|A State Department official said in a recent interview that there is "what could almost be described as a rogue operation ... being run out of the Pentagon to keep [the MEK] a live and viable anti-Iranian group."|
The Baltimore Sun
12 September 2003
...Meanwhile, the top American military man in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, said yesterday that U.S. forces are detaining thousands of fighters from an Iranian opposition group that the United States has listed as a terrorist organization.
The group, known as the Mujahedeen Khalq, or MEK, has been at the center of a dispute within the Bush administration, with the State Department supporting a tough stance against it but some Pentagon officials viewing it as a way to pressure Iran.
Critics say the group is a violent sect-like organization that blends Marxism and Islam, while Western supporters have viewed it as one of the toughest opponents of the Iranian government.
There have been claims that members of the group are still armed and conducting attacks into Iran from Iraq with the acquiescence of U.S. forces.
Even in recent days, State Department officials have been warning that the group remained active, and were pressuring the Pentagon to step up action against the group.
A State Department official said in a recent interview that there is "what could almost be described as a rogue operation ... being run out of the Pentagon to keep [the MEK] a live and viable anti-Iranian group."
The official said that while under U.S. policy the group is to be treated as a terrorist organization, the U.S. military "apparently is not really policing them at all."
Richard Boucher, the chief State Department spokesman, said that Mujahedeen Khalq's presence in Iraq "has been an ongoing subject of discussion from the beginning of the war."
"We have all agreed within this administration that ... the MEK is a terrorist organization," Boucher said. "That we're not going to allow terrorist organizations to exist or operate inside Iraq. And how we go about doing that is the subject that the Pentagon, I think, is already discussing."
Asked about those reports, Sanchez said there is no problem with the group, adding: "The MEK has been separated from their weapons systems."