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Friday, March 9, 2012

Retired General: U.S. Abandoned Iranian Dissidents Held In Iraq

Iraqi police stand guard outside Camp Ashraf in northeast Baghdad, Iraq. (AP/People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iraq)

Iraqi police stand guard outside Camp Ashraf in northeast Baghdad, Iraq. (AP/People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iraq)

When the last American combat troops left Iraq, they left behind about 3,500 Iranians being held inside Camp Ashraf near Baghdad. They are members of Mujahedin e-Khalq, or MEK, a group that seeks to overthrow the current Iranian regime. But the U.S. also lists MEK as a terrorist group.

The MEK has bipartisan support from prominent Americans such as Howard Dean and Rudy Giuliani.

Retired Gen. David Phillips. (Photo Courtesy of Department of Defense)

Retired Gen. David Phillips. (Photo Courtesy of Department of Defense)

And retired Army Brigadier General David Phillips, who was in charge of security at Camp Ashraf, says he tried to find evidence that the MEK were terrorists — but he could not.

“I had to live with them for more than a year. I wanted to justify why I was keeping more than 3,000 people detained, but I couldn’t,” Phillips told Here & Now‘s Robin Young.

“We promised them protection, but in 2009 we reneged on the promise to protect these people when they turned over their weapons,” Phillips said.

“Before we turned them over to the Iraqis, we never had a single member of this organization harmed but since the Iraqis assumed that role, they’ve murdered 46 of them and they’ve wounded many hundreds.”

Guest:

  • David Philips, a retired Brigader General with the U.S. Army
  • Josh Rogin, national security and foreign policy reporter for Foreign Policy Magazine.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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