Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

  US backing Iraqi terrorists: Down the memory hole

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usFor a long time Iraqis have been all too aware that the Bush administration sponsors a powerful group of Sunni terrorists in their midst, the MEK (or MOK), who are on the US State Department's list of terrorist organizations. Before the US invasion, these Marxist Iranian exiles had been sponsored by Saddam Hussein. But because the MEK enjoys American support, the Iraqi government has been unable to drive them out of the country.

Most Americans, however, remain unaware that their government is in bed with Sunni terrorists. You won't find many US news outlets exposing the Bush administration's hypocritical support for the MEK. Recently there have been two reports on the subject, but neither has made a ripple in the MSM.

Last month, the WaPo gave details about the cozy relationship: Iraq Intensifies Efforts to Expel Iranian Group .

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAmerican soldiers chauffeur top leaders of the group, known as the Mujaheddin-e Khalq, or MEK, to and from their compound, where they have hosted dozens of visitors in an energetic campaign to persuade the State Department to stop designating the group as a terrorist organization.

Now the Iraqi government is intensifying its efforts to evict the 3,800 or so members of the group who live in Iraq, although U.S. officials say they are in no hurry to change their policy toward the MEK, which has been a prime source of information about Iran's nuclear program.

The Iraqi government announced this week that roughly 100 members would face prosecution for human rights violations, a move MEK officials contend comes at the request of the Iranian government.

Image Hosted by"We have documents, witnesses," Jaafar al-Moussawi, a top Iraqi prosecutor, said Monday, alleging that the MEK aided President Saddam Hussein's campaign to crush Shiite and Kurdish opposition movements at the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Moussawi said the criminal complaint would implicate MEK members in "killing, torture, [wrongful] imprisonment and displacement."...

"This organization has always destabilized the security situation" in Iraq, said Mariam Rayis, a top foreign affairs adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, adding that the MEK's continued presence "could lead to deteriorating the relationship with neighboring countries."...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usImage Hosted by ImageShack.usThe group's leader, Maryam Rajavi, lives in Paris. She has a cultlike following among members, some of whom set themselves on fire to protest her brief arrest in 2003 after French officials raided the group's offices...

A Washington Post special correspondent toured Camp Ashraf in January. It is a largely self-sufficient compound, and the majority of members haven't left in years. It has shops, a swimming pool, an ice cream store, a bakery and a soda factory that makes a cola- and orange-flavored drink locals call Ashraf Cola.

Last summer, Maliki gave the group six months to leave Iraq. Although the deadline has elapsed, Iraqi officials say they intend to expel the group after getting parliamentary approval...

Lou Fintor, the spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, said there has been no change in the government's position toward the MEK. A U.S. military spokesman in Iraq did not respond to questions about the MEK.

You might have thought that US protection of a Sunni terrorist cult that the Iraqi government seeks to expel, even as the Bush administration accuses Iran of sponsoring terrorism in Iraq, would have been major news in America. But you'd be wrong. Though some some bloggers were paying attention, no other mainstream news organizations picked up the story.

Until last Friday, that is, when CNN did air a report by Michael Ware on American sponsorship of the MEK. Ware's report also appeared briefly on the front page of CNN's website, though almost immediately it was pulled down (as Ken Silverstein learned from one of his readers).

Once again, no other news organizations have picked up the story. Instead, Ware's report quickly went down that memory hole.

Here is what you might have seen, if you had happened upon CNN's website at just the right moment last Friday.

The U.S. State Department considers the MEK a terrorist organization -- meaning no American can deal with it; U.S. banks must freeze its assets; and any American giving support to its members is committing a crime.

The U.S. military, though, regularly escorts MEK supply runs between Baghdad and its base, Camp Ashraf.

"The trips for procurement of logistical needs also take place under the control and protection of the MPs," said Mojgan Parsaii, vice president of MEK and leader of Camp Ashraf...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWhen the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, Green Berets arrived at Camp Ashraf to find gardens and monuments, along with more than 2,000 well-maintained tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery, anti-aircraft guns and vehicles...

"Everyone's entry to the camp and his departure are controlled by the U.S. military police force," Parsaii said...

"We gave this organization a six-month deadline to leave Iraq, and we informed the Red Cross," said Shirwan al-Wa'eli, Iraq's national security minister. "And presumably, our friends the Americans will respect our decision and they will not stay on Iraqi land."

For now, however, the United States continues to protect MEK.

Notice the headline that CNN applied to this story: "U.S. protects Iranian opposition group in Iraq". It's not exactly news that the US supports Iranian opposition groups; that's official US policy. The really inconvenient "news" in Ware's report is that the US sponsors heavily armed Sunni terrorists who engaged in acts of war inside Iran.

Ware mentions, for example, that the Iranian news agency FARS stated in February that the MOK took 'credit' for bombing a girls' school in Iran.

