Terrorist watch listCourt deadline for U.S. govt. to explain MEK position

Published 26 March 2012

Today is the deadline for the U.S. Department of State to explain to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit why the department would not remove the Iranian anti-government movement MEK from the U.S. terrorist watch list; the MEK engaged in terrorist activities against the current regime in Iran, but renounced to use of terrorism after 9/11; the EU has removed the MEK from its terrorist list a few years ago

Thousands rally with high-level support for delisting MEK // Source: delistmek.com

With a federal appeals court deadline looming for the U.S. State Department to answer why it has defied earlier court rulings requiring review of a decision to maintain the main Iranian opposition movement, the Mujahedin-e Khaq (MEK) on the terrorist list, top former U.S. officials and members of Congress are urging the Department to remove the group immediately.

I believe we will not only get our day in court, I believe we will succeed,” former DHS secretary Tom Ridge told an audience of members of Congress, staff members, and Iranian-Americans during an event, marking the Iranian New Year, Nowrouz. “Sometimes justice takes a little longer than normal, but sooner or later, righteousness and the law prevail, and we will prevail.”

Other speakers included Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), the House Foreign Affairs Committee chair, Representative Mike Kaufman (R-Colorado), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), and retired Army Col. Wesley Martin, who commanded Camp Ashraf.

At issue is the fate of 3,400 Iranian insurgents now residing at Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty in Iraq; their safe relocation has been complicated by the State Department’s refusal the make a decision on the Status of the MEK.

A California Society for Democracy in Iran release reports that in 2010 a 3-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously ruled that the State Department had violated the due process rights of the MEK and ordered the Obama administration to revisit the issue. The California groups argues that since then, the State Department continues to be in violation of the due process in virtue of its refusal to make a decision based on instructions given by the Court.

Earlier this month, attorneys for the MEK filed a writ of mandamus seeking the court’s intervention in light of State inaction. The court did so, and gave the government a deadline of 26 March to respond to the mandamus.

In the meantime, in a move which some observers believe is tied to the court developments, the Treasury Department is apparently contemplating a “potential” investigation into the source of funding for events where a number of senior former federal law enforcement, intelligence, and national security officials had urged that the MEK be dropped from the State Department’s terror list and the residents of Ashraf be protected.

Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-California), who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, has called this inquiry “a travesty,” adding that it is “a sin that our government is going after these people trying to support the people of Iran.”

It seems that the method to silence those who are in favor of the liberation of the MEK from the foreign terrorist organization… is to attack them personally… That is not going to work. Whoever is behind the attacks on these good men and women with unbelievable credentials, who believe in the de-listing of the MEK, it will not succeed,” said Representative Ted Poe (R-Texas).

The pro-MEK groups says that since the court ruling, nearly 130 members of Congress, including House Select Committee on Intelligence chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan), Oversight and Government Reform chair Darrel Issa (R-California), and Armed Services Committee chair Howard McKeon (R-Ccalifornia), have co-sponsored resolutions calling for the delisting of the MEK.