Media reports appeared Friday afternoon — presumably to minimize media and public scrutiny — that the U.S. government would delist the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or MEK, as a terrorist group. The formal delisting has apparently not occurred, but is expected this week.
JAMAL ABDI [email]
Abdi is policy director for the National Iranian American Council and said today that the group “deplores the decision to remove the Mujahedin-e Khalq from the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations. The decision opens the door to Congressional funding of the MEK to conduct terrorist attacks in Iran, makes war with Iran far more likely, and will seriously damage Iran’s peaceful pro-democracy movement as well as America’s standing among ordinary Iranians.
“The biggest winner is the Iranian regime, which has claimed for a long time that the U.S. is out to destroy Iran and is the enemy of the Iranian people. This decision will be portrayed as proof that the U.S. is cozying up with a reviled terrorist group and will create greater receptivity for that false argument.
“Members of Iran’s democratic opposition, Iran experts, human rights defenders, and former U.S. officials have warned that delisting the MEK ‘will have harmful consequences on the legitimate, indigenous Iranian opposition.’ Kaleme, a leading pro-democracy newspaper in Iran run by supporters of the opposition Green Movement, has warned that support for the MEK strengthens the Iranian regime. According to the opposition paper, ‘there is no organization, no party and no cult more infamous than the MEK amongst the Iranian nation.’
“In addition, a recent NBC News report raises serious questions about whether the MEK has truly given up terrorism. Citing senior U.S. officials, NBC reported that the MEK is behind the assassinations of Iranian scientists and that it has previously worked with the mastermind of the first attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.
“Given that U.S. officials have recently acknowledged that the MEK is still conducting terrorism in Iran, where is the evidence MEK has abandoned terrorism? The multi-million dollar lobbying campaign undertaken by the MEK and its supporters seems to have paid off.
“Prominent former U.S. officials have been paid up to $100,000 to speak on behalf of the MEK, as part of the lobbying campaign aimed at pressuring the Obama administration to delist the group.”
See Glenn Greenwald’s just published piece “Five Lessons from the Delisting of MEK as a Terrorist Group,” which states: “What makes this effort all the more extraordinary are the reports that MEK has actually intensified its terrorist and other military activities over the last couple of years. In February, NBC News reported, citing U.S. officials, that ‘deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists are being carried out by [MEK]‘ as it is ‘financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service.’ While the MEK denies involvement, the Iranian government has echoed these U.S. officials in insisting that the group was responsible for those assassinations. NBC also cited ‘unconfirmed reports in the Israeli press and elsewhere that Israel and the MEK were involved in a Nov. 12 explosion that destroyed the Iranian missile research and development site at Bin Kaneh, 30 miles outside Tehran.’
“In April, the New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh reported that the U.S. itself has for years provided extensive training to MEK operatives, on U.S. soil (in other words, the U.S. government provided exactly the ‘material support’ for a designated terror group which the law criminalizes). Hersh cited numerous officials for the claim that ‘some American-supported covert operations continue in Iran today.’ The MEK’s prime goal is the removal of Iran’s government.”
Additional background in a Christian Science Monitor investigation last year by Scott Peterson: “Iranian Group’s Big-money Push to Get off U.S. Terrorist List.” The piece examines the group’s ties to Democrats Howard Dean, Ed Rendell, Wesley Clark, Bill Richardson, and Lee Hamilton, and Republicans Rudy Giuliani, Fran Townsend, Tom Ridge, Michael Mukasey, and Andrew Card as well as prominent individuals outside of government, such as Alan Dershowitz, Elie Wiesel and Carl Bernstein.