planned attack on Taleban’,’ BBC News (18 September 2001). news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/southasia/newsid1550000/1550366.stm
  13. ‘US Companies Eye Trans-Afghan Pipeline’, Forbes (19 January 2005) http://www.forbes.com/markets/feeds/ap/2005/01/18/ap1764703.html
  14. Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 911 – Wealth Empire and the Future of America (Berkley: University of California Press, 2007) pp. 163-165
  15. ‘BP Linked to the Overthrow of Azerbaijan Government,’ Drillbits and Trailings (17 April 2000, vol. 5, no. 6)
  16. Cees Wiebes (2003) Intelligence and the War in Bosnia 1992-1995: The role of the intelligence and security services (New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, Rutgers State University, 2003); ‘US Commits Forces, Weapons to Bosnia,’ Defense and Foreign Affairs: Strategic Policy (31 October 1994)
  17. Sources in Nafeez Ahmed, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism (New York: Interlink, 2005)
  18. Scott Taylor, ‘Macedonia’s Civil War: ‘Made in the USA’’ (Randolph Bourne Institute, 20 August 2001) www.antiwar.com/orig/taylor1.html
  19. Michel Collon, Monopoly – L’Otan à la Conquête du monde (Brussels: EPO, 2000) p. 96
  20. Scott, op. cit., pp. 163-165.
  21. Mark Erikson, ‘Bin Laden’s terror wave 2’, Asia Times (29 October 2002) http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/DJ29Ag05.html
  22. Yossef Bodanksy, ‘The Great Game for Oil’, Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy(June/July 2000)
  23. Colin Robinson, ‘Armed Islamic Group a.k.a. Groupement Islamique Armé’ (Washington DC: Center for Defense Information, 5 February 2003) www.cdi.org/terrorism/gia_020503.cfm
  24. The Guardian (8 April 2004)
  25. Ahmed, 2005, pp. 65-77; Ahmed, 2001
  26. Richard Norton-Taylor, ‘Terrorist case collapses after three years’, The Guardian (21 March 2000)
  27. Jeremy Keenan, ‘Terror in the Sahara: the Implications of US Imperialism for North & West Africa,’ Review of African Political Economy (September 2004, 31 (101): 475–486); ‘Political Destablisation and ‘Blowback’ in the Sahel’, Review of African Political Economy (December 2004, 31(102): 691–703).
  28. Keenan (2005) ‘Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline: World Bank and ExxonMobil in Last Chance Saloon,’ Review of African Political Economy (2005, Vol. 32, No. 104/5) pp. 395-405; Keenan, (2006) ‘The making of terrorists: Anthropology and the alternative truth of America’s ‘War on Terror’ in the Sahara’, Focaal – European Journal of Anthropology (2006, No. 48) pp. 144-51.
  29. George Crile, Charlie Wilson’s War (London: Atlantic Books, 2003).
  30. Ibid. p. 391.
  31. Richard Sale, ‘Analysis: Hamas History Tied to Israel,’ United Press International (18 June 2002) www.upi.com/Security_Industry/2002/06/18/Analysis-Hamas-history-tied-to-Israel/UPI-82721024445587
  32. Ze’ev Schiff and Ehud Ya’ari, The Intifada: The Palestinian Uprising – Israel’s Third Front (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990)
  33. George Szamuely, ‘Israel’s Hamas’, New York Press (April 2002, Vol. 15, No. 17)
  34. L’Espresso (19 December 2001) [Rome]
  35. Yediot Ahranot (25 November 2001)
  36. Ha’aretz (4 December 2001)
  37. Seymour M. Hersh, ‘The Redirection’, New Yorker (5 March 2007) www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/03/05/070305fafacthersh
  38. Alexander Cockburn, ‘Exclusive: Secret Bush ‘Finding’ Widens Covert War on Iran’, Counterpunch (2 May 2008) www.counterpunch.org/andrew05022008.html

This first appeared in our award-winning magazine – to read more, subscribe from just £7

>

Posted By Jason Rezaian Tuesday, March 1, 2011 – 7:15 PM Share

With the rumblings of fresh protests in Tehran after over a year of relative quiet from the opposition, some members of the US congress, along with several other former officials, appear to be again dreaming of the possibility of a post-theocratic Iran. One significant sign is their renewed push to have the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (also known as the MEK) removed from the State Departments list of designated foreign terrorist organizations. Echoing this sentiment last month, former Democratic Senator Robert Torricelli of New Jersey, in an event designed to raise support for the MEK’s removal from terror list, asked the audience, “Is it even possible to oppose a terrorist state, and be a terrorist yourself?”

No matter how one looks at that question, the answer must be a resounding “yes.” MEK is a non-state organization that, at regular intervals over the years, has taken pride in attacks that have left innocent civilians dead. In the lexicon of our times that qualifies as terrorism. With their designation as a terrorist organization currently under review, the larger issue is not just whether the MEK is engaged in terrorism at the moment, but that if the organization is further legitimated  by U.S. policy makers, it will prove to be yet another disastrous read by the U.S. government.

In my ten years of traveling to Iran and writing about it for a mostly American audience, I have not once met an Iranian who had a favorable opinion of the organization. Just over a year ago I wrote an article in which I warned of unpopular, exile opposition groups opportunistically attempting to high jack the homegrown Iranian civil society movement.

While many argue that the Iranian regime is too repressive to allow opposition, I would venture to say that there are still thousands, perhaps millions, of Iranians completely willing to speak openly about their attitudes on the 2009 election — but good luck finding a single person who is pro-MEK.

While it is obvious that expressions of dissent in Iran are extremely limited, they are by no means non-existent — which should make the group’s total lack of public support seem all the more suspicious. In the absence of direct access into Iran, the words of the group’s so-called “President Elect,” Maryam Rajavi, are instructive in displaying the group’s detachment from reality. In reference to the hangings of two protesters in January who allegedly had ties to her organization, the imaginary Commander-in-Chief said, “the mullahs are enraged over the MEK’s role in the uprisings last year as well as the popularity which [Camp] Ashraf enjoys among Iranians.”As one domestic Iranian journalist told me, however, this is little more than another self-aggrandizing claim by a self-congratulatory cult leader. “The MEK are not a real threat. They haven’t been a threat for a very, very long time.”

For many people in Iran, though, especially those who remember the early years after the 1979 revolution, the MEK has come to represent an evil much more toxic than the American view of the Taliban and Al Qaeda — and the Iranian state has seized that boogeyman and used it to their advantage when faced with threats, skillfully pinning all manner of attacks on an organization that has had no local presence since the 1980s.

It’s a natural move. Many of us can recall the reaction we had to learning that an American, John Walker Lindh, was fighting against U.S. forces in Afghanistan, just after September 11. In Iran, the memory is of the thousands of Mojahedin members fighting alongside Saddam Hussein’s army, against Iran in the 1980s, and those memories will never be forgotten. As one Iranian veteran told me, “Ultimately as a people we have more loyalty to our nation than we do to anything, even our religion, and nothing will make us forget what they did. As the regime says, they are truly hypocrites.”

