... Iraqi tribes in the southern city of Basra called on Baghdad to bring to justice those MKO members that aided and abetted former dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime to ruthlessly crush the anti-government uprising in southern and northern Iraq in 1991 during the aftermath of the so-called Persian Gulf war I, when US troops occuppied Kuwait and Iraq in efforts to fight off Iraq's attempt to invade Kuwait following the end of its eight-year war of aggression against Iran. Tens of thousands of people were killed during the crackdowns. In the following months, many more lost their lives and nearly two million Iraqis fled for their lives ...
Members of the terrorist group, including their leader Masoud Rajavi (shown), fled to Iraq in 1986, where they enjoyed the full support of Saddam Hussein.
Iraqi tribes have called on Baghdad to prosecute and punish the criminal members of the terrorist Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) before the group’s possible departure from the country.
In a recent statement, Iraqi tribes in the southern city of Basra called on Baghdad to bring to justice those MKO members that aided and abetted former dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime to ruthlessly crush the anti-government uprising in southern and northern Iraq in 1991 during the aftermath of the so-called Persian Gulf war I, when US troops occuppied Kuwait and Iraq in efforts to fight off Iraq's attempt to invade Kuwait following the end of its eight-year war of aggression against Iran.
Tens of thousands of people were killed during the crackdowns. In the following months, many more lost their lives and nearly two million Iraqis fled for their lives.
The statement also called for the prosecution of the MKO for jeopardizing the lives of the residents of the Diyala Province, where the group’s Camp Ashraf is located, 120 kilometers (74.5 miles) west of the Iranian border.
The Iraqi tribal groups urged Baghdad not to allow the MKO to leave the country before the group’s criminal members are punished and called on the people across Iraq to stage protest rallies to demand the prosecution of the MKO criminals.
On Saturday, around 400 MKO members were relocated to a new site, the Liberty Camp, which is near the Baghdad airport.
The move is said to be part of an agreement reached between the United Nations and Iraq in December, expected to facilitate the ouster of the entire MKO terrorists from Iraq. Under the deal, the UN and the Iraqi government have agreed to relocate 3,400 MKO members living in Camp Ashraf until their refugee status is determined.
Baghdad had previously promised to close the terrorist camp by the end of 2011, but the government later agreed to extend the deadline until April.
Members of the terrorist group fled to Iraq in 1986, where they enjoyed the full support of Saddam Hussein and set up of the camp for launching terrorist raids against Iranian people and military personnel.
The MKO is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by much of the international community and is responsible for numerous acts of terror and violence against Iranian civilians and officials as well as anti-Saddam Iraqi civilians.
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.
State Departmemt: It is unlawful to provide support to listed terrorists!
Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) in the new List of Terrorist Organizations
... It is unlawful for a person in the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to knowingly provide "material support or resources" to a designated FTO... Representatives and members of a designated FTO, if they are aliens, are inadmissible to and, in certain circumstances, removable from the United States (see 8 U.S.C. §§ 1182 (a)(3)(B)(i)(IV)-(V), 1227 (a)(1)(A)). Any U.S. financial institution that becomes aware that it has possession of or control over funds in which a designated FTO or its agent has an interest must retain possession of or control over the funds and report the funds to the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury ...
Foreign Terrorist Organizations Bureau of Counterterrorism January 27, 2012
Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) are foreign organizations that are designated by the Secretary of State in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended. FTO designations play a critical role in our fight against terrorism and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business.
