TINAF #786: U.S. Now Pushing Terrorist Group: #2
The Internet Anti-Fascist: Friday, 30 May 2003
Vol. 7, Number 49 (#786)
Republican Party Line Changes Again: U.S. Now Pushing Terrorist Group: #2
07) Payvand's Iran News, "US-MKO deal a breach of Bush's anti-terrorism
campaign: daily," 26 Apr 03
08) Al Bawaba, "Iran slams US ceasefire deal with terrorist group," 30 Apr
09) IRIB [Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting], "EC chief over US-MKO
agreement," 30 Apr 03
10) Sanam Vakil (Lebanon Daily Star), "A shortsighted alliance with
terrorists," 6 May 03
11) Kathleen Knox (Radio Free Europe), "Iran: Cult Or Opposition Group? A
Look At The Mujahedin Khalq," 7 May 03
12) Eli J. Lake (UPI), "U.S., Iran in talks over al-Qaida suspects," 8 May
07) US-MKO deal a breach of Bush's anti-terrorism campaign: daily
Payvand's Iran News
26 Apr 03
`Iran Daily' on Saturday expressed shock at Washington's shocking deal with
the shunned Iraq-based terrorist Mujahideen Khalq Organization (MKO),
saying it is a breach of President Bush's anti-terrorism campaign, IRNA
reported from Tehran. In a move that has shocked world public opinion and
has raised questions for both Iran and Iraq, the US commander of "Operation
Iraqi Freedom" reportedly struck a deal with the MKO allowing them to
retain their military camps in the war-town nation and assuring them
security by American troops.
It is to be noted that the US-led forces bombed MKO bases, which had
initially declared its neutrality in the war but later agreed to a
ceasefire with the rebels, allowing them to move into war areas in a "non-
The MKO has been blacklisted by the US and the UK as a "terrorist" group.
It set up bases in Iraq in the mid-1980s and fought with the Baghdad regime
against Iran during the eight-year imposed war. Since then it has been
openly armed, backed and funded by Saddam Hussein until his ouster.
The outfit served the Iraqi regime in return for financial assistance and
weapons. Its agents were trained by the Iraqi intelligence service and the
The MKO has not only been launching terrorist operations inside Iran but
has also helped Saddam's regime quell the rebellious Kurds in northern Iraq
and the Shiites in the south during the 1991 uprising of these Iraqi
groups, the paper noted.
Documented reports released by American and European sources say it that
the MKO cooperated with Saddam's elite Republican Guards and his Fedayeen
paramilitary forces to suppress the Iraqi people.
American media and politicians have time and again underscored the
terrorist nature of the group and have recently said it is among American
targets in Iraq.
However, "it seems America now wants to protect the MKO by allowing it to
keep the weapons given by Saddam to fight the Iraqis, it noted.
"Those adequately familiar with MKO characteristics are certainly not
surprised about America's deal with the group," suggested the daily.
Washington's "scandalous" deal with the group now raises questions as to
"whether Washington, like Saddam's regime, intends to use the banned group
to confront the Iraqis who have legitimate demands about their rights of
sovereignty?" said the daily.
It said America will have to answer to the Iraqi people, especially the
Kurds in the north, who have been victims of MKO atrocities for so many
Undoubtedly, the US might use the terrorist MKO, Iran's main rebel group to
pressure Iran into preventing it to do anything in favor of the Iraqi
Shiites in the war-torn nation.
However, "if America looks deeper into the issue, it will realize that the
group cannot be used as a threat against Iran's national security," pointed
out the paper.
No wonder the despotic ruler of Baghdad so generously used the MKO elements
for terrorist missions inside Iraq, it said.
Clearly, a deal with one of the most vicious groups which waged a bloody
campaign in the early 1980s to topple the newly-born Islamic Republic with
wave after wave of assassinations of the country's top officials in
addition to helping Saddam murder his own people questions Washington's
sincerity in its anti-terror campaign, blasted the daily.
It said the US will pay directly for the costs of keeping and protecting
MKO agents inside Iraq which it knows to be a terrorist group.
What remains to be seen is what reaction the European Union, especially the
UK will adopt towards this scandalous and destabilizing move, the daily
Tehran wants no friction with Washington on Iraqi issues: Rowhani
Secretary of Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Hassan Rowhani said
on Saturday that Tehran does not want any friction with Washington over
issues concerning Iraq, IRNA reported.
In a meeting with Indian National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra in
Tehran, Rowhani said that Iran believes in Iraq's territorial integrity,
democracy, good neighborly relations and non-interference in Iraqi internal
Rowhani said that the United States unilateral approach on the
international scene and its ignoring the key role of the United Nations
posed a serious threat to global peace and security.
He called on the international community to work together under the aegis
of the United Nations for bolstering peace and international cooperation.
Rowhani said that Iran does not accept presence of the US and British
troops in Iraq or installing a puppet regime in Baghdad.
He said that Iraq's future government should have a friendly and good
neighborly relationship with its neighbors adding that Iran favors
establishment of a broad-based government in Iraq.
He condemned the US army commander in the area for signing a deal with the
terrorist Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) and said that the United
States and Britain should honor the United Nations Resolution 1373 on
international campaign against terrorism adding that Iran does not accept
any collaboration with the terrorist group.
On Tehran-New Delhi relations, Rowhani said that Iran's strategic relations
with India serve to develop regional and international cooperation in Asia.
On Iran-India defense cooperation, he said that Iran never considers
interference in other country's internal affairs and that cooperation with
India for bolstering defense capability is because of the outbreak of five
wars in the region in the past two decades.
He called for Iran-India cooperation in the campaign against terrorism and
said that the judicial, security and intelligence sectors from the two
countries would also foster cooperation.
Rowhani said that the topics of energy, transit of goods and transport as
well as North-South Corridor and technology would be the best areas of
economic cooperation and called for Iran-India joint investment.
Mishra said that the United States enjoys military superiority adding that
only military power is not enough for resolving the international crises.
Only international cooperation can help resolve the crisis, he said.
He said that India is willing to develop multi-faceted cooperation with the
Islamic Republic of Iran.
Mishra voiced concern about reorganization of the terrorist Taliban group
and said that he would convey his concern about Taliban to the Afghan
government in his upcoming visit to Kabul.
He said that New Delhi government is keen on macro-economic cooperation
with Iran adding that India gives importance to Iranian security.
The Indian national security adviser said that Tehran and New Delhi have
the same concern about Iraqi territorial integrity and believe that any
infringement of Iraqi territory would adversely effect the region.
Mishra said that the United States will not be able to restore peace and
security in Iraq without seeking cooperation from the neighboring
He said that security of the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean are inter-
related adding that Iran and India are two strategic partner for
maintenance of regional security.
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08) Iran slams US ceasefire deal with terrorist group
30 Apr 04
Iran's former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said on Wednesday that
the cooperation of the US army commander in Iraq with Iraq-based Mujahedin
Khalq Organization (MKO) indicates Washington's hypocrisy in the
international campaign against terrorism.
Rafsanjani said that with the signing of an agreement with the MKO
terrorist organization in Iraq, the Americans showed their insincerity in
the international campaign against terrorism.
It should be noted that the United States lists MKO as a terrorist
organization. The decision to cease hostilities with the MKO, an armed
group of secular Iranian dissidents that has been fighting Tehran’s regime
from inside Iraq for more than 20 years, is the first accord between the US
and a listed terrorist organization.
He described the ceasefire agreement between the US Army and MKO as a great
scandal and said that in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the United
States, Washington was portraying itself as anti-terrorist, but, it entered
into a deal with the terrorist group which they have nurtured and gave it a
safe haven in Washington. The US has signed cooperation agreement with the
terrorist group that planted bombs at the Friday Prayers congregation, the
Iranian leader said.
The MKO was formed in the 1960s and was expelled from Iran after the
Islamic revolution in 1979. It formed an alliance with Saddam Hussein, who
backed the group.
Only two weeks ago, US forces in northern Iraq bombed the MKO’s main base
along the Iranian border, killing scores of fighters and destroying tanks
MKO had a history of violence against Americans. It supported the takeover
of the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and killed several US military and
civilian officials in the 1970s. (Albawaba.com)
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09) EC chief over US-MKO agreement
IRIB [Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting]
30 Apr 03
TEHRAN -- Chairman of the Expediency Council Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi
Rafsanjani said on Wednesday that cooperation of the US army commander in
Iraq with Iraq-based terrorist Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) indicates
Washington's hypocrisy in the international campaign against terrorism.
Rafsanjani said that (with signing an agreement with the MKO terrorist
organization in Iraq), the Americans indicated their insincerity in the
international campaign against terrorism.
He said that the Iraqi people do not trust the Americans. The Americans are
apprehensive about the people approaching them, and on the other hand, the
Iraqis don't like the Americans.
He said that the heavy US bombings of residential areas and Iraqi schools
and the magnitude of the high human casualties are too hefty to forget in a
matter of months or years.
