MEK Pays US Officials, But Where Do The Iranian Exiles Get Their Money? (aka; Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, Rajavi cult)
MEK Pays US Officials, But Where Do The Iranian Exiles Get Their Money?
(aka; Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, Rajavi cult)
... Currently, there are rumors that the Israeli secret service is paying MEK to carry out assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists. Three unnamed U.S. government officials told NBC news last month that Mossad had trained and paid MEK militants to conduct a spate of car bombings against targets like Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a university chemistry professor who doubled as a director of Iran's Natanz uranium-enrichment facility, who was killed in Tehran in January after two assailants on a motorcycle attached a magnetic bomb to his Peugeot 405 ...
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Treasury opened investigations into former government officials who have been paid speaking fees by the Mojahedin-e-Khalq, or MEK, an Iranian resistance group officially listed as a terrorist organization.
The subpoenaing of former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, ex-FBI Director Louis Freeh and retired Gen. Hugh Shelton has cast an harsh light on other U.S. officials, including former New York City Mayor Rudi Giuliani and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, as well as the organization they publicly support.
"They (MEK) are still on the terrorist list. The laws still apply. It is illegal in every sense of the word to finance them right now," said Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council, a non-partisan community organization based in Washington.
The actual sum being paid to these officials is vague, but judging by the fees handed to certain individuals, the total could be in the millions. For example, Rendell was allegedly paid $150,000 for "seven or eight speeches," according to reports. Giuliani, who spoke in at a conference in Paris, France on behalf of Iranian resistance figures alongside 18 other international guests, has been known to charge up to $100,000 for a single appearance and sometimes demands private jets to charter him to appearances.
Other former U.S. officials told the New York Times that the American supporters of MEK received between $15,000 and $30,000 per speech, yet others said they made appearances for free.
Where does an organization based in an Iraqi refugee camp for the last 25 years get so much money? While MEK has organized rallies and campaigns to have it delisted as a terrorist group in the past, it has never, by all accounts, spent the amount of money it has over the past year.
Currently, there are rumors that the Israeli secret service is paying MEK to carry out assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists. Three unnamed U.S. government officials told NBC news last month that Mossad had trained and paid MEK militants to conduct a spate of car bombings against targets like Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a university chemistry professor who doubled as a director of Iran's Natanz uranium-enrichment facility, who was killed in Tehran in January after two assailants on a motorcycle attached a magnetic bomb to his Peugeot 405.
MEK called the allegations "outright false," but Israel has neither denied nor confirmed its own involvement in the attack.
If the NBC report is true, Israel would not be the first government to pay for MEK's military expertise; from 1980 until the invasion of Iraq in 2003, MEK was funded by Saddam Hussein. Following the adage "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," MEK joined Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War and fought viciously against the Ayatollah's forces. MEK made Camp Ashraf, which is about 55 miles north of Baghdad, its permanent headquarters in 1986.
Some estimate that Hussein was paying as much as $30 million a month for at least 10 months -- some of it allegedly run-off from the UN's failed Oil-for-Food program -- for MEK's services, which included strikes against Kurdish and Shia rebels in Iraq.
Additionally, during the Iran-Iraq War, MEK leader Masoud Rajavi -- whose wife Maryam Rajavi currently runs the National Council of Resistance of Iran, or NCRI, MEK's political arm -- allegedly took control of all of his members' assets, possessions and even their passports so they couldn't leave Camp Ashraf.
"Between 1978, when I became MEK's supporter, till 1996 when I escaped, through use of different techniques of mind manipulation I was forced to give them whatever they asked me," explained Masoud Banisadr, MEK's former U.S. spokesperson and the second cousin of Abolhassan Banisadr, the first president of the Islamic Republic.
"First any capital or material things we had; then any love, attachments or relation we had with our country, our family and friends in Iran; then when they asked all members to divorce their spouses, I lost the love of my life, my dear wife and could not see my children for almost six years; I lost part of my health, and many times were on the edge of dying for them."
