US State Department Goes “Further Than Ever Before” in Statement on MEK for BBC Documentary

The BBC World Service has broadcast a documentary on the MEK, presented by Owen Bennett-Jones and entitled “The Strange World of the People’s Mujahedin”. The end of the programme includes the following:

Bennett-Jones: In an exclusive statement for this programme, [the State Department has] gone further than ever before in clearly stating what it thinks of the MEK as a political force. Henry Wooster* is a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.

Wooster: Let’s cut to the heart of the matter on the MEK. They are not a viable opposition, despite their claims to be the best hopes for democratic reform in Iran. They control their members through measures such as mandatory divorce and celibacy, sleep deprivation, public shaming, and unquestioning devotion to their leader, among other techniques. The regime in Tehran notwithstanding, the US has no evidence or confidence that the MEK is an organisation that can promote the democratic values we’d all like to see in Iran. It would be unwise policy to suggest otherwise.

The programme also includes sceptical comment from John Limbert, who is a former US hostage in Iran and US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran, and from Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institute; Riedel claims to know “up to a half dozen” individuals who have turned down invitations to speak on behalf if the group. There’s also input from ex-members, who allege abuse.

Bennett-Jones also speaks to a number of MEK supporters, mostly American but also including Ken Maginnis, a member of the House of Lords who became involved with the issue after being approached by a MEK activist in a street in Oxford (I’ve come across them in London from time to time).

Bennett-Jones lets both sides have their say, but MEK’s supporters have responded with a preemptive statement published yesterday, quoting “Brigadier General David Phillips, Commander of the 89th Military Police Brigade (2004 – 2005), and Colonel Wes Martin, Antiterrorism Officer for all Coalition Forces in Iraq (2003 – 2004) and Commander of Camp Ashraf (2006)”:

“In recent weeks, the producers of this report at BBC Radio asked for interviews about Camp Ashraf residents and related issues. We initially welcomed the interviews.  However, during the communications and in view of the questions asked, a picture of an unfair process with biased political objective and pre-determined agenda developed.  It is disturbing that the net result of this report will be condemnation of the Iranian opposition, as well as helping to set the world stage for indifference to another massacre such as occurred in 2009 and 2011. A part of this BBC team’s actions that was incomprehensible and unjustifiable for us was the insistence of the producers to rely on selected individuals who identify themselves to be former PMOI members as their witnesses and sources. We know many of these people very well and are fully aware of their relations with the fundamentalist Iranian government.”

MEK is also currently in the news over the a claim made by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker that members were  secretly given training in Nevada in and after 2005.

I previously blogged on MEK in 2008.

*Pronounced “Henry Worcester”, and also spelt that way by the Daily Mail.

6 Responses

  1. Owen Bennett-Jones have made this report against PMOI just because he knows that the State Department have got to make a decisions to De-List PMOI that is why he came up with these lies against this Organization. He Forgot to say or emphasize that So many Distinguished personalities from all around the globe in Europe and USA can not be dumb, like him.
    it was very unproffessionally made against PMOI and the residents of Ashraf who are being forcibly relocated to Camp Liberty . Shame on BBC and yes it really deserves to be called Ayatollah BBC

  2. WELL WHAT IS OBVIOUS IS THAT THE IRANIAN REGIME DOES HAVE A BIG PROPAGANDA AGAINST PMOI BUT WHAT DOES THE COURTS IN US AND UK AND EU SAY. BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO DEAL WITH FACTS NOT LIES.
    UK COURT ORDERED THE GOVERNMENT TO DE-LIST PMOI NOT ONCE BUT SEVERAL OF TIMES
    EU COURT ORDERED THE GOVERNMENT TO DE-LIST PMOI NOT ONCE BUT SEVERAL OF TIMES
    US COURT ORDERED THE GOVERNMENT TO DE-LIST PMOI NOT ONCE BUT SEVERAL OF TIMES
    THEY WHERE DE-LISTED IN UK AND EU. IN US THE STATE DEPARTMENT HAD 2 YEARS TO COME UP WITH EVIDENCE AND IN ITS FINAL RESPOND TO THE COURT IT SIMPLY SAID THAT THE SECRETARY OF STATE IS TOO BUSY!!!
    WHAT DO WE CONCLUDE? PMOI IS NOT A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION

    • If they use terrorist tactics then they are terrorists, no matter their goal or opposition.

      P.S. Your caps-lock is stuck.

  3. I had a dilemma when I started to edit Family Security Matters in the spring of 2010. One of the contributors was based in the refugee camp at Ashraf in Iraq (which has been attacked by pro-Khomeinist forces and whose predicament is now more acute with the prime minister of Iraq having close ties to the Iranian regime).

