The material-support statute doesn’t need revision to accommodate non-existent defects. What it does need — and does not often enough get for fear of offending some Muslim organizations — is rigorous enforcement against accurately designated organizations, of which MEK is not one. ~Mukasey, Ridge, Giuliani, and Townsend
According to the CFR’s profile of Mujahideen-e-Khalq, the group has been engaged in terrorist activities for the better part of forty years dating back to before the Islamic revolution:
The group has targeted Iranian government officials and government facilities in Iran and abroad, and during the 1970s, it attacked Americans in Iran. While the group says it does not intentionally target civilians, it has often risked civilian casualties. It routinely aims its attacks at government buildings in crowded cities. MEK terrorism has declined since late 2001. Incidents linked to the group include:
the series of mortar attacks and hit-and-run raids during 2000 and 2001 against Iranian government buildings; one of these killed Iran’s chief of staff;
the 2000 mortar attack on President Mohammed Khatami’s palace in Tehran;
the February 2000 “Operation Great Bahman,” during which MEK launched twelve attacks against Iran;
the 1999 assassination of the deputy chief of Iran’s armed forces general staff, Ali Sayyad Shirazi;
the 1998 assassination of the director of Iran’s prison system, Asadollah Lajevardi;
the 1992 near-simultaneous attacks on Iranian embassies and institutions in thirteen countries;
Saddam Hussein’s suppression of the 1991 Iraqi Shiite and Kurdish uprisings;
the 1981 bombing of the offices of the Islamic Republic Party and of Premier Mohammad-Javad Bahonar, which killed some seventy high-ranking Iranian officials, including President Mohammad-Ali Rajaei and Bahonar;
the 1979 takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by Iranian revolutionaries;
the killings of U.S.military personnel and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran in the 1970s.
This is hardly secret information. Prior to the invasion of Iraq, MEK was a group that operated against Iran from inside Iraq. MEK was practically the only terrorist group that Saddam Hussein’s regime did support, but one reason it had never been added to the list of terrorist organizations is that MEK’s ongoing terrorism did not trouble Washington as long as it was primarily directed at the Iranian government. During the early phase of the “war on terror” under the previous administration, it would have been a bit hard to rationalize if the zealous anti-terrorist Bush administration had taken MEK off the list when it had been attacking Iranian targets as recently as 2001.
This silly material-support argument is a distraction from the real issue. The people arguing for changing MEK’s designation are not providing material support for a terrorist group. As of right now, they are merely expressing a repugnant political opinion informed by their hostility to Iran’s government, and they are free to do so. They are engaged in a political campaign to make it possible to provide support to that group after it is no longer designated a terrorist group.
It seems to be the case for now that MEK has been disarmed, and it seems unlikely that the new government in Iraq is going to get back into the business of providing shelter for anti-Iranian militants. That doesn’t mean that MEK isn’t a terrorist organization. It just means that it has become inactive. Of course, the reason for demanding the removal of MEK from the official list of terrorist organizations is so that the MEK can receive support from anti-Iranian hawks here in the U.S. The purpose of all of this is presumably to get MEK to resume its war against the Iranian government, which would be consistent with the previous administration’s policy of supporting violent separatist movements in an effort to destabilize the regime in Tehran. For the moment, their chances of success aren’t very good. The current administration is unlikely to change the MEK’s designation after it has just added Jundullah to the list.
Daniel Larison – amconmag.com