In August 2002, an exile group known as
the National Council of Resistance of Iran summoned reporters to
Washington's Willard Hotel for a morning briefing. The group's spokesman,
Alireza Jafarzadeh, charged that Iran was building two new secret nuclear
facilities: a heavy-water plant near the town of Arak and a large plant to
fabricate uranium fuel in the desert near the town of Natanz.
Mr. Jafarzadeh was comfortable in
Washington's power corridors, much like Ahmed Chalabi, the exiled Iraqi
who provided much of the now-discredited information on Iraq's weapons
program. He was educated at the University of Michigan and the University
of Texas and for years he kept a small office at the National Press Club.
He has since parlayed his expertise into a slot as a paid analyst for Fox
News. But the council's military wing was on the State Department's
terrorism list for a history of political killings and ties to Saddam
Mr. Jafarzadeh's information tracked
closely with what U.S. officials already knew. But in the summer of 2002
they had their hands full with Iraq and North Korea. When asked about the
information that afternoon, a State Department spokesman offered generic
criticism of Tehran's activities, noted the council's ties to a terrorist
organization and brushed off suggestions that the dangers were comparable
to those posed by Iraq.
(the rest of the article, which you should
read if you subsribe to the WSJ, is a great overview of the state
of play regarding Iran's nuclear program)
... btw, it's really hard to take Ileana
“This group loves the United States.
They’re assisting us in the war on terrorism; they’re pro-U.S.,” said Rep.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) in an interview with The Hill.
Or Jafarzadeh himself:
Middle East scholars widely dispute the
assessment that the MEK is a legitimate democratic alternative to the
Iranian regime. “That’s patently nonsense,” said Michael Ledeen of the
American Enterprise Institute.
“I know about support on Capitol Hill for
this group, and I think it’s atrocious,” said Dan Brumberg of the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace. “I think it’s due to total ignorance
and political manipulation.”
He added: “There’s not much debate [about
the MEK] in the academic circles of those who know Iran and Iraq.”
Elahe Hicks of Human Rights Watch said
that “many, many Iranians resent” the MEK. “Because this group is
so extremely resented inside Iran, the Iranian government actually
benefits from having an opposition group like this,” she said.
James Phillips of the Heritage Foundation agreed. “When they sided with
Iraq against Iran in the [1980-88] war, that was the kiss of death for
their political future. Even Iranians who might have sympathized with them
were enraged that they became the junior partner of their longstanding
rival,” he said.
“Some of their representatives are very
articulate,” Phillips continued, “but they are a terrorist group. They
have a longstanding alliance with Saddam Hussein, and they have gone after
some of the Kurds at the behest of Saddam Hussein.”
Ros-Lehtinen dismissed U.S. intelligence
reports of the group’s involvement in Hussein campaigns against Kurds and
Shiites as “hogwash” and “part of the Khatami propaganda machine.”
Washington representatives for the MEK’s
political arm, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, disputed news
reports that the MEK is aligned with Saddam Hussein. “The relationship has
been independent, whether politically, militarily, financially or
ideologically,” said Alireza Jafarzadeh. “We have never interfered in the
internal affairs of Iraq.”
Emphasis mine. Note Michael Ledeen being on
the record against these folks.