Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Declaration By 3,000 Iraqi Sheikhs

The Washington Times
March 14, 2007

Iraq Intensifies Efforts to Expel Iranian Group

The Washington Post
By Ernesto Londoño and Saad al-Izzi
Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Though Labeled Terrorist, MEK Has Updated U.S. on Tehran's Nuclear Program

BAGHDAD -- For three years, thousands of members of a militant group dedicated to overthrowing Iran's theocracy have lived in a sprawling compound north of Baghdad under the protection of the U.S. military.

American soldiers chauffeur top leaders of the group, known as the Mujaheddin-e Khalq, or MEK, to and from their compound, where they have hosted dozens of visitors in an energetic campaign to persuade the State Department to stop designating the group as a terrorist organization.

Now the Iraqi government is intensifying its efforts to evict the 3,800 or so members of the group who live in Iraq, although U.S. officials say they are in no hurry to change their policy toward the MEK, which has been a prime source of information about Iran's nuclear program.

The Iraqi government announced this week that roughly 100 members would face prosecution for human rights violations, a move MEK officials contend comes at the request of the Iranian government.

"We have documents, witnesses," Jaafar al-Moussawi, a top Iraqi prosecutor, said Monday, alleging that the MEK aided President Saddam Hussein's campaign to crush Shiite and Kurdish opposition movements at the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Moussawi said the criminal complaint would implicate MEK members in "killing, torture, [wrongful] imprisonment and displacement."

The group denied involvement in Hussein's reprisals.

"These allegations are preposterous and lies made by the Iranian mullahs and repeated by their agents," it said in a statement issued this week.

The case highlights the occasional discord between the U.S. and Iraqi governments on matters related to Iran. While the U.S. government has accused Iran of supplying Iraqi Shiite militias with sophisticated weapons that it says have been used to kill American troops, Iraq's Shiite-led government has expanded commercial and diplomatic ties with its majority-Shiite neighbor.

"This organization has always destabilized the security situation" in Iraq, said Mariam Rayis, a top foreign affairs adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, adding that the MEK's continued presence "could lead to deteriorating the relationship with neighboring countries."

MEK leaders dispute the prosecutor's allegations. They contend that Iran has infiltrated Iraq's political leadership while also supporting militant groups in an effort to keep the United States in a quagmire in Iraq. They also say the Iranian government wants to forestall a U.S. attack on Iran.

"The Iranian regime wants very much to prevent the winds of change," Behzad Saffari, a spokesman for the group, said in a recent interview at a Baghdad hotel. "Instead of fighting the Americans in Iran, [the Iranian government] is fighting them in Iraq. If we have to leave Iraq, it means the Americans are defeated. It means Iran has prevailed."

Maliki told officials from neighboring countries during a meeting in Baghdad on Saturday that Iraq should not become a battleground where other nations attempt to settle their disputes.

The Iranian Embassy in Baghdad did not reply to questions about the MEK.

The MEK, also known as the People's Mujaheddin of Iran, was founded by students at Tehran University in 1965 as an opposition movement to Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the country's U.S.-backed dictator. The group clashed with that government and later with the Islamic Republic established by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979.

In 1986, the MEK moved its headquarters to Iraq, where Hussein welcomed the organization. MEK fighters have been widely accused of backing Hussein's suppression of the Shiite and Kurdish uprisings, but MEK officials say Kurdish leaders have absolved them of playing a role in the crackdown on Kurds.

In 1997, during a period of warmer relations between Washington and Tehran under the Clinton administration, the State Department added the MEK to its list of foreign terrorist organizations.

The group's leader, Maryam Rajavi, lives in Paris. She has a cultlike following among members, some of whom set themselves on fire to protest her brief arrest in 2003 after French officials raided the group's offices. Rajavi has led efforts to have the group's terror label removed in the United States and Europe. In December, a European court overturned an E.U. order freezing the group's assets. The European Union has not removed the group from its terrorist list.

The MEK says it has several thousand members in Iran, but the extent of its support base is unclear. Most exiled members live in the camp at Ashraf, north of Baghdad.

After Hussein was toppled, the MEK agreed to turn over its weapons to U.S. military officials. In 2004, the U.S. military granted its members the status of "protected persons" under the Geneva Conventions and has since provided security for the camp.

Shortly after the camp was set up, FBI and State Department officials screened residents and found no evidence that would lead them to charge anyone with a crime.

A Washington Post special correspondent toured Camp Ashraf in January. It is a largely self-sufficient compound, and the majority of members haven't left in years. It has shops, a swimming pool, an ice cream store, a bakery and a soda factory that makes a cola- and orange-flavored drink locals call Ashraf Cola.

