In his remarks at On-the-Record Briefing on the Release of the Annual Patterns of Global Terrorism 2002 report on April 30, 2003, Ambassador Cofer Black, Coordinator for Counterterrorism said MKO assisted the Saddam Hussein regime in suppressing opposition within Iraq, and performed internal security for the Iraqi regime.
QUESTION: What does the State Department think about the ceasefire that was signed between the MEK and the U.S., U.S. CENTCOM, in Iraq?
Since this group is still on the terrorist list, as I understand it, Americans are not supposed to deal with them at all. And that’s always been kind of a -- there is a problem in Washington, D.C., because they keep an office open here.
So can you tell me how this squares with the MEK’s terrorist status?
AMBASSADOR BLACK: Sure, I’ll be happy to, happy to try. The Secretary has recommended that the President determine that the laws that apply to countries that support terrorism no longer apply to Iraq. The President’s determination to provide greater flexibility in permitting certain types of trade with and assistance to Iraq; thus, we can treat Iraq like any other country not on the terrorist list.
I think it’s important to underscore some facts here. MEK is designated by the U.S. Government as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. This organization mixes Islam and Marxism in their battle to establish what they claim would be a secular state in Iran.
Until the recent war in Iraq, they were allied with the government of Saddam Hussein and received most of their support from this regime. They have assisted the Hussein regime in suppressing opposition within Iraq, and performed internal security for the Iraqi regime. MEK, or as some recently referred to as the People’s Mujahedin, has also attacked and killed Americans.
The MEK and its many aliases, including the political NCRI, are designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The United States Government does not negotiate with terrorists. MEK’s opposition to the Iranian Government does not change the fact that they are a terrorist organization. We understand the agreement on the ground in the field is a prelude to the group’s surrender. Commanders make tactical decisions to end conflict with enemy combatants successfully.
There’s a lot of activity in various areas underway in Iraq -- of which this is one -- I would refer you to CENTCOM and their briefers to get better insight to the decision-making and the actions of our commanders, coalition commanders on the ground.
This is a pretty special group. They are a Foreign Terrorist Organization. They are not well liked in Iraq; they could not be put with the general prisoner population. They are following the orders of the coalition commanders, and their situation will be addressed in the coming days and weeks.