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Unfair label smears Iran opposition


Columbia Daily Tribune


Schaefer parrots mullahs on MEK.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Dec. 20 Tribune article “Schaefer targets rival Hawley over terrorist group case” included a series of lies and baseless allegations about the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the principal Iranian opposition movement. The following facts should help set the record straight.

In the course of its 50-year struggle against the Shah’s military dictatorship and the mullahs’ theocracy, the MEK has endeavored for democracy, freedom and human rights in Iran and promoted a tolerant and anti-fundamentalist Islam.

Despite the execution of 120,000 of its activists by the current regime, MEK supporters form an extensive social network spanning three generations inside Iran. This network made it possible for the MEK to disclose the secret nuclear plans of the mullahs. If it were not for the MEK disclosing the secret nuclear sites in 2002, today the world would be faced with a nuclear-armed fundamentalist regime.

The MEK’s positive role in global affairs has contributed to its popularity among not only Iranians but also activists and policymakers throughout the world. More than 100,000 traveled to Paris in June to take place in the most recent major gathering of the Iranian resistance.

That impressive attendance included members of more than 60 national legislatures, including those of the United States, the United Kingdom and France. In a rare bipartisan initiative, prominent former U.S. government, national security and foreign policy figures including Rudy Giuliani, Tom Ridge, Newt Gingrich, John Bolton, Gen. Hugh Shelton, Joe Lieberman, Howard Dean and Ed Rendell have declared their support for the MEK and a 10-point plan for the future of Iran.

The MEK’s terrorist listing was one of the greatest blunders of America’s Iran policy. On Oct. 9, 1997, a senior Clinton administration official told the Los Angeles Times that the MEK’s designation was a “goodwill gesture” toward Mohammad Khatami, the newly elected “moderate” president. Iran took the concession and laughed all the way to the bank. With its largest opposition in U.S.-made shackles, it had a freer hand to suppress Iranian people and the opposition, and to infiltrate Iraq with throngs of terrorists, kill Americans and spread real terror.

The MEK challenged the designation in courts and was eventually delisted after 20 judgments by the highest courts in the United Kingdom, European Union and United States, which ruled unanimously that there was not an iota of evidence linking the MEK to terrorism.

Having reviewed all relevant documents, the U.K. chief justice called the designation “perverse.” The U.S. delisting occurred after the federal court of appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted a writ of mandamus filed by the MEK, the first of its kind since 1803. The court reprimanded the State Department for its egregious delay in removing the MEK from the terror list. Interestingly, a stellar group of most senior former officials filed an amicus brief in support of the MEK’s petition, including Attorney General Michael Mukasey. In France, a judge concluded an 11-year investigation by declaring that the MEK’s actions amounted to legitimate resistance against tyranny and not terrorism.

As a candidate for attorney general of Missouri, Kurt Schaefer is expected to do at least the minimum amount of homework to familiarize himself with the legal background of cases he comments on and to provide the facts to the public. He cannot place his personal opinion above the rulings of 20 of the highest courts. Schaefer’s invoking of an unlawful and politically motivated designation is a thinly veiled act of political expediency that will certainly backfire. In effect, he is parroting the propaganda of the most active state sponsor of international terrorism, the turbaned tyrants of Iran.

Regarding the baseless allegation of assassinations of Americans in Iran 40 years ago, it should suffice to say that a 2013 book by Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield, a former assistant secretary of state, made it palpably clear that the incidents had nothing to do with the MEK but were the work of a Marxist splinter group that also murdered the Muslim leaders of the MEK and later caved in to the Ayatollahs.

The U.S. military — which served at Camp Ashraf, Iraq, the MEK’s home for a quarter-century — gave many medals to the group for helping save American soldiers’ lives.

Shahin Gobadi, who is based in Paris, is spokesman for the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran.