Last Thursday, NBC News reported that the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), an exiled Iranian opposition group designated a “foreign terrorist organization” by the State Department, conducted a series of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists.
Former CIA official and visiting Georgetown professor Paul Pillar, citing the U.S. government’s definition of terrorism, observed that “with or without confirmation of details of this story, the assassinations are terrorism.” But numerous right-wing pundits and politicians here in the United States — many of whom regularly decry the use of terrorism as a means to political ends — have celebrated the MEK’s alleged attacks.
Appearing on Fox News on Sunday, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani declared that the MEK should be the Time Magazine “person of the year” if they were behind assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists.
An editorial in Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post said on Friday that the MEK deserves a Nobel Peace Prize:
Let’s be frank: Were the MeK to play the critical role in derailing an Iranian bomb, it would be far more deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize than a certain president of the United States we could mention.
And Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin justified the MEK’s action and Israel’s alleged role in financing, arming and training the group:
To those who say it is immoral to use those who have employed terrorism, the only reply can be that it would be far worse for Israel’s government to allow such scruples to prevent them from carrying out actions that might stop the Iranians from going nuclear.
Noticeably, the MEK’s defenders chose not to address the NBC report’s other major disclosure. The MEK reportedly worked with Ramzi Yousef, the terrorist behind the first attack on the World Trade Center, to bomb an Iranian shrine, killing at least 26 people.
Indeed, the MEK’s American supporters find themselves in the increasingly difficult position of lobbying to remove the organization from the State Department’s terror list while openly celebrating the group’s involvement in terrorist attacks.
By utilizing the MEK — a group which Iranians view in the same way Americans see John Walker Lindh, the American convicted of aiding the Taliban — the Israelis risk winning some short-term gain at the tremendous expense of rallying Iranians around the regime’s flag. A far better strategy would be to facilitate regime change. Not only would the MEK be incapable of that mission, but involving them even cursorily would set the goal back years.