WASHINGTON — The United States has assessed that a leading Iranian opposition organization that in the 1970s was aligned with leftist and Marxist causes was a cult that deals brutally with members who want to leave.
|American Lobbyists: US State Department foundings has no effect on our efforts to legalize Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult) terrorists|
The State Department has concluded that the Mujahadeen Khalq, or MEK, was holding Iranian exiles against their will in Iraq’s Camp Ashraf. The department, in cables sent to Washington over the last 20 years, asserted that Mujahadeen set a policy of killing suspected defectors from the movement supported by the former Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq.
Wikipedia said the group which played a major role with the leftist Tudeh Party in the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, was more "religious, radical, anti-American" than the earlier generation of Iranian leftists.
"Many of the defectors alleged psychological and psychical harm at the hands of the MEK, including solitary confinement in MEK jails in Ashraf," a State Department cable read.
The cables were released by the U.S. government under the Freedom of Information Act in May. U.S. lobbyists for Mujahadeen dismissed the cables as inaccurate and biased to fit the State Department’s conception that MEK was a terrorist group.
"The question is why, when every single Camp Ashraf resident was taken outside, and interviewed by the U.S. military in American-controlled facilities in 2003 and 2004, and each were given the choice to leave, none of those individuals had done so?" Allan Gerson, an attorney for MEK in Washington, asked.
Over the last two years, MEK has been recruiting former senior U.S. officials to remove the group from the State Department’s terror list. Many former officials, including those from the State Department, assert that Mujahadeen was deemed a terrorist group in 1994 as part of a U.S. reconciliation effort with Iran.
The State Department cables quoted defectors as describing MEK as a cult that punishes former members. The cables said the MEK leadership ordered the execution of all attempted defectors.
"They reaffirmed existing perceptions of the MEK as a cult-like organization that thrives on maintaining control of its members and those lured to Ashraf under false pretenses," one cable read.
The State Department traced MEK from the Iranian revolution in 1979. The cables said MEK supported the Islamic takeover of the U.S. embassy in Teheran in which diplomats were held hostage for more than a year.
Several years after the revolution, MEK was outlawed by the regime in Iran. The group fled to neighboring Iraq and was supported by the Saddam regime, which used MEK to attack civilian targets in Iran.
"They are hated among Iranians, since their hands are stained with the blood of their fellow countrymen," the State Department, quoting an exiled Iranian, said.
Lobbyists said the State Department cables would have little affect on the effort to legalize MEK in the United States. Members of Congress as well as potential presidential candidates, arguing that MEK has eschewed violence, have called for the removal of the group from the State Department terror list.