Talk surrounding US President Donald Trump’s move to appoint John Bolton as his new National Security Advisor has focused on Bolton’s role in promoting the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and the profound contrast his appointment signifies in light of President Trump’s 2016 campaign promises to “drain the swamp.”
However, Bolton’s appointment carries with it greater implications both to those apparently criticizing him as well as those attempting to promote him. Bolton has – for years – lobbied for a terrorist organization guilty of kidnapping and killing both US service members as well as US civilian contractors, along with an untold number of Iranian civilians and politicians in a campaign of terror that has stretched over several decades and continues today.
Worst of all, the terrorist organization Bolton lobbied for was literally listed on the US State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations list during his lobbying activities – in direct violation of US counter-terrorism laws.
That organization – Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and its political front, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) – has since been delisted as of 2012. However, the organization was delisted not because it has fully given up armed terrorism, but because the US has planned since at least as early as 2009 – according to Washington’s own policy papers – to use MEK as armed proxies against the nation of Iran.
MEK are Terrorists, Even According to Their US Sponsors
Despite claims by a growing army of MEK advocates spanning various social media platforms, MEK is without doubt a dangerous terrorist organization. Even those seeking to sponsor MEK as a militant proxy against Iran have admitted as much.
In the 2009 Brookings Institution policy paper, “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran,” US policymakers openly admitted MEK’s candidacy as a US proxy (emphasis added):
Perhaps the most prominent (and certainly the most controversial) opposition group that has attracted attention as a potential U.S. proxy is the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran), the political movement established by the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq). Critics believe the group to be undemocratic and unpopular, and indeed anti-American.
In contrast, the group’s champions contend that the movement’s long-standing opposition to the Iranian regime and record of successful attacks on and intelligence-gathering operations against the regime make it worthy of U.S. support. They also argue that the group is no longer anti-American and question the merit of earlier accusations. Raymond Tanter, one of the group’s supporters in the United States, contends that the MEK and the NCRI are allies for regime change in Tehran and also act as a useful proxy for gathering intelligence. The MEK’s greatest intelligence coup was the provision of intelligence in 2002 that led to the discovery of a secret site in Iran for enriching uranium.
Brookings policymakers also openly acknowledged that MEK was without doubt a terrorist organization (emphasis added):
Despite its defenders’ claims, the MEK remains on the U.S. government list of foreign terrorist organizations. In the 1970s, the group killed three U.S. officers and three civilian contractors in Iran. During the 1979-1980 hostage crisis, the group praised the decision to take America hostages and Elaine Sciolino reported that while group leaders publicly condemned the 9/11 attacks, within the group celebrations were widespread. Undeniably, the group has conducted terrorist attacks—often excused by the MEK’s advocates because they are directed against the Iranian government. For example, in 1981, the group bombed the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party, which was then the clerical leadership’s main political organization, killing an estimated 70 senior officials. More recently, the group has claimed credit for over a dozen mortar attacks, assassinations, and other assaults on Iranian civilian and military targets between 1998 and 2001. At the very least, to work more closely with the group (at least in an overt manner), Washington would need to remove it from the list of foreign terrorist organizations.”
It should be noted that Brookings’ mention of MEK was made under a chapter titled, “INSPIRING AN INSURGENCY Supporting Iranian Minority and Opposition Groups,” indicating that groups being considered for US sponsorship would undoubtedly be armed and carry out a campaign of violence – if not terrorism, then the full-scale military operations similar US-sponsored militant groups have been carrying out in Syria.
Brookings recommendation that MEK be removed “from the list of foreign terrorist organizations” would eventually be fully realized by 2012 – spearheaded by lobbyists led by prominent US politicians and policymakers including US National Security Advisor John Bolton.
MEK’s Decades of Terrorism and its Future Terrorism
MEK has carried out decades of brutal terrorist attacks, assassinations, and espionage against the Iranian government and its people, as well as targeting Americans including the attempted kidnapping of US Ambassador Douglas MacArthur II, the attempted assassination of USAF Brigadier General Harold Price, the successful assassination of Lieutenant Colonel Louis Lee Hawkins, the double assassinations of Colonel Paul Shaffer and Lieutenant Colonel Jack Turner, and the successful ambush and killing of American Rockwell International employees William Cottrell, Donald Smith, and Robert Krongard.
