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  • 17 July 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: July 17, 2012

New Cyber Attack Detected in Iran

Israeli security company, Seculert, and Russia’s Kaspersky Lab have uncovered another cyber espionage campaign primarily aimed at Iran that they are calling the Mahdi Trojan. While primarily targeting Iran, the trojan, which is capable of stealing files and monitoring email, was also found in other Middle Eastern countries. The campaign which has effected more than 800 victims, targets infrastructure companies, engineering students, financial services, and government embassies (Reuters 7/17).

Pentagon Reportedly Building Missile Defense Radar in Qatar

U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal that the Pentagon is building an “X-band” missile-defense radar station at a secret site in Qatar, which is capable of detecting missile launches in cooperation with radar systems in Israel and Turkey. Additionally, the U.S. is preparing its largest ever minesweeping exercises in the Persian Gulf starting in September (WSJ 6/17).

Clinton Calls Iranian P5+1 Proposals “Non-Starters” in Israel

At a news conference in Jerusalem yesterday, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said, “”I made very clear that the proposals that we have seen from Iran thus far within the P5+1 negotiations are non-starters.” Clinton spoke following a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She added, “Our own choice is clear: we will use all elements of American power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” (CNN 7/16).

  • 6 July 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: July 6, 2012

MEK Supporters Face Allegations of Unregistered Lobbying for Terrorist Organization

Under federal law, advocates for foreign organization are required to register as lobbyists and provide details about their clients and income, but supporters of the Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MEK), a well-financed designated terrorist organization, have not registered, according to a Washington Post investigation. The MEK supporters have been meeting with senior Obama administration officials to pressure the State Department into removing their organization from the State Department’s terrorist list.

Administration officials told the Post that the inquiry of whether the MEK’s paid supporters are violating the law by advocating for a designated foreign terrorist organization “remains essentially on hold” until a decision is made to keep the group on the terror list (Washington Post 7/5). Meanwhile, columnist Clarence Page was formally reprimanded by the Chicago Tribune for giving a paid speech at a MEK event, though he added his job “is safe for now.” (Talking Points Memo 7/6)

Canadian Bank Freezing Accounts of Canadians with Family in Iran

Canadian bank, TD Bank Group, has begun closing the accounts of customers which “appears to include any use of an account to send or receive money via wire transfer to or from friends and family in Iran,” according to the Ottawa Citizen.  “We are simply following regulations set out by the sanctions,” said TD Bank Group spokesperson Mohammed Nakhooda (Ottawa Citizen 7/6).

Post-Meeting Insight into Moscow Negotiations

Iranian diplomats are indicating that Iran is willing to replace the heavy water reactor it is building in Arak with a light water reactor, according to Jim Walsh, a non-proliferation expert at MIT who was present a presentation by the diplomats. Such a concession would reduce proliferation concerns, since heavy water reactors can produce weapons grade plutonium (The Guardian 7/6).

The Guardian also reports that “European diplomats have said that if Iran had asked for a postponement of the oil embargo at the official talks in return for 20% suspension, the six-nation group would have found itself split and would have difficulty turning it down. As it happened, the Iranians made the country’s guaranteed right to enrich their central demand,” (The Guardian 7/6).

MEK’s attempts to hijack the Green Movement

The Mujahedin-e Khalq campaign to be removed from the U.S. list of Foreign Terrorist Organization’s has been fueled by plenty of misinformation.  One big lie that MEK has spread in Washington is that the group is popularly supported in Iran and is the “main opposition.”

This attempt to hijack Iran’s indigenous Green Movement is nothing new.

In his recent book, Then They Came For Me, journalist Maziar Bahari provides a fascinating account of his experience covering the 2009 elections in Iran and their aftermath, and the detention and abuse he endured when he was arrested and detained for 118 days in Evin prison.

Before his arrest, Bahari covered the massive protests and witnessed firsthand how “MEK sympathizers had acted as agents provocateurs among the protestors, inciting violence” during the peaceful demonstrations.

Bahari writes that, during the June 13 demonstration, “The Basijis…normally so rash and confrontational—were clearly intimidated by the sheer size of the crowd.”  But as he worked his way through the masses, Bahari heard shots ring out.  A small group of MEK sympathizers were attacking a Basij building with Molotov cocktails:

“Before long, the Basijis stopped firing warning shots and began shooting indiscriminately into the crowd of protestors.  The two Basijis on the roof did not seem to care if the people they were shooting at were attackers or passerbys.  Many peaceful demonstrators in the crowd panicked and started to throw stones at the compound.”

Bahari describes how one of the men attacking the base was shot and killed by the Basijis.  Ultimately 7 people were killed in the attack, and the violence rippled through the nonviolent protests.