    As an editor I had to make a judgement call. This contributor was openly describing himself as a PMOI (i.e. MEK) member. Despite moves by other contributors to have the US State Dept terrorist designation removed, and despite the fact that this contributor did produce accurate accounts of the situation in Iran, I could not run his pieces. The previous editor was not too aware of who and what the MEK/PMOI were.

    According to US law, by acting as a mouthpiece for a terrorist organisation, it is a crime to support and give assistance to a group designated as a terrorist group. I not only refused to run stories sent to me by this contributor, but also insisted that all previous articles by this contributor were removed.

    There was a reason for the group being banned. Americans were killed by PMOI in the 1970s when the USA sponsored the Pahlavi monarchy.

    It is ironic that so many “rightwing” American commenters and former members of the military are so supportive of the group being undesignated. The MEK/PMOI are ardent Marxists.

    I am not fully aware of these claims of “cult status”, but in my blogging days I had to stop quoting from articles presented by “Iran Focus” as this too was a propaganda outlet of PMOI.

    I wish to see the overthrow of the heartless Islamist/Khomeinist regime in Iran, and I sympathise with the Marxists who were duped by Khomeini to help him to gain power. Many of these were then slaughtered at home by Ayatollah Khalkhali and hunted down, even when in the US (look up David Belfield) and France.

    However, I wonder what sort of regime the PMOI would put in the Mullahs’ place. And would they really have the support of the people? The world has changed from the days of the 1978-9 revolution. The PMOI existed long before this revolution.

    For emergent governments Marxism made political sense – to a degree – when the Soviet Empire was funding revolutions globally and supporting Marxist regimes. But nowadays, with the rise of mobile phone technology, the people who are oppressed by the Bassij at home have a view of the outside world not filtered through the propaganda of “pro-USA” or “pro-Soviet” dogma.

    I hope the PMOI has permanently abandoned violence, but I also would remind American conservatives (who are implacably opposed to Marxism at home) of the old adage: “The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend.”

  4. > Re: The Strange World of PMOI

    > I am sure that you would agree that it is wrong to intentionally try to fool your audience. I am a medical student and half Iranian (father British and mother Iranian) and luckily I am informed.
    > In the first instance, I object to the name ‘The Strange World of PMOI’, as well as to the content of your program. I am sorry to find that the BBC is so willing to put aside any sort of journalistic integrity purely to toe the line of the Iran Desk at the Foreign Office – particularly at a time when the media has been under such scrutiny. I am trying to determine whether you can really believe you have produced a balanced presentation of the case. Sadly, I simply can’t see how. Shame on you.
    > There are millions of ordinary supporters of the PMOI across the world (listeners of Radio 4 and the World Service) who could have offered their point of view to counter the individuals who have broken away from PMOI (in fact, agents of the Iranian regime) who act as proxies of the regime in Iran for their own rewards.
    > Since my objection started with the words you have chosen to introduce the program, I feel it is appropriate to prove my point by ending with the way you ended the program: the supporters are paid, some are naïve and taking the MEK’s self portrait on trust.
    > Please allow me to inform you that my family and many we know have deep, well-informed, critical and legitimate beliefs in the PMOI and strongly support their attribute as a force for good and the only credible resistance to the regime in Iran. We are not the only ones: General Wesley Martin is neither paid nor Iranian. Furthermore, he spent a considerable period of time with the residents of Ashraf in Iraq trying to scrutinize their intentions. I wonder how this falls below your fact finding mission – is it only that it is a source of accurate and reliable primary evidence? Apparently so; this seems to have been the only criteria of elimination for your program I can see.

    > As a young person, particularly one who considers herself as British, it is uncomfortable for me to see such corruption veining the media, particularly the BBC. My understanding of journalism is that it is supposed to bring the truth to the fore, to enlighten its public, so the fall is truly mighty when the example concerns something so important and with such a wealth of irrefutable evidence that it has been proved in the Courts at home as well as abroad. The BBC is letting politics dirty its hands.

    > I would like to live in a world where generations before me and during my lifetime have done their best to give peace a chance.
    > I hope my letter will prompt you to think about the BBC’s reputation and encourage you to research your facts with open mind and eyes and to present them as such.

    > I would also like to end with a challenge: please interview me and a few other enlightened young individuals and allow us to present our views on the matter. Feel free to try to pick holes in our arguments. You will find that reasonable discussion and logic is very convincing.

    > Regards,

    > Susan Stokes

  5. “Your program”? This is a direct copy-and-paste, “Susan Stokes” and as such should be listed as a quote, and not masquerading as a comment on this article.

    Perhaps if the PMOI wanted to be taken more seriously, they should remove from their logo the Hezbollah-style arm carrying a gun. (and also brandishing a hammer and sickle).

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/69/People%27s_Mujahedeen_of_Iran_logo.png

    Hardly makes PMOI look like a peaceful organisation, does it?

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