In 2003, before the European Union took MEK off of its terror watch list, Maryam Rajavi and some 160 other Mujahedin were arrested by counter-terrorism police in a small town outside Paris. Authorities confiscated around $8 million in cash, which Trita Parsi believes was some of the last remaining funds of Saddam Hussein. All of the suspects were quickly released and the case was eventually dropped.
Follow the Money
MEK was put on the State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations in 1997. MEK supporters suggest this was a failed political move by the Clinton administration to soften relations with Tehran. Regardless, the organization says it is now a peaceful and democratic resistance movement, one allied with the U.S in its distrust of the current Iranian regime and Iran's nuclear program. A slew of American officials, including Freeh, FBI Director at the time the terror list designation was made, and a number of military officers of the highest rank, have come to the support of MEK and lobbied for its removal from the terrorist list.
A 2004 FBI investigation uncovered a glut of shady fund-raising operations. According to the report, the voracity of which has been called into question, money raised by the Los Angeles and Washington D.C. "cells" was "transferred overseas through a complex international money laundering operation that uses accounts in Turkey, Germany, France, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates."
At one point, MEK was also operating charities called the Committee for Human Rights and Iran Aid, which claimed to raise money for Iranian refugees persecuted by the Islamic regime, but was later revealed to be a front for MEK's military arm, the National Liberation Army.
All of this could account for some of MEK's resources but would be unlikely to cover the exorbitant speaker fees recently doled out.
Moreover, MEK supporters would claim that if true, these practices were done during a previous incarnation of the group, the middle ground between being a fully-militant organization and a refugee group under U.S. military protection in Iraq.
Almost all of the former U.S. officials who support delisting were not actually paid by MEK, but by Iranian-American cultural organizations like the Iranian American Community of North Texas and the Iranian American Cultural Association of Missouri. This network of non-profits could be the best way to track MEK's funding. According to experts, money from benefactors and pledge drives in Europe is sent to individuals in the United States, then onto front groups and finally given to American politicians. It's complicated, but according to federal law, it's still illegal.
"It's much easier to move around money in Europe because MEK is no longer on the watch list," said Parsi.
None of this may matter soon. MEK has filed a federal suit that would force the State Department, which says it continually evaluates the terrorist organization list anyway, to officially review the organization's status within 30 days.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also said that a successful transfer from Camp Ashraf to former U.S. military base Camp Liberty, which is currently underway, will help speed up any potential delisting. If that happens, former politicians like Giuliani, ex-Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and former U.N. ambassador John Bolton will continue to advocate for the MEK despite criticism and possible legal ramifications.
... Iranians living under the regime’s yoke hate the MEK. That is not regime propaganda; it is fact, one to which any honest analyst who has ever visited Iran can testify. Ordinary Iranians deeply resent the MEK’s terrorism, which has targeted not only regime officials, but also led to the deaths of scores of civilians. During the Iran-Iraq War—a conflict that decimated cities and led to tens of thousands of civilian deaths—the MEK sided with Saddam Hussein. No Iranian will ever forgive that treason. Iranians see the MEK in the same manner that Americans view American Taliban John Walker Lindh ...
Alana Goodman is correct to highlight the current battle between Attorney-General Eric Holder and a bipartisan array of prominent former U.S. officials who have accepted hefty honoraria from Mujahedin al-Khalq (MEK) front groups, even though the State Department lists the MEK as a terrorist group. While cultivating prominent endorsers is one front in the group’s public relations battle, the largest war – and the reason the MEK has spent millions on former American officials – is for their support in its battle to be delisted as a terrorist entity.
