January 18, 2003
With our military poised to invade Iraq, why is Congressman Tom Tancredo actively supporting the National Council of Resistance of Iran - a fanatical front organization for the People's Mujahedin of Iran, which the State Department classifies as a terrorist group supported by Saddam Hussein?
Since its founding 35 years ago as an anti-American, Islamic-Marxist alternative to Shiite fundamentalism, the Mujahedin has murdered U.S. military personnel and civilians, bombed U.S. business offices, supported the taking of American hostages in Iran in 1979, and engaged in fraud, smuggling and money laundering on U.S. soil. Despite making the State Department's select list of global terrorist organizations for the last seven years, it continues to whitewash its ugly past and dupe members of Congress like Tancredo into believing it's the only viable opposition to Iran's radical Islamic regime.
Unlike disgraced former Sen. Robert Torricelli, whose New Jersey re-election prospects began to wane after it was revealed in 1998 that he had pocketed $136,000 in hard campaign contributions from the Mujahedin, Tancredo hasn't accepted any money from his Iranian friends. Rather, his support has been moral; only this week, his photo appeared in a full-page advertisement in The New York Times that noted his signature on a recent congressional "Iranian Statement" supporting the Mujahedin as a "legitimate resistance movement."
By no stretch of the imagination can the Mujahedin and its thugs in the pay of Saddam be considered friends of America. It's too bad Tancredo wants to associate himself with a group whose terrorists may soon have their gunsights trained on American men and women liberating Iraq.
Since taking up residence in Iraq, the Mujahedin's military wing, the National Liberation Army, has been bankrolled, trained and equipped by Sad- dam and his Republican Guard. Some of the NLA's dirtiest work included participating in Saddam's bloody 1991 campaign to crush the northern Kurds.
Now, with new bases and weapons paid for by Saddam, there's no reason to assume the Mujahedin won't do its master's bidding - as it did, for example, in 1998 when it helped impede U.N. inspectors searching for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
Michael Ledeen, a widely respected Iran analyst and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, echoes the views of other Middle East experts when he says the NLA presents a clear danger to U.S. troops.
"These guys work for Saddam," says Ledeen. "If we go in there, surely they will fight us."
Tancredo insists People's Mujahedin is the victim of a "politically motivated" smear campaign, waged by a vindictive State Department that is courting favor with Iran's fundamentalist mullahs. He says the group is at the forefront of a national liberation movement and he wants it removed from State's terror list.
"It really now represents something far different than what it was," says Tancredo. "It represents the best hope for democratic change in Iran."
But Ledeen says Tancredo is either terribly naive or getting bad advice from aides. The NCRI and Mujahedin gush about democracy and free markets, he says, but at heart they're still anti-American Marxists who, given the opportunity, would impose by force a government on Iranians similar to those in Syria and Iraq.
Unfortunately, Tancredo isn't alone in his advocacy of the Mujahedin. Literally scores of other members of Congress have also swallowed wholesale the group's packaged propaganda of bombastic self glorification, prevarication and outright falsehood.
In trying to account for the depressing gullibility of his colleagues, Sen. John McCain once voiced his concern, saying People's Mujahedin was "playing an active role in lobbying the U.S. Congress under conditions where members have no way to learn the history of this organization."
With its contempt for human rights and close ties to international terrorist organizations, Iran's theocracy is surely one of the world's most repugnant regimes. Tancredo is right to want to see its demise, but this is not the group he or any other American should be supporting
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