The Terrorists that Pretend Democracy

Mojahedin.ws comment on an article in the Orange County Register:

Many Iranian sympathizers of the MKO residing in Western countries are misguided by the group’s vast propaganda, demonstrating itself as the only vehicle to help establish democracy and freedom in Iran. Some opposing the current Iranian Government for their own reasons, voice support for a terrorist group, completely failing to notice they are jumping out of frying pan into the fire; a terrorist group may pose as pro-democratic but it can never let go of its terrorist attitudes. It is not bad for them to see the truth through the window of the people next-door open for them. The following is a major extract from an article by VIK JOLLY entitled “Some see guerrilla group as Iran’s hope”.

The group, which allied itself with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war – wants its name removed from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. But not everyone agrees that the People’s Warriors hold the key to regime change – or even that they would be an improvement over the current government.

"People do not want to choose between a government in Iran they don’t like and the terrorist organization that they detest," said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit dedicated to promoting participation in civic life. "At the end of the day, the terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist."

But with the rhetoric heating up as Iran marches toward nuclear development, supporters argue that an enemy’s enemy might be useful, if not exactly a friend. The group, they say, has advocated free elections in Iran for years, and would lay down its weapons and join the political process if that happens.

Supporters also say the MEK was the first to blow the whistle on Iran’s nuclear plans, including the existence of a uranium enrichment facility at Natanz in 2002. Critics, however, have their doubts about that.

The U.S. State Department has this to say about the group:

"During the 1970s, the MEK killed U.S. military personnel and U.S. civilians working on defense projects in Tehran and supported the takeover in 1979 of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran."

Since then its actions have been aimed at the Iranian regime and its installations around the globe.

In a Jan. 6 letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., and Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, asked her to tell the MEK how to have its terrorist designation revoked.

"Whether the allegations of past anti-U.S. activity are accurate or not, the MEK is not al-Qaida nor, in our opinion, does it constitute a similar threat to American national security," the congressmen wrote.

They stopped short of asking Rice to lift the group’s terrorist status, which dates back to what supporters say was a misguided effort by the Clinton administration to appease the Iranian regime in 1997.

Interviewed by telephone, Tancredo said whether or not the MEK controls the reins of power in Iran is not his concern.

"You have to look for allies and friends wherever you can, and here you have a group of people who know the language and want to overthrow the regime," he said.

That members of the group are in what amounts to U.S. custody at Camp Ashraf is "bizarre as hell," Tancredo said.

"I can’t totally explain it except that there’s a general understanding (between) the military and even the State Department that the reason they’re on the terrorist list has nothing to do with any potential threat to the United States," he said.

A Department of Defense spokesman said the 3,400 MEK members at Camp Ashraf were granted "protected persons" status under Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention in 2004.

"They have been totally cooperative and disarmed themselves voluntarily," Lt. Col. Barry Venable said.

The State Department did not respond to questions about whether there are plans to take the MEK off the terror list or what would become of those at Camp Ashraf. A telephone call to Iran’s mission to the United Nations was not returned.

Some Orange County expatriates call the MEK’s members "mullahs with ties."

The origins of the group date back to the 1960s. Said by diplomats to be a mixture of Marxism and Islam, the organization was expelled from Iran after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Backed by the ayatollahs’ foe, Hussein, the group’s leader, Massoud Rajavi, formed a council in Tehran. The council headquarters later moved to France, where Rajavi was exiled.

According to the Web site of the MEK’s political arm, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Rajavi is the chairman of the council and his wife, Maryam, was elected in 1993 as its president-elect. While she is still in France, the whereabouts of her husband – who was expelled from the country – are unknown.

The group has been described in some reports as a cult – a charge denied by supporters. The New York Times reported that "some detractors say the Rajavis brainwash followers, forcing them to abandon spouses and children, and imprison or kill those who resist."

What makes the Mujahedeen difficult to decipher is that it has at least two facets, the Times report said. "One operates a highly regimented operation from inside Iraq with its own army, dress code, calendar, rituals, printing presses, military training camps, clinics and what it calls ‘re-education camps.’"

"The other," the Times reported, "has offices in capitals around the world under the group’s political arm staffed by sophisticated, multilingual representatives in suits and ties."

The MEK’s status may rest on the outcome of a tussle between the State Department and the Pentagon, regional expert Juan Cole said.

"The MEK has powerful supporters, including the neoconservatives, in the Pentagon, and the latter are fighting the State Department over the MEK designation as a terrorist organization," said Cole, a professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of Michigan, in response to e-mailed questions.

Cole does not think the group is a viable alternative to the religious leaders, and he says a U.S. alliance with it could only alienate Iranians who abhor its members as traitors.

"The MEK is hated … inside Iran," he said. "They based themselves in Baathist Iraq and blew things up inside Iran. They have zero popular support."

On the claim by the group’s supporters that they have provided credible intelligence about Iran’s nuclear capabilities to the United States, Cole said: "The MEK has almost certainly hyped the Iranian nuclear program to the Pentagon, playing a role similar to that played by Ahmad Chalabi and his lies about Iraq."

Chalabi, a former exiled leader, was blamed for spreading unfounded reports of weapons of mass destruction in the months before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

The local Iranian community has been on a roller-coaster ride since January 2002, when President Bush labeled Iran as one of three "axis of evil" countries, together with North Korea and Iraq.

Few favor a U.S. military strike against Iran, believing it is better to nurture a grass-roots democratic movement there instead. While some are ambivalent about the MEK’s role, most are not.

"They had terrorist acts in Iran which killed a lot of people, and I have no sympathy whatsoever with this group," said Tehran-born Ali Farahani, 40, of Irvine, a sales representative for a paper-packaging distribution company.

Supporters of the group argue that it has targeted military installations and rulers, not civilians.

Mojahedin.ws – June 4, 2006

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