There is no doubt that in the past, the MEK engaged in terrorism against Americans and that it has embraced a fiercely anti-Western ideology. Proponents of delisting the MEK, however, argue that the group has not engaged in terrorism against the United States or its interests for decades. The State Department may eventually be forced by the letter of the law to delist the MEK. That does not mean the group is entitled to any American support. The group’s culpability in recent terrorist attacks in Iran is murkier. Still, it would be a mistake to boil the MEK issue—and the question of U.S. support—down to the terrorism listing, however. Working with the MEK is simply bad policy.
Military action against Iran would delay the program only by a few years. True, the same estimate was made before Israel’s strike on the Iraqi nuclear reactor and Saddam Hussein never managed to rebuild his program, but it would be foolish to assume the same would occur. After all, the Iranians will not be stupid enough to invade Kuwait.
The problem in Iran today is not simply the regime’s nuclear ambitions, but rather the regime itself. To use the military to delay Iran’s nuclear program—effectively kicking the can down the road—would be an irresponsible use of the military unless there is a policy in place to take advantage of the time won in any strike.
The problem with those who would embrace the MEK is that it would undercut the chance for regime collapse. To ally the United States with the MEK would be as shameful as President Obama’s moral inaction during the 2009 protests.
Iranians living under the regime’s yoke hate the MEK. That is not regime propaganda; it is fact, one to which any honest analyst who has ever visited Iran can testify. Ordinary Iranians deeply resent the MEK’s terrorism, which has targeted not only regime officials, but also led to the deaths of scores of civilians. During the Iran-Iraq War—a conflict that decimated cities and led to tens of thousands of civilian deaths—the MEK sided with Saddam Hussein. No Iranian will ever forgive that treason. Iranians see the MEK in the same manner that Americans view American Taliban John Walker Lindh.
If the MEK is delisted, let the MEK celebrate. But whether listed as a terrorist group or not, it would be wrong and counterproductive to embrace the group unless, of course, the goal of those for officials on the group’s payroll is simply to aid the current regime in its efforts to rally its subjugated masses around the flag.
Assassinations Joint work of Israel and Mojahedin Khalq
(aka;MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult)
... Anyone in Israel, the United States, or anywhere else hoping for a salubrious regime change in Iran would be foolish to have anything to do with the MEK. Even more important than what is foolish is what is immoral. Terrorism denies the high ground to anyone who uses it, including the use of it in disagreements with Iran. It also hastens the slide through mutually reinforcing hostility into what may be a far more destructive form of violence (i.e., a war). Although the United States has not been involved in the assassinations, the nature of its relationship with Israel, both real andperceived means that Israel's actions suck the United States farther down the slide ...
Although the assassinations of Iranian scientists have until now been followed by no indication of responsibility other than smug comments of satisfaction from officials of the most likely foreign state perpetrator, now NBC offers something more specific. According to a report by Richard Engel and Robert Windrem, the assassinations have been the joint work of Israel and the Iranian cult-cum-terrorist group Mujahedin-e Khalq. According to the report, the partnership has involved Israel providing financing, training and arms to the MEK to accomplish the hits, as well as to commit other acts of violent sabotage inside Iran. The story tracks with accusations from officials of the Iranian government, who say they base most of what they know on interrogations and captured materials from a failed assassination attempt in 2010. Such accusations by themselves would be easy to dismiss, of course, as more of the regime’s propaganda. But the NBC story cites two senior U.S. officials, speaking anonymously, as confirming the story. A third official said “it hasn’t been clearly confirmed yet,” although like the others he denied any U.S. involvement. The Israeli foreign ministry declined comment; the MEK denied the story.
With or without confirmation of details of this story, the assassinations are terrorism. (The official U.S. government definition of terrorism for reporting and statistic-keeping purposes is “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.”) The extra twist in this new report is the use by Israel—already widely believed to have been responsible for the murders—of the MEK, a group with a long track record of terrorism that has included American victims. Other parts of that record, including the MEK having been an arm of Saddam Hussein's security forces, have meant the group has almost no popular support within Iran. Anyone in Israel, the United States, or anywhere else hoping for a salubrious regime change in Iran would be foolish to have anything to do with the MEK.
