Iranian Regime Uses U.S. Media to Attack PMOI Opposition
by Professor Rabbi Daniel M. Zucker
American Chronicle, International Analyst Network, July 15, 2009
In what is becoming a regular routine, the beleaguered Iranian regime of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is using U.S. media to attack its arch-enemy, the popular People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI, aka Mojahedin-e Khalq, MEK). Last month it was Jacob Laksin of Front Page Magazine. who wrote the poorly researched "Terrorists as Freedom Fighters"; this month it's Antiwar.com's Charles Davis whose "US Lawmakers Call For Supporting Terrorists In Iran" shows even less research, and could have been written by a freshman writer in the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security's "Disinformation Department". Mr. Davis: you have been fed a boat load of the regime's disinformation, and like Jacob Laksin, you swallowed it whole. Next time, do your homework and research your sources; it will prevent the egg-on-the-face syndrome that you now suffer.
There is an element of extreme irony in Charles Davis' article being published in Antiwar.com: the PMOI renounced violence in 2001; it signed a disarmament agreement in May 2003 and disarmed. The Iranian regime, on the other hand, has demonstrated very clearly its propensity to violence during this last month of popular demonstrations against the rigged "election" of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who continues to threaten Israel with destruction on a weekly basis.
Let's take a look at Davis' allegations against the PMOI/MEK in which he charges the organization as being "terrorists". Like Jacob Laksin, Charles Davis cites an old State Department report that accuses the PMOI of terrorist actions against Americans in Iran in the 1970's and advocating the violent overthrow of the current Iranian regime. Had he done his homework, Davis would know of the 2001 PMOI decision to renounce violence, and he would have seen the extensive research carried out by the Iran Policy Committee as well as DLA Piper and Global Options, and the various articles by Ali Safavi, Clare Lopez, and myself—all indicating the innocence of the PMOI/MEK and clarifying the identity of the actual guilty party: Peykar, a breakaway Marxist faction that ended its existence in a violent shoot-out with the shah's police in 1976.
Suggesting that the PMOI "maintains the capacity and will to commit terrorist acts in Europe, the Middle East, the United States, Canada and beyond" is stretching it just a little bit too far. All of the 3800 PMOI personnel were investigated by five federal agencies in a sixteen-month investigation that included DNA testing, and all were found innocent of any links to terrorist activity. So too, the UK and EU high courts, after extensive review of all the evidence, including classified materials, both required their respective governments to remove the terrorist label from the PMOI/MEK. Only from the perspective of the Tehran regime can the PMOI be called "terrorists".
Davis repeats the Tehran regime's slanderous label that the PMOI/MEK is "cult-like"—a loaded term for Americans ever since the tragic Jonestown incident—and its use here is disingenuous, yellow journalism. Would he apply the same term to the Catholic Church, Twelver Shiite Islam, or one of the branches of modern Judaism? If not, he should refrain from applying it to the PMOI/MEK as the facts don't support such terminology. PMOI senior theoretician and leader Massoud Rajavi's call earlier this week for Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri of Qom (who just issued a fatwa declaring the government of Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be illegitimate) to assume the position of faqih (supreme leader) along with an immediate disbanding of the theo-oligarchic Assembly of Experts as an interim solution and quick way to end the crisis and extensive bloodshed in Iran hardly sounds like the ravings of a cult leader. Rather it demonstrates Rajavi's and the PMOI's abiding concern for the physical welfare of the Iranian people, putting that ahead of their own long-held political hopes of establishing a democratic, secular government for Iran.
Davis' next allegation is that the PMOI was supported by "Saddam Hussein's regime to launch 'suicidal mass wave attacks against Iranian forces'." The PMOI indeed did receive Hussein's support in the form of asylum from the mullah regime of Tehran after French Premier Jacques Chirac had cut a deal with Tehran to eject the PMOI leadership from France. However, the only mass wave suicidal attacks during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War were by the Iranian Bassij brigades that attacked the Iraqi army. The Bassij were armed only with plastic "keys to Heaven", and included children as young as twelve, who were employed in human wave tactics, resulting in huge Iranian casualties. It would behoove Davis to study a little bit of Iranian history, at least of the last 30 years, before venturing to write about Iranians.
Davis follows the regime line that the PMOI undermined its credibility with the Iranian masses by fighting against the regime in the Iran-Iraq War. However, he fails to explain how the PMOI has so many supporters inside Iran that it can continually supply the West with revelations about Iran's secret nuclear and missile programs, as well as extensive lists of Iranian agents in Iraq. And why is the regime so paranoid about the PMOI if the PMOI is really so unpopular? Could it be that in reality it's the regime that is unpopular? Current events would seem to indicate such.
