Terror delisting the MEK is a cynical sham

US officials leaked to several news outlets Friday an impending decision by the Obama administration ‎that it intends to remove the Iranian dissident group Mujahadeen e-Khalq (MEK) from the treasury ‎department's terror list.‎

Historically, the group joined together with Islamists to topple the Shah in ‎‏1979‏‎. But after it ‎assassinated an Iranian president, prime minister and supreme court justice, Ayatollah Khomeini ‎turned on its members and approved the massacre of hundreds of them.‎

At that point, the MEK set itself the mission of overthrowing the Iranian Islamist regime. It went into ‎exile to France and Saddam Hussein also offered it refuge in Iraq. It is also known for assassinating US ‎diplomats, military personnel and others.‎

It now claims it has renounced terror and devotes itself to establishing an Iranian democratic form of ‎government that would replace the rule of the Ayatollahs. But former leaders and members of the ‎MEK have noted the ruthlessness and duplicity of the group. They believe that the Iran it envisions ‎would be a dictatorship rather than a democracy. These dissident former members decry the MEK's ‎slavish worship of its leader Maryam Rajavi in a cult of personality not unlike that of North Korea and ‎other Communist regimes.‎

The Iranian dissidents have plotted for years to be removed from the terror list. They enlisted ‎numerous Republican and Democratic officials to lobby on its behalf. Instead of paying lobbying fees to ‎them, it offered honoraria ranging from ‎‏$10‏‎,‎‏000-$50,000‏‎ per speech to excoriate the US government ‎for its allegedly shabby treatment of the MEK.‎

Among those who joined the group's gravy train are former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, Rudy ‎Giuliani, Alan Dershowitz, and former FBI director Louis Freeh. Many of them profess to have little ‎interest in the money they have collected. Instead, they claim they are sincerely moved by the group's ‎suffering in Iraq and wish to correct an injustice. I'm sure the money doesn't hurt.‎

Analysts writing about the MEK and alienated members reject the group's claim that it has renounced ‎terror. Seymour Hersh recently published an expose reporting that as late as ‎‏2007‏‎, US special forces ‎had offered Iranians training at a secret Nevada facility in covert operations. It provided them arms ‎and communications equipment and black ops training for their anti-regime terror activities inside Iran.‎

A confidential Israeli source who is a former senior minister and IDF officer reported to me that the ‎Mossad has used the MEK over many years, both to leak purported Iranian government documents of ‎questionable provenance and engage in acts of sabotage against key figures in the Iranian regime. My ‎source and other journalists have reported the MEK assassinated four nuclear scientists and caused an ‎explosion that obliterated an Iranian Revolutionary Guard missile base.‎

Last week, the director of Iran's nuclear program reported an August explosion disrupted the power ‎lines to the new Fordo uranium enrichment facility. My source says this sabotage was also a product of ‎the Mossad-MEK collaboration.‎

The US delisting of the group is a sham. The Obama administration isn't even claiming the MEK has ‎renounced terrorism. If it did, it knows that it's likely such a statement would rebound should the ‎MEK's activities become exposed. The chief argument offered in defense of the change of heart is ‎that the group has agreed to relocate from Camp Ashraf, where it's been a thorn in the side of the ‎Iraqi Shi'ite led government, to a US facility, from which the residents would be relocated to foreign ‎countries.‎

So, we're removing a terror group from the list not because it's stopped being a terror group, but ‎because it's agreed to leave Iraq, where it had been a destabilizing influence. That's not a principled ‎position. It's a position based on pure political calculation.‎

The MEK is useful in the covert war the US and Israel are waging against Iran's nuclear program. It is ‎our proxy, much as the Cuban rebels involved in the Bay of Pigs operation served our interests in the ‎fight against Fidel Castro; and the Afghan mujahideen fought a dirty war for us against the Soviets.‎

In fact, Alan Dershowitz has argued that the MEK should be removed from the treasury list not ‎because it has stopped being terrorist, but because it collaborated with US covert activities inside Iran, ‎meaning that it was serving US interests. Or put more simply: the MEK may be terrorists, but they're ‎our terrorists.‎

Delisting the MEK serves several goals for President Obama. He can flex his muscles in the face of both ‎the Iranians and Republicans. To the Iranians, he's implicitly saying he will make alliance with their ‎worst enemy as long as they resist him at the negotiating table. To Mitt Romney, he's saying he's ‎willing to get tough with the Iranians. This inoculates him from campaign attacks claiming he's soft on ‎Iran or that he's willing to let Iran get the bomb.‎

You can bet that one of the president's campaign talking points will be that he delisted the MEK. It will ‎establish his anti-Iran bona fides when the TV ads paid for by Sheldon Adelson's anticipated ‎‏$100‏m ‎start airing in the coming weeks.‎

Just as President Obama's anti-terror policies, including targeted assassinations and drone strikes, ‎have betrayed his previous denunciations of such violations of constitutional principles, so his granting ‎a seal of approval to the MEK marks a further erosion of his commitment to diplomacy and negotiation ‎as the means for resolving international disputes, including the one with Iran.‎

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/‎‏2012‏‎/sep/‎‏22‏‎/barack-obama-terrorism


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