Current List of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations
Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMS) Al-Shabaab Ansar al-Islam (AAI) Asbat al-Ansar Aum Shinrikyo (AUM) Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army (CPP/NPA) Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) Gama’a al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group) HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement) Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B) Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM) Hizballah (Party of God) Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) (Army of Mohammed) Jemaah Islamiya organization (JI) Kahane Chai (Kach) Kata'ib Hizballah (KH) Kongra-Gel (KGK, formerly Kurdistan Workers' Party, PKK, KADEK) Lashkar-e Tayyiba (LT) (Army of the Righteous) Lashkar i Jhangvi (LJ) Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM) Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) National Liberation Army (ELN) Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) PFLP-General Command (PFLP-GC) al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) al-Qa’ida (AQ) al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (formerly GSPC) Real IRA (RIRA) Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Revolutionary Organization 17 November (17N) Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) Revolutionary Struggle (RS) Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, SL) United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI) Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Jundallah Army of Islam (AOI) Indian Mujahideen (IM) Identification The Bureau of Counterterrorism in the State Department (S/CT) continually monitors the activities of terrorist groups active around the world to identify potential targets for designation. When reviewing potential targets, S/CT looks not only at the actual terrorist attacks that a group has carried out, but also at whether the group has engaged in planning and preparations for possible future acts of terrorism or retains the capability and intent to carry out such acts.
Designation Once a target is identified, S/CT prepares a detailed "administrative record," which is a compilation of information, typically including both classified and open sources information, demonstrating that the statutory criteria for designation have been satisfied. If the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury, decides to make the designation, Congress is notified of the Secretary’s intent to designate the organization and given seven days to review the designation, as the INA requires. Upon the expiration of the seven-day waiting period and in the absence of Congressional action to block the designation, notice of the designation is published in the Federal Register, at which point the designation takes effect. By law an organization designated as an FTO may seek judicial review of the designation in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit not later than 30 days after the designation is published in the Federal Register.
Until recently the INA provided that FTOs must be redesignated every 2 years or the designation would lapse. Under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), however, the redesignation requirement was replaced by certain review and revocation procedures. IRTPA provides that an FTO may file a petition for revocation 2 years after its designation date (or in the case of redesignated FTOs, its most recent redesignation date) or 2 years after the determination date on its most recent petition for revocation. In order to provide a basis for revocation, the petitioning FTO must provide evidence that the circumstances forming the basis for the designation are sufficiently different as to warrant revocation. If no such review has been conducted during a 5 year period with respect to a designation, then the Secretary of State is required to review the designation to determine whether revocation would be appropriate. In addition, the Secretary of State may at any time revoke a designation upon a finding that the circumstances forming the basis for the designation have changed in such a manner as to warrant revocation, or that the national security of the United States warrants a revocation. The same procedural requirements apply to revocations made by the Secretary of State as apply to designations. A designation may be revoked by an Act of Congress, or set aside by a Court order.
Legal Criteria for Designation under Section 219 of the INA as amended
It must be a foreign organization. The organization must engage in terrorist activity, as defined in section 212 (a)(3)(B) of the INA (8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3)(B)),* or terrorism, as defined in section 140(d)(2) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989 (22 U.S.C. § 2656f(d)(2)),** or retain the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism. The organization’s terrorist activity or terrorism must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security (national defense, foreign relations, or the economic interests) of the United States. Legal Ramifications of Designation
It is unlawful for a person in the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to knowingly provide "material support or resources" to a designated FTO. (The term "material support or resources" is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b)(1) as " any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel (1 or more individuals who maybe or include oneself), and transportation, except medicine or religious materials.” 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b)(2) provides that for these purposes “the term ‘training’ means instruction or teaching designed to impart a specific skill, as opposed to general knowledge.” 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b)(3) further provides that for these purposes the term ‘expert advice or assistance’ means advice or assistance derived from scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge.’’ Representatives and members of a designated FTO, if they are aliens, are inadmissible to and, in certain circumstances, removable from the United States (see 8 U.S.C. §§ 1182 (a)(3)(B)(i)(IV)-(V), 1227 (a)(1)(A)). Any U.S. financial institution that becomes aware that it has possession of or control over funds in which a designated FTO or its agent has an interest must retain possession of or control over the funds and report the funds to the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Other Effects of Designation
Supports our efforts to curb terrorism financing and to encourage other nations to do the same. Stigmatizes and isolates designated terrorist organizations internationally. Deters donations or contributions to and economic transactions with named organizations. Heightens public awareness and knowledge of terrorist organizations. Signals to other governments our concern about named organizations.
