Pallin' around with Terrorists? Author: RaineDate:04/09/2012 14:29:04
In DC it should come as no surprise that there are more than usual number of advocacy ads, lobbying ads, political ads etc. These ads reach people who might otherwise not be reached, and are from any number of groups. I enjoy watching them to see who is paying for them, etc. One ad that has been running since at least last August is this:
I admit, I hadn't paid much mind to it. It looks benign enough. I simply thought it was just another ad asking the State department for help. the ad was sponsored by a group called Human Rights and Democracy International. According to the ad, MEK should be de-listed as a terrorist organization by the State Department. It makes sense to support democratic opposition in Iran. We will go a little further into this website another day. Let's get back to this group, who claim to be The democratic opposition in Iran. Mitt Romney's Foreign Policy Advisor supports this idea as well.
Mitchell Reiss, a foreign policy adviser to Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, on Friday once again spoke out on behalf of an Iranian opposition group the U.S. considers a terrorist organization.
Reiss, a former State Department official, appeared alongside other former U.S. officials like former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Attorney General Michael Mukasey at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. to support removing the People’s Muhajedin Organization of Iran, or MEK, from the U.S. list of designated terrorist organizations. Reiss, who served as moderator of the panel, opened his remarks with a joke about the ongoing Treasury Department investigation into the speaking fees paid to officials like him who have appeared at previous events.
“Up here on the dais this morning, we have some of America’s most distinguished public servants, most decorated military officers, and most respected diplomats — a true collection of outstanding American leaders,” Reiss said. “Or, as the Treasury Department would prefer to call us for our supporting the delisting of the MEK, potential criminals.”
The PMOI, which has had bases in Iraq since the 1980s, began as a group of Islamist leftists opposed to Iran's late Shah but fell out with Shi'ite clerics who took power after the 1979 revolution.
-- The NCRI in 2002 exposed Iran's uranium enrichment facility at Natanz and a heavy water plant at Arak, which the West say are key elements in Iran's plan to build nuclear weapons. Tehran denies having any such ambitions.
-- The group was one of the largest factions immediately after the 1979 revolution. But diplomats and analysts say it is difficult to determine the level of support for the group now inside Iran, where many Iranians cannot forgive it for siding with Saddam Hussein during Iran's war with Iraq in the 1980s.
Also of note:
The U.S. State Department has said the PMOI assassinated at least six U.S. citizens as part of the struggle to overthrow the Shah, backed the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran and opposed freeing U.S. hostages.
In the 1980s, the group's leaders fled to France and also collaborated with Iraq during the 1980-88 war with Iran. In April 1992, the PMOI carried out attacks on 13 Iranian embassies around the world, causing significant damage.
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.
After the 2003 invasion of Iraq, MEK 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 MEK and entered into a ceasefire agreement with the coalition after the attack. Each compound surrendered without hostilities. In the operation, the US reportedly captured 6,000 MEK fighters and over 2,000 pieces of military equipment. 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.
In the operation, the US reportedly captured 6000 MEK soldiers and over 2000 pieces of military equipment, including 19 British-made Chieftain tanks. 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.
What a tangled web...
You will see that this group does not have a stellar history. It has been listed for decades as a terrorist group. It has killed Americans, bombed embassies, they've been accused of running prison camps. According to one MEK escapee it bans marriage, radio, and internet. The group was behind the overthrow of the Shah back in the 70's, and is behind overthrowing the current Iranian regime. And yet, thru all of this, Romney -- as a Presidential candidate -- wants to De-List this group.
I'm not so sure I like this whole the enemy of my enemy is my friend thing. Our recent history as a nation has shown that we have misguidedly supported exile groups without considering the long term ramification. We once supported Saddam Hussein as well, just as we once supported the Afgans in their resistance to the USSR. We still suffer from blowback in those 'engagements'. It appears this may very well be the case in Iran (again) if we decide to de-list this group.
One thing is for sure, de-listing the MEK is guaranteed to further destabilize Iran. Secretary of State Clinton has not made a decision yet on whether to de-list this organization, and I actually hope that she doesn't. They are not freedom fighters, nor are they pro-democracy as the television ad above indicates. There are some who mistake this group as the true Pro-Democracy advocates in Iran. Remember the Iranian Green Movement?
In the aftermath of the June 12 elections, we saw yet again how the MEK seeks to manipulate the struggle for democracy to serve its own violent, undemocratic agenda. Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari, just before he was imprisoned by the regime in Iran's notorious Evin prison for 118 days in 2009, reported firsthand how the MEK tried to "hijack" the peaceful Green Movement protests by launching attacks on Basijis. Bahari writes in his recent book that "MEK sympathizers had acted as agents provocateurs among the protestors, inciting violence."
He quotes a peaceful demonstrator on June 13, 2009, who says, "Some small terrorist groups and criminal gangs are taking advantage of the situation." She goes on to say, "Thirty years after the revolution and 20 years after the war, the majority of Iranians despise violence and terror. My worry is that if the government doesn't allow reforms to take place, we will fall into a terrorism abyss like the years after the revolution."
Injecting violence into Iran's opposition would turn the democratic struggle into a violent competition on the regime's terms. That is why the regime would love for the indigenous opposition to become violent and why delisting the MEK would be a gift to hardliners who have sought to smear the democratic opposition as being aligned with the MEK. Green Movement leaders have disavowed the MEK and wisely avoided taking the regime's bait, but now some in the U.S. want to use the MEK to inject violence into Iran's opposition movement.
I'm actually dismayed by the people who claim to support this group. It isn't just Mitt Romney who supports this group -- it includes people you would be surprised at, including former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh, Bill Richardson Wes Clark and, prepare yourself: Howard Dean. They have been paid speaking fees to speak on behalf of this group.
Mr. Hamilton and Generals Jones and Clark have been paid speakers’ fees by front groups for Mujahedeen Khalq and have spoken in support of the group in public conferences. They claimed ignorance of how the group treated its members.
“I don’t know a lot about the group,” Mr. Hamilton told me over the phone last week. But in 1994, when he was chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Hamilton received a report describing the group as a violent cult with a distinct ideology synthesizing Marxism and messianic Shiism.
At a February conference in Paris, Mr. Dean praised the group’s extraordinary “bill of rights.” And General Jones said to Ms. Rajavi: “It is time for those of us from the United States who have come to know and admire you and your colleagues and your goals to do what is required to recognize the legitimacy of your movement and your ideals.” When I asked General Jones last week if he knew that some considered the group a totalitarian cult, he replied, “This is the first time I’ve heard anything about this.”
He said he’d checked with military and F.B.I. officials. “I wanted to make sure we weren’t supporting a group that was doing nefarious things that I don’t know about,” he said. “Nobody brought it up, so I didn’t know what questions to ask.”
I want to make this point clear: the people listed above however, are not running for President. They are paid to lobby for MEK.
MEK is a terrorist group that is also a cult. I wonder if the Republicans desire to overthrow a theocracy is so great that we would support a known terror group? For myself, the ends do not justify the means. I'm not saying we don't have serious issues with the nation of Iran, but this support is disconcerting with regards to our own national security. MEK has a history of attacking Americans. They have a history of violence and they have a history of terror.
A better question to ask is: Why is Mitt Romney pallin' around with terrorists?