Even more important than what is foolish is what is immoral. Terrorism denies the high ground to anyone who uses it, including the use of it in disagreements with Iran. It also hastens the slide through mutually reinforcing hostility into what may be a far more destructive form of violence (i.e., a war). Although the United States has not been involved in the assassinations, the nature of its relationship with Israel, both real and perceived (President Obama commented the other day about staying in “lockstep” with Israel on Iran), means that Israel's actions suck the United States farther down the slide.
Amid all the reasons for dismay and outrage over this, there is also an irony. One of the oft-repeated rationales for the conventional wisdom that an Iranian nuclear weapon would be unacceptable is that it would somehow turn Iran into a regional marauder that would recklessly throw its weight around the Middle East in damaging ways. Well, there is an example of a Middle Eastern state that behaves in such a way, but it isn't Iran. This state invades neighboring countries, ruthlessly inflicting destruction on civilian populations, and seizes and colonizes territory through military force. It also uses terrorist group proxies as well as its own agents to conduct assassinations in other countries in the region.
Besides terrorism, there also is, as with any prototypical rogue state, a nuclear weapons angle. This state, unlike Iran, has never signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty or admitted an international inspector to any of its nuclear facilities. Even though it has had a sizable arsenal of nuclear weapons for decades, it has kept its nuclear weapons program completely out of reach of any international scrutiny or arms control regime and does not even acknowledge the program's existence. It also is so intent on maintaining its regional nuclear weapons monopoly that it is using terrorism to strike at the nuclear program of a country that doesn't even have one nuclear weapon and probably hasn't made a decision to make one.
One could almost argue that this record of behavior supports that conventional wisdom about what an Iranian nuke would do to Iran's behavior. But actually it doesn't. The behavior of the state in question is made possible not by nuclear weapons but instead by its conventional military superiority over its neighbors and by the cover provided by a subservient, protective great power whose policies it is able to manipulate.
The United States needs to distance itself as much as possible from this ugliness, for the sake of adhering to its own principles as well as trying to avoid sliding any further toward catastrophe. It was good that Secretary of State Clinton quickly disavowed the most recent assassination, but distancing requires something more. Forget the lockstep business. Israel is out of step with American policy because it evidently is out of step with American values and American interests. Washington needs to proclaim loudly and repeatedly that the sort of terrorism that the NBC report describes is the antithesis of how differences with Iran ought to be settled, and that those differences need to be settled through diplomacy. Then negotiate like we really mean it. Two distinguished retired U.S. diplomats, William Luers and Thomas Pickering, have recently provided some excellent instruction on how to do that.
The Group That's Been Assassinating Iranian Scientists Wants To Be Removed From US Terror List
(Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult)
... Sources confirm that the Mujahedin-e-Khalq organization, which also is referred to as MEK or MKO, was involved with Israel in the current round of assassinations of two Iranian nuclear scientists and Iran's top missile designer. To date, some five Iranian nuclear scientists have been targeted.Separately, the British Daily Mail reports that U.S. officials have confirmed that Israel has been funding and training Iranian dissidents to assassinate nuclear scientists involved in Iran's nuclear program. U.S. officials also confirmed similar information to NBC News but quickly added that the United States isn't involved in the assassinations ...
A virulently anti-Iranian terrorist group has been credited by U.S. intelligence sources for the recent killings of Iranian nuclear scientists and Iran's major missile developer, even while the organization is promoting a public relations effort – with the support of prominent Americans – to be removed from the U.S. State Department's terrorist list.
Sources confirm that the Mujahedin-e-Khalq organization, which also is referred to as MEK or MKO, was involved with Israel in the current round of assassinations of two Iranian nuclear scientists and Iran's top missile designer. To date, some five Iranian nuclear scientists have been targeted.
Separately, the British Daily Mail reports that U.S. officials have confirmed that Israel has been funding and training Iranian dissidents to assassinate nuclear scientists involved in Iran's nuclear program.
