Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces for Cultural Affairs and Defense Publicity Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri condemned Washington for opening an office for the anti-Iran terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq near the White House, and said the US will pay the price for supporting the terrorist group.
“Despite their grandiose mottos, the Americans showed that they don’t care about the common human norms and values and human rights, and the human society will have no doubt that they will pay the price for this mistake both on the internal and international arena,” Jazayeri told FNA on Saturday.
“It is a ridiculous reality that Americans are eager to negotiate with Iran on one scene and concurrently, shelter the terrorists who are the murderers of the Iranian nation’s offspring and establish an office for them on another scene,” he added.
The US recently allowed the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MKO, also known as MEK, PMOI and NCRI) to open its Washington office just a block away from the White House.
The opening of the office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an umbrella group dominated by the MKO, was attended by several former US officials.
The US permission to the MKO to open its branch in Washington came as American officials have said that they “don’t consider the MKO a viable Iranian opposition group or believe it can promote democratic values in Iran”, Radio Free Europe said in a report.
Yet at the April 11 inauguration of the office, President Barack Obama’s former national security adviser, US General James Jones said the opening of the office was an “important moment” and “a step in the right direction.”
Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, former US Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley, former US Representative Patrick Kennedy, and the former deputy director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, John Sano, were also in attendance.
In the past, former US officials have reportedly been paid large sums of money to speak at the MKO’s public events and lobby the State Department on its behalf.
Two former high-profile US officials acknowledged that they had been paid by the MKO to endorse de-listing the group from the US State Department’s list of terrorist groups, a report said two years ago.
The report released by the Inter Press Service in early March, 2011 said that for years now, supporters of the anti-Iran terrorist group have lobbied in vain to have the organization taken off the US terrorism list.
“A growing number of high-profile defense and foreign policy big-wigs – from former Central Command Chief Anthony Zinni to former Congressman and think tank head Lee Hamilton – have given paid speeches either endorsing de-listing or questioning why the group remains on the list when it has not committed a known terrorist act for many years,” Inter Press Service stated.
Ray Tanter, a National Security Council staffer under Ronald Reagan and founder of the Iran Policy Committee, a group that has sought MKO de-listing since 2005, said there have been six recent panels of high-profile individuals dealing with the topic: two in Paris, where the MKO’s political wing, the National Council of Resistance, is headquartered; one in Brussels, seat of the European Parliament; and three in Washington organized by a group called Executive Action LLC.
Executive Action head Neil Livingstone, a former member of the Iran Policy Committee, said another panel might be organized soon on Capitol Hill, the report by the Inter Press Service said.
“Iran-American cultural organizations” had approached him about doing the logistics for the meetings, he said, without giving specific names.
The report added that Zinni, who spoke before a Washington audience January 20, 2011 – along with a star-studded bipartisan cast that included former national security adviser Jim Jones, former FBI director Louis Freeh and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson – said in an interview that he was unaware of the group’s cultist aspects but still felt it should be taken off the State Department list if it disavowed terrorism.
He also said that the US was responsible for the fate of more than 3,000 MKO members still at the Camp Ashraf even though the camp is now under Iraqi sovereignty.
Zinni acknowledged that he had been paid his “standard fee” for speaking at the Iran event but would not say how much that was. He said he was never told what to say about the MKO, although he clearly knew the views of those sponsoring the event.
Hamilton, a former chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee who headed the prestigious Woodrow Wilson Center for 12 years until last fall, told IPS that he had also been paid “a substantial amount” to appear on a panel Feb. 19, 2011 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.
Hamilton appeared with Richardson, two former Joint Chiefs of Staff, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Walter Slocombe, former State Department counterterrorism coordinator Dell Dailey and ex-Senator Robert Torricelli of New Jersey, the report added.
At the event, while Hamilton did not call for removing the MKO from the list immediately, he said he was “puzzled” by why the group remained so designated.
In the subsequent interview, Hamilton – who once had access to classified information – said, “I haven’t seen any reasons that are current” for the MKO to be branded as terrorist.
He also conceded, however, that he was not aware of the cult-like nature of the group.
“They presented me with a platform that was thoroughly democratic,” Hamilton said. “Were they misleading me? You always can be misled.”
The US formally removed the MKO from its list of terror organizations in early September, one week after the then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, sent the US Congress a classified communication about the move. The decision made by Clinton enabled the group to have its assets under US jurisdiction unfrozen and do business with American entities, the State Department said in a statement at the time.
An aide to former US Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed deep regret over the removal of the terrorist group from the US blacklist, stressing that MKO is still a terrorist group.
“I think delisting the MKO was a terrible move in all aspects,” Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson said in an interview with Real News Network in November, 2012.
“A terrible move because it basically acknowledged a terrorist group is now not a terrorist group anymore, and they clearly certainly still are,” he added.
The MKO, founded in the 1960s, blended elements of Islamism and Stalinism and participated in the overthrow of the US-backed Shah of Iran in 1979. Ahead of the revolution, the MKO conducted attacks and assassinations against both Iranian and Western targets.
The group started assassination of the citizens and officials after the revolution in a bid to take control of the newly-established Islamic Republic. It killed several of Iran’s new leaders in the early years after the revolution, including the then President, Mohammad Ali Rajayee, Prime Minister, Mohammad Javad Bahonar and the Judiciary Chief, Mohammad Hossein Beheshti who were killed in bomb attacks by MKO members in 1981.
The group fled to Iraq in 1986, where it was protected by Saddam Hussein and where it helped the Iraqi dictator suppress Shiite and Kurd uprisings in the country.
The terrorist group joined Saddam’s army during the Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-1988) and helped Saddam and killed thousands of Iranian civilians and soldiers during the US-backed Iraqi imposed war on Iran.
Since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the group, which now adheres to a pro-free-market philosophy, has been strongly backed by neo-conservatives in the United States, who argued for the MKO to be taken off the US terror list.
In September 2012, the last groups of the MKO terrorists left Camp Ashraf, their main training center in Iraq’s Diyala province. They have been transferred to Camp Liberty transient facility near Baghdad.