Forbs blog – By ABIGAIL R. ESMAN – Jun. 19 2011 – The Iranian Mujahideen e Khalq, (MEK), also known as the People’s Mujahideen Organization of Iran (PMOI), has found some unlikely supporters in its latest request for protection from the UN – including former homeland security secretary Tom Ridge, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former congressman Patrick Kennedy. Yet the organization, based in Camp Ashraf, Iraq, is listed as a terrorist group in the United States (and until recently, in Europe) – an irony, its leaders say, given that it, like the US and European Union, opposes the Iranian regime.
Yesterday, the PMOI held a rally in Villepinte, France, calling for UN protection against Iraqi forces that have tried to eradicate the group, and in light of the murder of 35 of its (unarmed) members last April by the Iraqi military. According to Al Jazeera English, Ridge stated at the event, “”The terrorist organisation that the United States should be worried about is Iran, not the MEK […] The reason that the MEK is such a thorn in their side is simply because they are looking to lead a different Iran, a peaceful Iran, a tolerant Iran, a non-nuclear Iran, and it’s for that reason that I’m here in strong support, with a lot of other people, and have been for the past couple of years, Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives in the United States and elsewhere, to delist the MEK and protect the inhabitants as we find a safer havens for them to live and raise their families, and one time, hopefully, to replace the tyrannical regime in Tehran.”
The group was banned in 1981 by Iran’s Islamist regime, and later, during the Iran-Iraq war, relocated to Iraq at Camp Ashraf, outside of Baghdad, according to the Agence France Press (AFP). Since then, it has come under attack by Iraqi forces, including the April raid, in which 300 were injured in addition to the 35 killed. Many allege that the Iraqi military maintains close ties with the Iranian regime.
As a result, according to Agence France Press, “Rudy Giuliani has called for PMOI to be removed ‘immediately’ from the black list of terrorist organizations in the United States, as has been done by the EU in 2009. The United States should take a decision on it in less than six months, said a U.S. official in early May.”
Is this another instance of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend?” Do we need to re-examine the way we define a “terrorist group” in the first place? Or are opponents of the Iranian regime, as Ridge states, not terrorists at all, but victims of misrepresentation? What is clear is that the unity of thought on the issue – from Andrew Card to Patrick Kennedy – suggests that the least that can be done is to provide the group’s members protection of life and limb. And if that will help create a bond between the MEK and the West’s own desire to overthrow the Iranian regime, so much, in the end, the better.