ADAM SCHRECK Associated Press, Bagdad, September 11 2013: … Ali al-Moussawi, the spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said he had no information about any missing residents. He denied there are any plans by Iraq to forcibly send former Camp Ashraf residents to Iran, and he pressed for help in resettling them safely abroad. “These new allegations are baseless. The Iraqi …
Iranian Exiles Say 7 Members Held by Baghdad
An Iranian dissident group whose camp in Iraq was the scene of a disputed outbreak of violence last week claimed Tuesday that Iraqi authorities plan to hand over seven allegedly detained members to Iran. Baghdad denies having any such plans.
The latest dispute comes as Iraqi officials prepare to relocate the remaining residents of Camp Ashraf, about 95 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of the Iraqi capital. The compound has long been a source of irritation to the Iraqi authorities, who want it closed and its current and former residents moved out of the country altogether.
A total of 52 members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq were killed in a shooting at the Saddam Hussein-era compound on Sept. 1. The group, which opposes Iran’s clerical regime and was labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. until last year, blamed Iraqi security forces for the killings. Iraqi officials have said an internal dispute erupted inside the camp.
A team from the United Nations mission to Iraq visited the camp after the killings and confirmed the number of fatalities, but it has not released further findings into what happened or ascribed blame for the deaths.
About 100 MEK members had been living at the camp before the killings. The U.N. refugee agency says 42 remain.
A spokesman for the MEK’s parent organization, the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, alleged that the seven people he said were “taken hostage” at the time of the killings are being held by Iraqi forces near Baghdad airport and will be transferred to Iran in the coming days. MEK members fear they will be persecuted if returned to the Islamic Republic.
“The government of Iraq has made no announcement about arresting these individuals and wants to return them to Iran surreptitiously at the first convenient opportunity without making any noise and raising attention,” Shahin Gobadi charged.
He said he knew this via sources within Iran’s “clerical regime,” but he did not identify them, expressing concerns about security. He said he did not know why those seven were abducted while dozens were killed and others survived.
Ali al-Moussawi, the spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said he had no information about any missing residents. He denied there are any plans by Iraq to forcibly send former Camp Ashraf residents to Iran, and he pressed for help in resettling them safely abroad.
“These new allegations are baseless. The Iraqi government calls on all countries to accept them,” he said.
Maj. Gen. Jamil al-Shimmari, the police chief of Diyala province, where the camp is located, said no Ashraf residents have been transferred out since the shooting.
The U.N. on Saturday said Iraqi authorities plan to relocate the surviving Camp Ashraf residents to a former U.S. military base near Baghdad airport where more than 2,800 former camp residents are staying. That facility, known as Camp Liberty, is meant to be a temporary way station while the U.N. works to resettle the exiles abroad.
The move would likely mark the end of the MEK’s presence at Camp Ashraf, which the group has been extremely reluctant to leave.
The MEK carried out a series of bombings and assassinations inside Iran in the 1980s and fought alongside Iraqi forces in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. Saddam granted several thousands of its members sanctuary inside Iraq, and they turned Camp Ashraf into a self-contained, isolated community.
The MEK’s continued presence inside Iraq long has irritated Iraq’s postwar leadership, which has worked to bolster ties with neighboring Shiite powerhouse Iran. The government is highly suspicious of those linked to the former regime.
The group says it renounced violence in 2001. Camp Ashraf residents were disarmed by U.S. troops after the invasion.
Efforts to relocate the exiles abroad have moved slowly. The U.N. has struggled to find countries to accept them, and officials have cited a lack of cooperation by some of the exiles. They do not want to return to Iran because they fear persecution there.
A total of 198 former residents of the two camps have been resettled abroad so far, most to Albania.
Associated Press writer Qassim Abdul-Zahra contributed to this report.
Were the Camp Ashraf victims bait for a more sinister goal?
Massoud Khodabandeh, Iranian.com, September 05 2013: … This also begs the obvious question, ‘why would the Iraqi forces brutally murder half the residents then leave the remainder free to film the victims, send the films to the MEK HQ and allow these pictures to be distributed to the world?’ What possible motivation would they have?No, the mystery surrounding these killings …
Were the Camp Ashraf victims bait for a more sinister goal?
It appears there are two ways to respond to the September 1st attack at Camp Ashraf. One is the normal approach taken by the United Nations and Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, the governments of America and Europe, the European Union, and Amnesty International ; condemnation of the killings, condolences for the victims’ families and demands that the government of Iraq conduct an investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki set up an inquiry into the deaths, and on Monday 2nd a UN team visited the camp to try to establish what happened.
Then there is the approach of the Mojahedin Khalq (aka MKO, MEK, NCRI), sympathetic media and lobbyists; immediately blame your enemies (in this case the host country) and build a strong verbal and pictorial narrative to support that assertion. Less than a few hours after the event strident press releases and graphic photographs of handcuffed, executed bodies were being sent to media and political circles claiming that the government of Iraq had massacred the camp residents. Iraq’s security forces denied having entered the camp.
But, after a day or two of drip-feeding such images it began to resemble a Hollywood film; initial shocking pictures of the dead, then a back-flash to the moment the ill-equipped but masked attackers covertly crept up on the camp. (Carefully filmed by the victims themselves; if you saw this would you not run away or at least grab a gun rather than a camera!) This also begs the obvious question, ‘why would the Iraqi forces brutally murder half the residents then leave the remainder free to film the victims, send the films to the MEK HQ and allow these pictures to be distributed to the world?’ What possible motivation would they have?
No, the mystery surrounding these killings can begin to be unlocked by looking at some facts behind the MEK’s propaganda campaign, and by examining Massoud Rajavi’s disgusting, inhuman and sickening behaviour. Firstly Rajavi reneged on his agreement with the UN and insisted on retaining 100 people in Camp Ashraf while the remainder were transferred to temporary transit camp Liberty. This meant hundreds of Iraqi security forces were unnecessarily tied up in ‘protecting’ people illegally squatting the land and who are regarded in Iraq as terrorists, while Iraq’s civilian population are under constant threat of bombing and shooting in the rest of the country. While there they refused to allow anyone to enter the camp, declaring it an extra-judicial enclave to which not even the UN was granted access. And they endlessly whinged about the poor conditions while demanding that they stay put. They also refused to deal with the so-called possessions which they had supposedly remained there to sell. Certainly if the MEK were in any way immersed in normal society, even if the families of residents had been allowed to remain outside the camp to make contact with their loved ones, this kind of covert attack would not have been possible.
So, why were they really there and who was behind this attack? Although Iranian rightwingers and Revolutionary Guards hailed it as a victory for the Iraqi people, whoever was behind this tragedy was certainly an enemy of the government of Iraq.
There has been speculation that the MEK left behind in Camp Ashraf were there to protect Rajavi who was hiding in the camp, although it is also highly doubtful that he would risk remaining in the camp after he saw what happened to his benefactor Saddam Hussein. Since the MEK released the names of the recent victims it has emerged that nearly all of the 100 people who remained at Camp Ashraf had been indicted for various terrorist crimes. Most of those killed were old and disaffected members but were unable to leave the MEK as they were marked for arrest by law enforcement agencies. They were, in effect, Rajavi’s hostages to do with what he wanted. Interestingly, the people who are missing are all members of Rajavi’s personal security team, including the head of his security team Mahboubeh Jamshidi. How did it happen that they were not among those killed and where are they now? More to the point, where is Massoud Rajavi?
In August this year Rajavi surprised everyone when he announced that he had washed his hands of the MEK members who for thirty years have devoted their lives to him. He told them, “I am only in charge of your Day of Judgment and no one knows the date of the collapse of the regime”.
But if Rajavi wants to reduce or discontinue the MEK’s activities, give up his political ambition for regime change, then retire and attend to his personal life, he will have two essential needs. One is that he must somehow convince the United States to provide a safe retirement residence somewhere in Europe or the Middle East, and the second need is to get rid of the 3000+ people in Iraq. In this respect Rajavi could cut a deal to offer these 3000 people as mercenary forces to push the western agenda in Iraq and Syria; for example chemicals, bombing, poison or similar activities. His best case scenario would be that they die in situ through mortar attack or similar so that he could blame the Iraqi government for killing them. The Iraqi government would probably then be forced to offer some kind of compensation to the Americans and in return the Americans could be persuaded to give him, Rajavi, a place in Europe where he can be kept pickled for a day when he may be useful again.
Although it may seem far fetched to imagine the MEK itself or some collaborative group arranged to kill these individuals and leave some alive to film the events, Rajavi’s own track record for exploiting the blood of his followers, whether in war, assassinations, self-immolations, suicide missions, etc, sadly speaks for itself. Did Rajavi offer up the unwanted residents of Camp Ashraf as irresistible bait?
Massoud Khodabandeh, Middle East Strategy Consultants, June 22 2013: … And Rajavi is ready. Or is he? There is a lot happening behind the scenes that belies the group’s boasts and declarations. Behind the scenes at the lobbying office the disintegration of the MEK is gaining momentum and is likely to implode the group in […]
Post Delisting, What Are the Mojahedin-e Khalq Up to Now? – Massoud Khodabandeh, Huffington Post (Blog), November 09, 2012
… Rajavi’s veteran translator Ghorban Ali Hossein Nejad escaped Camp Liberty two months ago. He is now in Baghdad and has exposed the relationship between Rajavi and the Saddam regime. He is also helping UN, EU, U.S. and Iraqi officials by exposing the lies which the MEK are telling them. He has two daughters, […]
New Book – The Life of Camp Ashraf – Mojahedin-e Khalq, Victims of Many Masters, By Anne Singleton and Massoud Khodabandeh
First published September 2011 by IRAN-INTERLINK: The fascinating story of the controversial life of Camp Ashraf in Iraq from its foundation in 1986 to the present day is told in this book. Originally created to accommodate the Iranian opposition group Mojahedin-e Khalq (aka MEK, MKO, PMOI, Rajavi cult) and its leader Massoud Rajavi […]