CNN reports April 6 that the US military is providing logistical support for the Mujahedeen Khalq, an Iraq-based Iranian guerilla group—which is on the US State Department list of foreign terrorist organizations. According to the report, the US military “regularly escorts” MEK supply runs between Baghdad and its base, Camp Ashraf. “The trips for procurement of logistical needs also take place under the control and protection of the MPs,” said Mojgan Parsaii, vice president of MEK and leader of Camp Ashraf.
Officially, it seems this is being done because coalition forces regard MEK as protected people under the Geneva Conventions. “The coalition remains deeply committed to the security and rights of the protected people of Ashraf,” U.S. Maj. Gen. John D. Gardner wrote in an official document in March 2006. No official from either the US military or Iran’s embassy in Baghdad would speak on record about the Mujahedeen Khalq Organization (which goes by the acronyms both MEK and MKO).
But former US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said: “What we have here is a policy that described the people here from the MEK as a protected group, and one of our coalition partner countries is actually protecting them in the camp where they mostly are, but there is no change in our policy that the MEK, we still regard them as a terrorist organization.”
When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, Green Berets arrived at Camp Ashraf to find gardens and monuments, as well as more than 2,000 well-maintained tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery, anti-aircraft guns and vehicles.
All 3,800 camp residents were questioned by US forces—including members of an all-female tank battalion. No arrests were made, and a cease-fire agreement guaranteed the camp’s safety, according to ABC. “Everyone’s entry to the camp and his departure are controlled by the US military police force,” Parsaii said. However, as we noted in April 2003, media accounts at the time said the camp was destroyed by US bombardment.
“We gave this organization a six-month deadline to leave Iraq, and we informed the Red Cross,” Shirwan al-Wa’eli, Iraq’s national security minister, told ABC. “And presumably, our friends the Americans will respect our decision and they will not stay on Iraqi land.”
For now, however, the United States continues to protect MEK. “There are counter-pressures, too,” Khalilzad said. “There are people who say, ‘No, they should be allowed to stay here.’ And as you know, around the world there are people with different views toward them.”
Iran’s Press TV March 27 loaned credence to recent claims that the US is also backing the PEJAK Kurish rebel group in Iran. Press TV interviewed Reese Elrich, author of the book Target Iraq, who recently visited Iran and Iraqi Kurdistanh with Hollywood actor Sean Penn. “Intelligence agencies in the U.S. also sponsor secret armed attacks within Iran. I have found that the US and Israel support the military wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PEJAK) and Mojahedin Khalq (MKO),” Elrich said. He also outlined a cynical US strategy to avoid formally supporting groups labelled “terrorist”: “The US asks members of these groups if they have left the organization, if they answer yes, they will be given military training for secret operations inside Iran.”