Readers of this blog may not be aware that I am an agent of the Iranian regime. But Rabbi Daniel Zucker, an adjunct professor at Long Island University and long-time apologist for the anti-Iran terrorist organization known as the Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (MEK), has a lenghty and hilarious denunciation of me as such because I had the temerity -- and naivete, apparently -- to point out in a recent piece for AntiWar.com that his beloved MEK is widely considered a terrorist cult.
The back story: late last month two American congressmen, Reps. Bob Filner (D-CA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), held a press conference in Washington, DC to call on the U.S. government to offer support to the MEK in an effort to overthrow the Iranian regime. As I wrote in my piece, the lawmakers’ call was rather astonishing given the fact that the U.S. State Department notes the MEK “was responsible for the assassination of several U.S. military personnel and civilians in the 1970’s. Further, as the Council on Foreign Relations observes, “Until 2003 the MEK received funds, arms, and state sponsorship from Saddam Hussein.” Indeed, during the eight year Iran-Iraq war, the MEK even allied itself with the Iraqi dictator’s regime to kill its fellow countrymen, a fact that I noted in the article likely did not endear them to the Iranian public.
And while the MEK's defenders have claimed the group's designation as a terrorist organization was a political gesture meant to appease the Iranian government, the Council on Foreign Relations suggests a less conspiratorial reason: "its attacks have often killed civilians." In fact, the more one reads about the MEK the clearer it becomes the group's exclusion prior to 1997 from the list of groups considered terrorist organizations by the U.S. government was the actual politically motivated decision.
But according to Zucker, had I done my homework and not relied on “an old State Department report” -- dated April 2007 -- I’d have known that the MEK has “renounce[d] violence” since 2001 and is in fact innocent of all terrorism charges. To bolster his case, he cites the benign-sounding “Iran Policy Committee,” which the website Sourcewatch helpfully points out “is a pressure group meant to influence US government policy towards Iran . . . made up of former White House, State Department, Pentagon and CIA officials.” Many of its principals are also “affiliated to AIPAC and its related think tanks," which should give you a good idea of where Zucker is coming from.
Still, Zucker claims that while the MEK did “indeed receive Hussein’s support”, it came “in the form of asylum from the mullah regime in Tehran”, because Saddam was of course well known for protecting political dissidents (he was just that kind of guy). That the MEK was willing to murder their fellow Iranians -- and helped suppress uprisings among Iraq's Shia and Kurdish populations -- I’m sure was just an afterthought.
“It would behoove Davis to study a little bit of Iranian history, at least of the last 30 years, before venturing to write about Iranians”, Zucker continues, taking me to task for following “the regime line that the [MEK] undermined its credibility with the Iranian masses by fighting against the regime in the Iran-Iraq War. However, he fails to explain how the [MEK] has so many supporters inside Iran that it can continually supply the West with revelations about Iran's secret nuclear and missile programs, as well as extensive lists of Iranian agents in Iraq.”
That fighting against one’s own countrymen in a war that killed hundreds of thousands of people might undermine the MEK’s credibility within Iran is not something I feel needs citation, but what the hell. As the Jamestown Foundation notes -- observing the obvious -- “The [MEK’s] alliance with Iraq's former Baathist regime during the Iran-Iraq war was a huge strategic blunder from which they could never hope to recover. The sight of [MEK] forces aiding the Iraqi war effort turned them into perennial traitors in the eyes of most Iranians. This perception of the [MEK] still persists, more than 15 year after the ending of the war.” Put another way, "the MEK is universally hated in Iran," as Mideast professor Juan Cole succinctly puts it.
As for the MEK’s ability to provide the West with “revelations about Iran’s secret nuclear and missile programs,” I'd just point out that the U.S. intelligence community doesn’t actually believe Iran has a secret nuclear program, as Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair testified to Congress in March and which I’ve pointed out ad nauseam ever since.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that the MEK has thanked Zucker for his slavish devotion to the group by inviting him "to Paris to address the 2005 and 2006 President Maryam Rajavi Freedom Convocations," as he notes in his bio. Rajavi is the leader of the MEK and declares herself "Iran's future president for the transitional period following the mullahs' overthrow."