If the voices of the majority of Iranians aren’t proof enough, why not ask others within the U.S. government that might have some insight into Iran? Indeed, the State Department staffs several of its regional consulates and embassies with Iran watchers who are tasked with following social and political trends inside Iran. Before taking decisive action, why not ask them what they are hearing from Iranians about the MEK? Isn’t that what the American taxpayers are paying them to do?

The unfortunate reality in Washington is that Congress is often ill-equipped to deal with our toughest foreign policy questions. If I were to distill all the questions I’ve been asked by Congressional staffers into one coherent inquiry, it would look something like this: “Is the MEK’s Green Movement on the verge of taking down the Islamic Republic — or do we need to give them more time (and money)?”. Given the 32-year freeze in relations between the U.S. and Iran, it is perhaps not so surprising that some are so out of touch. Still, uninformed backing for a group that enjoys no popular support among the people of Iran, by American officials playing off the longstanding standoff between the U.S. and Iran, for their own political gains, is unacceptable and could very likely come back to haunt the U.S.

Yet it’s not just in the halls of Congress where common sense has been replaced by an uninformed and misguided approach to the MEK. Even Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a former ambassador to the United Nations, gets it wrong. In advocating sanctions against Iran, the former presidential candidate added, they had to be, “combined with new approaches to talk to the Iranian people — one is through the MEK group. At least give them some credibility, and talk to them, and find ways that we work together.”

In fact, working with the MEK would mean to cease speaking to the Iranian people. Furthermore, it would provide validation for those voices in the Iranian regime that have long accused the U.S. of meddling in their affairs, unnecessarily strengthening the domestic position of hardliners within the system. In a country with varied opinions on all subjects, the contempt reserved for the MEK is nearly universal.

Sitting here in Tehran, the mere thought of the MEK becoming a legitimate contributor to the policy dialogue on Iran is laughable, except to those of us who would actually like to see an end to the more than three decades of animosity between the U.S. and Iran, and hope for a productive future relationship through real diplomacy. To us — and we are much stronger in number than the MEK could ever hope to be — the idea is insane, heartbreaking and reprehensible.

Jason Rezaian is a Tehran-based journalist

>

Here are 10 facts about the MEK everyone should know:

1) Iran’s opposition Green Movement rejects the MEK: http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/03/26/iran_green_movement/index.html

2) Most, if not all, of the MEK’s most prominent supporters are paid handsomely for their efforts. http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/03/ex-officials_say_they_were_paid_to_attend_pro-mek_events.php

3) The MEK has no support in Iran. http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/02/24/washingtons_dangerous_and_deluded_support_for_the_mek

4) The MEK is a cult. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/13/magazine/13MUJAHADEEN.html

5) Before his overthrow, the MEK received most of its financial support and all its material support from Saddam Hussein. http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2009/140900.htm

6) The MEK supported Saddam by aiding his deadly crackdown against the Kurds and Shia. Maryam Rajavi, the MEK’s leader, even instructed her followers to “take the Kurds under your tanks.” http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/13/magazine/13MUJAHADEEN.html

7) The MEK strongly supported the takeover of the US Embassy in 1979, advocated for the US hostages to be tried and executed, and even opposed their eventual release. http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/1993_cr/h930929-terror-pmoi.htm

8) The MEK wasn’t added to the Foreign Terrorist Organization List as a Goodwill Gesture to Iran. It’s been on the list since it was first created in 1997, and was listed in the Patterns on Global Terrorism for years prior to that. http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/annual_reports.html

9) The Bush administration determined in 2007 that “MEK leadership and members across the world maintain the capacity and will to commit terrorist acts in Europe, the Middle East, the United States, Canada, and beyond.” http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2006/82738.htm

10) The MEK abuses its own members in Camp Ashraf and has even tortured at least two individuals to death. http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/refworld/rwmain?page=printdoc&docid=45d085002

To state the obvious, American credibility and goodwill among the Iranian people would be destroyed if the US supports this group.

>

Bush Hypocrisy? the Mujahedin e-Khalq (MEK)

January 25, 2007, 1:48PM

posted on opinionist.com

Does history not teach those in power anything? Is President Bush comfortable placing his gut instincts (thus far proven rudimentary to say the least!) in a covenant with evil? Can the U.S. once again make a pact with truly bad people under the hackneyed expression, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”?

As previously mentioned, the Bush Administration passionately believes the United States “may face no greater challenge from a single country than Iran.”

border

So the Bush Administration, under the reported direction of then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, makes parley with a flavor of terrorist organization so virulent that it comes with a slew of names, including:

– The People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI)

– Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK)

– Mojahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO)

– The National Liberation Army of Iran

– National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)

Use whatever name grabs your fancy but peruse its terrorist activities since it was founded in 1965.

– Opposed the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi

– Assassinated U.S. military personnel and civilians working in Iran in 1970s

– Actively supported the U.S. embassy takover in Tehran in 1979

– Largest opposition group in Iran against newly appointed Ayatollah Khomeini

– Relocated to France, after Khomeini-backed crackdown, until 1986.

– France made deal with Iran to force MEK from France. They moved to Iraq.

– Iraq’s Saddam Hussein gave military and financial aid and base of operations.

– Iraq armed the MEK and used it against Iranian forces in Iran / Iraq war

– MEK assisted the Iraqi Republican Guard in suppressing the Kurdish and Shiite uprisings in Iraq after the 1991 Persian Gulf War

– MEK leader, “Take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.”

See report by Human Rights Watch for more examples should this not be enough evidence that the MKO was, at the very least, complicit with the actions of the sick dictator Saddam Hussein. The MKO have the blood of American servicemen and citizens on its resume of terror.

Yet even as recently as 2003 there have been reports of political support for the MKO by members of the U.S. Congress – across party lines I must say – including the reputable Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado) and Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas).

When chasing an updated position from Rep. Tancredo (R-Colorado) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) It was suggested (view email) by Sam Stratman, communications director for the House Committee on International Relations, that Rep. Ros-Lehtinen was unavailable for comment and I should redirect my inquiries to “Rep. Bob Filner [D-CA] and Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee [D-TX] who are active on this topic.” Interesting use of partisan politics in a friendly “fudge-off”!

Thus far no updated position has been forthcoming from Rep. Tom Tancredo, Rep. Jackson-Lee nor Rep. Filner.

In the past few months there have been a number of reports of collusion between the Pentagon and the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) which includes U.S. sponsored insurgency operations inside Iran.

It is not know to what extent the MEK have been unleashed and certain no formal acknowledgement of any such agreement exists but rumor and innuendo are rife.

What can be deduced is MEK (PMOI) activity inside Iran is an unwanted distraction for the Iranian Government – to such a degree that the topic has been listed as a negotiation chip between the U.S. and the Iran in recent months.

