US Pentagon Trained Iranian terrorists in Nevada: Hersh

For those who missed this this weekend.

The intrepid Seymour Hersh reports at the New Yorker that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) of the US military gave members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK or People’s Holy Jihadis) training in signals intelligence at a facility in Nevada during the Bush era. The MEK was then and is now on the US State Department’s terrorism watch list, so the Pentagon’s deployment of this group was quite illegal.

The MEK was given a base in eastern Iraq by Saddam Hussein, who used the some 4,000 guerrillas who gathered there to harass the Islamic Republic of Iran. The MEK had its origins in an Islamic-Marxist guerrilla group of the 1970s that fought the forces of the Shah. It joined in the revolution against the Shah in 1978-79 but broke with the Khomeini regime and turned to a massive campaign of bombing and sniping against it. In return, the regime killed some 10,000 suspected MEK members, many of whom it just shot down in the street. The group evolved into a political cult, with insistence on glaze-eyed absolute obedience to the leader, Maryam Rajavi, and cult-like practices such as forced marriages and divorces (not to mention the long history of violence inside Iran).

When the US occupied Iraq, some in the Pentagon adopted the MEK at Camp Ashraf near the Iranian border for use against Iran. The MEK has bought a lot of big American politicians and seems to have promised the Israelis it would recognize Israel if it ever came to power in Iran; figures connected to the Israel lobbies have hypocritically campaigned to have the MEK delisted as a terrorist organization, despite it long and bloody record of attacks on civilians. As recently as this year, NBC quoted unnamed US government officials alleging that the MEK has been assassinating Iranian scientists in Iran.

Hersh reveals a trail of blatant hypocrisy on the part of the US government. “Our” terrorists are not terrorists even if they have blown up non-combatants, but national liberation groups such as Hizbullah in Lebanon are designated terrorists. Government officials have even brandished the word “terrorism” to describe perfectly peaceful protesters and dissidents inside the US, while JSOC was flying dyed-in-the-wool terrorists to Nevada for training.

The USG Open Source Center translated a report in the MEK newspaper regarding the hobnobbing of Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton and others with the MEK leadership in Paris recently:

“– On 24 March, the NCRI secretariat website published a report on an international conference held in Paris to address MEK concerns and issues, which was attended by NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi as well as former high ranking officials from the United States and Europe including Rudy Giuliani, Tom Ridge, John Bolton, Patrick Kennedy, and Colonel Wesley Martin.. According to the report, the issues raised included the adoption of a “decisive policy” against Iran’s regime, protection of the rights of Camp Ashraf and Liberty residents, and the elimination of MEK’s “terrorist label.” Rajavi said that “the only way to prevent an Iranian atomic bomb or the occurrence of an unprecedented conflict” was “regime change” by the Iranian people and resistance. On the issue of Camp Liberty, Rudy Giuliani said: “Let us go there. Let us see it with our own eyes.” He added: “Currently the enemy of stopping Iran becoming nuclear is appeasement. This wrong perception has made Iran more determined in becoming nuclear. Let us stop appeasement. Let us stop the efforts for negotiations. Stop writing letters to the ayatollahs. Let us rise up and say as Americans that we are for regime change in Iran and we will take every step necessary to stop Iran becoming nuclear” (National Council of Resistance of Iran in Persian — Website of an exiled political umbrella coalition of Marxist and Islamist organizations — Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO), National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA), People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI), National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and Muslim Iranian Students Society (MISS); on US State Department’s list of terrorist groups since 1997; URL:”

As Sheila Musaji points out, lots of American Muslims are in jail for ‘material support of terrorism,’ but American politicians and pundits get a free pass for actively supporting the MEK– which, remember, is definitively on the terrorism watch list.

Note to the US government and the Neocons: George Orwell’s 1984 was a dark political satire, not a blueprint for how you should do things.

Posted in Iraq | 14 Responses | Print |

14 Responses

  1. TMP ran and article on Mitt’s links to MEK. Reiss is working to have MEK removed from the terrorist list – just in time for Mitt to take the reins of White House – at least it is their hope.

    Romney Advisor Mitchell Reiss Backs ‘Terrorist’ Group, Jokes About Being ‘Potential Criminal’

    link to

    In 2011 Romney was oddly unfamiliar with MEK,

    link to

    Romney’s doesn’t know what is MEK? It has been over a year, and Romney still has the same advisor on his team.

  2. You write, “The MEK was then and is now on the US State Department’s terrorism watch list, so the Pentagon’s deployment of this group was quite illegal.” Well, possibly not illegal if the government is doing it, who knows what the statute says and what the courts say?