... According to the FBI. A recently disclosed FBI report from 2004 reveals Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult) continued to plan terrorist acts years after they claimed to renounce terrorism. The State Department has documented the MEK's disturbing record: killing Americans and Iranians in terrorist attacks; fighting for Saddam Hussein against Iran and assisting Saddam's brutal campaign against Iraq's Kurds and Shia; its "cult-like" behavior; the abuses and even torture it commits against its own members; and its support for the U.S. embassy takeover and calls for executing the hostages ...
American-backed Mojahedin Khalq Terrorists In Iran
(aka; MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult)
US State Department tells bold lies regarding the latest assassination in Iran as it harbors MEK terrorists in Iraq
... The M.E.K. has been on the State Department’s terrorist list for more than a decade, yet in recent years the group has received arms and intelligence, directly or indirectly, from the United States. Some of the newly authorized covert funds, the Pentagon consultant told me, may well end up in M.E.K. coffers. “The new task force will work with the M.E.K. The Administration is desperate for results.” He added, “The M.E.K. has no C.P.A. auditing the books, and its leaders are thought to have been lining their pockets for years. If people only knew what the M.E.K. is getting, and how much is going to its bank accounts ...
However, the US State Department complicated what would have otherwise been plausibly denied, by claiming no US involvement "in any kind of act of violence inside Iran." This is a verified lie. The US has indeed conspired to carry out a campaign of covert violence against Iran and is on record already beginning operations against the Islamic Republic even before Obama came into office. These operations have continued up until present day with the US harboring, arming, funding, training, and providing diplomatic support for a US State Dapartment listed "foreign terrorist organization," the Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK).
Image: US State Department lists MEK as a "Foreign Terrorist Organization." This page has since been taken down and replaced with this .pdf list.
Who Is MEK and Why is the US Funding Terror?
The best profile of MEK is given to us by the Fortune 500 funded Brookings Institution in their report, "Which Path to Persia?" In their report, they also openly conspire to use what is an admitted terrorist organization as a "US proxy" (emphasis added):
"Perhaps the most prominent (and certainly the most controversial) opposition group that has attracted attention as a potential U.S. proxy is the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran), the political movement established by the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq). Critics believe the group to be undemocratic and unpopular, and indeed anti-American.
In contrast, the group’s champions contend that the movement’s long-standing opposition to the Iranian regime and record of successful attacks on and intelligence-gathering operations against the regime make it worthy of U.S. support. They also argue that the group is no longer anti-American and question the merit of earlier accusations. Raymond Tanter, one of the group’s supporters in the United States, contends that the MEK and the NCRI are allies for regime change in Tehran and also act as a useful proxy for gathering intelligence. The MEK’s greatest intelligence coup was the provision of intelligence in 2002 that led to the discovery of a secret site in Iran for enriching uranium.
Despite its defenders’ claims, the MEK remains on the U.S. government list of foreign terrorist organizations. In the 1970s, the group killed three U.S. officers and three civilian contractors in Iran. During the 1979-1980 hostage crisis, the group praised the decision to take America hostages and Elaine Sciolino reported that while group leaders publicly condemned the 9/11 attacks, within the group celebrations were widespread.
Undeniably, the group has conducted terrorist attacks—often excused by the MEK’s advocates because they are directed against the Iranian government. For example, in 1981, the group bombed the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party, which was then the clerical leadership’s main political organization, killing an estimated 70 senior officials. More recently, the group has claimed credit for over a dozen mortar attacks, assassinations, and other assaults on Iranian civilian and military targets between 1998 and 2001. At the very least, to work more closely with the group (at least in an overt manner), Washington would need to remove it from the list of foreign terrorist organizations."
It should be noted that both the Brookings Institution and the RAND Corporation note that Iran, even upon possessing nuclear weapons is unlikely to use them or proliferate them to non-state actors. This is based on observations made of Iran's long standing chemical and biological arsenals that have been under strict control for decades.
There is also recognition of the fact, that despite the propaganda found throughout the corporate-media, Iran does indeed value self-preservation and conducts its foreign-policy aggressively but not irrationally. The real danger of Iran's possession of nuclear weapons, as stated by the Brookings Institution (page 24 & 25), is that they may attempt to then subvert American allies and emboldened by the inability for the US to retaliate, allow them to overturn the Middle Eastern status quo, as currently dictated by Wall Street and London. In other words, it is not American or Israeli national security that is at risk, but rather their unchecked and unwarranted hegemony throughout the region.
It then seems that US support for MEK becomes all the more indefensible when one realizes it is for extraterritorial hegemony, not national security that America is sponsoring bonafide terrorists.
"The M.E.K. has been on the State Department’s terrorist list for more than a decade, yet in recent years the group has received arms and intelligence, directly or indirectly, from the United States. Some of the newly authorized covert funds, the Pentagon consultant told me, may well end up in M.E.K. coffers. “The new task force will work with the M.E.K. The Administration is desperate for results.” He added, “The M.E.K. has no C.P.A. auditing the books, and its leaders are thought to have been lining their pockets for years. If people only knew what the M.E.K. is getting, and how much is going to its bank accounts—and yet it is almost useless for the purposes the Administration intends.”
Incredibly, US forces in Iraq had provided MEK's main camp with security, and with the recent "withdrawal" of US troops from Iraq, the US State Department and even the UN have been scrambling to find a new safe haven for the US listed terrorist organization. Even more unimaginable is the fact that many of the foremost fearmongers and proponents of the "War on Terror" are engaged in desperate lobbying efforts to get MEK delisted. In October of 2011, a full page ad was taken out in the Washington Post on MEK's behalf.
Image: Full-page treason - US politicians, many the most prominent proponents of the "War on Terror," appeal to the President of the United States to delist MEK as a terrorist organization. While hand-wringing humanitarian concerns are cited, what the ad fails to mention is that MEK has long been sought after to serve as an armed US-proxy to be turned on Iran and carry out a campaign of terror, as stated clearly in the Brookings Institution "Which Path to Persia?" report. (click image to enlarge)
Among those signing the statement made in the ad were John Bolton, Howard Dean, Rudy Giuliani, Ed Rendell, and Tom Ridge. When reading the statement, it must be kept in mind that the Brookings Institution already confirmed that MEK was a terrorist organization and that it had verifiably killed US military personal and civilians. Also keep in mind that Brookings admitted that MEK's targets in Iran included political and civilian targets. With MEK's specialty being among other things, assassinations, they are also likely suspects behind the recent spat of targeted killings of Iranian scientists.
The US State Department's recent claim that it is not involved "in any kind of act of violence inside Iran," is clearly false. The US is committing acts of violence inside of Iran to the extent of using not only special forces as noted by Hersh's 2008 article, but also by using terrorists with a long history of attacking political and civilian targets in Iran.
... Mr. Dean’s speech stunned me. But then came Rudolph W. Giuliani saying virtually the same thing. At a conference in Paris last December, an emotional Mr. Giuliani told Ms. Rajavi, “These are the most important yearnings of the human soul that you support, and for your organization to be described as a terrorist organization is just simply a disgrace.” I thought I was watching The Onion News Network. Did Mr. Giuliani know whom he was talking about? Evidently not. In fact, an unlikely chorus of the group’s backers — some of whom have received speaking fees, others of whom are inspired by their conviction that ...
A version of this op-ed appeared in print on August 14, 2011, on page SR5 of the New York edition with the headline: An Iranian Cult and Its American Friends, Elizabeth Rubin is a contributor to The New York Times Magazine, where her article "The Cult of Rajavi" appeared in July 2003.
A FEW weeks ago I received an e-mail from an acquaintance with the subject line: Have you seen the video everyone is talking about?