A recent story by the BBC indicated that an olive branch gesture from the Iranians had been quickly snubbed by the Bush administration as disingenuous and without merit. The Iranians specifically requested the U.S. “disband the Iranian rebel group the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) and repatriate its members” in return for Iran’s willingness to open up its Nuclear program for U.S. and IAEA inspection.

Obviously the U.S.-sponsored MEK are causing more than a few annoying pin pricks within the Iranian government.

Presidential hopeful Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) – a ranking member of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations – has taken the reports of U.S. sponsored insurgency activities seriously enough to send a provocative letter to President Bush.

Whilst the issue remains cloudy and unsubstantiated, the notion that the United States of America is willing to partner with anyone of any sick repute in order to achieve its objectives – even though the objectives lay in a pool of terrorist bloodshed is sickening. Does this truly reflect American values? God I hope not.

>
Who supports delisting?

Commentaries by US Luminaries on the Need to De-list the MEK

see their official list > http://www.delistmek.com/

>
The Christian Science Monitor – CSMonitor.com

Iranian group’s big-money push to get off US terrorist list

SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: A roster of influential former US officials is speaking at rallies in support of removing the MEK, an Iranian opposition group with a violent anti-American history, from the US terrorist list. A decision is expected within weeks.

Temp Headline Image
The MEK’s self-declared ‘president-elect’ Maryam Rajavi talked with former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani at a June 18, 2011 rally in Villepinte, near Paris.
(PHOTO: Benoit Tessier/AP, ILLUSTRATION: John Kehe/Staff)

By Scott Peterson, Staff writer
posted August 8, 2011 at 6:28 pm EDT

Washington; and Istanbul, TurkeyA high-powered array of former top American officials is advocating removal from the US terrorist list of a controversial Iranian opposition group with a long anti-American history.With a decision due within weeks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former US four-star generals, intelligence chiefs, governors, and political heavyweights are calling for the US government to take the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/MKO) off the terror list it shares with Al Qaeda and Hezbollah.Many of these former high-ranking US officials – who represent the full political spectrum – have been paid tens of thousands of dollars to speak in support of the MEK.

They rarely mention the MEK’s violent and anti-American past, and portray the group not as terrorists but as freedom fighters with “values just like us,” as democrats-in-waiting ready to serve as a vanguard of regime change in Iran. Some acknowledge that they knew little about the group before they were invited to speak and were coached by MEK supporters.

Their efforts may be working: Knowledgeable officials say the millions of dollars spent on the campaign have raised political pressure to remove the MEK from the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list to the highest levels since the group – whose record includes assassinations of US military advisers and attacks on US diplomats – was one of the first to be put there in 1997.

But the delisting of the MEK, Iran experts say, could benefit Iran’s hard-line rulers by giving them more reason to brutally clamp down on Iran’s internal, nonviolent opposition. The Green Movement – which led street protests in 2009 – steadfastly rejects the MEK as an anti-democratic and violent force.

“The people who are saying [the MEK] are no longer terrorists are also saying they are democratic,” says John Limbert, a former US hostage in Iran from 1979-1981, who was US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran until last year.

“The issue is, have [the MEK] changed their terrorist nature?” asks Ambassador Limbert. “If they say, ‘We renounce terrorism,’ I have no confidence in that. What is it in their past – or in their present – that leads you to have confidence in such a statement?”

The State Dept. will be weighing many ramifications, from how this will play out in the streets of Tehran to how it will affect US strategic credibility.

“The MEK, with its violent history, is exactly what the Iranian regime needs to legitimate its violence against the peaceful opposition,” says Maziar Bahari, a journalist who was incarcerated in Iran during the 2009 protests. He spoke Aug. 4 in Washington at a panel organized to warn of the risks of delisting the MEK.

Reformist cleric Mohsen Kadivar and US-based academic Ahmad Sadri warn of broader dangers. Taking the MEK off the terrorist list, they have written, would “trigger a huge loss of US soft power in Iran, damage Iran’s democratic progress, and help Iranian hardliners cement a long-term dictatorship.”

Legal cases have seen the MEK removed from terror watch lists on procedural grounds in the UK and European Union in recent years. A decision on the US designation is now imminent; a federal appeals court in Washington last year ruled that the State Dept. had violated the group’s right to due process, because it had not been allowed to contest unclassified information used to justify its designation.

That information, submitted in autumn 2009, disclosed that “the MEK trained females at Camp Ashraf in Iraq to perform suicide attacks in Karbala” – a charge the group called “manifestly implausible” in court. It also included a US intelligence community assessment that the MEK “retains a limited capability and the intent to use violence to achieve its political goals.”

A detailed 2009 report, prepared for the US Department of Defense by the RAND Corp., notes further that the MEK has made “repeated requests … to have its weapons returned” at Camp Ashraf, the military camp given to the MEK by Saddam Hussein, where 3,400 members remain, disarmed.

Roots of the American label

American antipathy to the MEK stretches back four decades, when it was first formed in the 1960s with an anti-US, Marxist-Islamist ideology. Violent “armed struggle” was glorified from the start.

The group assassinated at least six US military advisers and citizens in Iran in the 1970s, supported the Islamic revolution and then the seizure of the American Embassy in 1979, and tried to block any deal with what it then called “the US, this satanic force threatening the world … the main adversary.”

US government documents frequently use the term “cult-like” when describing the MEK, and describe “years of ideological training” for members akin to “brainwashing.” The MEK has long denied that it is a cult and routinely charges critics with being agents of the Islamic Republic.

The MEK says it renounced violence in 2001, after claiming responsibility for 350 attacks in 2000 and 2001, according to a RAND tabulation. It is not known to have carried out any attacks for several years, though a 2004 FBI report found that the group was “currently actively involved in planning and executing acts of terrorism.”

That conclusion was based on wiretaps of calls between MEK bases and headquarters in Iraq, France, and Los Angeles that discussed “specific acts of terrorism to include bombings” – and were corroborated by French intelligence and German police wiretaps, according to the FBI report.

Militant groups can change. Both Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, for example, used violence before becoming influential political forces in their own right. The MEK is one of those, say its increasing number of American advocates.

Yet current US officials and many Iran experts – hawks and doves alike – question the MEK’s ability to change in light of the group’s unique history and its cult-like characteristics. They say the fact that it is widely despised inside Iran also makes it a dangerous tool to change Iran’s Islamic regime.

All have been stunned by the speed, heft, and sheer wealth of the current delisting campaign, after years of determined but fruitless efforts.

Dismissing the terrorist label

Removing the terrorist designation is critical to the MEK to bolster its legitimacy. It would also enable the MEK to openly fund-raise in the US – despite having used fraudulent techniques in the past that prompted FBI investigations into smuggling rings, forgery, and fraud schemes that resulted in prison time for dozens of members.

A host of former American officials, in speech after speech since December, dismiss the MEK’s terrorist designation. At more than a dozen events in Washington and Europe since December, they assert instead that the group offers a popular “third way” between failed dialogue with the Islamic Republic and military action.

