By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich
Inarguably, Washington has a long history of supporting terrorists. As General William Odom, President Reagan’s former National Security Agency (NSA) Director wrote in his 2007 article “American Hegemony, How to Use It, How to Lose It”:
“[T]errorism is not an enemy. It is a tactic. Because the United States itself has a long record of supporting terrorists and using terrorist tactics…”.
Despite this long-standing use of tactic, there is no record of terrorists operating but a stone’s throw away from the White House. Nor has there been such brazen embrace of a terrorist group dubbed an undemocratic cult – until now.
The 1997 Patterns of Global Terrorism report issued by the State Department stated the following about the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO, NCRI and various other acronyms):
“During the 1970s, the MEK staged terrorist attacks inside Iran to destabilize and embarrass the Shah’s regime; the group killed several US military personnel and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran. The group also supported the takeover in 1979 of the US Embassy in Tehran. In April 1992 the MEK carried out attacks on Iranian embassies in 13 different countries, demonstrating the group’s ability to mount large-scale operations overseas.”
Listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in 1997, the offices of the group’s spokesperson, Alireza Jafarzadeh was located at 1717 Pennsylvania Avenue. Even after the attacks of September 11 and America’s declared “war on terror”, the spokesperson and representative of the terror group was just down the street from the White House. Later, the organization would move its offices to 1747 Pennsylvania Avenue, remaining close to the residence of the President of the United States of America located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
It is said that ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. This is certainly not true of Washington officials and their cozy ties with the MEK cult. It seems that they are inching ever closer and have the audacity to flaunt their ties. Washington’s actions are a long cry from Israel’s who in the 1990’s was secretly aiding the group. (The Israeli-MEK relations continues to be omitted from news headlines while the accusatory finger is pointed to Saudi Arabia for their financial support of the cult).
Connie Brock of The New Yorker writes: “Israel had a relationship with the M.E.K at least since the late nineties, and had supplied a satellite signal for N.C.R.I. broadcasts from Paris into Iran. An Israeli diplomat said: “The M.E.K is useful,” but did not elaborate.”. According to the same report, the Israelis provided the MEK with unsubstantiated ‘intelligence’ on Iran’s nuclear program. Not surprising since the aforementioned 1997 Patterns of Global Terrorism report states, “The MEK directs a worldwide campaign against the Iranian Government that stresses propaganda and occasionally uses terrorist violence .”.
The close relationship with Israel may help explain why it was that in spite of being listed as terrorists, the group managed to bribe prominent politicians; even as a provision of the defense authorization bill would grant the military the authority to detain and hold anyone indefinitely, or to assassinate any individual suspected of having ties to terrorists/al Qaeda. Yet, these terrorists were giving speaking fees to American politicians. (The group also has its tentacles around British politicians – see HERE).
What is even more mind-boggling is the fact that Israel was supporting a terrorist cult that had massacred the Kurds in Iraq in 1991, and only a few year later, the Israelis were training the Kurds in Iraq who has survived the massacre (obviously something that has been lost on the Kurds) while their killers, the MEK, were being chauffeured around by American soldiers a short distance away in Iraq – in America’s ‘war on terror’!
Meanwhile, back home, politicians were being bribed by the terrorists! Clearly, FATF (Financial Action Task Force) did not prevent money from being funneled to and from terrorists. Shamelessly, Washington is demanding that Iran become a member of FATF to stop terrorism financing!
Even while the terrorist group was doling out money to corrupt politicians so they could be removed from the FTO list, and Washington politicians accepted money from terrorists, the group continued with its terrorism and carried out cross-border raids inside Iran with the full knowledge and encouragement of the Bush administration (History Commons).
Concurrently, Washington was using other group members to promote propaganda against Iran with emphasis on ‘human rights’. The leader of the terrorist cult, Maryam Rajavi’s live satellite broadcast into Washington was cheered . This certainly gave new meaning to ‘human rights’ promotion by America – as well as its ‘war on terror’.
The hypocrisy reached across the aisle. Democrats and Republicans don’t agree on much, but both parties supported this terrorist cult – all the way to the top. When Hillary Clinton was running for President in 2008, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D -Texas), co-chair of Hillary’s presidential campaign, not only shared her friendship with America’s then presidential hopeful, but she also promoted America’s pet terrorists – the MEK. Congresswoman Jackson Lee went as far as calling Maryam Rajavi “Sister Maryam,[i]. (Would this make Hillary and Maryam ‘sisters’ too?).
Certainly, Hillary’s push to remove the MEK from the FTO was a very sisterly act.
It is important to bear in mind that the group was removed from the list of FTO after U.S. officials disclosed to NBC that the MEK terrorist group was financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service and responsible for the killing of Iran’s nuclear scientists; and at a time when the United States was negotiating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran Deal.
This year, as the Iranians mark the 38th anniversary of a horrendous attack by the MEK cult, the Trump administration is openly promoting the cult and flaunts Washington’s decades long, bipartisan infatuation with a notorious, anti-democratic cult. What makes the MEK stand out?
Israel’s support aside, they seem to be brought out in the open whenever Washington wants to play tis psychological games with Iran – its ‘stick’, the term [offensive] policy makers like to use. Washington knows full well that the group is hated in Iran. That not a single member of this group will be tolerated in Iran, and there is no future for the group. History also shows that Washington has experienced blow-back every time it has supported an unsavory group or when it has encouraged terror and terrorists. Terrorism, like pollution, does not recognize borders. Why the mad romancing of the MEK?
Perhaps Washington hopes that this cult will simply come to an end. As the Council on Foreign Relations has reported: “Many analysts, including Rubin, have characterized the MEK as a cult, citing the group’s fealty to the Rajavis. Older women were reportedly required to divorce their husbands in the late 1980s, and younger girls cannot marry or have children.”. Perhaps Washington’s thinking is that their numbers will dwindle and there will be no future generations of this cult to come back and haunt it. Now there is a wish both Washington and Tehran share!
But wishes don’t make policies. Washington needs to understand that its stick is a boomerang that will come back at it. Washington has become morally and fiscally bankrupt as a result of its wrong policies. Its high time to save itself from the quagmire of its own creation before sinking beyond redemption.
[i] Financial Times, October 6, 2005.