Iranian American Council (NIAC)
MEK heads Massoud & Maryam Rajavi
Washington, DC - Efforts in the House of Representatives to
press the Obama Administration to remove the Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (MEK) from the
United States list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations have accelerated in the
The State Department describes the MEK as a "cult-like"
terrorist organization that "uses propaganda and terrorism to achieve its
Rights Watch has reported that MEK leadership has engaged in human rights
violations against its membership at Camp Ashraf in Iraq.
But last Tuesday, six Members of Congress signed a letter
to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging that the State Department
remove the Marxist Islamist group from the US list of Foreign Terrorist
The letter highlights a House resolution, H.Res.
1431, calling for the group's removal from the terrorist list, introduced by
California Democratic Representative Bob Filner, one
of the MEK's staunchest supporters in Congress. The MEK, which is known by
numerous aliases, including MKO, the People's Mojahadeen of Iran (PMOI) and the
National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), has an active presence on Capitol
Hill, and the Filner resolution has garnered over 100 cosponsors.
"Removing the MEK from the FTO [Foreign Terrorist
Organizations] list is not only the right thing to do, but it also sends the
right message to Tehran," reads the letter, which was signed by Representatives
Filner, Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Ted Poe (R-TX), Judy Chu (D-CA), Edolphus
Towns (D-NY), and Mike Coffman (R-CO).
According to the State Department, the MEK has "staged
terrorist attacks inside Iran and killed several US military personnel and
civilians," and until 2003 received Oil-for-Food program subsidies from Saddam
Hussein to plan and execute future terrorist attacks. The MEK's "leadership and
members across the world maintain the capacity and will to commit terrorist acts
in Europe, the Middle East, the United State, Canada, and beyond," reads the
State Department terrorist designation of the group. Additionally, the State
Department says the MEK has "cult-like
"Upon entry into the group, new members are indoctrinated
in MEK ideology and revisionist Iranian history. 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." She claims to emulate the Prophet Muhammad and is
viewed by members as the "Iranian President in exile."
The MEK asserts that it no longer engages in terror tactics.
But a 2007 Rand report (pdf)
describes the MEK as "skilled manipulators of public opinion." The report,
commissioned on behalf of the US Department of Defense, says, "During the more
than four decades since its founding, the MEK has become increasingly adept at
crafting and promoting its image as a democratic organization that seeks to
bring down Iranian tyrants, both secular and religious."
The group's supporters in Congress call the MEK the "main
opposition in Iran," although top Green Movement leaders have denounced the
group. Zahra Rahnavard, a women's rights activist and wife of opposition leader
Mir Hossein Mousavi, has said the MEK
is incompatible with the Green Movement and that the Iranian government
seeks to weaken Iran's internal opposition by linking it to the MEK:
"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 and all of us within the
Green Movement do not consider the MEK a part of the Green Movement.
Unfortunately, whether deliberately or by mistake - and I think deliberately
- this government has tried to revive the MEK by associating it with the
Green Movement, which again is a very funny notion because the Green
Movement is a people's movement that is alive and dynamic and holds a very
firm wall between itself and the MEK."
Democracy activists and human rights defenders in Iran have denounced the
MEK on many
occasions, as the Iranian government has attempted to link activists to the
organization as a means to exploit popular enmity towards the group. Iranians
widely oppose the MEK because of the terrorist attacks carried out by the group
in Iran, as well as its allegiance with Saddam Hussein, who utilized the group
to carry out attacks during the Iran-Iraq war and to suppress the Kurdish
population in Iraq.
The letter sent to Secretary Clinton last week asserts that
"The Iranian regime has exploited the designation to crack down on the MEK at
home," and that the "unjust US designation" of the MEK as a terrorist group
allows Iranian officials to "justify imparting their draconian punishments on
prisoners of conscience."
But Mehdi Karroubi, one of the main leaders of the Green
Movement, has argued that the
Iranian government is in fact seeking to revive the MEK by falsely linking
it to democracy activists. "We used to say that this person or that person has
no connections with the MEK. But now the [government] is trying to connect those
who truly love their country with the MEK to revive this hypocritical dead
Congressional supporters of the group, however, continue to
link the MEK to Iran's democratic opposition and have associated their efforts
to remove the group from the terror list with the human rights situation in
Iran. The Filner resolution, for example, is officially titled, "Calling for an
end to the violence, unlawful arrests, torture, and ill treatment perpetrated
against Iranian citizens, as well as the unconditional release of all political
prisoners in Iran."
Representative Brad Sherman, another Democrat from California,
said last week that his Subcommittee on Terrorism "should take that bill
seriously," and blamed the State Department for not providing necessary
briefings on the matter. Sherman, who has previously stated that sanctions
should punish the Iranian people, said that he has a briefing request from
intelligence officials pending on the MEK designation. Sherman has
argued that the US should not designate groups like MEK as terrorists
because they are "not enemies of the United States but are enemies of the
enemies of the United States."
That formulation was repeated last week at the House
Foreign Affairs Committee by Rep. Rohrabacher, who told Administration
officials that the MEK, "are currently allied with us in the war against radical
Islam, especially against the mullah regime in Iran," and "should not be taken
for granted." The hearing, on the topic of the US transition to a civilian role
in Iraq, provided a platform for Congressional MEK supporters, including the
Committee's incoming chairwoman, Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen, to press
Administration officials about Camp Ashraf in Iraq.
MEK supporters in Congress have frequently cited the human
rights conditions at Camp Ashraf, which is now under jurisdiction of an Iraqi
government that is viewed as hostile towards the group, as a justification for
removing the group's terrorist designation. However, Human Rights Watch filed a
report on behalf of the UN Refugee Agency asserting that MEK leadership
committed human rights abuses against its own members. The 2005 report (No
Exit: Human Rights Abuses Inside the Mojahedin Khalq Camp) notes that abuses
"ranged from prolonged incommunicado and solitary confinement to beatings,
verbal and psychological abuse, coerced confessions, threats of execution, and
torture that in two cases led to death."
... Payvand News - 11/24/10 ... --