Davis' final allegation is that Human Rights Watch accuses the PMOI of serious human rights abuses, including torture, in secret prison camps. Let´s look at the accusations leveled by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in May 2005 against the MEK for the violation of the human rights of its members. The report, entitled "No Exit: Human Rights Abuses Inside the Mojahedin Khalq Camps", was produced for Joe Stork´s HRW Middle East Advisory Committee, chaired by Dr. Gary Sick, long associated with the most active proponents of dialogue with the Islamic Republic of Iran and a long-time apologist for its regime. The HRW report was issued after the group recorded twelve hours of telephone interviews with alleged victims of PMOI/MEK torture. However, it should be noted that all the alleged victims have been identified as agents of VEVAK, and several of the "victims" have been documented as being elsewhere at the time they claim to have been incarcerated by the PMOI/MEK. Among other proof of the salacious nature of the HRW report is the testimony of US Army officers in charge of Camp Ashraf—the PMOI/MEK base in Iraq—who totally contradict the HRW report. Similar salacious reports were issued by HRW in 1992 and 1997, the 1997 report being tossed out by the UN special rapporteur for Iraq as "fictional". The 1992 report was answered by MEK leader Massoud Rajavi who invited Joe Stork and HRW to any of the MEK camps to investigate "on site" for themselves; HRW never responded to Mr. Rajavi's invitation. Again, if Mr. Davis had done his homework, he wouldn't have engaged in such yellow journalism.
Now, let´s get back to the PMOI. The UK and EU high courts have spoken and soon enough the PMOI´s case will go to trial before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, DC. In all likelihood, by this time next year the PMOI will no longer be on the State Department´s Foreign Terrorist Organizations list. Does this mean that the PMOI will then be the perfect government for a post-mullah Iran? Probably not, because no government is capable of perfection; it´s made up of humans who are fallible. But whether or not the PMOI and NCRI should govern Iran is not for us to decide—that´s a question that only the Iranian people have a right to, and should, decide in an open, fair, democratic election. Congressmen Filner and Rohrabacher are correct; it's time for the U.S. Department of State to get out of the way and let the Iranian people decide for themselves. Removing the PMOI/MEK from the terrorist list without a trial would be a very nice way to tell the people of Iran that we trust them to do the right thing and kick the mullahs and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps out. As much as we want to see Khamenei and Ahmadinejad go, the people of Iran want it about 65 million times more. Secretary Clinton: stop listening to the mullah regime's agents and take the PMOI/MEK off of the list. At least 65 million Iranians will thank you, and so too, soon enough, will the rest of the civilized world.
Professor Rabbi Daniel M. Zucker is founder and Chairman of the Board of Americans for Democracy in the Middle-East, a grassroots organization dedicated to teaching our elected officials and the public of the dangers posed by Islamic fundamentalism and the need to establish genuine democratic institutions in the Middle-East as an antidote to the venom of fundamentalism. He may be contacted at contact@ADME.ws.
1. Jacob Laksin, "Terrorists as Freedom Fighters", Front Page Magazine, June 25, 2009, http://www.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=35332 .
2. Charles Davis, "US Lawmakers Call For Supporting Terrorists In Iran", Antiwar.com, July 2, 2009, http://original.antiwar.com/charles-davis/2009/07/02/us-lawmakers-call-for-supporting-terrorists-in-iran/ .
3. The Ministry of Information and Security (M.O.I.S.; in Farsi: VEVAK) was formed in 1984 as a successor to the infamous SAVAK of the shah. It is modeled on the old Soviet KGB and a large part of its assignment includes the dissemination of disinformation about the regime's enemies, For more information, see: Professor Daniel M. Zucker, "Iran's VEVAK: Disinformation, Inc.", Global Politician, September 17, 2006, http://www.globalpolitician.com/22165-iran , "Iran's Foreign Agents of Disinformation: More About VEVAK", Global Politician, November 17, 2006, http://www.globalpolitician.com/22300-iran , and "Disinformation Campaign in Overdrive: Iran's VEVAK in High Gear", Global Politician, September 3, 2007, http://www.globalpolitician.com/23386-vevak-iran , as well as the web-site www.iranterror.com. (NOTE: The above web-sites are no longer functional; instead see: http://middle-eastanalysis-commentary.blogspot.com/2016/08/research-irans-vevak-disinformation-inc.html, August 19, 2016 and http://middle-eastanalysis-commentary.blogspot.com/2016/08/disinformation-campaign-in-overdrive.html, August 18, 2016.)