U.S. officials also confirmed similar information to NBC News but quickly added that the United States isn't involved in the assassinations of the Iranian nuclear scientists, although it apparently is aware of the alleged connection between the Israeli intelligence service Mossad and the MEK.
The assassinations also have resulted in what G2Bulletin has reported is a tit-for-tat by Iran, which reportedly assassinated a chemical scientist in Israel in reprisal for the killings of the Iranian scientists. Sources say this development constitutes a proxy war between Israel and Iran.
U.S. sources confirm the close relationship between Israel's Mossad and the MEK. The association hasn't gone unnoticed by Iranian officials.
"The relation is very intricate and close," according to Mohammad Javad Larijani, who is a senior aide to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's current supreme leader. "They (Israelis) are paying the mujahedin. Some of their (MEK) agents are providing Israel with information. And they recruit and also manage logistical support.
"Israel does not have direct access to our society," Larijani added. "Mujahedin, being Iranian and being part of Iranian society, they have a good number of places to get in touch with people. So, I think they are working hand-to-hand very close. And we do have very concrete documents."
Larijani apparently was referring to an interrogation of an MEK member in a failed assassination attempt in 2010 in which such documentation reportedly was found on him. Despite confirmation by U.S. intelligence sources of MEK involvement in continued assassinations, the MEK seeks to be removed from the U.S. terrorism list – a goal which has the backing from notable Americans, several members of Congress and a prominent Washington-based law firm.
The effort to delist the MEK is led by groups on both the left and right of the American political spectrum because of its anti-Iranian position and opposition to the Muslim clerics which lead the Islamic republic.
Yet, the MEK, also referred to as the People's Mujahedin of Iran, or PMOI, has a history of having killed American citizens, was allied with the Iraqi regime of President Saddam Hussein and has been closely associated with the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaida.
In August 1998, for example, the MEK received assistance from the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaida to assassinate 11 Iranian diplomats, journalists and innocent civilians in an attack on Shi'a Muslims in Afghanistan.
The MEK was first established in the 1960s by the college-educated children of many Iranian merchants who sought to counter what they viewed as excessive Western influence with the regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a closed U.S. ally who reigned from 1941 to 1979 when the Islamic Revolution took place installing the clerics under the leadership of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
In events leading up to the overthrow of the shah, the MEK staged numerous terrorist attacks inside Iran and killed a number of U.S. military personnel and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran.
The MEK also backed the takeover in 1979 of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and for a time backed the clerics led by Ayatollah Khomeini against nationalists and moderates within the revolution.
However, a power struggle occurred in late 1980 and by mid-1981 the MEK was engaged in street battles against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.
The MEK sided with the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. The group actually received refuge from Hussein and conducted attacks on Iran from within Iraqi territory.
U.S. intelligence sources tell G2Bulletin that the MEK was involved in the movement of al-Qaida members into eastern Iran after the October 2001 invasion of Afghanistan to escape U.S. detection. The eastern portion of Iran is regarded as a lawless Sunni haven of tribes loyal to al-Qaida. The region borders the Baluchistan province in neighboring Pakistan where many members of al-Qaida reside, along with other Sunni Islamist militants.
Iraq's Hussein provided financial and logistical assistance to the MEK as a counter-balance to Shi'a Tehran.
Yet, the MEK in 2006 claimed that it had renounced violence in 2001 as it was seeking to have funds unfrozen by the European Union, which ultimately occurred.
With deep financial pockets, however, the MEK today has begun a major public relations campaign in the United States to be removed, or "delisted," from the State Department's U.S. terrorist list, formally known as the Foreign Terrorist Organization, list.
The MEK has enlisted the help of former U.S. cabinet members and other former American officials from both the left and right of the political spectrum. It also has legal representation for its delisting activities from a highly expensive Washington-based law firm, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.