“With Al Qaeda and Hamas, you would never think they would be able to drum up this kind of support,” one State Dept. official told the Monitor. “But with the MEK, they trawl the halls of Congress. Picture this with any other terrorist group; find one.”

Talking points for the former US officials often include demanding that the Obama administration “free” the MEK from the terrorist list and ensure “protection” of Camp Ashraf before the controversial enclave is closed at the end of the year by the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Some argue that the MEK “provided invaluable information” to the US during the Iraq war, as Gen. Hugh Shelton, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did last month. Yet current US officials have publicly disputed that view, and the 2009 RAND report states that “the CIA unsuccessfully attempted to persuade some MEK leaders to leave the group and provide intelligence information about Iran.”

The group is often credited with announcing in 2002 the existence of Iran’s undeclared uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz, but experts widely believe the intelligence came from Israel and was funneled through the MEK. The State Dept., in its October 2009 court filing, noted that UN inspectors say “much” of the information they receive from the MEK about Iran’s nuclear program “has a political purpose and has been wrong.”

Substantial fees

Former US officials taking part in MEK-linked events told the Monitor or confirmed publicly that they received substantial fees, paid by local Iranian-American groups to speaker bureaus that handle their public appearances.

The State Dept. official, who is familiar with the speech contracts, explains the mechanism: “Your speech agent calls, and says you get $20,000 to speak for 20 minutes. They will send a private jet, you get $25,000 more when you are done, and they will send a team to brief you on what to say.”

“Top-level national security officials never heard about the MEK; it never rose to their level until now,” says another US official. “So when MEK representatives show them a political platform comprised of the ’15 greatest ideas of Western civilization,’ it looks pretty compelling.”

The contracts can range up to $100,000 and include several appearances. They sometimes explicitly state, according to the State Dept. official, that “We are not a front organization for the MEK.”

The speaking events have created some extraordinary spectacles, including that of US heavyweights sharing the stage with the MEK’s self-declared “president-elect” Maryam Rajavi. At a mid-June MEK rally in Paris, for example, Mrs. Rajavi was flanked by five rows of former top US and European officials. The noisy throng of thousands of well-orchestrated MEK supporters, draped in yellow vests and waving flags, banners, and balloons as clouds of confetti fell, looked like an American political convention.

Rajavi said the US had “shackled the main force for change in Iran through an unwarranted label,” which had “acted as a barrier to Iranian people’s freedom.” The MEK leader called on the US government to “heed” senior former officials demanding delisting and “recognition of the Iran resistance.”

Those former officials lined up in Paris to voice their support for the MEK, and to criticize Washington’s Iran policy:

  • “How about we follow an Arab Spring with a Persian Summer?” asked Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, during his speech, as an American flag waved on the screen behind him. “We need regime change in Iran, more than we do in Egypt or Libya, and just as we need it in Syria.”

It wasn’t Mr. Giuliani’s first time speaking at a pro-MEK event: “Appeasement of dictators leads to war, destruction and the loss of human lives,” Mr. Giuliani told a similar gropu of Iranian exiles in Paris last December. “For your organization to be described as a terrorist organization is just really a disgrace.”

  • Michael Mukasey, the former US attorney general, declared: “There is one organization and one alone, that stands for immediate democratic change in Iran, and that is the MEK.”
  • Andrew Card, former White House chief of staff under George W. Bush, told the crowd the gathering was a “great reflection of support for the people of the MEK. It is truly time … for the people all over the world who care about democracy to stand with the Iranian people and the MEK in the struggle for democracy.”
  • Tom Ridge, the former US homeland security chief, also took the podium: “It’s an extraordinary honor for me, and a great privilege for my colleagues from the United States,” Mr. Ridge said, “to have the opportunity…to work with an individual that we believe clearly is one of the most inspirational, great leaders of the 21st century: Viva Maryam!”

Rajavi has indeed inspired fanatical loyalty among some MEK members. Her brief arrest in France in 2003 on terrorism charges sparked a wave of self-immolations.

Her portrait – along with that of husband and co-leader Massoud Rajavi, who has been in hiding since 2003 – is as ubiquitous at Camp Ashraf as Saddam Hussein’s once was across Iraq, and Ayatollah Khomeini’s still is in Iran. Every day at the camp, the MEK motto is heard: “Iran is Rajavi, Rajavi is Iran. Iran is Maryam, Maryam is Iran.”

Such praise therefore often features at MEK-linked events addressed by prominent Americans, mixed with other MEK talking points.

Howard Dean, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, hailed Rajavi in Berlin last March.

“Madame Rajavi does not sound like a terrorist to me; she sounds like a president,” Mr. Dean said, gesturing toward the MEK leader from the dais. “And her organization should not be listed as a terrorist organization. We should be recognizing her as the president of Iran.”

Mr. Dean confirmed to the Monitor that he received payment for his appearances, but said the focus on high pay was “a diversion inspired by those with a different view.”

Influence and money

Lee Hamilton, former co-chair of the 9/11 Commission, told the Monitor he received a “good fee” to speak in Washington. He “approved” of the MEK’s 10-point platform, which enshrines democracy, gender equality, and freedom, but added: “We all know it’s a piece of paper…. Now is that in fact their practice? I don’t think I am the one to judge that.”

Hamilton told the audience he remains “really puzzled” about why the MEK remains on the terrorist list.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell also spoke at an MEK-linked event and was paid $20,000 for a 10-minute speech. Mr. Rendell confirmed that figure to the Monitor, and said: “No amount of money could make me say something I didn’t believe.”

During his mid-July speech in Washington, however, Rendell stated that he had received a call on Monday, inviting him to appear the following Saturday. He told the audience that at first he declined, telling his would-be hosts: “I don’t know hardly anything about this subject, so … I don’t think I’m qualified to come.”

Rendell thanked them for convincing him to come anyway, for briefing him during the week, for the material they sent, and for further discussions that morning.

“It’s been a great learning experience for me, and as a result of what I’ve learned, on Monday I will send a letter to President Obama and Secretary Clinton, telling them … that the United States is morally bound to do everything we can to ensure the safety of the residents of Camp Ashraf,” said Rendell.

That comment prompted a standing ovation, followed by Rendell’s call for removal from the terrorist list if, as his fellow speakers had indicated, the “MEK is a force for good, and the best hope we have.”

Judge Mukasey told the Monitor he received money for some of his appearances, but added that “the issue of fees is a red herring. Al Gore gets paid to speak about global warming; does anyone question the sincerity of his beliefs?”

One former US diplomatic official told the Monitor he was offered $25,000 to speak in Paris last December, but declined. He was told he could deliver general remarks about human rights in Iran and did not have to mention the MEK, though “the MEK link was clear; there was no hiding of it at all.” In his case, he was told “rich Iranians in Europe” would foot the bill.