Admissions to the deaths of the Rockwell International employees can be found within a 2011 report written by former US State Department and Department of Defense official Lincoln Bloomfield Jr. on behalf of another lobbying firm – Akin Gump – in an attempt to dismiss concerns over MEK’s violent past and how it connects to its current campaign of armed terror.
The report would state:
The State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2009 document says that the MEK killed the deputy chief of the US Military Mission in Tehran in 1973, two members of the US Military Assistance Advisory Group in 1975, and two employees of Rockwell International in 1976, and that it claimed responsibility for killing an American Texaco executive in 1979.
MEK’s violent past of armed terrorism, coupled with admissions by the US that it seeks to use MEK as an armed proxy against Iran calls into question the US State Department’s decision
Regarding that decision, the US State Department’s 2012 statement titled, “Delisting of the Mujahedin-e Khalq” would claim:
With today’s actions, the Department does not overlook or forget the MEK’s past acts of terrorism, including its involvement in the killing of U.S. citizens in Iran in the 1970s and an attack on U.S. soil in 1992. The Department also has serious concerns about the MEK as an organization, particularly with regard to allegations of abuse committed against its own members.
The Secretary’s decision today took into account the MEK’s public renunciation of violence, the absence of confirmed acts of terrorism by the MEK for more than a decade, and their cooperation in the peaceful closure of Camp Ashraf, their historic paramilitary base.
The US State Department admits that the organization carried out terrorism in the past and continues today with abuses toward its own members. And as US policymakers within the pages of Brookings papers admit, the entire campaign aimed at delisting MEK in the first place was to legitimize the organization’s use as a militant proxy against Iran – a role that will most certainly violate MEK’s supposed “renunciation of violence” and contravene the grounds upon which MEK was delisted as a terrorist organization by the US State Department in the first place.
John Bolton’s Advocacy of Terrorists
Considering the undeniable terrorist nature of MEK past, present, and Washington’s own admitted plans for its terrorist future, the troubling nature of John Bolton’s advocacy for the group comes into full focus. This is particularly so within the context of Bolton’s new role as National Security Advisor.
Bolton’s role in lobbying for MEK and NCIR has been promoted most prominently by his own supporters among the US media. Right-leaning CNS – for example – in an article titled, “Senior US, Saudi Figures Call for Tehran Regime to be Overthrown,” would admit:
Bolton, who has attended the annual NCRI event for a decade, cited Iran’s military intervention in Syria, in maneuvering in Iraq, and its support for Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists and for Houthi militia in Yemen.
The same article would note however, that:
Supporters view the NCRI and affiliated People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran (MEK) as a viable opposition to the clerical rulers in Tehran, and praise it for exposing the regime’s covert nuclear programs.
Detractors view with suspicion its history of support for the regime of Saddam Hussein, and what critics have described as cult-like behavior.
The MEK was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. until 2012, when the Obama administration delisted it, citing a renunciation of violence and “the absence of confirmed acts of terrorism by the MEK for more than a decade.”
Foreign Policy would also expose Bolton’s lobbying efforts. In FP’s 2011 article titled, “MEK rally planned for Friday at State Department,” it would include mention of a full-paged ad taken out in the Washington Post. The ad included a letter to then US President Barack Obama which stated:
We are writing to you with urgency to underline the need for an immediate decision to remove Iran’s opposition group the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).
The 2011 ad was signed by John Bolton along with other prominent US politicians including Howard Dean, Rudy Guiliani, and Tom Ridge.
Since MEK has only been removed from the US State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations list since 2012, CNS, Foreign Policy, and the lobbying efforts of Bolton himself serves as evidence that Bolton provided support and lobbying services to what was a listed terrorist organization in blatant violation of 18 U.S. Code § 2339A – providing material support to terrorists.