The Americans have a difficult time ahead with the antagonist sentiment the
Iraqis hold toward them for the human cost of getting rid of the deposed
He described the ceasefire agreement between the US army commander in Iraq
with the terrorist MKO as a great scandal and said that in the wake of the
terrorist attacks in the United States, Washington was portraying itself as
anti-terrorist, but, it entered into a deal with the terrorist group which
they have nurtured and gave it a safe haven in Washington.
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10) A shortsighted alliance with terrorists
Sanam Vakil (Lebanon Daily Star)
6 May 03
The announcement of the cease-fire negotiated between the United States and
the Iraqi-based People’s Mujahideen guerillas is a shocking development
that is counter to the US strategy in both the Iraq and the “war on
terror.” Moreover, it demonstrates the myopic and contradictory vision that
continues to guide US policy in the region. The Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MKO),
also known as the National Council of Resistance and the People’s Movement
of Iran, is an internationally recognized terrorist group that has been on
the State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization list since 1992. Not
only has the MKO has been responsible for terrorist activities resulting in
the death of Americans, but its members also participated in the 1979 US
Embassy seizure and subsequent two-year hostage crisis. It opposed the
release of the hostages in 1981. More damning is its 18-year alliance with
Saddam Hussein, who provided it with sanctuary and financial support in its
efforts to oust the theocratic Islamic government in neighboring Iran. The
MKO was a loyal supporter of its Iraqi benefactor, fighting to contain
Iranian advances during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war and to repress the
Kurdish and Shiite uprisings after the 1991 Gulf War. The Pentagon assumes
that an alliance with the MKO will facilitate US efforts to secure and
stabilize Iraq in the near term. But the shortsightedness of such a policy
is twofold: First, it delegitimizes America’s stabilizing role in Iraq
because the Iraqi people will link a US-MKO alliance to the MKO’s
complicity in Saddam Hussein’s terror campaigns. Iraqis regard the MKO as
Saddam Hussein’s mercenaries. Second, allowing the group to retain its
weapons and use them to fight other armed groups in Iraq, as per the
agreement, will cause further domestic instability in Iraq by creating a
situation susceptible to civil war. Introducing warlordism to Iraq does not
benefit the US. Perhaps the Bush administration thought such a cease-fire
with the MKO, whose base in northeastern Iraq the Americans attacked early
in the war, would bolster US interests in the reconstruction of Iraq and
the region. An alliance with the MKO could be used as leverage against the
Iranian Shiite clerics who are allegedly trying to exert their influence
over Iraq’s Shiites, who are 60 percent of the population. But this will
only inflame the already tense relationship between Iran and the United
States, including hindering any engagement with Tehran on its disputed
weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration refuses to side with
different factions within the Iranian government. Rather, it argues that US
support should be given to the people of Iran. Cutting a deal with the MKO
will send the wrong signal to the Iranian people and undermine the
administration’s efforts to capitalize on their pro-American sentiments.
The Iranian “street” can quickly turn against America unless this apparent
contradiction in the war on terror is corrected. Most notably, the
agreement with the MKO contradicts US policy implemented after Sept. 11,
2001. How is it possible to fight a war on terror when the United States
has made an accommodation with a terrorist organization considered in
Washington as dangerous as Hamas or Al-Qaeda? By working with the MKO, the
Pentagon has legitimized its terror tactics and increased the likelihood
that such associations can be made with other terrorist organizations.
Ultimately, engaging the MKO has discredited the Bush Doctrine and the
administration’s future initiatives to curtail terrorism.
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11) Iran: Cult Or Opposition Group? A Look At The Mujahedin Khalq
Kathleen Knox (Radio Free Europe)
7 May 03
The U.S. has struck a cease-fire in Iraq with an unlikely group -- the
Mujahedin Khalq, or People's Mujahedin. The armed Iranian opposition group
has sought for decades to overthrow Iran's Islamic government, activity
that's earned the group's political front some support among politicians in
Europe and the United States. But the United States still lists it as a
terrorist organization -- and some have likened it more to a cult than an
Prague, 7 May 2003 (RFE/RL) -- In the Iraqi desert near the border with
Iran, Iranian fighters are training to overthrow Tehran's Islamic
The rebels driving tanks and learning to use artillery in this unit in
Ashraf are distinctive in one key respect -- they're all women, many of
them Iranian exiles from around the world, like Laleh Tarighi, who grew up
"It is the best decision I made in my life," Tarighi said of joining the
group. "I would say it is the best place here for any Iranian or other
people, as well. I'd say we have a goal: we have been fighting for Iran to
get Iranian people out of that situation."
Tarighi and her fellow rebels-in-headscarves belong to the Mujahedin Khalq,
or People's Mujahedin, an armed Iranian opposition group of several
thousand men and women with bases in Iraq.