4. See: Iran Policy Committee (Clare Lopez, et. al.), “Appeasing the Ayatollahs and Suppressing Democracy— U.S. Policy and the Iranian Opposition: A White Paper”, Iran Policy Committee, Washington, DC, 2006.
5. DLA Piper, “Iran: Foreign Policy Challenges and Choices: Empowering the Democratic Opposition”, DLA Piper US LLP, 2006, and Global Options, Inc., “Independent Assessment of the Mujahedin-e Khalq and National Council of Resistance of Iran”, DLA Piper US LLP, 2006 (published together).
6. Ali Safavi, "Missing the Mark on Iran ", Front Page Magazine, January 27, 2006, http://www.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=5765 .
7. Clare Lopez, "True Monsters of Iran: Terrorist Theocrats, Not the Mujahedeen-e Khalq," Global Politician, January 31, 2006 , http://www.globalpolitician.com/21581-iran .
8. Professor Daniel M. Zucker, "Hitting the Mark on the Wrong Iranian Target Doesn´t Help the Cause", Global Politician, February 22, 2006 , http://www.globalpolitician.com/21625-iran , "When Suggesting Policy on Iran, Review Your Sources Carefully", Global Politician, February 28, 2006, http://www.globalpolitician.com/21636-iran , "Setting the Record Straight About the Mojahedin-e Khalq of Iran", Global Politician, August 7, 2006, http://www.globalpolitician.com/22024-iran , "Timmerman´s Tendentious Tirade Against Iranian Opposition", Global Politician, July 26, 2007, http://www.globalpolitician.com/23160-iran , and "Tehran Tries to Throttle MEK Opposition Through Iraqi Allies", Global Politician, July 7, 2007, http://globalpolitician.com/25009-mek-pmoi-iran , and "The Case for the PMOI/MEK: Debunking the Yellow Journalism of Jacob Laksin", International Analyst Network, July 3, 2009, http://www.analyst-network.com/article.php?art_id=3017 . (NOTE: The web-sites cited above are no longer functional; however, these articles can be accessed at: www.ADME.ws/press.)
9. Global Options, Inc., “Independent Assessment of the Mujahedin-e Khalq and National Council of Resistance of Iran”, DLA Piper US LLP, 2006, published in DLA Piper, “Iran: Foreign Policy Challenges and Choices: Empowering the Democratic Opposition”, DLA Piper US LLP, 2006.
10. OPSI , “Statutory Instruments 2008 No. 1645, Prevention And Suppression Of Terrorism”, The Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organizations) (Amendment) Order 2008, No. 1645, http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2008/uksi_20081645_en_1 .
11. Stephan Jones, "People´s Mujahiddin of Iran (PMOI) or Mujahiddin e Khalq (MEK): An update", Library-House of Commons, March 23, 2009, http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/briefings/snia-05020.pdf , and Agence France Presse (AFP), "EU strikes Iranian opposition group from terror list", France 24, January 26, 2009, http://www.france24.com/en/20090126-eu-strikes-iranian-opposition-group-terror-list-0 .
12. NCRI, "Mr. Massoud Rajavi's message to the Chair and members of the Iranian regime's Assembly of Experts", NCRI-FAC, July 13, 2009, http://ncr-iran.org/content/view/6752/1/ .
13. Robert F. Worth, "Senior cleric says leaders of Iran are unfit to rule", The New York Times, July 11, 2009, http://www.iranfocus.com/en/iran-general-/senior-cleric-says-leaders-of-iran-are-unfit-to-rule-18313.html .
14. Michael Axworthy, A History of Iran: Empire of the Mind, Basic Books, New York, 2008, p. 268.
15. Human Rights Watch, No Exit: Human Rights Abuses Inside the Mojahedin Khalq Camps, 18 May 2005, http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,HRW,COUNTRYREP,IRN,,45d085002,0.html .
16. Professor Daniel M. Zucker, " Iran 's Foreign Agents of Disinformation: More About VEVAK", Global Politician, November 17, 2006 , http://www.globalpolitician.com/22300-iran. ( See NOTE in Note 3, above.)
17. See the letter of Colonel David Phillips "Griffin-6" to Mr. Kenneth Roth of HRW, dated May 27, 2005, cited as Appendix D in DLA Piper, “Iran: Foreign Policy Challenges and Choices: Empowering the Democratic Opposition”, DLA Piper US LLP, 2006, pp.106-107. See also the testimonies of Lt. Colonel Thomas Cantwell and Captain Vivian Gembara, recorded in Appendix E of IPC, "White Paper: U.S. Policy Options for Iran and Iranian Political Opposition", Iran Policy Committee, September 13, 2005, Washington, DC.