The Terrorist’s Challenged Intelligence

The existing tension between the United States and Iran has compelled the US in the past years to collect intelligence on Iran from various exile organizations including Mojahedin-e Khalg Organization (MKO) that has long been leading a violent struggle against the Iranian regime and was even aligned with Saddam ‘s regime that was at war with Iran. Although its ideology is a blend of Marxism with Islam and from the very initiation strongly advocated an anti-American policy, but in recent years, having taken a 180 degree turn, has begun trying to put forward a thousand and one arguments to prove that it has dropped its Marxist rhetoric and is an apostle of democracy for Iranians.

In December 2002, in spite of being listed on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, MKO informed the US government of the existence of two nuclear sites in Iran. However, Sy Hersh later revealed in “The New Yorker” that Israel had provided the group with the information that it boasted as its own piece of intelligence to reveal Iran’s nuclear threat. From then on, it worked as a good subject to feed the group’s propaganda machine, an alibi to advance its own cult-like ambitions that had nothing to do with Iranian’s true wills. But the machine seems to be dropping as of the Monday.

The latest release of a collective study by all 16 US intelligence services, known as the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), reveals that Iran has turned its back on its nuclear ambitions since 2003. It is a great disappointment to MKO that a big bulk of its propaganda activities concentrates on Iran’s nuclear threat. Of course, MKO has nothing to lose as an opposition group that hardly respects political ethics in its struggle. It is much a new challenge for the US for having put any trust in a proscribed terrorist group that is heavily built on the structure of a cult of personality.

In a recent article entitled Intelligence on Iran Still Lacking, it is explicitly stated why the US has to remain skeptical of expatriate groups like MKO, aks MEK and NCRI.

Perhaps the MEK’s greatest claim to fame was its discovery of clandestine enrichment activity at Natanz in 2002. Shortly thereafter, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) pressed Iran to open the facility up to international inspectors. The U.S.-based Iranian expatriate community and MEK also provided useful intelligence on the existence of Arak, a heavy-water research reactor in Iran. With the State Department now having a more pronounced role over Iran policy, some experts expect Washington to work less closely with Iranian exile groups like the MEK. Paul R. Pillar, a career CIA officer and professor of security studies at Georgetown University, says it’s wise to remain skeptical of expatriate groups. “Iran has its Chalabis, too,” Pillar says. Ahmed Chalabi, briefly a deputy Iraqi prime minister after Saddam Hussein’s ouster, is widely criticized for providing faulty intelligence to the United States about Iraq’s weapons programs and exaggerating his own ability to win support inside Iraq. “There are some lessons to be drawn from having your intelligence coming from some quarters and not others,” Pillar concludes.

Sattar Orangi comments on Coucil of Foreign Relations Article, December 5, 2007

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