America’s protected terrorists gearing up against Iran

Unsatisfied in "crippling" Iran with sanctions, the US looks to be set for active operations there - and ‎already has an in: a group called the Mujahadin-e Khalq, which in the near future could become the ‎Persian equivalent of the Free Syrian Army.‎

‎­On September ‎‏21‏‎, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton passed Public Notice ‎‏8050‏‎, de-listing ‎the Mujahadin-e Khalq (MEK) from the State Department’s Specially Designated Global Terrorist list, ‎effective September ‎‏28‏‎.‎

What is MEK? Mujahadin-e Khalq is an Iranian Islamic militant organization in exile that advocates the ‎overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Since its inception in ‎‏1965‏‎ in Iran, the group conducted ‎assassinations of US military personnel and civilians working in Iran in the ‎‏1970‏s, jubilantly supported ‎the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran in ‎‏1979‏‎ and opposed the release of American personnel, ‎calling for their execution instead, fought against the Islamic Republic together with Saddam Hussein ‎during the Iraq-Iran War (‎‏1980-1988‏‎) and set up headquarters in Iraq at Camp Ashraf.‎

In recent years, according to various sources including NBC, MEK teamed up with the Israeli secret ‎service to kill Iranian nuclear scientists. NBC reported that US officials confirmed that “the Obama ‎administration is aware of the assassination campaign but has no direct involvement”.‎

In ‎‏1994‏‎, the State Department sent a damning ‎‏41‏‎-page report to Congress on why the MEK is a ‎terrorist organization; that designation was enacted in ‎‏1997‏‎. The report concluded: “It is no ‎coincidence that the only government in the world that supports the Mujahadin politically and ‎financially is the totalitarian regime of Saddam Hussein.” Well, the MEK’s mission to overthrow Iran’s ‎leadership has not changed since, but the US agenda has: In a vertiginous about-face, Washington ‎became the powerful protector of the Mujahadin-e Khalq.‎

Over the past few years, a formidable fundraising operation and campaign to de-list MEK from the ‎Specially Designated Global Terrorist register gathered some high-caliber US supporters including ‎General James Jones, President Obama's National Security Advisor from ‎‏2009‏‎ to ‎‏2010‏‎; Bill Richardson, ‎Energy Secretary and UN ambassador in the Clinton administration and Obama's Special Envoy to ‎North Korea; Tom Ridge, the first Secretary of Homeland Security; General Wesley Clark, former ‎supreme commander of NATO; Louis Freeh, former director of the FBI; three former directors of the ‎CIA – Michael Hayden, James Woolsey and Porter Goss; Rudolph Giuliani, former Mayor of New York ‎City; former UN Ambassador John Bolton; General Hugh Shelton, former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of ‎Staff; Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from ‎‏1997‏‎ to ‎‏2002‏‎; and many others.‎

Top Washington lawyers and lobbyists made the case for the terrorist group as well: Akin Gump, ‎Strauss Hauer & Feld, Patton Boggs and others. Robert Strauss, of the firm of the same name, was US ‎Ambassador to the Soviet Union during the critical months of August ‎‏2‏‎, ‎‏1991‏‎, through December ‎‏26‏‎, ‎‏1991‏‎. A senior member of the firm Tobi Gati was also head of the intelligence branch of the US State ‎Department.‎

When speaking about terrorist groups, one might think of MEK as a ragtag bunch of cutthroats in ‎shreds and tatters, confined to an unsanitary tent city. The truth is nothing of the sort. Watch this ‎report by CNN’s Michael Ware dating back to ‎‏2007‏‎: You will see a marching army in crisp brand-new ‎white-and-blue and khaki uniforms, entering a spacious parade ground framed by sculptures of lions. ‎Camp Ashraf itself is one of the best-kept military facilities in Iraq and a sprawling city of ‎‏4,000‏‎ people, ‎with shopping centers and hospitals, gardens, monuments, fountains and illuminations quite ‎unexpected in the war-torn deserts of Iraq. The MEK is also armed with more than ‎‏2,000‏‎ well-‎maintained tanks, artillery, anti-aircraft guns and armored personnel carriers. Its supplies are guarded ‎by US military police, and the camp itself is guarded by the American military.‎

Indeed, “The coalition remains deeply committed to the security and rights of protected people of ‎Ashraf,” US Major General Gardner said, according to a Headquarters Multinational Force Iraq ‎document dated March ‎‏11‏‎, ‎‏2006‏‎. Michael Ware calls the MEK “the US’ officially protected terrorists.” ‎Another film of Australian origin shows Camp Ashraf’s own parliament and hundreds of tanks on the ‎camp’s parade ground.‎

Well-versed in American political mores, the MEK’s leadership says the group is ‘pro-democracy.’ ‎However, even the New York Times disagrees: In the middle of the ‎‏2011‏‎ de-listing campaign, it ‎described MEK as “a repressive cult despised by most Iranians and Iraqis.”‎

‎‘Totalitarian cult’ is indeed the most frequent label applied to the MEK by people who come in contact ‎with the group. And American support for MEK is not limited to military protection. Seymour Hersh, in ‎his New Yorker piece“Our Men in Iran?” revealed that beginning in ‎‏2005‏‎, MEK fighters were trained in ‎Nevada by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).‎

Why is Washington backing the MEK? As General Shelton said at a conference in February ‎‏2011‏‎, ‎‎“When you look at what the MEK stands for, when they are antinuclear, separation of church and ‎state, individual rights, MEK is obviously the way Iran needs to go. … By placing the MEK on the FTO ‎‎[Foreign Terrorist Organizations] list we have weakened the support of the best organized internal ‎resistance group to the most terrorist-oriented anti-Western world, anti-democratic regime in the ‎region.”‎

In an interview with Germany’s WDR TV back in ‎‏2005‏‎, ex-CIA operative Ray McGovern explained the ‎logic: “Why the U.S. cooperates with organizations like the Mujahadin, I think, is because that they are ‎local, and because they are ready to work for us. Previously, we considered them a terrorist ‎organization. And they exactly are. But they are now our terrorists and we now don't hesitate to send ‎them into Iran …. for the usual secret service activities: attacking sensors, in order to supervise the ‎Iranian nuclear program, mark targets for air attacks, and perhaps establishing secret camps to control ‎the military locations in Iran. And also a little sabotage.”‎

Karen Kwiatkowski, formerly with the Department of Defense, makes a long story short for WDR TV: ‎‎“MEK is ready to do things over which we would be ashamed, and over which we try to keep silent. ‎But for such tasks we'll use them.”‎

Now is the time for Russia and the world community to take active political measures preventing the ‎United States from launching another proxy war in the Middle East. The MEK is much better trained ‎and prepared for war than the Syrian rebels were at the beginning of the conflict, or even today. The ‎MEK has all the necessary capabilities to become the military arm of an American attack against Iran. ‎This time – unlike in Syria – the world should not ignore the march to war, and must take steps to ‎prevent it from happening again.‎‏-237‏‎/‎