I clicked play, and there was Howard Dean, on March 19 in Berlin, at his most impassioned, extolling the virtues of a woman named Maryam Rajavi and insisting that America should recognize her as the president of Iran.
Ms. Rajavi and her husband, Massoud, are the leaders of a militant Iranian opposition group called the Mujahedeen Khalq, or Warriors of God. The group’s forces have been based for the last 25 years in Iraq, where I visited them shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein in April 2003.
Mr. Dean’s speech stunned me. But then came Rudolph W. Giuliani saying virtually the same thing. At a conference in Paris last December, an emotional Mr. Giuliani told Ms. Rajavi, “These are the most important yearnings of the human soul that you support, and for your organization to be described as a terrorist organization is just simply a disgrace.” I thought I was watching The Onion News Network. Did Mr. Giuliani know whom he was talking about?
Evidently not. In fact, an unlikely chorus of the group’s backers — some of whom have received speaking fees, others of whom are inspired by their conviction that the Iranian government must fall at any cost — have gathered around Mujahedeen Khalq at conferences in capitals across the globe.
This group of luminaries includes two former chairmen of the joint chiefs of staff, Gens. Hugh H. Shelton and Peter Pace; Wesley K. Clark, the former NATO commander; Gen. James L. Jones, who was President Obama’s national security adviser; Louis J. Freeh, the former F.B.I. director; the former intelligence officials Dennis C. Blair and Michael V. Hayden; the former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson; the former attorney general Michael B. Mukasey, and Lee H. Hamilton, a former congressman who was co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission.
Indeed, the Rajavis and Mujahedeen Khalq are spending millions in an attempt to persuade the Obama administration, and in particular Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, to take them off the national list of terrorist groups, where the group was listed in 1997. Delisting the group would enable it to lobby Congress for support in the same way that the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 allowed the Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi to do.
Mrs. Clinton should ignore their P.R. campaign. Mujahedeen Khalq is not only irrelevant to the cause of Iran’s democratic activists, but a totalitarian cult that will come back to haunt us.
When I arrived at Camp Ashraf, the base of the group’s operations, in April 2003, I thought I’d entered a fictional world of female worker bees. Everywhere I saw women dressed exactly alike, in khaki uniforms and mud-colored head scarves, driving back and forth in white pickup trucks, staring ahead in a daze as if they were working at a factory in Maoist China. I met dozens of young women buried in the mouths of tanks, busily tinkering with the engines. One by one, the girls bounded up to me and my two minders to recite their transformations from human beings to acolytes of Ms. Rajavi. One said she had been suicidal in Iran until she found Ms. Rajavi on the Internet.
At Camp Ashraf, 40 miles north of Baghdad, near the Iranian border, 3,400 members of the militant group reside in total isolation on a 14-square-mile tract of harsh desert land. Access to the Internet, phones and information about the outside world is prohibited. Posters of Ms. Rajavi and her smiling green eyes abound. Meanwhile, she lives in luxury in France; her husband has remained in hiding since the United States occupied Iraq in 2003.
During the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the group served as Mr. Hussein’s own private militia opposing the theocratic government in Tehran. For two decades, he gave the group money, weapons, jeeps and military bases along the border with Iran. In return, the Rajavis pledged their fealty.
In 1991, when Mr. Hussein crushed a Shiite uprising in the south and attempted to carry out a genocide against the Kurds in the north, the Rajavis and their army joined his forces in mowing down fleeing Kurds.
Ms. Rajavi told her disciples, “Take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.” Many followers escaped in disgust.
So the Rajavis then began preying on Iranian refugees and asylum seekers in Europe to fill their ranks. The Rajavis promise them salaries, marriage, family, freedom and a great cause — fighting the Iranian government. Then the unwitting youths arrive in Iraq.