The campaign to get delisted began in earnest last year with a kickoff event at the swanky Williard Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Notable Washington insiders who have been tapped to speak on MEK's behalf include Louis Freeh, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Hugh Shelton; former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean; John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Gen. Wesley Clark, retired former NATO supreme allied commander; Ed Rendell, former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania; Rudolph Giulani, former mayor of New York City; Porter Goss, former director of Central Intelligence; Lee Hamilton, former co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission; retired Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of Central Intelligence; and Bill Richardson, former governor of New Mexico, among others.
In all, some 33 high-ranking former U.S. officials were listed as "prominent speakers at MEK-related Meetings and Conferences from December 2010-July 2011," based on a list compiled by the Huffington Post.
In addition to Washington, events for MEK's delisting efforts have featured these and other prominent speakers in Berlin, Brussels, London and Paris.
Because the MEK still is on the State Department's Foreign Terrorist Organization list, these speakers cannot be paid directly. While MEK reportedly is spending millions of dollars to obtain these speakers, they are paid indirectly through numerous private Iranian-American booking agents who, in turn, pay the prominent American speakers from $20,000 to $40,000 for just an eight to 10 minute speech on MEK's behalf.
In that way, the speakers technically aren't accepting money directly from a terrorist organization, even though in presenting their speeches on behalf of the MEK they know the source of the money.
Now, the MEK is blanketing U.S. television with advertisements nationwide calling for the group's delisting.
A State Department spokesman refused to comment on ongoing deliberations to consider the MEK's request to be delisted, a process which formally has been under way for more than a year. However, the State Department has yet to make a decision.
Right Wing Praises Mojahedin Khalq (MEK, MKO, Rajavi cult) For Conducting Acts Of Terrorism In Iran
... the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), an exiled Iranian opposition group designated a “foreign terrorist organization” by the State Department, conducted a series of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists. Former CIA official and visiting Georgetown professor Paul Pillar, citing the U.S. government’s definition of terrorism, observed that “with or without confirmation of details of this story, the assassinations are terrorism.” But numerous right-wing pundits and politicians here in the United States — many of whom regularly decry the use of terrorism as a means to political ends — have celebrated the MEK’s alleged attacks ...
Last Thursday, NBC News reported that the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), an exiled Iranian opposition group designated a “foreign terrorist organization” by the State Department, conducted a series of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists.
Former CIA official and visiting Georgetown professor Paul Pillar, citing the U.S. government’s definition of terrorism, observed that “with or without confirmation of details of this story, the assassinations are terrorism.” But numerous right-wing pundits and politicians here in the United States — many of whom regularly decry the use of terrorism as a means to political ends — have celebrated the MEK’s alleged attacks.
Appearing on Fox News on Sunday, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani declared that the MEK should be the Time Magazine “person of the year” if they were behind assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists.
An editorial in Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post said on Friday that the MEK deserves a Nobel Peace Prize:
Let’s be frank: Were the MeK to play the critical role in derailing an Iranian bomb, it would be far more deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize than a certain president of the United States we could mention.
And Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin justified the MEK’s action and Israel’s alleged role in financing, arming and training the group:
To those who say it is immoral to use those who have employed terrorism, the only reply can be that it would be far worse for Israel’s government to allow such scruples to prevent them from carrying out actions that might stop the Iranians from going nuclear.
Noticeably, the MEK’s defenders chose not to address the NBC report’s other major disclosure. The MEK reportedly worked with Ramzi Yousef, the terrorist behind the first attack on the World Trade Center, to bomb an Iranian shrine, killing at least 26 people.
The NBC report did not go on to substantiate any direct links between the Israeli government and the assassination campaign, and the MEK denied any involvement in the attacks.
Indeed, the MEK’s American supporters find themselves in the increasingly difficult position of lobbying to remove the organization from the State Department’s terror list while openly celebrating the group’s involvement in terrorist attacks