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On Saturday, May 26th, the National Council of Resistance of Iran U.S. Representative Office (NCRIUS) published a rebuttal to the outrageous allegations made in a program that aired on MSNBC on May 25th. The program in question was Richard Engel’s “On Assignment”, included a number of old and debunked allegations about the MEK, which is the largest member of the NCRI.
The program relied on claims made by Masoud Khodabandeh, a long-standing known operative of the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). Khodabandeh has been used repeatedly by the Iranian regime to further its demonization campaign against the MEK, and his allegations have been proven false repeatedly.
The recent uprising and continuing protests by the Iranian people have made it clear that they want regime change and that they support the resistance movement, which includes the MEK, as its backbone. The regime finds itself in a desperate position and has increased its efforts to delegitimize the MEK and stave off the revolution. Part of this effort to demonize the MEK includes planting false narratives in Western media about the MEK and its goals, in an attempt to frighten away potential allies of the resistance. These falsehoods have all been debunked in the past. In addition, it is important to note that the MEK does not desire U.S. military involvement in toppling the Iranian regime. The organization is capable of this without outside intervention. The NCRIUS responded to the false allegations made on MSNBC point by point.
On claims by Masoud Khodabandeh that the MEK is a “destructive cult” that receives money and gold from Saudi Arabia:
It has been established by numerous sources (including a report commissioned by the Library of Congress) that Masoud Khodabandeh and his wife, Anne Singleton, are MOIS agents working for the Iranian regime. Witnesses have seen Ms. Singleton doing the work of the regime on several occasions.
The MEK flatly denies allegations that it has taken money from Saudi Arabia or any other foreign government. The MEK relies on its members to finance its activities and challenges anyone to prove otherwise.
On claims that the MEK was responsible for the deaths of six American military personnel and Pentagon contractors in the early 1970s in Iran:
According to a 2013 independent study by the University of Baltimore and a 2014 Council on Foreign Relations backgrounder, the MEK was not in any way involved in the deaths of U.S. service members in Iran. In fact, the assassins responsible for the U.S. deaths also assassinated several MEK leaders. These assassins later confessed to these crimes and were executed by the Shah’s regime.
The MEK members at Camp Ashraf in Iraq were later designated as “protected persons” under the Geneva Convention, a status that could not be conferred to members of an organization that had participated in terrorist acts. According to the New York Times, “Senior American officials said extensive interviews by officials of the State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had not come up with any basis to bring charges against any members of the group [MEK].”
On claims that the MEK participated in the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979:
Iran’s Supreme Leader after the 1979 revolution, Ruhollah Khomeini, engineered the hostage crisis in order to consolidate power and crush the MEK. Masoumeh Ebtekar was a Spokesperson for the hostage-takers and is now a member of President Rouhani’s cabinet. She confirmed that the MEK had no role in the hostage crisis.
On Engel’s claim that the MEK paid large sums of money to former U.S. officials as speaking fees:
The MEK denies making payments to Americans, and an investigation by the U.S. Treasury Department confirmed this. The 2012 investigation concluded that Iranian-Americans exercised their First Amendment rights in organizing events where U.S. officials spoke and broke no laws in doing so.
On claims by Daniel Benjamin, former Coordinator of Counterterrorism, that the MEK is a terrorist organization, despite being delisted:
The MEK was originally listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) as a “goodwill gesture,” which was intended to appease the Iranian regime. The Clinton Administration later officially confirmed that this was their reasoning in adding the MEK to the terror list. In 1998, a letter from the House Majority described the designation as a “wrong-headed policy,” that would only embolden the regime, and characterized the MEK as “a legitimate resistance movement.”
In 2010 the MEK filed the first of many court cases to challenge its inclusion on the terror list, and court after court ruled in favor of the organization. In a final ruling, a federal court found no evidence that the MEK was involved in terrorist activities and gave the Secretary of State a deadline to issue a new decision. Otherwise, the court stated that it would delist the organization itself. The State Department refused to comply with the court order. In response, the MEK filed the first successful writ of mandamus since 1803, which forced the State Department to delist the organization in 2012.
The MSNBC piece was based on falsehoods that have been propagated by the regime and its surrogates for many years, despite being easily disproved by the public record. The regime hopes that by continuing to demonize the MEK they can prevent the inevitable downfall of their oppressive reign. But after the uprising that began last year and spread to 140 cities across Iran, it is obvious that this strategy will not be successful, despite their efforts to spread propaganda in the Western world.