What is most disturbing is how the group treats its members. After the Iran-Iraq war, Mr. Rajavi orchestrated an ill-planned offensive, deploying thousands of young men and women into Iran on a mass martyrdom operation. Instead of capturing Iran, as they believed they would, thousands of them were slaughtered, including parents, husbands and wives of those I met in Iraq in 2003.
After my visit, I met and spoke to men and women who had escaped from the group’s clutches. Many had to be deprogrammed. They recounted how people were locked up if they disagreed with the leadership or tried to escape; some were even killed.
Friendships and all emotional relationships are forbidden. From the time they are toddlers, boys and girls are not allowed to speak to each other. Each day at Camp Ashraf you had to report your dreams and thoughts.
If a man was turned on by the scent of a woman or a whiff of perfume, he had to confess. Members had to attend weekly ideological cleansings in which they publicly confessed their sexual desires. Members were even forced to divorce and take a vow of lifelong celibacy to ensure that all their energy and love would be directed toward Maryam and Massoud.
Mr. Hamilton and Generals Jones and Clark have been paid speakers’ fees by front groups for Mujahedeen Khalq and have spoken in support of the group in public conferences. They claimed ignorance of how the group treated its members.
“I don’t know a lot about the group,” Mr. Hamilton told me over the phone last week. But in 1994, when he was chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Hamilton received a report describing the group as a violent cult with a distinct ideology synthesizing Marxism and messianic Shiism.
At a February conference in Paris, Mr. Dean praised the group’s extraordinary “bill of rights.” And General Jones said to Ms. Rajavi: “It is time for those of us from the United States who have come to know and admire you and your colleagues and your goals to do what is required to recognize the legitimacy of your movement and your ideals.” When I asked General Jones last week if he knew that some considered the group a totalitarian cult, he replied, “This is the first time I’ve heard anything about this.”
He said he’d checked with military and F.B.I. officials. “I wanted to make sure we weren’t supporting a group that was doing nefarious things that I don’t know about,” he said. “Nobody brought it up, so I didn’t know what questions to ask.”
IN fact, a 2004 F.B.I. report on the group detailed a joint investigation by the American and German police, which revealed that the group’s cell in Cologne, Germany, had used money from a complex fraud scheme to buy military equipment. The group used children with multiple identities to claim multiple benefit checks from the German government. Evidence also showed that the group had obtained money in Los Angeles to purchase GPS units to increase the accuracy of planned mortar attacks on Tehran.
It is possible that such plots do not bother General Jones and other supporters of the group. But Iraq will no longer tolerate its presence. Its government wants the Mujahedeen Khalq out of the country by the end of the year. In April, Iraqi forces attacked Camp Ashraf. General Jones and other supporters of the group were outraged.
They are right that we should have compassion for those trapped inside the camp. A 2009 RAND Corporation study found that at least 70 percent of the group’s members there were being held against their will. If the group’s American cheerleaders cared for those at the camp half as much as they did for the Rajavis, they would be insisting on private Red Cross visits with each man and woman at Camp Ashraf.
American officials who support the group like to quote the saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” By this logic, the group’s opposition to the Tehran theocracy justifies American backing. But there is another saying to consider: “The means are the ends.”
By using the Mujahedeen Khalq to provoke Tehran, we will end up damaging our integrity and reputation, and weaken the legitimate democracy movement within Iran.
As a senior State Department official told me, “They are the best financed and organized, but they are so despised inside Iran that they have no traction.” Iranian democracy activists say the group, if it had had the chance, could have become the Khmer Rouge of Iran.
“They are considered traitors and killers of Iranian kids,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Mujahedeen Khalq’s status on the terrorist list is under review. “They are so unpopular that we think any gesture of support to them would disqualify and discredit us as being interested in democratic reform.”
If the group is taken off the terrorist list, it will be able to freely lobby the American government under the guise of an Iranian democracy movement.
Recent history has shown that the United States often ends up misguidedly supporting not only the wrong exile groups in the Middle East, but the least relevant ones. We cannot afford to be so naïve or misguided again.