Last summer, Maliki gave the group six months to leave Iraq. Although the deadline has elapsed, Iraqi officials say they intend to expel the group after getting parliamentary approval.

MEK officers argue that their expulsion would be a violation of international law and have obtained a legal opinion to that effect from the U.N. refugee agency. They say they should be treated as refugees, not terrorists.

Lou Fintor, the spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, said there has been no change in the government's position toward the MEK. A U.S. military spokesman in Iraq did not respond to questions about the MEK.

A senior U.S. military official who spoke on condition of anonymity said protecting the MEK was "not a big drain on our resources," adding, "This is a political problem between Iraq, Iran and the MEK."

If the group is expelled, it is unclear where Ashraf residents would go or what other country might take them. MEK leaders refuse to speak about such a scenario, reiterating that their expulsion would be illegal.

The leaders say they are a main source of intelligence on Iran and question why the United States keeps the group on its terrorist list.

"All the important things that are talked about are things revealed by us," said Mohammad Mohaddessin chairman of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the MEK's political arm, referring to information about Iran's nuclear ambitions and, more recently, the roadside bombs the United States says Iran has made available to insurgents in Iraq.

Moussawi, the Iraqi prosecutor, said the human rights case is not politically motivated. The issue of expulsion, which is not directly related to the pending criminal charges, is expected to come before the Iraqi parliament in coming weeks.

Some lawmakers have criticized Maliki for making the issue a priority at a time when Iraq is besieged by more serious problems.

"If you take it from a humanitarian side, I don't think they should leave until the situation can be resolved," Saleh al-Mutlak, a Sunni lawmaker, said in an interview. "It is surprising that the government of Iraq is giving such an order. This will only show that the Maliki government will obey Iran's orders."

Staff writer Ann Scott Tyson in Washington contributed to this report.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The mullahs' scandalous manipulation of Iraq's Judiciary

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran - Paris
March 12, 2007

The religious dictatorship ruling Iran has resorted to a new ploy against the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) in Iraq. The moves come after failure of the mullahs' successive schemes through the Iraqi government and parliament to expel the PMOI from that country.

To this end, one of Tehran's notorious agents, Jaafar al-Moussawi, acting as the Special Iraq’s Prosecutor, alleged that the PMOI had helped the Iraqi government in the crackdown on “Shiites in the south and Kurds in the north in 1991.”

The International Committee of Jurists in Defense of Ashraf (ICJDA) called for the matter to be referred to an international tribunal and demanded that the Iraqi prosecutor submit all the so-called documents to this committee.

The Iranian Resistance condemned such absurd allegations by “prosecutor of the Iraqi High Tribunal” in Baghdad and called the scheme a mockery of Iraqi judicial system by the criminal mullahs. The Iranian regime is trying to cover its crimes in Iraq and ripping off billions of dollars of their oil revenues from the people of that country. The Iranian Resistance is prepared to challenge the regime’s agents and those criminals who have been organizing and directing death squads and fomenting terrorism in Iraq. It has thousands of pages of irrefutable evidence and documents as well as detailed information that could be presented in any international court before the eyes of the world community..

The Iranian regime and its agents had been setting the stage for this conspiracy a while ago. On March 1, 2007, one of the most infamous agents of the Iranian regime, Sheikh Homam Hamoudi, took part in an interview in the company of the Iranian ambassador to Iraq, Brig. Gen. Hassan Kazami Qomi, a commander of the Revolutionary Guards Corps' Qods Force. The two accused the PMOI “of slaughtering and suppressing Iraqis in Karbala and Kalar in [Iraq’s] Kurdistan.”

On March 10, the Iranian regime’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs, Abbas Araqchi, who represented the Iranian regime in the International Conference on Iraq’s Security in Baghdad on Saturday, described the PMOI as a “major source of instability," for the mullahs' regime. He said, “We expect the Iraqi government to take the necessary measures to deal with this issue."

Yesterday, the regime’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said that “taking a firm action” against the PMOI and “refraining from sheltering, activating or using this group” is one the three pillars of the regime’s policy in Iraq and in the region. The other two demands are the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and handing over the security arrangements to the current Iraqi government.

Earlier, on January 26, 2007, the Iraqi government spokesman, Ali Dabagh, admitted in an interview with the Iranian regime’s Arab language television that he had coordinated with the Iranian regime to have the PMOI expelled from Iraq.

It is worthy of note that in January 2007, the mullahs’ regime summoned a group of its Iraqi agents to Tehran to receive Ali Khomeini’s direct orders. One instruction was to use the Iraqi judiciary in case domestic and international pressures compelled the Iraqi government to acknowledge the PMOI's 20-year residence and refugee status in Iraq.