“As the Basij started to spread bullets into the crowd, as people scrambled to take cover as bloodied people ran out of the street, and as MEK supporters started to chant, “Death to the Islamic Republic,” I continued to film.

“Hush. Be quiet!  Change the slogan!  Allahu akbar! God is great!” screamed a couple of older men trying to get the crowd out of the street.  “We haven’t come here to say, ‘Death to the Islamic Republic.’”

“We here to support Mousavi,” said another woman.  “Not fight!”

A small group of young men approached a few of the older men who were trying to calm people down.  “Kafeh shin madar saga!” one said, throwing punches at an older man.  “Shut up, you sons of bitches!”  The crowd erupted into a brawl.

“Death to Khamenei!” cried a teenager as he joined the others hitting the older men.  I turned my camera toward him.

Bahari goes on to describe the reaction among Green Movement leaders:

Mousavi was quite upset about the attack, but he was not going to let terrorists hijack the green movement—which was how the support for Mousavi was becoming known.  Mousavi had decided to tell his supporters to take to the streets one more time and avoid any confrontation with the police and the Guards that could provoke further violence.

Bahari subsequently published an article in Newsweek on the incident, “Who’s Behind Tehran’s Violence?  Opposition supporters worry about their movement being hijacked.”  The piece, which came out just days before Bahari was arrested, quotes a peaceful demonstrator:

“I think some small terrorist groups and criminal gangs are taking advantage of the situation.  Thirty years after the revolution and 20 years after the war, the majority of Iranians despise violence and terror. My worry is that if the government doesn’t allow reforms to take place, we will fall into a terrorism abyss like the years after the revolution.”

Bahari writes:

“The supposed reelection of Ahmadinejad was a gift to such groups. On their Web sites they claim that the alleged rigging of the vote has revealed the true face of the regime. (Like some Israeli commentators, they argue that the victory of a moderate like Mousavi would actually extend the life of the regime.) It is true that in the past, whenever hardliners have intensified their grip, these groups have gained more support. They reacted angrily when pro-reform Mohammad Khatami was elected president in 1997.”

The vast majority of Iranians don’t want these groups to have any part in their movement for democracy.  They continue to be wary of attempts by violent groups to “hijack” their movement and risk reigniting a vicious cycle of violence that would undermine well over a century of work toward democracy in Iran.  De-listing the MEK would do just that.

  • 8 July 2011
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 2 Comments
  • MEK

Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) Factsheet

MEK=TERROR
In a matter of weeks, a terrorist group known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) may succeed in getting removed from the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations — not as a result of any change of heart — but as a result of an unprecedented and possibly illegal multi-million dollar media and lobbying blitz.

Iranian Americans know the truth about the MEK, but high-priced public relations and lobbying firms are hard at work trying to whitewash the MEK’s violent and disturbing record. And while they’ve been remarkably successful, they can’t completely escape the truth.  So, for the record, here are the facts about the MEK (you can find this and more at www.mekterror.com):

  • The State Department reports the MEK is a terrorist group that has murdered innocent Americans and maintains “the will and capacity” to commit terrorist attacks within the U.S. and beyond. [1]
  • The MEK claims to have renounced terrorism in 2001, but a 2004 FBI report states “the MEK is currently actively involved in planning and executing acts of terrorism.” [2]
  • RAND and Human Rights Watch have reported that the MEK is a cult that abuses its own members. [3] [4]
  • MEK has no popular support in Iran and has been denounced by the Green Movement, Iran’s peaceful democratic opposition movement.[5]

Iran’s Opposition Green Movement Rejects the MEK

  • The leaders of the Green Movement, Iran’s true popular opposition movement, have denounced the MEK and warned that the Iranian government seeks to discredit Iran’s opposition by associating it with the MEK:
  • “The Iranian Government is trying to connect those who truly love their country (the Greens) with the MEK to revive this hypocritical dead organization.” – Mehdi Karroubi, Green Movement leader. [6]
  • “The MEK can’t be part of the Green Movement. This bankrupt political group is now making some laughable claims, but the Green Movement and the MEK have a wall between them and all of us, including myself, Mr. Mousavi, Mr. Khatami, and Mr. Karroubi.” – Zahra Rahnavard, Women’s rights activist and wife of Green Movement leader Mir Hossein Mousavi[7]

Iraqi National Congress Redux?