It has sought the overthrow of the Iranian government for decades and is
held responsible for a string of bombings and mortar attacks that have
killed a number of top Iranian government and military officials -- as well
as several U.S. soldiers and civilians in the 1970s.
The United States considers the Mujahedin Khalq a terrorist group and
bombed its bases in the first stages of the latest Iraq war. But in recent
weeks, U.S. forces have taken a softer line on Mujahedin Khalq fighters.
Last month, they struck a cease-fire so the rebels can keep their weapons
in what's described as a "non-combat formation."
The deal rattled the Iranian government. The Foreign Ministry in Tehran
said this week that it's unacceptable for the United States to be in
partnership with what it called "terrorist hypocrites." And it warned the
United States not to allow the group to attack Iran from Iraq.
The cease-fire has also raised questions of double standards. Critics say a
cease-fire is a strange way to deal with terrorists who've killed more
Americans than any other Iranian group.
But despite the cease-fire and recruits such as Tarighi, analysts say the
outlook for the Mujahedin Khalq has never been bleaker. They say the cease-
fire is a temporary arrangement to create security on the ground. And they
say it's not likely to lead to broader backing for the group, which
ultimately will probably have to disarm or leave Iraq.
The Mujahedin Khalq was formed in the 1960s on a platform that mixed
Marxism with Islamism. The group took part in the 1979 revolution that
replaced the Shah with the regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. But it
soon split with Khomeini. Many of its leaders were killed, and it was
forced to leave Iran in 1981.
Aside from a brief stint in France, the group has been based in Iraq ever
since. It received financial and military support from Saddam Hussein's
regime and even sided with Iraq during the Iraq-Iran War of the 1980s -- a
move that cost it most of its credibility at home.
The organization is really made up of three overlapping groups. The
fighters belong to the National Liberation Army (NLA) of Iran, which is the
armed wing of the Mujahedin Khalq. That, in turn, controls the political
front, called the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
Ali Ansari, head of the Center for Iranian Studies at Durham University in
the United Kingdom, told RFE/RL: "They used to get a lot of money from
Saddam Hussein. They were based north of Baghdad, and they used to do a lot
of the dirty work of the Saddam Hussein regime. They were essentially
Iranian mercenaries. They did very little agitating in Iran, and frankly
they didn't have the credibility to do it."
Ansari says the movement has evolved into a leadership cult centered around
Masud Rajavi and his wife, Maryam. There are reports that members are not
allowed to marry -- as well as some older claims that married members were
forced to divorce.
"Masud Rajavi takes the role of leader, in an imitation of the leader in
Iran, and then his wife has been sort of 'elected' -- in very thick
inverted commas -- as president," Ansari said. "So they have this dual
structure of husband and wife team, and frankly it's caused quite a bit of
discomfort from those Iranian families who find that their young idealistic
types have headed off to Iraq to be part of the armed wing of the
Rajani joined the group early on while he was still a law student at the
University of Tehran. He appears to have taken control of the group while
in prison in the 1970s.
RFE/RL tried to contact the National Council of Resistance officials in
France and Britain, but they were unavailable for comment. In previous
interviews, however, they have denied that members of the Mujahedin Khalq
are terrorists. And they dismiss other criticism as propaganda put out by
their opponents or agents for the Iranian government.
Certainly, the group's talk of women's rights and the need for greater
democracy has earned it support among politicians in Europe and America.
Some see it as the best alternative to Iran's current regime. But that
support can hardly be described as unwavering.
A few years ago, 30 U.S. senators asked the administration to reconsider
its designation of the Mujahedin Khalq as a terrorist group. Some of them
later backtracked on that request.
In 1997, London representatives of the National Council of Resistance
associated with top government officials -- but one month later, Maryam
Rajavi was banned from the United Kingdom.
Ansari said the current cease-fire is only a temporary measure and is
unlikely to lead to broader backing for the group. "The Americans have made
it very clear and the [British] Foreign Office has been quite adamant on
this -- and also expressed quite a lot of concern at the initial reports --
that this is purely a temporary measure to restore order before they
proceed with the disarming of various groups, not just the Mujahedin Khalq
but various militias in Iraq, and then they will sort problems out from
there. I think there will be very strong agitation in America both ways,
but I think those who have concrete interests in Iran will realize that to
back the Mujahedin Khalq in any sort of anti-Iran policy would be a
cataclysmic mistake," he said.
Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East analyst with the Congressional Research
Service in Washington, said he would be very surprised if Iraq's future
government allows Mujahedin Khalq fighters to stay on Iraqi territory,
since it's likely to be much more friendly toward Tehran than was Saddam
"I would certainly envision some sort of arrangement between Iran and this
new Iraqi government to have the NLA expelled from Iraq," Katzman said. "I
very much doubt that this cease-fire is going to reflect a permanent
situation where the NLA is going to continue to base itself on Iraqi
territory and especially if the Shi'ite Islamic parties are dominant in a
new Iraqi government, like [SCIRI leader Ayatollah] Mohammad Baqer al-
Hakim. He's very close to the Iranian leadership, and it's not a stretch of
the imagination to say that he would try to move very quickly to get the
People's Mujahedin army out of Iraq."
But at the Ashraf base, commander Pari Bakhsai said that prospect does not
concern her. "We are not worried about the future because the Iranian
resistance [was] not born in Iraq and is not going to die in Iraq, even if
the new Iraqi government and the Tehran regime reach an agreement about
us," she said. "Our roots are deep in Iranian history, and we are confident
that our destiny will be in Iran."
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12) U.S., Iran in talks over al-Qaida suspects
Eli J. Lake (UPI)
8 May 03
WASHINGTON D.C. -- The United States is engaged in intense, secret
negotiations with Iran for the transfer of suspected members of al-Qaida
who fled from northern Iraq into Iran during the just-concluded war, United
Press International has learned.
On May 2, the president's special envoy to the Iraqi opposition, Zalmay
Khalilzad, met with an Iranian government delegation that included members
of the Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Guard in Geneva to discuss the
rendition of senior members of Ansar al-Islam, an al-Qaida offshoot.
In exchange, the Iranian delegation has asked the United States to hand
over members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization captured in operations
in northern Iraq. Under Saddam Hussein's protection, the group used Iraqi
soil to stage attacks on Iran. Tehran and Washington regard it as a
But during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Washington signed a cease-fire deal
with members of the group, allowing it to keep its weapons to defend itself
from attacks by Iran.
At the time, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the cease-fire was
"part of the ongoing immediate post-combat effort to enhance security on
But, he said, "This is not necessarily the final word."
An official familiar with the discussions told UPI Thursday that talks were
"We are negotiating about the escaped al-Qaida guys and they are
negotiating about Muj," the official said referring to the Iranian rebel
group. "We are asking, 'What are you going to do to these guys when we give
them back?' We're not quite there yet, but Zal (Khalilzad) is saying it's
going very well."
A European diplomat familiar with the talks called them "good" and
important," adding it was "very relevant for Iraq in this environment."
The suspected terrorists of interest to the United States include Saadoon
Mohammed Abdul Latif, or Abu-Wail, an Iraqi intelligence officer who first
visited Afghanistan in 1999 and is believed to be an intermediary between
al-Qaida head Osama bin Laden and Saddam's intelligence ministry. Another
top suspect who went to Iran was Ayub Afghani, an al-Qaida-trained
explosives expert who fought in the 1980s in Afghanistan against the Soviet
Both men escaped to Iran after U.S. planes bombed the Ansar al-Islam
encampment in Biyara on March 22. While the Iranians allowed some of the
Ansar fighters to return to Iraq from where they had fled after Kurdish
Peshmerga tried to kill or apprehend members of the camp, senior leaders
associated with the group remain in Iran, U.S. and Kurdish officials say.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell highlighted Ansar al-Islam as one of
the links between Saddam and bin Laden in his presentation to the United
Nations about the U.S. case for war on Iraq. U.S. officials also
believe Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, the man Powell said was the head of a poisons
network based in the Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, now lives in Iran.
"We learned from going into Afghanistan that an immediate concern has to be
terrorist fugitives fleeing the country," Matthew Levitt, senior fellow in
terrorism studies at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said in
an interview Thursday. "A large number of al-Qaida and Taliban terrorists
fled Afghanistan, many through Zarqawi's network, which specialized in
false documents and exfiltration.
"We know many terrorists fled the Biyara camp. Having altered the strategic
environment, there is an opportunity to seek Iran's assistance on this very
Khalilzad has been the U.S. government's primary point of contact with the
Iranian government since late last year when Washington began engaging
Tehran in talks about Iraq. The primary forum for these discussions has
been the "Geneva Group," set up by a group of European countries and the
United Nations to discuss Afghan-related issues with the Iranians.
Last month, Khalilzad helped persuade members of the Iran-supported Supreme
Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq to attend and not boycott the
second U.S.-sponsored town hall meeting of Iraqis in Baghdad.
Last week, UPI first reported the United States is attempting to persuade
the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear
watchdog, to find Iran out of compliance with the nuclear non-
proliferation treaty in a report due next month.
* * * * *
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