“Those who speak … have every right in the world to issue statements and make speeches that say [the MEK] ought to be off the terrorism list,” says this former official, who asked not to be named. “I just don’t think they should do it for money.”

Top-flight speakers include Bill Richardson, the former secretary of Energy; Gen. Peter Pace, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Wesley Clark, the former Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO; and James Jones, President Obama’s former national security adviser.

“You are credible, you are connected, you are respected. And I am amazed that we’ve not reached out,” Gen. Anthony Zinni, the former commander of CENTCOM, said at a January event in Washington. “No one is asking for money, for military support, and guns. They are asking for a hand to be reached out, a light to be shined on what they are doing.”

Speakers also include former CIA chiefs James Woolsey, Porter Goss, and Michael Hayden. Several others confirmed to The Financial Times that they received cash to speak, including John Bolton, former US ambassador to the UN; Louis Freeh, former FBI director; Gen. James Conway, former Commandant of the Marine Corps; and Shelton.

“It’s a very formidable list, full of national security experts, and each of us recognizes the importance of Iran to US security,” P.J. Crowley, the former US State Dept. spokesman until March, who spoke at a June event in Washington, told the Monitor.

Among Mr. Crowley’s talking points at State was that the MEK belonged on the terrorism list. He says he was therefore “deliberately circumspect” in his speech and did not take a position on MEK delisting.

“I was offered a fee to appear, but what I said were my own comments, uninfluenced by what I was paid,” said Crowley.

A large-scale operation

In scale and effectiveness at drawing in big names, this campaign stands alone, says Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a group that for years has sought to increase the voice of Iranian-Americans in Washington and advocated US-Iran engagement.

The NIAC has launched a counter-campaign, concerned that delisting the MEK would “radicalize” Iran’s homegrown democracy movement, and “unleash a major force for war” between the US and Iran.

“We’ve never seen this kind of money,” says Mr. Parsi. “At one conference with 10 speakers, if they average $50k a pop, that is half a million dollars just in speaker fees.”

The momentum to remove the terrorist status “is all about [the MEK’s] ability to muster a political lobbying campaign,” says Parsi. If the decision were based on “the merits of the case, this would be as uncontroversial as the four times that the Bush administration re-listed them. Four times. No controversy.”

One reason may be the caliber of the MEK’s advocates today, and their insistence that they would not back a group with links to terrorism.

For example, Mr. Freeh, who was in charge during some of the FBI’s investigations of the MEK in the 1990s, told an MEK-linked conference in Washington in March that there is “absolutely no credible evidence, we think even on a classified basis,” that justifies the MEK’s terrorist listing.

He made no mention of the FBI’s 2004 report that found the MEK “actively involved in planning and executing acts of terrorism.”

At a similar event in mid-July, Mr. Freeh praised the “bravery” of the MEK for “leading the fight for freedom in Iran. Just as our military forces fight for freedom on the battlefields, you fight in a more difficult and much more dangerous place.”

Freeh asked the audience if such prominent panelists – which on that day included Shelton, Dean, Rendell, and Anita McBride, the former chief of staff for Laura Bush – would be there if there was “even a remote possibility” the MEK were in fact terrorists.

Raising doubts about change

But the MEK’s history has raised doubts among Iran specialists and in US government reporting about its ability to turn away from violence after embracing it for decades.

The MEK was just one popular faction that toppled the pro-West Shah in Iran’s 1979 revolution – but the only one that assassinated Americans. One MEK song from the time revels in anti-US sentiment: “Leave American, your blood is [already spilling] on the ground.”

The MEK lost out in the post-revolution power struggle; thousands of its members were killed. MEK actions peaked at a rate of three assassinations and attacks per day – its propaganda included how-to assassination guides. The MEK has claimed responsibility for killing thousands of Iranians it called “agents of the regime.”

Among numerous actions abroad, in 1982 the MEK seized the Iranian Interest Section in Washington, taking nine people hostage and doing $500,000 in damage.

On a single day in 1992, the MEK orchestrated attacks on 12 diplomatic facilities in 10 countries. In New York, the Iranian Mission to the UN was “invaded” by five men with knives, who took three hostages and went on a two-hour rampage “behind chained doors,” according to news reports. In Ottawa, the Iranian Embassy was “attacked and pillaged” by some 55 people armed with sticks and hammers.

Expelled from Iran in 1981, and then evicted from France, the MEK in 1986 set up in Iraq where they “became a wholly owned subsidiary of Saddam Hussein’s regime,” according to Ken Pollack, a former CIA analyst and National Security Council director for Gulf affairs, in his book “The Persian Puzzle.”

Saddam “armed them, paid them, and sent them on missions into Iran during the later stages of the Iran-Iraq War,” notes Mr. Pollack, adding that they became “such creatures of the Iraqi regime” that they helped crush Shiite and Kurdish revolts in 1991 that the White House had encouraged – actions that today are one reason for enduring anti-MEK hostility from Iraq’s Shiite-led government.

The MEK denies fighting in Saddam’s wars and often claims it was “independent” of the Iraqi dictator’s regime, but Pollack’s description is confirmed by numerous independent sources.

A US State Dept. report in 1994 dismissed MEK efforts to reinvent itself. Noting the MEK’s “dedication to armed struggle”; the “fact that they deny or distort sections of their history, such as the use of violence”; the “dictatorial methods” of their leadership; and the “cult-like behavior of its members,” the State Dept. concluded that the MEK’s “29-year record of behavior does not substantiate its capability or intention to be democratic.”

That report describes tactics that foreshadow the MEK’s lobbying campaign today, 16 years later. It notes a “formidable Mojahidin outreach program,” which “solicits the support of prominent public figures,” and the “common practice … to collect statements issued by prominent individuals.”

The more recent 2009 RAND study came to similar conclusions. It speaks of the MEK’s “long history of deception,” and how it has become “increasingly adept at crafting … its image as a democratic organization that seeks to bring down Iranian tyrants.”

When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, it also took ownership of the sprawling MEK base at Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad near the Iranian border. US forces did not disband the camp; hawkish talk in Washington was that the thousands of MEK militants might be recycled for future use against Iran.

Who pays?

The sources of funding for the campaign to rehabilitate the MEK are not clear, even to US officials. The Monitor sought contact with more than a dozen speakers which, combined with news reports and official disclosures, paint a picture of several Iranian-American groups – some with past links to the MEK, and all engaged in pro-MEK activities – bankrolling the effort.

Besides the string of well-attended events at prestigious American hotels and locations, and in Paris, Brussels, and Berlin, the campaign has included full-page advertisements in The New York Times and Washington Post – which can cost $175,000 apiece – that demand delisting the MEK and protection of Camp Ashraf.

Several conferences have been sponsored by ExecutiveAction, LLC, whose CEO Neil Livingstone has long been active with MEK issues. His company has produced lengthy reports rebutting official US positions on the MEK.

According to his company website, Mr. Livingstone is also a member of the Iran Policy Committee (IPC), which in 2005 laid out a regime-change plan for Iran; its top priority was delisting the MEK.

An IPC panel in 2007 lists one speaker as Alireza Jafarzadeh, the MEK spokesman in Washington who the RAND report notes had “directed the MEK’s US lobbying apparatus” until it was designated an FTO. Mr. Crowley told the Monitor that Mr. Jafarzadeh – who today runs a Washington consultancy and conducts pro-MEK work – is “the driving force” behind the current campaign.

Mukasey, the former attorney general, was photographed speaking with Jafarzadeh at a July 7 hearing on Capitol Hill titled “Massacre at Camp Ashraf: Implications for US Policy.” He told the Monitor that Jafarzadeh was “as far as I know, liaison to the Iranian-Americans who attended the hearing.”

Jafarzadeh did not respond to communications from the Monitor asking for comment.

Several speakers at MEK-linked events told the Monitor they were paid by the Iranian American Community of Northern California. Director Ahmad Moein did not respond to multiple telephone and e-mail attempts to reach him; the group’s website is dedicated to pro-MEK issues and events.

The California group hired the powerful Washington law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld to lobby on its behalf to remove the MEK from the terrorism list.

Also supplying some funds has been Colorado‘s Iranian American Community, according to a disclosure report filed in early July by Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) and posted at legistorm.com. That group paid $6,589.62 for six days of first class travel and lodging expenses for Rep. Filner to attend the June MEK rally in Paris.

The House disclosure form describes him attending a “Grand meeting of Iranians in support of human rights and democracy for Iran.” It makes no mention of the MEK, nor meeting Rajavi. In his speech, Filner said: “I bring you greetings and support from the Congress of the United States … I want to congratulate Madame Rajavi … we will succeed.”

In 2007, Filner also accepted $7,949.40 worth of travel to attend a “rally for Iranian human rights” in Paris. Both trips were paid for by Tim Mehdi Ghaemi of the Colorado group, according to the required “Private Sponsor Travel Certification Form.”

In 2004, this Colorado group was among 23 co-sponsors of a fundraiser for Iran’s Bam earthquake victims that turned into a “night of resistance.” Seventeen were found to have MEK connections, including the Colorado group, according to news reports at the time. Then-Pentagon adviser Richard Perle delivered a paid speech, unaware of the MEK link. The US government froze the assets of the primary sponsor, the Iranian-American Community of Northern Virginia.

Such groups are familiar to US agencies as a means for MEK supporters to raise and spend funds, despite the terrorist designation. The State Dept. has described how the MEK “has formed associated groups with benign names” to raise cash and sympathy.

“I am not aware of any activities they undertake that are not MEK-related,” says one US official about these regional organizations. “I couldn’t begin to count them all…. They’ve got so many shells and fronts among their organizations that we can’t keep up with them all.”

Camp Ashraf

But a top priority for speakers at pro-MEK events is Camp Ashraf and its 3,400 occupants, who after years of military training during the Saddam era were disarmed with a promise of protection from US commanders.

The camp – due to be closed by the end of the year – has largely cut itself off from the outside world, with restricted access to telephones, Internet, and satellite television. MEK members, their identity documents long ago confiscated by the MEK, take part in frequent self-criticism sessions and must pledge to “eternal divorce.”

“Love for the Rajavis was to replace love for spouses and family,” notes the 2009 RAND report, which found that perhaps 70 percent of the people there “may have been recruited through deception” and are kept at Ashraf “against their will.”

Severe gender segregation means that “lines are painted down the middle of hallways separating them into men’s and women’s sides,” the RAND report reads. “Even the gas station at Camp Ashraf has separate hours for men and women.”

Prior to 2003, all MEK members carried cyanide tablets in leather pouches around their necks, according to RAND. Since then, “the MEK frequently used the threat of suicide as a negotiating tactic or to frustrate investigations.”

US officials are trying to convince the MEK to temporarily shift elsewhere in Iraq before disbanding, pinning their hopes on United Nations refugee status and resettlement elsewhere.

Mukasey told the Monitor that “What is developing [at Camp Ashraf] is another Srebrenica, with US complicity,” because Iraqi security forces – hostile to the MEK as past agents of Saddam – have several times in two years engaged in clashes at the camp, most recently in April when 34 were killed.

Former Governor Dean told an MEK-linked audience in July: “Let’s stop the name-calling and foolishness and look at this for what it is. This is genocide, and we will not have it!” Then he spoke of broader ambitions: “We will free the people of Ashraf, and we will free the people of Iran from the tyranny of the mullahs.”

Still uncertain, however, is the path that will lead there. Despite the warning by many Iran experts that the MEK belongs on the terrorism list, the high-powered campaign to resurrect the group carries on.

Also speaking in July, Shelton called the Camp Ashraf resettlement proposal a “recipe for ethnic cleansing,” adding: “Wake up, State Department! Take the MEK off the FTO list today.”

He said the “10-point program and human rights platform” published by Mrs. Rajavi “makes it a no-brainer.”

Then Shelton posed the question: “Why would we not want to put the weight and power of this country behind an organization that we know stands for the same principles we stand for, and that is the best-organized, the best-led organization to take on the current Iranian regime?”

>

Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) Factsheet

MEK=TERROR
In a matter of weeks, a terrorist group known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) may succeed in getting removed from the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations — not as a result of any change of heart — but as a result of an unprecedented and possibly illegal multi-million dollar media and lobbying blitz.

Iranian Americans know the truth about the MEK, but high-priced public relations and lobbying firms are hard at work trying to whitewash the MEK’s violent and disturbing record. And while they’ve been remarkably successful, they can’t completely escape the truth.  So, for the record, here are the facts about the MEK (you can find this and more at www.mekterror.com):

  • The State Department reports the MEK is a terrorist group that has murdered innocent Americans and maintains “the will and capacity” to commit terrorist attacks within the U.S. and beyond. [1]
  • The MEK claims to have renounced terrorism in 2001, but a 2004 FBI report states “the MEK is currently actively involved in planning and executing acts of terrorism.” [2]
  • RAND and Human Rights Watch have reported that the MEK is a cult that abuses its own members. [3] [4]
  • MEK has no popular support in Iran and has been denounced by the Green Movement, Iran’s peaceful democratic opposition movement.[5]

Iran’s Opposition Green Movement Rejects the MEK

  • The leaders of the Green Movement, Iran’s true popular opposition movement, have denounced the MEK and warned that the Iranian government seeks to discredit Iran’s opposition by associating it with the MEK:
  • “The Iranian Government is trying to connect those who truly love their country (the Greens) with the MEK to revive this hypocritical dead organization.” – Mehdi Karroubi, Green Movement leader. [6]
  • “The MEK can’t be part of the Green Movement. This bankrupt political group is now making some laughable claims, but the Green Movement and the MEK have a wall between them and all of us, including myself, Mr. Mousavi, Mr. Khatami, and Mr. Karroubi.” – Zahra Rahnavard, Women’s rights activist and wife of Green Movement leader Mir Hossein Mousavi[7]

Iraqi National Congress Redux?