  • The MEK claims it is “the main opposition in Iran,” yet similar to Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress that helped bring the United States into war with Iraq, the MEK is an exiled organization that has no popular support within Iran. [8]
  • RAND reports that the MEK are “skilled manipulators of public opinion.” The MEK has a global support network with active lobbying and propaganda efforts in major Western capitals. [9]
  • Members of Congress have been deceived and misinformed into supporting this terrorist  organization:
  • In 2002, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen led efforts for the U.S. to support the group, prompting then-Chairman and the Ranking Member of the House International Affairs Committee, Henry Hyde and Tom Lantos, to send a Dear Colleague warning against supporting the MEK.  They cautioned that many Members had been “embarrassed when confronted with accurate information about the MEK.” [10]
  • In the current Congress, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) have each introduced resolutions calling for MEK to be removed from the Foreign Terrorist Organization list.

A Capacity and Will to Commit Terrorist Acts in the U.S. & Beyond

  • The Bush administration determined in 2007 that “MEK leadership and members across the world maintain the capacity and will to commit terrorist acts in Europe, the Middle East, the United States, Canada, and beyond.” [11]
  • The Canadian and Australian governments have also designated the MEK as a terrorist organization. The Canadian government just reaffirmed its designation in December. [12] [13]
  • An EU court removed the MEK from its list of terrorist organizations, but only due to procedural reasons.  According to a spokesperson for the Council of the European Union, the EU court “did not enter into the question of defining or not the PMOI [MEK] as a terrorist organization.” [14]

Saddam Hussein’s Terrorist Militia

  • The MEK received all of its military assistance and most of its financial support from Saddam Hussein, including funds illegally siphoned from the UN Oil-for-Food Program, until 2003. [15]
  • The MEK helped execute Saddam’s bloody crackdown on Iraqi Shia and Kurds. Maryam Rajavi, the MEK’s permanent leader, instructed her followers to “take the Kurds under your tanks.” [16]

A Cult That Abuses Its Own Members

  • Human Rights Watch reports that MEK commits extensive human rights abuses against its own members at Camp Ashraf, including “torture that in two cases led to death.” [17]
  • A RAND report commissioned by DOD found that the MEK is a cult that utilizes practices such as mandatory divorce, celibacy, authoritarian control, forced labor, sleep deprivation, physical abuse, confiscation of assets, emotional isolation, and the imprisonment of dissident members. [18]
  • RAND concluded that up to 70% of the MEK members at their Camp Ashraf headquarters were likely recruited through deception and are kept there against their will. [19]
  • The FBI reports that the MEK’s “NLA [National Liberation Army] fighters are separated from their children who are sent to Europe and brought up by the MEK’s Support Network. […] These children are then returned to the NLA to be used as fighters upon coming of age.  Interviews also revealed that some of these children were told that their parents would be harmed if the children did not cooperate with the MEK. ”[20]

A History of Anti-Americanism

  • One of the founding ideologies of the MEK is anti-Americanism—the MEK is responsible for murdering American businessmen, military personnel, and even a senior American diplomat. [21]
  • The MEK strongly supported the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979, vigorously opposed their eventual release, and chastised the government for not executing the hostages. [22]

The MEK was Not “Added” to the FTO List as a Goodwill Gesture to Iran

Delisting MEK: Disastrous Repercussions

The MEK is opposed by the Iranian people due to its history of terrorist attacks against civilians in Iran and its close alliance with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war.

  1. The greatest beneficiaries of delisting MEK would be Ahmadinejad and Iranian hardliners who seek to link the U.S. and the Green Movement to MEK.
  2. U.S. support for MEK would be used as a propaganda tool by hardliners to delegitimize and destroy Iran’s true democracy movement.
  3. American credibility among the Iranian people would be ruined if the U.S. supported this group.

Full citations below the fold:

  • 7 July 2011
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 0 Comments
  • MEK, Neo-Con Agenda

MEKterror.com

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcreI2qaj9I&feature=player_embedded]

Yesterday, NIAC launched www.MEKterror.com, a resource for information on the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and to mobilize grassroots action to put an end to the MEK’s campaign of political pressure and intimidation in Washington.

Despite being designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the State Department—which is supposed to prevent terrorist groups from receiving material support from or coordinating activities with Americans—the MEK and its affiliates are doing just that.  They have been given a free hand to organize an unprecedented political and media blitz in Washington to pressure Congress and the State Department to remove MEK from the terror list.  Why are the laws not being enforced?

The decision on MEK’s terrorist listing will be coming from the State Department soon, likely in August.  We  need to make sure that decision is based on the facts, not manipulated by (likely illegal) political pressure.  We also need to make sure elected officials and policy makers are not fooled by the MEK into thinking they are supported by the Iranian people, Iran’s peaceful democracy movement, or the Iranian-American community.  So, we launched our campaign to provide factual information about the MEK and to organize grassroots action to ensure the voices of the Iranian-American community are accurately represented.

To help take action, please send a letter to U.S. government officials calling on them to enforce the law and explaining why Iranians and Iranian-Americans do not support MEK, despite the groups absurd claims.  For more information about why NIAC is engaging in this effort, what would be the ramifications of taking MEK off the terrorist list, and further ways you can support the campaign, visit www.MEKterror.com.