Bolton’s speeches openly supporting MEK prior to 2012 are easily found online. One published in 2010 features Bolton speaking in Paris openly advocating not only the US removing MEK from its Foreign Terrorist Organizations list, but also lobbying for US support to be provided to MEK and others in what he called the “Iranian opposition.” Since the 2012 delisting, Bolton has continued attending MEK events and advocating both support for MEK and openly calling for the US-led overthrow of the Iranian government.
While some have attempted to defend Bolton and others lobbying for MEK claiming that MEK could not have been removed from the State Department’s list even if it was no longer a threat to the US without the aid of lobbying – it should be remembered that the job of adding or removing terrorist organizations from the State Department’s list is the responsibility of the Bureau of Counterterrorism in the State Department – not political lobbyists.
The State Department itself notes on its website that:
The Bureau of Counterterrorism in the State Department (CT) continually monitors the activities of terrorist groups active around the world to identify potential targets for designation. When reviewing potential targets, CT looks not only at the actual terrorist attacks that a group has carried out, but also at whether the group has engaged in planning and preparations for possible future acts of terrorism or retains the capability and intent to carry out such acts.
Clearly – however – the presence of immense lobbying campaigns like those led by Bolton on behalf of MEK indicates that the State Department’s list is dictated by political motivations, money, and lobbying, not independent analysis provided by US security and intelligence professionals either in the US State Department or elsewhere within the US government.
Furthermore, it is clear by the US State Department’s own criteria that MEK is still very much a foreign terrorist organization. According to its own criteria, any organization that is even planning or preparing for possible future acts of terrorism, must be included on the list. US policymakers and even John Bolton himself have openly stated that MEK will be used as an armed proxy against Iran.
A Terrorist Collaborator Advising on US National Security
A National Security Advisor openly guilty of violating US anti-terrorism laws having provided material support to a US State Department-listed foreign terrorist organization for years illustrates just how profoundly compromised US institutions are and reflects an agenda that not only exclusively serves special interests – but does so at the cost of the American people’s actual security.
The position of National Security Advisor – officially known as “the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs” – is described by the US White House’s official website as part of the National Security Council as follows:
The National Security Council (NSC) is the President’s principal forum for considering national security and foreign policy matters with his senior national security advisors and cabinet officials. Since its inception under President Truman, the Council’s function has been to advise and assist the President on national security and foreign policies. The Council also serves as the President’s principal arm for coordinating these policies among various government agencies.
A National Security Council that includes lobbyists representing terrorist organizations with American blood on their hands constitutes not only a dire threat to actual US national security, but global security as well.
MEK terrorists backed by a nation possessing nuclear weapons and a history of provoking wars through fabricated evidence and staged incidents ensures that America’s foreign policy will continue to pursue destructive wars abroad at the cost of US treasure and blood and the resources and lives of nations the US sets its industrialized military aggression upon.
John Bolton – however – is not the architect of the policy he has advocated for well over a decade. He is simply fulfilling what US policymakers themselves have meted out in the pages of US policy papers for just as long. These policymakers – in turn – are funded by American arms manufacturers, energy conglomerates, financial institutions, and other immense corporate-financier special interests.
The Brookings Institution whose 2009 paper, “Which Path to Persia?” spelled out verbatim the steps Bolton has since undertaken with his lobbying efforts, has a long list of such corporate-financier interests underwriting and directing its work.
While exposing John Bolton’s complicity in the material support of egregious terrorists and his efforts to use them as armed proxies against Iran in a war he has attempted to promote and instigate for years is important, it is equally important to expose, confront, isolate, and extinguish the influence of the corporate-financier interests that have underwritten and directed Bolton’s efforts and the efforts of countless others working to drag the United States, its allies, and the rest of the planet into another destructive conflict.Understanding that efforts to remove MEK from the US State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations list and prepare them for their role as armed proxies against Iran transcended the administrations of George Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump exposes the continuity of agenda – regardless of who occupies the White House or US Congress – advanced by these unelected corporate-financier interests.