  • The MEK claims it is “the main opposition in Iran,” yet similar to Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress that helped bring the United States into war with Iraq, the MEK is an exiled organization that has no popular support within Iran. [8]
  • RAND reports that the MEK are “skilled manipulators of public opinion.” The MEK has a global support network with active lobbying and propaganda efforts in major Western capitals. [9]
  • Members of Congress have been deceived and misinformed into supporting this terrorist  organization:
  • In 2002, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen led efforts for the U.S. to support the group, prompting then-Chairman and the Ranking Member of the House International Affairs Committee, Henry Hyde and Tom Lantos, to send a Dear Colleague warning against supporting the MEK.  They cautioned that many Members had been “embarrassed when confronted with accurate information about the MEK.” [10]
  • In the current Congress, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) have each introduced resolutions calling for MEK to be removed from the Foreign Terrorist Organization list.

A Capacity and Will to Commit Terrorist Acts in the U.S. & Beyond

  • The Bush administration determined in 2007 that “MEK leadership and members across the world maintain the capacity and will to commit terrorist acts in Europe, the Middle East, the United States, Canada, and beyond.” [11]
  • The Canadian and Australian governments have also designated the MEK as a terrorist organization. The Canadian government just reaffirmed its designation in December. [12] [13]
  • An EU court removed the MEK from its list of terrorist organizations, but only due to procedural reasons.  According to a spokesperson for the Council of the European Union, the EU court “did not enter into the question of defining or not the PMOI [MEK] as a terrorist organization.” [14]

Saddam Hussein’s Terrorist Militia

  • The MEK received all of its military assistance and most of its financial support from Saddam Hussein, including funds illegally siphoned from the UN Oil-for-Food Program, until 2003. [15]
  • The MEK helped execute Saddam’s bloody crackdown on Iraqi Shia and Kurds. Maryam Rajavi, the MEK’s permanent leader, instructed her followers to “take the Kurds under your tanks.” [16]

A Cult That Abuses Its Own Members

  • Human Rights Watch reports that MEK commits extensive human rights abuses against its own members at Camp Ashraf, including “torture that in two cases led to death.” [17]
  • A RAND report commissioned by DOD found that the MEK is a cult that utilizes practices such as mandatory divorce, celibacy, authoritarian control, forced labor, sleep deprivation, physical abuse, confiscation of assets, emotional isolation, and the imprisonment of dissident members. [18]
  • RAND concluded that up to 70% of the MEK members at their Camp Ashraf headquarters were likely recruited through deception and are kept there against their will. [19]
  • The FBI reports that the MEK’s “NLA [National Liberation Army] fighters are separated from their children who are sent to Europe and brought up by the MEK’s Support Network. […] These children are then returned to the NLA to be used as fighters upon coming of age.  Interviews also revealed that some of these children were told that their parents would be harmed if the children did not cooperate with the MEK. ”[20]

A History of Anti-Americanism

  • One of the founding ideologies of the MEK is anti-Americanism—the MEK is responsible for murdering American businessmen, military personnel, and even a senior American diplomat. [21]
  • The MEK strongly supported the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979, vigorously opposed their eventual release, and chastised the government for not executing the hostages. [22]

The MEK was Not “Added” to the FTO List as a Goodwill Gesture to Iran

Delisting MEK: Disastrous Repercussions

The MEK is opposed by the Iranian people due to its history of terrorist attacks against civilians in Iran and its close alliance with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war.

  1. The greatest beneficiaries of delisting MEK would be Ahmadinejad and Iranian hardliners who seek to link the U.S. and the Green Movement to MEK.
  2. U.S. support for MEK would be used as a propaganda tool by hardliners to delegitimize and destroy Iran’s true democracy movement.
  3. American credibility among the Iranian people would be ruined if the U.S. supported this group.

Full citations below the fold:


[1] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2006, available at: http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2006/82738.htm

[2] Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) Criminal Investigation, November 29, 2004, available at: http://www.niacouncil.org/site/DocServer/FBI_Report.pdf?docID=921

[3] RAND Corporation, The Mujahedin-e Khalq in Iraq: A Policy Conundrum, available at: http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2009/RAND_MG871.pdf

[4] Human Rights Watch, No Exit: Human Rights Abuses Inside the Mojahedin Khalq Camps, May 18, 2005, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/45d085002.html

[5] Mohsen Kadivar and Ahmad Sadri, Salon.com, “Hillary Clinton’s Crucial Choice on Iran,” March 26, 2011, available at: http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/03/26/iran_green_movement/index.html

[6] Tony Karon, Time, “Why Are Some U.S. Politicians Trying to Remove an Iranian ‘Cult’ From the Terror List?” March 4, 2011, available at:  http://globalspin.blogs.time.com/2011/03/04/why-are-some-u-s-politicians-trying-to-remove-an-iranian-cult-from-the-terror-list/.
Original quote in Farsi available at: http://www.peykeiran.com/Content.aspx?ID=11802

[7] Patrick Disney, Foreign Policy Magazine: Middle East Channel, “Congressional backers look to exiled Iranian group for regime change,” September 22, 2010, http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/09/22/congressional_backers_look_to_exiled_iranian_group_for_regime_change

[8] Jason Rezaian, Foreign Policy Magazine: Middle East Channel, “Washington’s dangerous (and deluded) support for the MEK,” March 1, 2011, available at: http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/02/24/washingtons_dangerous_and_deluded_support_for_the_mek

[9] RAND Corporation, The Mujahedin-e Khalq in Iraq: A Policy Conundrum, Pages 39-40, available at: http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2009/RAND_MG871.pdf

[10] Sam Dealey, The Hill, “Rep. Ros-Lehtinen defends Iranian group labeled terrorist front for Saddam Hussein,” April 8, 2003, available at: http://replay.web.archive.org/20040619065636/http://www.thehill.com/news/040803/roslehtinen.aspx

[11] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2006, available at: http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2006/82738.htm

[12] Canadian Department of Public Safety, “Currently Listed Entities,” December 22, 2010, available at: http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/prg/ns/le/cle-eng.aspx#MEK

[13] Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. http://www.dfat.gov.au/globalissues/terrorism.html. See Australia’s sanctioned terrorist list at http://www.dfat.gov.au/icat/regulation8_consolidated.xls

[14] CNN, “Iran condemns EU for delisting terror group,” January 27, 2009, available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/01/27/iran.eu.terror.group/

[15] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2009, available at: http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2009/140900.htm

[16] Elizabeth Rubin, New York Times Magazine, “The Cult of Rajavi,” July 13, 2003, available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/13/magazine/the-cult-of-rajavi.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

[17] Human Rights Watch, No Exit: Human Rights Abuses Inside the Mojahedin Khalq Camps, May 18, 2005, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/45d085002.html

