Following my response to Patrick Clawson’s piece of April 25, I received several inquiries about my views of MEK and its recent launching of a massive deceptive campaign aiming to remove the group from the list of the Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) published and maintained by the State Department in the United States. This article is intended to clarify my views on MEK and that why the US and EU need to maintain the group in their respective terror lists.
Whether you refer to them as MEK, MKO, PMOI, OMPI, NCR, NCRI, or NLA etc., you are essentially referring to the same entity with diverse multiple aliases. When the NCRI’s office was shut in Washington, MEK challenged the State Department in court. MEK argued that NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran) is a different entity than MEK, and that MEK’s designation as an FTO should not have been extended to the NCRI. On April 2, 2004 the US Court of Appeals for the District of Colombia heard the MEK arguments, and on July 9, 2004 denied MEK’s petition for review. The court noted: “after an extensive investigation of MEK and NCRI… the NCRI is not a separate organization, but is instead, and has been, an integral part of MEK at all relevant times.” [362 U.S. App. D.C. 143; 373 F.3d 152, &158; 2004 U.S. App.]
NCRI has portrayed itself as a pervasive coalition of which MEK is just a member. In the same opinion, the above court noted: “Contrary to NCRI’s portrayal of itself as an umbrella organization, of which the MEK was just one member… it is NCRI that is the political branch of MEK.”
Much to my regret, the EU has failed to recognize this symbiotic existence of the two, and consequently has banned only the MEK. In my opinion, EU needs to recognize that NCRI is just a vanity for MEK to legitimize its existence on EU soil. I know that our president, Mr. Sarkozy, is personally aware of this fact, and has refused to meet with any representatives of the MEK under the disguise of the NCRI. Nevertheless the EU needs to understand this as well in order to enlist the NCRI in the terror list. It is also noteworthy to mention that the Farsi version of the NCRI’s constitution refers to violence as the pivotal means by which the regime change will come about.
The pivotal arguments favoring de-proscribing MEK from the terror list revolve around two factors: Alleged MEK denouncement of terrorism; and lack of violent activity in the last 5 years. To understand the trickery and even demagoguery in such arguments, one needs to be familiar with the culture and lingo of terror groups. Like many recognized cultic organizations, MEK has its own definitions of words and terms commonly used in everyday conversations. For example, MEK has never acknowledged his involvement in terrorism. Indeed it claims to be the “victim” of the regime’s terrorist operations. Therefore when MEK privately denounces terrorism, it is not referring to its own actions. Instead, it merely condemns actions deemed as terrorism in its own narrow vision. MEK has labeled its terrorist activities as “revolutionary military resistance” since June 20, 1981. This is true for almost all terror groups like MEK. They never agree with objective reviews of their actions labeled as terrorism. Even the current regime in Tehran, rightly known as the godfather of terrorism, routinely denounces terrorism, and considers itself as the “victim” of such acts. The disingenuous denouncement of terrorism by MEK and other terror groups can be easily countered by asking a few direct questions from such claimants- Do you believe that MEK was involved in terrorism in the past, say prior to 2003? If so, when, where, and how? A logical follow up question would be, has MEK publicly announced such denouncement in its Farsi Language publications? If so, where is the evidence? The truth of the matter is, not only has MEK refused to denounce violence in its Farsi publications, but a review of its recent Farsi materials reveals the opposite. A true denouncement of terrorism should start with a publicly-stated commitment to peaceful and non-violent agenda in the group’s mainstream media, and in its native language (remember that Iranians speak in Farsi as their main language, and MEK publishes its materials mainly in Farsi). To whisper anti-terror statements with non-Iranian audience without first defining terrorism, and yet publicly glorifying violence under the façade of “revolutionary military resistance” is a known deceptive tactic for those familiar with terror groups.
When PLO decided to abandon its military campaign against Israel, and before it was taken seriously by the international community, they publicly announced the shift in their views for their own people in their native tongue, Arabic. PLO also publicly vouched for its commitment to peaceful settlement of its conflicts with Israel followed by announcing its readiness to join the negotiation table. This is a good paradigm to gauge MEK’s sincerity in its non-violent and peaceful approach, if indeed such commitment exists.
With regard to the absence of terror activities by MEK in the past five years (supposedly the threshold period for removal from the FTO list), it would suffice to keep in mind the English maxim that “the wolf may lose his teeth but never his nature.” Violence is, and has always been, the MEK’s pivotal form of settling conflicts with others. A glance at the group emblem and logo make it clear what the group is all about. As seen in the picture below, there is a Koran verse that sits on top of a globe. The informal translation of this verse is that “God has given His priority and special blessings to the warriors (Mujahedin) of His path than the non-warriors (sitters).” This crystallises MEK’s core ideology to establish a world under the Islamic laws. The Earth meridian on the left side of the globe emphasises MEK’s internationalism. Also as evident in the emblem, the term Mojahed has graphically metamorphosed into an arm bearing a gun. This is meant to portray MEK’s core philosophy that military might is the only means of achieving the organization’s goals. I can’t help but to say no wonder that the MEK has reportedly been favored by individuals known to many as war-mongers, George Bush, Dick Chaney, and Dick Armey, to name just a few. In short, use of violence and terror is in the core existence of MEK as portrayed in their organizational logo. Therefore, it is natural to say that “the wolf” has kept his nature, and only the gullible would drift into its deceptive tactics.
It is prudent to maintain the MEK in the terror list to better monitor its activities. It is a naiveté to accept the group’s private statements as a real commitment to a peaceful and non-violent agenda. A true departure from violence starts with an honest review of one’s past, admitting to past mistakes, defining terrorism, and a public pledge to a peaceful and non-violent campaign.
By Ahmad Baaraan, Paris