Research by RAND confirms that not all spots in Camp Ashraf were fully inspected
The remarks by the attorney for the U.S. Department of State, Robert Loeb, have provoked backlashes from MKO. During a May 8 hearing before the US Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia, Mr. Loeb stipulated that a decision on MKO’s status could be made within 60 days after the group’s main base, Camp Ashraf, is completely evacuated. He said that said the lack of total unfettered access to the MKO’s base inside Iraq demands more deliberation and time be given to the decision. Loeb argued questions still remain whether “hard core” elements of the group harbor weapons inside the base and thus retain the “capacity” to launch attacks.
Reported by the U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents (USCCAR), MKO-run active committees in the US, Mr. Loeb’s remarks are “absurd”: “Allegations by the State Department lawyer on lack of access to, and suspicion of existence of weapons and ammunition at Camp Ashraf, are absurd and insult the professionalism and integrity of U.S. troops who served at Camp Ashraf”.
Mr. Loeb in the court remarked that the U.S. military had “never been able to inspect it [Camp Ashraf].” He also stated that the residents of Camp Ashraf did not permit the U.S. military to inspect the camp. “The MEK did not permit it at that time, and the military was unable at the time” to inspect Camp Ashraf, and “the MEK did not permit an inspection. . . . They did not permit a sort of door-to-door inspection of looking for [caches] of weapons or to actually disarm them door-to-door.” He also claimed that the U.S. military had been unable to verify that the MEK had disarmed.
Quoting some US military commanders, MKO disputes the claims by the State Department lawyer by saying that “Having served at Ashraf during several tours of duty in Iraq, we repeatedly inspected the entire camp without any hindrance and found no sign of weapons or ammunition, nor any plans or intentions to acquire weapons or use violence. These inspections were undertaken impromptu and without prior notice. At all times and during every inspection, the leaders and residents of Ashraf cooperated fully with the U.S. commanders and forces”.
But the research already done by RAND Corporation is much more reliable to decide which party is on a right path of the facts. In a part of RAND’s A Policy Conundrum it is well confirmed that there are still spots and buildings in Camp Ashraf never fully inspected by the US forces in contrast to the group’s claims.
Lack of manpower has also meant that MNF-I has never conducted a comprehensive search of Camp Ashraf. The MeK would not allow it, and MNF-I was unwilling to divert manpower at FOB Grizzly from regular regional security missions to force a search upon the group. As a result, there are buildings at Camp Ashraf that no American has ever searched. Former JIATF staff believe that weapons, personnel files, and possibly even MeK members detained by the leadership would likely be discovered in some of these buildings. At the very least, on the basis of rumors that the MeK were storing WMD for Saddam, the Iraq Survey Group, an international team organized by the Pentagon and the CIA to hunt for Iraq’s alleged WMD stockpiles, should have secured access to every building.