It's all the more striking that Ware's report disappeared so quickly, given that it was pretty darned mild as regards the true nature of the MEK and its history of terrorism. The Federation of American Scientists says in part, drawing upon a 2003 State Department report:

During the 1970s, the MEK killed US military personnel and US civilians working on defense projects in Tehran and supported the takeover in 1979 of the US Embassy in Tehran. In 1981, the MEK detonated bombs in the head office of the Islamic Republic Party and the Premier’s office, killing some 70 high-ranking Iranian officials, including chief Justice Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, President Mohammad-Ali Rajaei, and Premier Mohammad-Javad Bahonar. Near the end of the war with Iran during 1980-88, Baghdad armed the MEK with military equipment and sent it into action against Iranian forces. In 1991, it assisted the Government of Iraq in suppressing the Shia and Kurdish uprisings in southern Iraq and the Kurdish uprisings in the north. In April 1992, the MEK conducted near-simultaneous attacks on Iranian Embassies and installations in 13 countries, demonstrating the group’s ability to mount large-scale operations overseas. In April 1999, the MEK targeted key military officers and assassinated the deputy chief of the Armed Forces General Staff.

In other words, the MEK is a longstanding enemy of Americans, of Iranians, and of Iraqis too. As Human Rights Watch reports, MEK also crushes dissent within its own ranks with extreme brutality.

Furthermore, Ware's report for CNN barely hints at the administration's love-fest with MEK. Craig Unger is a little more pointed:

To hear some neocons tell it, though, the MEK militants weren't terrorists—they were America's best hope in Iran. In January 2004, Richard Perle was the guest speaker at a fundraiser sponsored by the MEK, although he later claimed to have been unaware of the connection.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAnd in a speech before the National Press Club in late 2005, Raymond Tanter, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, recommended that the Bush administration use the MEK and its political arm, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (N.C.R.I.), as an insurgent militia against Iran. "The National Council of Resistance of Iran and the Mujahedeen-e Khalq are not only the best source for intelligence on Iran's potential violations of the nonproliferation regime. The NCRI and MEK are also a possible ally of the West in bringing about regime change in Tehran," he said.

Gareth Porter, reporting on the Iranian offer from spring 2003 to negotiate with Bush a sweeping set of concessions, says that Iran wished to work with the US against both al Qaeda and the MEK:

The proposal offered “decisive action against any terrorists (above all, al-Qaeda) in Iranian territory” and “full cooperation and exchange of all relevant information.” It also indicated, however, that Iran wanted from the United States the “pursuit of anti-Iranian terrorists, above all MKO” -- the Iranian acronym for the Mujihedeen e Khalq (MEK), which had fought alongside Iraqi troops in the war against Iran and was on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations -- “and support for repatriation of their members in Iraq” as well as actions against the organization in the United States.

However Douglas Feith had already arranged for the US to begin working with the MEK in December 2001. As much as the neocons loved their Iraqi National Congress, they really, truly love the cult of MEK.

Under US sponsorship, then, the MEK regularly provides welcome propaganda about the Iranian government's actions and intentions.

And no, the US news media will not be bothered to report about the unsavory aspects of the MEK, neither now nor in the foreseeable future. For the MSM is too busy spreading the propaganda MEK promulgates.

Here is an all too typical example, from the Moonie-owned UPI:

At a time when President George W. Bush keeps reminding Iran that "all options are on the table," a group opposed to the regime reveals new information on the Islamic republic's involvement in Iraq.

According to an Iranian opposition group, Iran's al-Quds force is heavily involved in training Iraqi death squads and militias. The latest reports from the Mojahedin-e-Khalq, or the MeK, accuse the Iranian regime of secretly engaging in "the organization and training of large Iraqi terrorist networks in Iran and sending them back to Iraq."

The group opposed to the ruling clergy in Tehran says Iran's ultimate goal is to destabilize Iraq, forcing U.S. troops to leave the country, thus paving the way for the establishment of an Islamic republic in Iraq.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usEven news organizations that theoretically ought to know better, such as the LA Times and USA Today, have been enlisted in the campaign to promote the MEK's agenda.

These stories, however, far from being buried as they deserve, instead get played out over and over.

hat-tip Firedoglake

Aren't you proud of America's formidable news media? I know I am.

crossposted from Unbossed

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  • This is ignorant, the MeK at Ashraf have Protected Person status under the Fourth Geneva Convention. They are required by international humanitarian law to have certain protections provided to them by the US. Forces there don't have a choice about the protection assigned to the MeK, but they should by all means be protecting everyone who is entitled under GCIV, and not just picking and choosing who gets humanitarian protection and who doesn't.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:57 PM  

  • It's amazing how people can comment on a detailed post, and respond to not a single thing in it. For ex., the information that the MEK are terrorists, designated as such by the US State Dept., and that the Iraqis want to expel them but are prevented by the US.

    By Blogger : smintheus ::, at 1:38 AM  

  • There is no reason to refute an article that repeats the Iranian Regime's propaganda. The writer lost his credibility when he labeled the MEK as Sunnis. The majority of MEK members are Shiite Muslims. The State Department labeled them "terrorists" as a goodwill gesture to Mohammad Khatami. British and American officials have agreed that the label was to appease the "reformists" in Iran. Do more research! The fact that you use "MKO" to label them shows where your getting your information. They are the MEK/PMOI. The Iranian regime and its front organizations in Europe and the US are the only ones that label the MEK as "MKO".

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:56 PM  

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