[18] RAND Corporation, The Mujahedin-e Khalq in Iraq: A Policy Conundrum, Page 3, available at: http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2009/RAND_MG871.pdf

[19] RAND Corporation, The Mujahedin-e Khalq in Iraq: A Policy Conundrum, Page 74, available at: http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2009/RAND_MG871.pdf

[20] Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) Criminal Investigation, November 29, 2004, available at: http://www.niacouncil.org/site/DocServer/FBI_Report.pdf?docID=921

[21] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2009, available at: http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2009/140900.htm

[22] Letter from the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs to Congressman Lee Hamilton, Congressional Record Page E2263 in the 103rd Congress, available at http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/1993_cr/h930929-terror-pmoi.htm

[23] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 1997, available at: http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/1997Report/backg.html

[24] U.S. Department of State, Patterns on Global Terrorism. See, for instance, the 1994 report, available at http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/terror_94/append.html

>

America and Israel Support Iranian Terrorists, According to Reports

Senior U.S. officials say – according to NBC news  – that Israel is training and supporting Iranian terrorists:

I noted last month that the U.S. is as well:

The Mujahideen e Khalq (MEK) … along with its political arm, the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), is listed by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organisation.

Interestingly, the Bush Administration – and especially Dick Cheney – helped to fund the MEK (see confirming articles here and here).

And the New York Times, Washington Post and others are reporting that Rudy Giuliani, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former national security adviser Fran Townsend and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey are supporting the MEK as well.

Glenn Greenwald notes:

There are numerous Muslims inside the U.S. who have been prosecuted for providing “material support for Terrorism” for doing far less than these American politicians are publicly doing on behalf of a designated Terrorist group.

***

Yet here we have numerous American political figures receiving substantial fees from a group which is legally designated under American law as a Terrorist organization. Beyond that, they are meeting with the Terrorist leaders of that group repeatedly …. And, after receiving fees from the Terrorist group and meeting with its Terror leaders, these American political figures are going forth and disseminating pro-MEK messages on its behalf and working to have it removed from the Terrorist list.

***

What they are providing to MEK is the definitive “material support.”

***

Indeed, as Georgetown Law Professor David Cole noted, these activities on behalf of MEK are clearly prosecutable as “material support for Terrorism” under the standard advocated by the Bush and Obama DOJs and accepted by the Supreme Court in the Holder v. Humanitarian Law case of 2009, which held that even peaceful advocacy on behalf of a Terrorist group can be prosecuted if done in coordination with the group (ironically, many of these paid MEK supporters have long been advocates of broad application of “material support statutes” (when applied to Muslims, that is) and have even praised the Humanitarian Law case). If we had anything even remotely approaching equal application of the law, [U.S. politicians who have aided MEK] would be facing prosecution as Terrorist-helpers.

Then there’s long been the baffling question of where MEK was getting all of this money to pay these American officials. Indeed, the pro-MEK campaign has been lavishly funded. As the CSM noted: ”Besides the string of well-attended events at prestigious American hotels and locations, and in Paris, Brussels, and Berlin, the campaign has included full-page advertisements in The New York Times and Washington Post — which can cost $175,000 apiece.” MEK is basically little more than a nomadic cult: after they sided with Saddam Hussein in his war with Iran, they were widely loathed in Iran and their 3,400 members long lived in camps in Iraq, but the Malaki government no longer wants them there. How has this rag-tag Terrorist cult of Iranian dissidents, who are largely despised in Iran, able to fund such expensive campaigns and to keep U.S. officials on its dole?

All of these mysteries received substantial clarity from an NBC News report by Richard Engel and Robert Windrem yesterday. Citing two anonymous “senior U.S. officials,” that report [states that] the Terrorist group “is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service.” These senior officials also admitted that “the Obama administration is aware of the assassination campaign” but claims it “has no direct involvement.” Iran has long insisted the Israel and the U.S. are using MEK to carry out Terrorist attacks on its soil, including the murder of its scientists, and NBC notes that these acknowledgments “confirm charges leveled by Iran’s leaders”  ….

There are a number of vital questions and conclusions raised by this. First, it would be mean that the assurances by MEK’s paid American shills … that “they are unarmed” are totally false: whoever murdered these scientists is obviously well-armed. Second, this should completely gut the effort to remove MEK from the list of designated Terrorist groups; after all, murdering Iran’s scientists through the use of bombs and guns is a defining act of a Terror group, at least as U.S. law attempts to define the term. Third, this should forever resolve the debate in which I was involved last month about whether the attack on these Iranian scientists constitutes Terrorism; as Daniel Larson put it yesterday: “If true, the murders of Iranian nuclear scientists with bombs have been committed by a recognized terrorist group. Can everyone acknowledge at this point that these attacks were acts of terrorism?”

Fourth, and most important: if this report is true, is this not definitive proof that Israel is, by definition, a so-called state sponsor of Terrorism? Leaving everything else aside, if Israel, as NBC reports, has “financed, trained and armed” a group officially designated by the U.S. Government as a Terrorist organization, isn’t that the definitive act of how one becomes an official “state sponsor of Terrorism”?

***

Of course, as I documented in my last book, those who are politically and financially well-connected are free to commit even the most egregious crimes; for that reason, the very idea of prosecuting Giuliani, Rendell, Ridge, Townsend, Dean and friends for their paid labor on behalf of a Terrorist group is unthinkable, a suggestion not fit for decent company …. The term Terrorism is so completely meaningless, manipulated and mischievous: it’s just a cynical term designed to delegitimize violence and even political acts undertaken by America’s enemies while shielding from criticism the actual Terrorism undertaken by itself and its allies. The spectacle whereby a designated Terrorist group can pay top American politicians to advocate for them even as they engage in violent Terrorist acts, all while being trained, funded and aided by America’s top client state, should forever end the controversy over that glaringly obvious proposition.

Indeed, high-level U.S. and Israeli officials have admitted that they carry out terrorism.

For example:

  • The CIA admits that it hired Iranians in the 1950′s to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically-elected prime minister
  • Israel admits that an Israeli terrorist cell operating in Egypt planted bombs in several buildings, including U.S. diplomatic facilities, then left behind “evidence” implicating the Arabs as the culprits (one of the bombs detonated prematurely, allowing the Egyptians to identify the bombers, and several of the Israelis later confessed) (and see this and this)

And the former director of the National Security Agency said:

By any measure the US has long used terrorism. In ‘78-79 the Senate was trying to pass a law against international terrorism – in every version they produced, the lawyers said the US would be in violation.

Note: I am not defending Muslim terrorists or picking on the U.S. and Israel. Many nations – including Muslim countries – have carried out terrorist attacks. I am simply pointing to the hypocrisy, double standards and imperial arrogance of America and Israel.

If the U.S. and Israel sponsor terrorism, then Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser was correct when he told the Senate in 2007: the war on terror is “a mythical historical narrative”.

>
<><><><><><><><><><><>
and on and on in double standards

<><><>

<><>

<>

|

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s