Former U.S. Officials Call on Department of State to Delist MEK

On August 30, 2012, 17 former U.S. Generals and elected officials of U.S. government issued a joint statement calling on the Department of State to remove the name of the Iranian resistance movement, the Mujahedin-e Khalq, MEK from its Foreign Terrorist Organizations list. The full text of the statement, as was received by Stop Fundamentalism, is as follows.

Washington, DC–In February of this year, in response to open and repeated skepticism from members of Congress as to why the State Department continues to designate as a Foreign Terrorist Organization a group of Iranian expatriates who fervently oppose the oppressive regime in their native country and who present no threat to this country’s security, our Secretary of State said she would reconsider that designation.  She said that one significant element in that reconsideration is whether 3,400 members of that organization, known as MEK, who resided at a location within Iraq known as Camp Ashraf and had surrendered what weapons they had to U.S. troops in 2003 in return for a guarantee that they would be treated as protected persons, would move to an abandoned U.S. military base near Baghdad known as Camp Liberty.  The move was supposed to be in aid of resettling the MEK members in other countries.  In part because these defenseless people had already been attacked twice — in 2009 and 2011 – by Iraqi troops acting at the apparent behest of Iran, with dozens killed any many more wounded, they agreed.

Even though such a move has nothing whatever to do under the law with whether the group should continue to be so listed, and even though Camp Liberty was turned into a wasteland by the Iraqis, who looted it when U.S. troops left, more than 2,000 of the 3,400 Ashraf residents have moved there and are trying to maintain habitable conditions.  They did so pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding in which the Government of Iraq undertook to provide humane treatment and the United Nations undertook through oversight to assure such treatment. Most recently, under U.S. prodding, an additional 400 Ashraf residents have moved despite persistent Iraqi harassment and imposition of increasingly inhumane conditions at Camp Liberty.  The State Department’s dubious association of the move with delisting has created an obvious incentive for the Iraqis to subject the residents to such treatment, and in any event threatens to upend the entire process; it can only discourage any further move by those remaining at Ashraf. Indeed, on August 27, a unit of the Iraqi military savagely beat many of the group of 400 seeking to move to Camp Liberty as they waited to board vehicles, causing several to be hospitalized.  On August 28, despite continued harassment and confiscation of personal items, the remaining members of the group succeeded in boarding vehicles and leaving Ashraf.

Although both the European Union and the United Kingdom have long since ceased to designate MEK as a terrorist organization, the continued U.S. designation remains an obstacle to resettling MEK members, and not a single one of the more than 2000 former Ashraf residents who moved to Camp Liberty has been resettled elsewhere.  It is plain that the only way to end the threat of a humanitarian catastrophe for these people is for the State Department to follow the example of the European Union and the United Kingdom, and cease to list MEK as a terrorist organization, so as to remove Iraq’s incentive to mistreat these people and to permit them to be resettled outside Iraq, where their safety can be assured long term.  They have certainly taken every step possible to try to meet even the questionable condition imposed by the Secretary of State and have recognized, as we do, the need to close Camp Ashraf. In the meantime, it is urgent that that humanitarian conditions that meet international standards be put in place and maintained at Camp Liberty, and that the United Nations fulfill its oversight responsibility so that their safety can be assured until they are resettled. 

The signers of this statement are all former government officials with extensive experience in matters relating to national security, the safety of our military, and law enforcement.  In particular, the first three had immediate responsibility for supervising Camp Ashraf during their service in Iraq.  They have worked cooperatively with and at the direction of the State Department and the United Nations to avert a humanitarian disaster, and are grateful for the efforts of their interlocutors at State and the UN – Ambassadors Daniel Fried and Martin Kobler – for providing the opportunity to be of assistance.  No one has seen or become aware of any evidence that supports the designation of MEK as a terrorist organization, now or in the past.  All join in praising the members of MEK who have put themselves at risk by moving and seeking to move to Camp Liberty, and in urging both the United Nations and the United States to live up to both their commitments and their best traditions.


Brig. Gen. David D. Phillips (Ret.) (U.S. Army) (Former Commander of Police Operations in Iraq)

Col. Wesley D. Martin (Ret.) (Former Senior Antiterrorism Officer, Coalition Forces Iraq) (Former Ashraf Base Commander)

Lt. Col. Leo McCloskey (Ret.) (Former Commander of the Joint Inter-Agency Task Force Ashraf)

Gen. James S. Jones (Ret.)(U.S. Marine Corps) (Former U.S. National Security Advisor)

Gen. Michael Hayden (Ret.)(U.S. Air Force) (Former Director of Central Intelligence Agency)

Gen. James Conway (Ret) (Former Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps)

Gen. H. Hugh Shelton (Ret)(Former Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff)

Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula (Ret)(United States Air Force)

Tom Ridge (Former Homeland Security Director, Former Governor of Pennsylvania)

Edward G. Rendell (Former Chairman of the DNC, Former Governor of Pennsylvania)

Robert Torricelli (Former U.S. Senator, New Jersey)

Rudolph W. Giuliani (Former Mayor of New York City, U.S. Attorney)

Michael B. Mukasey (Former United States Attorney General, U.S. District Judge)

Louis Freeh (Former F.B.I Director)

Howard Dean (Former Chairman of the DNC, Former Governor of Vermont)

Mitchell Reiss (Former Ambassador, U.S. State Department)

Patrick Kennedy (Former U.S. Congressman, Rhode Island)