  • 18 March 2011
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Human Rights in Iran, MEK, Neo-Con Agenda, US-Iran War

Experts Warn Against MEK Terrorist Group’s Lobbying Efforts

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnDkGJNcqyo]

One exchange of note at NIAC’s Answering the Iranian People’s Call for Human Rights conference on Capitol Hill centered on the terror group Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK.

The MEK is currently ramping up its lobbying efforts in Congress to be taken off the Foreign Terrorist Organization list, which would enable it to raise money in the US and even receive US government assistance.  Some have called the MEK an Ahmad Chalabi/Iraqi National Congress-esque group that will similarly be utilized by pro-war interests to push for an Iran war.  [Time: Why Are Some U.S. Politicians Trying to Remove an Iranian ‘Cult’ From the Terror List?]

“The Mujahedin-e Khalq are not a serious organization,” said Nader Hashemi of the University of Denver, when asked by a staffer from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to assess the consequences of removing the group from the terror list.

The staffer highlighted “increasingly louder calls in Washington that the MEKs designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization be lifted,” on the basis that some policymakers consider the group a potential US ally because it is the “enemy of our enemy.”  But, the staffer said, “reports suggest that their human rights record is not so spotless and they are immensely disliked in Iran.”

Questioning whether to take the group off the terror list, Hashemi responded, “represents the disconnect that exists in the US Congress with the domestic reality in Iran.”

“The Mujahedin-e Khalq are viewed universally in Iran as an appendage of Saddam Hussein’s army.  They are a personality cult.  They have zero support except maybe a handful of followers who live abroad.”

Human Rights Watch’s Sarah Leah Whitson, who was also on the panel, warned strongly against the US working the group.  “It would open the US to ridicule to have any association with MEK, especially because of its utter irrelevancy and bizarreness,” she said.  “The fact that a number of former government officials were recently trotting around giving speeches on their behalf and earning money from the MEK is farcical.”

Whitson highlighted a Human Rights Watch’s report on the MEK:

“We did an investigation on MEK’s practices in Camp Ashraf…where the MEK was stationed with a fairly sizable milita for many years, protected by Saddam Hussein’s government.  And what we documented was extensive practices of torture, mock executions, a few cases of killings against Mujahedin-e Khalq members who wanted to leave the organization, which I think was correctly characterized as cult-like in its practices of requiring submission by their members…I think it has a real dubious record as possible saviors of the Iranian people.”

Alireza Nader of the RAND Corporation recommended that policymakers read a 2009 RAND report on MEK.  The report, commissioned by the Defense Department, also finds that MEK is a cult in which rank and file members are abused by leadership Camp Ashraf.

According to Nader:

“[The MEK’s] objectives are not very clear, what it wants to do with Iran if it could take power.  It’s not a democratic movement by any means, even former members have described it as undemocratic.  So I don’t think that it would help US interests to remove the MEK from the [terrorist] list.  It could actually complicate our policies towards Iran.”

Several resolutions have been introduced in the House, including two this year, calling for the MEK to be removed from the terror list.  Some lawmakers have even referred to MEK as “Iran’s main opposition movement” in spite of Green Movement denunciations of the organization.

  • 23 January 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, MEK

Hillary Mann Leverett on Iran’s offer: bin Ladin son for MEK

Check out Hillary Mann Leverett’s extremely inciteful post over at the Washington Note about the Iran-Saad bin Ladin connection.

On Saturday, the New York Times and other media outlets reported on a statement from Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell that Saad bin Ladin, one of Osama bin Laden’s sons, had left “house arrest” in Iran and is now in Pakistan.

McConnell’s statement underscores the message of my last post — that there have been real strategic costs imposed on U.S. interests by the Bush Administration’s brain dead approach to dealing with Iran. Moreover, the poor quality of the mainstream media’s reporting on McConnell’s statement reflects a distorted and by-now deeply ingrained view of what happened in our interactions with Iran about Al Qaida. If incoming President Obama and his administration are really serious about putting U.S.-Iranian relations on a more positive trajectory, they must be prepared to challenge the misleading assumptions and assertions that warp public discussion of our Iran policy.

  • 5 March 2008
  • Posted By Babak Talebi
  • 23 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Iranian American activism, Neo-Con Agenda

Disrupting Discourse

On February 22, Amnesty International hosted a panel presentation and discussion titled, “Human Rights in Iran: How to Move Forward,” in Beverly Hills, California. The event was disrupted by Mohammad Parvin’s MEHR-Iran organization, various monarchist factions, and members of the outlawed Iranian Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK); and was cancelled after the opening remarks.

Download Farsi version in PDF 

Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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