Readers might think this article is about those who insist on continuing the occupation of Iraq despite reports that an al Qaida letter translated and released by the US military indicates that al Qaida sees the continued American presence in Iraq as a boon for their network. Certainly this factoid might suggest that there are those that sympathize with al Qaida, but this article is about a different terrorist organization.
This is a story about a State Department designated terrorist organization known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq, a homeless woman, Dick Cheney, Congressman Tom Tancredo, and other members of Congress. The common thread among these diverse parties is their desire for regime change in Iran. Geopolitics makes for strange bedfellows.
The Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) is a terrorist organization founded over 40 years ago to overthrow the government of Iran - first the Shah and now the Islamic leadership - and install its own leadership. The group is also known as the People's Mujahedin of Iran, the PMOI, the MKO, and the MEK. According to various sources, the MEK has engaged in various terrorist activities over the years, including killing U.S. military personnel and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran and supporting the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
The MEK moved its operations to Iraq during the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran War and has remained there ever since. According to Wikipedia:
After the 2003 American invasion of Iraq (MEK) camps were bombed by coalition forces as part of a quid pro quo with Tehran. (MEK) entered into a ceasefire agreement with the coalition, and voluntarily handed over its weaponry to the US military. Then 4th ID commander, General Ray Ordierno, concluded the agreement with the (MEK) and said its terrorist designation must be reviewed by the US government. After a 16-month investigation by several US agencies, including the State Department, the US government formally declared that it had found no basis to charge any member of the group with the violation of American law or links to terrorism. Subsequently, the coalition recognized the status of (MEK) as protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The fate of the MEK in Iraq remains uncertain, but Iraqi President Talabani recently said there is no place for terrorist groups in Iraq, in reference to the MEK. It was recently reported that Prime Minister Maliki has called for the expulsion of the MEK and that on July 27th, the MEK was ordered to leave Iraq within six months. However, the Iraq Governing Council previously ordered the expulsion of the MEK by the end of 2003. Apparently, there may be some Americans (like Dick Cheney) who prefer that the MEK remain protected in Iraq.
It seems the MEK is a wonderful source of information for those trying to make the case that Iran is making nuclear weapons. Last year, the Guardian reported the following:
The National Council of Resistance of Iran, the political wing of the outlawed Mujahideen-e-Khalq guerrilla movement, which is classified as a terrorist organisation in Europe and the US, said the Iranian authorities were covertly building and concealing thousands of centrifuge rigs used to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel or weapons. The NCRI regularly makes claims about Iran's nuclear operations which are impossible to corroborate.
In addition to the "intel" that MEK provides, they also provide the U.S. with other services. This past spring, Larisa Alexandrovna reported the following at Raw Story:
The Pentagon is bypassing official US intelligence channels and turning to a dangerous and unruly cast of characters in order to create strife in Iran in preparation for any possible attack, former and current intelligence officials say.
One of the operational assets being used by the Defense Department is a right-wing terrorist organization known as Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), which is being "run" in two southern regional areas of Iran. They are Baluchistan, a Sunni stronghold, and Khuzestan, a Shia region where a series of recent attacks has left many dead and hundreds injured in the last three months.
One former counterintelligence official, who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the information, describes the Pentagon as pushing MEK shortly after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The drive to use the insurgent group was said to have been advanced by the Pentagon under the influence of the Vice Presidentís office and opposed by the State Department, National Security Council and then-National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice.
Alexandrovna continues ...
Although the specifics of what the MEK is being used for remain unclear, a UN official close to the Security Council explained that the newly renamed MEK soldiers are being run instead of military advance teams, committing acts of violence in hopes of staging an insurgency of the Iranian Sunni population.
"We are already at war," the UN official told RAW STORY.
Larisa Alexandrovna's story served to corroborate a story by Jim Lobe published a year earlier that reported the MEK had been used to carry out reconnaissance and intelligence collection in Iran since the summer of 2004.
Despite being designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department, the MEK enjoys the support of many Washington politicians besides Cheney. President Bush considers the MEK to be a dissident group and prominent members of Congress support the group.
The Hill, a beltway publication, reported the following in 2003:
Some members of Congress are refusing to drop their support of a Middle Eastern group, even though the State Department says its terrorist fighters are attacking U.S. and coalition troops in southern Iraq.....
Despite its terrorist designation, the group has amassed powerful allies on Capitol Hill, including Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairwoman of the International Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia.
