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Why International Support for Iran’s Resistance Awakes Rubin’s Enmity


The nationwide uprising in Iran, which has been ongoing for seven months, is inching closer to realizing the hopes of the Iranian people for a government that respects their human rights and does not engage in terrorism. This vision has garnered bipartisan support, with 229 members of the US House of Representatives co-sponsoring H.Res. 100, which calls for a secular and non-nuclear Republic of Iran. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its President-elect, Maryam Rajavi, have long advocated for this vision and tirelessly worked towards it. At a summit in Washington, Vice President Mike Pence, General Wesley Clark, former Governors Gary Locke, and Sam Brownback, and former Senator Robert Torricelli condemned the dictatorships of the mullahs and the Shah and urged support for Mrs. Rajavi and her democratic agenda for the future of Iran.

These recent positive developments in support of a democratic and secular Iran may infuriate Michael Rubin, who regularly publishes articles attacking the main Iranian opposition groups, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and the NCRI. Rubin has a history of not only disparaging the MEK but also promoting the same rhetoric as Tehran’s regime, which is known for its propaganda. Rubin’s support of this line includes justifying political assassinations, terrorism, and the repression of the Iranian people, highlighting his disregard for facts, logic, and basic human decency.

Below is the latest rebuttal to Rubin’s hit piece against the MEK, by Dr. Ali Safavi, a member of the NCRI’s Foreign Affairs Committee:

The Black Seeds Story

The seven-month-long nationwide uprising in Iran increasingly looks as if it may result in realizing the wishes of the long-suffering citizens-cum-prisoners of that land: a government that respects their human rights and does not make terrorism its stock-in-trade.

In a remarkable display of bipartisan unity last month, 229 US House of Representatives members co-sponsored H.Res. 100, expressing support for a secular and non-nuclear Republic of Iran. This vision aligns with the long-standing commitment of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its President-elect, Maryam Rajavi, who has tirelessly endeavored for such a future.  And at a summit in Washington, Vice President Mike Pence, General Wesley Clark (Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, 1997-2000), former Governors Gary Locke and Sam Brownback, and former Senator Robert Torricelli took the podium to condemn both the dictatorships of the mullahs and the Shah and to urge support for Mrs. Rajavi and her democratic agenda for the future of Iran.

Michael Rubin, the author of an unending torrent of weekly articles denigrating the principal Iranian opposition movements, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and the NCRI, must be infuriated by these developments. He seems never to miss an opportunity not only to disparage the MEK but to promote the party line that inspires the propaganda coming out of Tehran. And as is typical of all who espouse that line – justifying political assassinations, sponsorship of terrorism, and the repression of the Iranian people – Rubin has no respect for facts, logic, or basic decency.

He has struck again, this time on the website of the American Enterprise Institute, which to its shame, has engaged him as a “senior fellow.” Yet again, Rubin recycles discredited, disjointed, and unsourced information to create his usual anti-MEK narrative, pleading that the thousands of distinguished personalities who support it worldwide have entered into a corrupt bargain. This time, Rubin “reveals” the existence of what he calls a 2004 FBI “report” on the MEK. This sham “report” supposedly demonstrates, beyond doubt, the fundamentally terrorist inclinations of the MEK and the cravenness of its adherents.

There are two problems with Rubin’s “proof.” First, his evidence was no “FBI report.” This was conclusively demonstrated in 2011 by Richard R. Schoeberl, a retired 16-year-FBI Special Agent. It is not even a single document: it is two separate pieces, authors unknown, stapled together at some point for unclear reasons. And second, it is 19 years old, and yet Rubin’s sleight of hand magically transforms it into current events.

I have already debunked every piece of slander Rubin has written (in 200620112021August 2022November 2022January 2023February, and March 2023) that has been brought to my attention. Of course, the most obvious beneficiaries of these stale half-baked accusations remain to be Rubin’s friends, the mullahs, in Tehran.

It is tempting to go adjective-for-adjective against Rubin’s geysers of disinformation. But let me highlight two crucial points that will reveal his character to any impartial observer.

First, as mentioned, former FBI agent Schoeberl’s Fox News article shredded the reliability of the 2004 “report” on which Rubin blithely relies. The charges of alleged criminality discussed in that memorandum were also thoroughly investigated by law enforcement and judicial authorities in all the countries mentioned. These investigations, without exception, concluded that the MEK and its supporters had no connection whatsoever to criminal activities. Yet, without troubling to cite any other sources, Rubin astonishingly professes to have found “evidence that the MEK has planned if not continues to plan terror” in 2023, some 19 years later.

Of course, if the MEK had been planning acts of terrorism for the last two decades, it has proven to be very poor at planning and execution. Neither Rubin nor anyone else has alleged, much less demonstrated, a connection between the MEK and any such activity anytime, let alone after 2004. That is why the EU, the U.K. Home Office, and the U.S. Department of State, tasked with determining whether the MEK deserved the dreaded label as a terrorist organization, unanimously concluded that it did not after multiple court rulings did the same.

Immediately after taking a 19-year leap of faith from anonymous 2004 allegations, Rubin claims t“The FBI continues to describe the National Council of Resistance of Iran as the MEK’s political branch.” “Continues,” in the present tense. And, his article is headed “What Does” – note, not “What Did” – “the FBI Say About the Mujahedin-e-Khalq?” Considering the evidence, this is blatant deception; a college freshman would get an F for a piece of writing like this.

One last point. Rubin frequently cites himself as the authority to undergird his nonsensical claims. This amounts to Michael Rubin telling his readers, “It must be true because I heard myself say it.” But one of his most outlandish cross-references is to a piece that AEI published on its website just two weeks ago. This one really takes the cake. In it, Rubin “reasons” as follows: (1) Some U.S. government employees require security clearances; (2) Today, there is not a single MEK supporter among the three million employees of the U.S. government and holders of security clearances; Therefore, MEK lacks support and its adherents are denied clearances due to their perceived sympathies with terrorism.

It is time to stop tolerating of Michael Rubin’s alternative facts, blatant deception, and distorted logic. Rubin’s obstinance in the face of simple facts is reminiscent of an old Persian proverb that goes like this: “A man was carrying gunpowder across the border. When border guards asked what it was, he claimed that it was just some harmless black seeds. Not convinced, the guards lit the “black seeds,” causing them to blow up in the man’s face. Even with his face and beard on fire, the man refused to back down, exclaiming, ‘See! I told you these were black seeds.’”

Safavi (@amsafavi) is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)