Iran Policy Committee: Removal of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) from U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organizations List

Press Release
For Immediate Release
25 September 2012

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Washington DC—On 21 September 2012, U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, informed the Congress of her intent to remove an Iranian dissident group, the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), from the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list. Upon publication in the Federal Register in about 7 days from her announcement, the delisting becomes official and all the consequences of sanctions embodied in the designation will also be lifted by different U.S. Government agencies.

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Environment in the Reagan and Bush administrations and member of the Advisory Board of the Iran Policy Committee, William A. Nitze stated,

“I concur with Secretary Clinton’s announcement to delist the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) as a long-overdue recognition that as the largest dissident organization in the Iranian parliament in exile—the National Council of Resistance of Iran—the MEK did not meet the statutory criteria necessary for terror tagging under U.S. law.

“The MEK only carried the terrorist label due to persistent lobbying by the Iranian regime and miscalculation by successive American presidents that concessions would appease Tehran’s clerical rulers and diminish state-sponsored proxy violence.”

Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney, (Ret), former Assistant Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force stated,

“Now that the terrorist tag has been removed from the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) by Secretary Clinton, collection of dissident information as lead intelligence can accelerate and complement that of western intelligence services to bolster sanctions against Iran. Origins of international sanctions against Tehran came from blockbuster intelligence revelations of the MEK and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the parliament in exile of the Iranian resistance.”

Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, (Ret), former Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army, Pacific joined General McInerney in welcoming the announcement by Secretary Clinton and stated,

“As the guns of war with Iran are becoming louder for a post-American 2012 presidential elections conflict scenario, research of the Iran Policy Committee (IPC) suggests how important it is for the Washington to refrain from hamstringing the MEK with a terrorist designation. By delisting the organization, it can increase its role in facilitating political change in Iran.

“Delisting the MEK should jumpstart intelligence revelations at a critical time when such information can be useful in demonstrating Tehran’s propensity to cheat on its obligations to the United Nations and potential targeting of Iranian nuclear sites, if military force has to be used as an option of last resort.”

Captain Charles “Chuck” Nash, U.S. Navy (Ret) welcomed the Clinton announcement to remove the terrorist label on the MEK. Nash stated,

“Like other former military officers, I am very concerned about the exposure of unarmed civilian members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) who suffer at the mercy of their jailers in Baghdad. Because of the pushback by Tehran against the removal of the MEK terrorist designation, its members in Iraq will be subject to recrimination. The Iranian press abounds with statements against delisting, perhaps prelude for Tehran to order Baghdad to launch a third assault on the MEK members like those in 2009 and 2011.”

Founder and President of Global Initiative for Democracy (GID) and former Freedom House Executive Director, Bruce McColm, said,

“With the delisting of MEK, which was the most distinct yardstick for the policy of appeasing Iran, the focus must now shift to assisting the Iranian people as they endeavor to bring down their oppressive rulers. The MEK can certainly play the role of the catalyst in utilizing its enormous political and organizational wherewithal to this end.”

Professor Raymond Tanter, President of the IPC and former member of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration said,

“It is encouraging that commitments made by the United State were reiterated on 29 August 2012, when Victoria Nuland, State Department Spokesperson, said the Department urges the Government of Iraq to continue steps to address humanitarian concerns raised at Camp Liberty by its residents [now some 3,000 members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq).”

Specifically, Nuland said,

“The United States…reiterates its commitment to work towards resolution of humanitarian issues at … [Liberty], including sustainable means for the continued supply of water and electricity. The United States also reiterates its commitment to support the safety and security of the residents throughout the process of their relocation outside of Iraq.”

“The United States will have to monitor implementation of such commitments,” stated Tanter.

Dr. Daniel Pipes, President of the Middle East Forum, has published over a dozen articles and given several interviews in multiple languages about the MEK, including on Iranian expatriate communities whose annual rallies in Paris are events attended by tens of thousands of supporters of the MEK. Concerning the announcement by Secretary Clinton to remove the MEK designation, Dr. Pipes stated, “A special vote of thanks to all those analysts, led by the indefatigable Raymond Tanter, who established that the MeK is not terrorist and that relations with it serve the national interests of the United States.”

Iran Policy Committee: Violations of Human Rights of Iranian Dissidents in Iraq and the Unwarranted Terrorist Designation of Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK)

Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Department of State, Ambassador Daniel Benjamin

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WASHINGTON, July 17, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — On 17 July 2012, the Iran Policy Committee (IPC) issued a press release. A State Department teleconference on 6 July 2012 prompted the release. Briefing the media were Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Ambassador Daniel Benjamin as well as Special Advisor to the Secretary on Camp Ashraf, Ambassador Daniel Fried. They briefed on the situation at Camp Ashraf, Iraq and the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) designation. Developments over the past few days also stimulated the release.

Regarding human rights, Ambassador Benjamin stated, “The Iraqi Government and the United Nations continue to encourage the secure, humane relocation of residents to Hurriya [Liberty] for refugee status determinations by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.” Benjamin added that because no other convoys of the residents of Camp Ashraf have relocated to Liberty since early May, “…the patience of the Iraqi Government is wearing thin.”

