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U.S. Strikes Truce With Major Terrorist Group

by William O. Beeman


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Neo- Conservatives Target War With Iran
(PNS) -- The United States has seemingly become the latest state sponsor of terrorism.

On April 15, the U.S. Central Command negotiated a truce with the People's Mujaheddin of Iran (Mujaheddin-e Khalq, also known by the acronyms MKO or MEK), which is based in Iraq and fighting to depose Iran's government. Given that America is now engaged in a war against terrorism, this deal raises serious question. The United States itself officially declared the People's Mujaheddin a terrorist organization in 1985. The European Union labels the group as a terrorist organization as well.

Brigadier General Vince Brooks of the U.S. Central Command, speaking of the ceasefire, was equivocal about the eventual fate of the group. "We certainly know that the United States has maintained the [People's Mujaheddin] on the terrorist list, and they still are. So, until that changes, we view them that way. However, there's discussion that's ongoing right now to determine exactly what the condition and what the status will be and how we'll handle them. It's premature for me to describe exactly what that will be at this point.

In fact, it seems that the United States made some enormous concessions. Washington is allowing the group to keep its weapons, its vehicles, and to remain in Iraq. It has also agreed not to interfere with the group's operations as long as it does not attack the United States.

Iran has been furious over news of the ceasefire negotiations. Iranian foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi announced his country's indignation on April 25. "If true, it (an agreement) will increase our pessimism and qualms towards America," Kharrazi said, adding "[The People's Mujaheddin] is a terrorist group and America has put its name among terrorist groups." Chairman of the Expediency Council Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani remarked that signing this deal shows Washington's hypocrisy in conducting the war on terror.

The People's Mujaheddin, which is the militant political core of the National Resistance Council of Iran, constitutes a 10,000 strong paramilitary fighting force, and has been in existence for many decades. It came into being as a radical branch of the Iranian "Liberation Movement" and its Islamic Students Federation, founded in the early 1960's by supporters of Mohamed Mossadeq, the Iranian prime minister deposed by the CIA in 1953. They were involved throughout the 1960's and 1970's in resistance actions against the Shah's government. Their unusual blend of Islamic activism and socialism led the Shah to apply the oxymoron "Islamic Marxists" to their movement.

The group was part of the coalition that overthrew the Shah of Iran in 1978-79. Although the group initially supported Khomeini, it was expelled by the Islamic Republic during the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Saddam Hussein eventually gave the group a home in Iraq in the mid-1980's, when it founded the National Liberation Army. The group turned its efforts to the overthrow of the Islamic regime. Most recently it has taken credit for numerous bombings and urban riots in cities throughout Iran.

The de facto leader of the People's Mujaheddin, Masoud Rajavi (the group is formally led by Rajavi's "political wife" Maryam), met with Saddam Hussein in 1986 at a time when it was widely known in Iran that Iraq was employing poison gas against Iranians. This meeting firmly discredited the Mujaheddin in the eyes of Iranians. The group is now viewed with deep suspicion by the Iranian people.

Apparently some members of the Bush administration view this paramilitary group as a useful card to play against Iran should there be a confrontation with Tehran in the future. Washington may also hope to gain intelligence information from the group. This could be a mistake. While the group opposes the clerical regime in Iran, it is also virulently anti-American and has been accused of the murders of a number of U.S. military personnel during the Shah's regime, as well as complicity in the U.S. hostage crisis in 1979.

Since moving to Iraq, the People's Mujaheddin has been able to lobby the U.S. Congress with great success. A quarter-page ad in the Washington Post on April 17 claimed extensive support in Congress. It has sold itself to the Republican right-wing as a kind of Iranian Contra organization, dedicated to overthrowing the Islamic republic. Given its longstanding Marxist orientation and support of terrorist tactics, this reinvention was quite a feat.

Some Congressmen have begun to backpedal furiously on their previous support for the organization. 150 Congressmen signed a petition last November calling for withdrawal of support from the group. On April 23, Representative Bob Ney, Republican Congressman from Ohio wrote to The Hill, a Washington newspaper, denouncing his own former support of the People's Mujaheddin.

Washington has accused Iran, Iraq, Syria and Libya, among other states, of underwriting the efforts of groups dedicated to the violent overthrow of democratically elected governments. Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda are a few of the groups that have been targeted by the Bush regime. The People's Mujaheddin is no better than these. To maintain credibility among American voters, and allies abroad, it is essential that no hint of support for The People's Mujaheddin remain.



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Albion Monitor May 2, 2003 (http://www.albionmonitor.net)

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