Ros-Lehtinen has written a number of letters in support of the group, both public and private, urging the State Department to remove the MEKís terrorist designation. Her most recent public letter was a Dear Colleague released last November.
In 2004, The Agonist reported on a gathering in Washington:
Several members of Congress addressed a gathering today of hundreds of Iranian exiles who the government considers terrorists.
Reps. Bob Filner, D-Calif., Tom Tancredo, R-Col., Ted Poe, R-Texas, Dennis Moore, R-Kan., and staffers for Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, and James Talent, R-Mo., spoke to MEK supporters at a convention hall just four blocks from the White House.....
Tancredo called Maryam Rajavi, the MEK's leader, "quite an extraordinary lady."
This would be the same Tom Tancredo that is so concerned with U.S. border security. Apparently, he is not so concerned with U.S. backed terrorists slipping into Iran from Iraq. His concern is that Iranian backed terrorists might slip into the U.S. from Mexico. The article from The Hill cited above had this to say about Tancredo:
Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), another MEK champion, was initially appalled when told that MEK forces have engaged coalition forces.
"If thatís occurred, if they have done this, they have certainly ruined whatever modicum of support they have here, at least from me," he said. "If these reports are accurate, thatís the end of it for me."
Tancredo later called The Hill to say he had "received information of a different nature entirely from people who are closer to the scene than the State Department."
He would not identify the source or content of the information, except to say it came from "our government." The State Department flatly dismissed Tancredoís claims.
The MEK placed a full-page ad in the New York Times in January 2003 where they claimed to have the support of 150 members of Congress. According to an article by Insight appearing at WorldNetDaily:
The ad included photographs of six of the 150 members of Congress who allegedly had signed a recent statement of support for the MEK. Top billing went to Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who circulated the pro-MEK letter among her congressional colleagues. She and others have signed previous letters of support for the group.
Also appearing were Reps. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., Bob Filner, D-Calif., Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla. Most acknowledge having signed the pro-MEK letter, although a spokeswoman for Diaz-Balart tells Insight that she was "not aware" that his picture had been used in the ad.
So far, this article has explored the MEK terrorist group, their non-expulsion from Iraq, their "intel" ops in Iran for the Pentagon under the direction of the Vice-President's office, and their friends in Congress. You may be wondering what the hell all this has to do with the homeless lady mentioned at the top of the page.
The homeless woman in question is a middle-aged Iranian-born American citizen named Zeinab Taleb-Jedi who weighs 95 pounds. According to articles by Reuters and AP, appearing here, here, and here, Taleb-Jedi's strange saga began in 1999 when she left Virginia and moved to Iraq to join the MEK. Her husband went to Iraq in 1986 to join the MEK and was killed in a bombing in 1999.
Taleb-Jedi was questioned by American authorities at a base in Iraq in February 2004 and said she did not want to return to America because of her support for the Mujahedin. However, she was arrested on March 31 when she tried to enter the United States through New York's JFK Airport on a flight from Jordan. A Google search found no articles regarding her initial arrest last March.
Taleb-Jedi was then charged with providing material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, assigned a public defender, and released on a $500,000 bond. She has been staying at a homeless shelter in Manhattan. Last week, she was indicted and faces up to 15 years in prison.
Federal authorities claim that between 1999 and March this year Zeinab Taleb-Jedi, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was a leader in the Mujahedin-e Khalq and her role included "making leadership decisions" and "approving specific acts of terrorism."
How bizarre is it that Zeinab Taleb-Jedi is indicted for supporting a group that many high-ranking U.S. officials also support? Is not directing the MEK to conduct special ops in Iran considered making a "leadership decision"? Is not directing the MEK to launch attacks in Baluchistan and Khuzestan "approving specific acts of terrorism"?
I suppose the politicians that support the MEK would answer those questions by claiming they only support the political arm of the MEK, but then how could they explain their refusal to deal with the political arms of Hezbollah or Hamas? It has been said (prior to 9/11) that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. But, in the case of Zeinab Taleb-Jedi, the MEK is one government's terrorist group and the same government's freedom fighters.
Zeinab Taleb-Jedi is just collateral damage in the phony war on terror conducted by politicians that incite terrorists to attack Americans and recruit terrorists to attack other nations. If Taleb-Jedi is convicted, perhaps Cheney, Rumsfeld, and 150 members of Congress should also be convicted. These morally bankrupt jackasses can't have it both ways.
This article contributed by Tom Blanton of Richmond, Virginia.