    More to the point, the government alone may prosecute the crimes of terrorism, and the government has definitively shown a practice of prosecuting — to the hilt — Muslims who aid Hamas-related hospitals but declining to prosecute American “notables” who aid the MEK.

    Prosecutorial discretion is the key to the “rule of MEN” rather than the “rule of LAW”.

  3. Hersch made an interesting observation in an interview in Austin last week that is also worth noting, about why Israel is ostensible beating the drums for an attack on Iran, when neither the US or Israel intelligence services think (much less have evidence) Iran has a nuclear weapons program: that it simply distracts Obama and the world from the ongoing colonization of the West Bank. This idea really does add-up.

    Still, Israel has been yelling and screaming so long about the existential Iranian threat (sic) that it strikes me they cannot let it go without their tough guy regional street cred being compromised. Add to that the reality, IMHO, that Obama isn’t buying into all this hype and doesn’t appreciate how they’ve been bullying him, and that Israel’s political leverage over the US will decline in November (assuming Obama is re-elected).

    I’d think both things were true.

    • It doesn’t just distract the world, it distracts Israeli voters from asking the taboo question about the colonization: does it really benefit ordinary Israelis in the long run, or is it a scam to enrich elite groups who have become the capitalist class of a country which formerly did not have one?

      This question could well be asked of all programs of territorial expansion in history.

      • It also benefits the Israeli-US military industrial complex relationship, which is an under reported fact. Israel being constantly under threat, extermination, etc. plays into the idea that we have to continuously provide Israel with the most up to date, high tech military technology and equipment every year.

        What we give Israel on a military basis has increased every year I’m quite sure.

  4. Wow, old Seymour is like a gift that just keeps on giving. Too bad he is such a rarity and endangered species in what passes for media in the Excited Snakes of Imperialism!

    • Really, the New Yorker has done a lot of good work with current affairs along these lines. More power to them.

      I kinda think Hersch has been manipulated by Israel/neocons/Bush43adm to some degree in the past, as when his sources promised action was imminent against Iran…. 6-8 yrs ago! These people are nothing if not clever, so hopefully Hersh and the others will not be misled by those who would would want to hijack their influence.

  5. Why is this any big surprise given American support of terrorist activities against our “enemies”.

    Remember the book “The Fish is Red” by former FBI agent William Turner about the support by U.S. intelligence for terrorist groups trying to overthrow Fidel Castro.

    According to Noam Chomsky the CIA’s Operation Mongoose not only operated to try to destabilize the Cuban government all through the 1960s but also through the 1970s and may have existed as late as when Noam completed his study on the matter in 1989. The issuance of the Church Committee report and the findings of the House Select Committee on Assassinations published in 1979 caused intense public scrutiny of those CIA activities but they continued anyway.

    The CIA actually, according to the Cuban operatives themselves, were trained in covert operations such as bombings and did strike Cuban facilities, including downing a jetliner carrying Cuban athletes in 1978 and attack against the Cuban agricultural and industrial infrastructure during those years.

    The fact that Mr. Hersh is now indicating that an anti-government Iranian group on a terrorist watchlist is being supported and trained by our own government is nothing new and therefore unsuprising as a terror group attacking U.S. enemies is the best friend of U.S. intelligence. The jihadists who engaged in a bloody insurgency against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s were trained and supplied by American intelligence. A segment of those U.S. intelligence operatives later turned against Western interests as international terrorists, including one or more of the perpetrators of the 1993 WTC bombing e.g. Ramzi Yousef. They had Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank guns when they fought the Soviets that were supplied by the U.S government. The rest is history.

    The fact that the United States government and apparently pro-Israel elements are giving support to this goofy violent group to destabilize Iran is an indication of imprudent foreign policy. If they start using this American training against Western interests to engage in terrorist activity, then the U.S. officials who authorized this training should be held accountable; in fact they should be held accountable now to the extent any laws were violated.

  6. And exactly where does the MEK obtain its financing? To my knowledge it has never held a bake sale. Paying tens of thousands of dollars to prominent American politicians is just a tiny portion of the cost of maintaining its facility in Iraq, running events in Paris and New York, sustaining operational networks in Iran, etc. Does the funding come from Saudi Arabia? Israel? the United States? One assumes active US intelligence efforts to track terrorist financing as this has been a recurring charge against Muslim organizations and individuals in the United States, so who finances the MEK?

  7. Just so you know Juan — and fantastic reporting as usual! — once this article hits the archives, you’ll be inundated with sock puppets with names like “NJJE233” praising the MEK and denouncing you as Iranian Intelligence. It’s a strange feature of the comment sections of almost every article covering this controversy, and I think it’s a CIA contractor practicing some new offensive technology (on the American people).

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