At the same time, on February 17, 2007, in an interview with the al-Sharqiya television network in Iraq, Ali Dabagh said, “We have no intention of brining the 3,600 people [PMOI members] to trial…because we have no evidence…”

According to recognized principles of international law, the Iraqi government cannot act as both the plaintiff and judge against the PMOI as a non-Iraqi organization which enjoys extraterritorial and international legal status, unless it was intent on trampling upon international laws and statutes. In that case, the Iraqi government must go to an international tribunal, which would be welcomed by the PMOI and the NCRI.

Common Article 3 of Geneva Conventions, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, emphasize that it is mandatory to provide protection to persons taking no active part in the hostilities in the territory of a country, where armed conflict not of an international character is occurring. According to this Article, violence to life and person, in particular outrages upon personal dignity, humiliating and degrading treatment; the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples, are prohibited.

The Iranian Resistance underscores the call by the ICJDA on the Iraqi government and its prosecutor for High Tribunal to appear before an international court. It also warns against making a mockery of the Iraqi laws to set the stage for the Iranian regime's terrorist and murderous ploys against residents of Ashraf City.

Without an international tribunal with recognized standards and guarantees stipulated in Geneva Conventions, the claims by the mullahs' operatives against the PMOI lack any legal credibility and standing. These allegations only expose the extent of the meddling and interference of religious fascism ruling Iran in Iraq's political and legal institutions and agencies.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
March 12, 2007

Iraq tribunal sets sights on Iran opposition group

March 12, 2007

BAGHDAD, March 12 (Reuters) - A top Iraqi prosecutor plans to bring charges against senior members of an exiled Iranian opposition group over its alleged role in oppressing Iraqi Shi'ites and Kurds under former president Saddam Hussein.

Jaafar al-Moussawi, chief prosecutor of the Iraqi High Tribunal, said on Sunday the Mujahideen Khalq helped Saddam suppress Shi'ites in the south and Kurds in the north during a 1991 uprising after Iraq's defeat in the first Gulf War.

"We have full evidence implicating the Iranian group in siding with the former regime in committing crimes against humanity," Moussawi told Reuters. A spokesman for the Mujahideen denied the accusations.

The Mujahideen once fought the U.S.-backed Shah of Iran but soon after the 1979 Islamic Revolution quarrelled also with the new rulers in Tehran, whom they sought to overthrow from bases set up in the 1980s in Saddam's Iraq, then at war with Iran.

The group, which has mounted attacks inside Iran, was believed to have received military aid from Saddam, but its fortunes changed after a U.S.-led invasion toppled him in 2003. U.S. forces bombed its bases and the group handed over its arms.

The group is on a U.S. State Department list of terrorist organisations but is supported by some conservative U.S. politicians as a lever against the Iranian government. It was the first body to expose a covert nuclear programme by Iran.

The Iraqi High Tribunal was set up after the 2003 invasion to prosecute crimes against humanity and genocide committed during Saddam's rule. Its statutes give it jurisdiction over non-Iraqi residents and any case against the Mujahideen would be its first against foreigners for Saddam-era crimes.

The court sentenced Saddam to death last year for crimes against Shi'ites and is currently hearing a case against former senior Iraqi officials for genocide against Kurds.

"The prosecution chamber will have a thorough discussion of the case and it will be referred to the investigative panel soon," Moussawi said, adding that charges could be brought against senior Mujahideen members.

Iraq's Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who has re-established diplomatic ties with Iran, accused the group last July of meddling in his country's affairs and suggested it could face expulsion. The Mujahideen said that would be submission to "the demands and wishes of the theocracy ruling Iran".

Moussawi said he had strong evidence including video tapes showing Mujahideen Khalq senior officials meeting with high-ranking Saddam-era Iraqi intelligence officers and receiving large sums of money to implement Saddam's orders.

A spokesman for the Iranian group, Shahrayar Kia, called the accusations "baseless and politically motivated".

"We are clear of all charges raised by Jaafar al-Moussawi and our presence in Iraq is completely protected under the Geneva convention," he told Reuters on Sunday by telephone from the group's Ashraf base north of Baghdad.

The first case to be tried by the Iraqi High Tribunal led to Saddam being found guilty of crimes against humanity for the killing and torture of Shi'ites from the town of Dujail after a failed assassination attempt there in 1982.

Saddam was executed at the end of December but another trial continues for a campaign against the Kurds in the late 1980s. Several other cases are expected to come to the court, including another one against Iraqi officials for the oppression of Shi'ites after the first Gulf War.

Court officials have said they expect prosecutors in the Kurdish case to present closing arguments next week. Prosecutors are expected to ask for specific sentences for each of the six defendants, which could include death.