Houston Chronicle: In recent months, the Iranian government in Tehran has waged an unprecedented misinformation campaign against its main organized opposition, the Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK, in order to influence the pending decision by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding the status of the group.
By ALI SOUDJANI
In recent months, the Iranian government in Tehran has waged an unprecedented misinformation campaign against its main organized opposition, the Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK, in order to influence the pending decision by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding the status of the group.
The U.S. Court of Appeals-D.C. Circuit struck down the decision in January 2009 by the secretary to maintain the MEK on the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) as flawed and in violation of the due process rights of the group and ordered a new review. After 14 months, there has been no decision.
The court has made it very clear that unless there is substantial support in the administrative record to show that the group has engaged in the past two years in terrorism or terrorist activity or has the capability and intent to engage in such activity that threatens the national security of the United States, the secretary must vacate the designation.
The MEK ceased its operations targeting Iranian military figures in 2001, renounced violence and terrorism, and turned over all the weapons it had for its protection in 2003 to the U.S. military. In return, it was promised the protection of its 3,400 members at Camp Ashraf under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Since the U.S. handed over that protection to the Iraqi government in 2009, Iraqi forces have attacked the unarmed members of the camp, killing 47 and wounding 1,047 in what U.S. Sen. John Kerry described as a “massacre.”
President George W. Bush and other senior administration officials confirmed that the MEK revealed the existence of Tehran’s nuclear program, which triggered, for the first time, the inspection of Iranian nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Organization. Senior U.S. military commanders have confirmed that MEK’s intelligence has exposed Iran’s deadly meddling in Iraq.
Seven European courts have voted unanimously that the MEK is not a terrorist organization; the group was delisted in 2008 and 2009 in the United Kingdom and the European Union.
In the United States, House Resolution 60, introduced by Congressman Ted Poe, R-Humble, is co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 93 members of the House, including in the Texas delegation Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee, Al Green and Gene Green and Republicans Louie Gohmert, Ralph Hall, Kenny Marchant and Pete Olson. It urges the secretary of state to delist the MEK.
When the MEK was first designated in 1997, a House majority and 32 senators, including Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, protested the action, describing the MEK as a “legitimate resistance movement.”
While the Arab Spring has brought down dictators, the prospect of an empowered opposition in Iran with the imminent delisting of the MEK is a nightmare scenario for the ruling ayatollahs loathed by a vast majority of the Iranians. This explains why Iran has been waging a frenzied campaign to maintain the MEK on the terrorist list.
Absent evidence of terrorist activities, Tehran’s functionaries have been targeting journalists in Washington and elsewhere, posing as legitimate opposition and attacking the MEK with unfounded accusations, such as having “cult-like” behavior. If that were to be the standard, the cult of Mac (Apple) would have been designated as an FTO.
An independent study by a former assistant secretary of state, Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield, has unveiled an extensive operation by Iran’s intelligence service to disseminate misinformation. John Sano, the CIA’s former deputy for clandestine operations, told a National Press Club audience on Aug. 18 that through a sophisticated campaign, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry has shaped U.S. public opinion about the MEK.
Tehran has widely propagated that MEK killed the Iraqi Kurds in 1991. However, the current foreign minister of Iraq told a European Court in 1999 that the MEK was in no way involved in suppression of the Kurds.
Independent studies have shown that the MEK had no links to the assassination of six Americans in Iran nearly 40 years ago and that a self-styled Marxist splinter group, which also murdered MEK members, was responsible.
Tehran’s lobby suggests that the MEK has funded the activities of Iranian-American communities; this completely disregards the extensive contribution of the Iranian-Americans to this nation, as many of them are prominent business owners, executives, academics, professionals, engineers and artists.
Now is the time for the Unites States to stand with the Iranian people and with the values upon which this country was founded.
To this end, delisting the MEK is the first order of business.
Ali Soudjani is president of Apple Finance Company and president of the Iranian American Society of Texas.