He points out that “the broadest and most impressive bipartisan coalition in a generation has supported the MEK in its campaign for regime change in Iran”, saying that this includes former CIA directors, a former attorney general, two former chairmen of the joint chiefs and former chairs of both political parties. From Howard Dean and Patrick Kennedy to Newt Gingrich and John Bolton.
The MEK, formed during the 1970s, quickly emerged as an opposition group and fled into exile in Iraq and France. Torricelli said that although the group took legitimate political and military action against the regime, there is nothing to say they were terrorists.
During the 1980s the MEK refugee camps in Iraq had to be under protection. Benjamin said that they helped Saddam Hussein repress Kurds, yet U.S. forces have said this is untrue, and the MEK actually saved American lives by identifying the location of IEDs. “This, more than anything, explains the group’s support by former U.S. military personnel, including the former army anti-terror officer and the U.S. military police general assigned to the camp,” said Torricelli.
He adds that the MEK provided crucial information about Iran’s nuclear program that was the turning point in hindering the country’s development of nuclear weapons. Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the leader, has committed herself to a secular, non-nuclear and democratic Iran. The group now benefits from support in European Parliament and Congress.
On the other hand, others cannot shake the “terrorist” label which comes from President Bill Clinton being persuaded to add the MEK to the State Department list of terrorist organizations. This was described by some as a goodwill gesture to Iran. “Thousands of Iranian-Americans and literally hundreds of members of Congress protested. In 2011, as a private attorney, I led a team of lawyers in a State Department inquiry to resolve the issue. After four hours of testimony, we yielded to the State Department to present their contradictory evidence. They had nothing.” Therefore, the MEK was removed as no evidence was provided.
In 2012, several thousand MEK refugees on the Iran-Iraq border were in immediate danger of attack. Secretary Clinton asked Torricelli to get a group of distinguished Americans to urge Mrs. Rajavi to move the refugees to a former American military base near Baghdad airport. Louis Freeh, Ed Rendell, Michael Mukasey and Rudy Giuliani not only accepted, but also all travelled at their own expense, and cancelled prior arrangements to see Mrs. Rajavi.
Benjamin argues that Giuliani’s participation with the MEK should disqualify him from being considered for the secretary of state post. Torricelli believes that this should not happen. “Among the most likely crises facing the new president is an escalation in the struggle with the fundamentalist Islamic Republic of Iran. Rudy Giuliani has lived that struggle for a decade. Mr. Benjamin may quarrel with his efforts but it’s important to note that voices in the American foreign policy establishment as diverse as Senator McCain, Secretary Clinton, Deputy Secretary Blinken and John Kerry’s own personal representative on the MEK, Jonathan Weiner disagree. Each has thanked Rudy Giuliani and the other Americans involved in these efforts.”