Experts Warn Delisting Iranian Terror Group Would Carry Damaging Repercussions
Washington, DC – An expert panel convened today to discuss the potential repercussions of an pending decision by the State Department regarding the terrorist designation of the Iranian Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) organization. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to issue her decision on the group’s designation imminently.
Human rights defender and filmmaker Maziar Bahari explained that delisting the MEK would have serious negative implications for Iran’s peaceful democratic movement.
Center for American Progress national security expert Brian Katulis agreed that support for MEK would contradict the Obama Administration’s support of Iranian human rights. He discussed the negative consequences that support for MEK would portend for U.S. policy.
"I personally oppose the notion of providing active us support to MEK," he said. "If we have a rewind of the Iraqi liberation act of 1998-we have learned from our mistakes. Been there done that."
Iran expert and Atlantic Council Non-resident Senior Fellow Barbara Slavin highlighted the MEK’s lack of support in Iran, noting that, in her travels to Iran as a journalist, she had only met a single individual who was a supporter of the group.
Slavin highlighted the MEK’s deceptive recruitment practices and abuses against its members. "The MEK is not a democratic organization. They make Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress look like a paragon of democracy in comparison," she said, referencing the exile organization that was instrumental in taking the U.S. into war with Iraq.
Bahari and the rest of the panels stressed the humanitarian concern for individuals based in Camp Ashraf, the MEK compound in Iraq, where a RAND study indicates up to 70 percent of the inhabitants are kept against their will. "These individuals are victims of the Iranian government and they are victims of the MEK leadership," Bahari said. Delisting the MEK, he said, would empower both camps.
High ranking former-U.S. officials have acknowledged receiving cash to advocate in support of the MEK. The panelists at Thursday’s event noted that they did not receive any compensation for their participation.
For video, images, and further information regarding the event, please contact NIAC at (202) 386-6408. Further information regarding MEK can be found at www.mekterror.com.