Special Advisor to the Secretary of State on Camp Ashraf, Ambassador Daniel Fried

Three former U.S. military officers of the IPC issued a joint statement taking issue with Ambassador Benjamin’s assertions about Baghdad and the UN encouraging secure and humane relocation: Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney (Ret), former assistant vice chief of staff, U.S. Air Force; Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, (U.S. Army (Ret), former Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army, Pacific; and Captain Charles “Chuck” Nash, U.S. Navy (Ret).

McInerney, Vallely, and Nash stated, “As former members of the U.S. military, we are concerned that Ambassador Benjamin’s statement will be read as a signal by Baghdad to launch a third attack against Iranian dissidents in Ashraf. Based on IPC research, we believe the Government of Iraq is engaged in serious violations of the human rights of Iranian dissidents in Ashraf and Liberty, Iraq. With the acquiescence of U.S. diplomats, dissidents’ rights as asylum seekers in their quest for refugee status are being violated on a systematic basis by Baghdad.”

Founder and President, Global Initiative for Democracy and former Freedom House Executive Director, Bruce McColm joined Professor Raymond Tanter, President of the IPC and former member of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration to comment on the situation of the dissidents in Ashraf and Liberty.

Ambassador Fried described the relocation of the residents of Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty as “successful,” because during the transfer there were no “roadside bombs or attacks.” Ambassador Fried added, “I’m more impressed by the progress that has been made than concerned by the problems that remain. This is Iraq…we’re doing all right so far.”

Tanter said, “Such a statement by Fried is in stark contrast to remarks of 71 Members of the Iraqi parliament, who find, ‘Conditions at Liberty are far from humane and have every character of a forced relocation.'”

Tanter  stated, “On 30 June 2012, the Deputy Prime Minister and General Secretary of the Iraqi National Movement informed the UN Secretary General that Camp Liberty was a ‘prison’ for the residents because they are collectively punished with their deprivation from basic humanitarian needs at the behest of the Iranian regime.”

On the basis of IPC research, McColm pointed out examples of necessary equipment to ensure basic human rights, especially for the disabled and to solve the water shortage in Liberty:

Transfer of specially-designed vehicles and specially-designed trailers for the disabled from Ashraf to Liberty and about 50 passenger cars, which would mean one car for about every 40 residents, a minimum in the hot weather for wounded and disabled residents

Permission for construction, including the building of pavements, porches, canopies, ramps, special facilities for the disabled, and permission to build green areas and recreational facilities

Removal of large power generators owned by the residents from Ashraf to Liberty, an adequate number of forklifts to Liberty, and ability to sell their movable and immovable assets in Ashraf to fund their relocation and resettlement abroad

“Having the residents to deliver water on a daily basis from 12 kilometers away by tankers was not a way to meet minimum humanitarian needs,” said McColm.

McColm also stated, “Connecting Liberty to a municipal water network, which was repeatedly promised by Iraqi officials and confirmed by the State Department and UN representatives, would be one solution to the water shortage problem.”

“To improve the life support infrastructure of Camp Liberty to an acceptable level is an absolute necessity for the State Department to live up to its promises made to every resident of Camp Ashraf and deprive Iran from its desire to wear down its opposition into submission in prison-like conditions at Camp Liberty,” said IPC president, Professor Raymond Tanter.

With respect to the terrorist designation of the MEK, on 6 July 2012, Ambassador Benjamin said, “With such a [violent] history, cooperating fully with the UN’s efforts in Iraq would be a tangible demonstration that the MEK has left its violent past behind and that it no longer retains the capability and intent to engage in acts of terrorism.”

Tanter stated, “IPC research shows that linkage of designation of the MEK to non-statutory criteria, such as cooperation in Iraq, is not in accord with the June 2012 Federal Appeals Court ruling ordering the Secretary of State to make a determination on the status of the MEK by October 2012; the Court ignored or rejected such linkage when presented by the State Department representative in briefs and oral argument prior to the June ruling.”

In addition, Tanter said, “Legal criteria for inclusion on the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list are that a group must be a foreign organization; engaged in terrorist activity or retain the capability as well as intent to engage in terrorist activity; and that activity or terrorism must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or its national security. Thus, cooperation in a relocation process is not a legal criterion for designation or continued listing.”

Tanter also stated, “The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 holds that even if an organization is engaged in terrorist activities or terrorism or retains the capability and intent to do so, national security considerations may warrant removal from the terrorist list. The law, however, does not provide for the reverse—that is, maintaining a designation for non-terrorist reasons. Relisting the MEK because of alleged noncooperation in Iraq would be an example of a non-statuary rationale and legally impermissible.”

McInerney, Vallely, Nash, McColm, and Tanter concluded, “Violations of the human rights of Iranian dissidents in Iraq and linkage of their relocation within Iraq to what several national and international courts have found to be an unwarranted  terrorist designation of the organization to which they belong—the MEK—is a recipe for another violent crackdown by Iraq on the Iranian oppositionists. As the 20 July unilateral Iraqi deadline for perhaps forcibly evacuating the remaining dissidents from Ashraf to Liberty approaches, the international community has a responsibility to pressure Baghdad to improve humanitarian conditions so they can safely relocate within Iraq as prelude to humane resettlement in friendly countries.”