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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.”


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

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Michael

    According the the recent S.C. rulling giving material aid to a terrorist group is illegal. Dean and Giuliani are being paid by MEK to get it off the list of terrorist groups. This is also illegal if done by your average Joe. Yet somehow Dean and Giuliani can get away with it. ABC reported that the MEK have been committing terrorist attacks in Iran and the Iraqi government see the MEK as a terrorist group as well. During this struggle to overthrow the Shah of Iran the MEK publically claimed responsibility for acts of terrorism against. U.S. citizens and U.S. interests


    I like to know how people can be paid by the MEK which is still listed as a terrorist group without violating U.S. law?

  • Michael

    The MEK’s relationship with the former Iraqi regime continued through the 1990s. In 1991, the group reportedly assisted the Iraqi Republican Guard’s bloody crackdown on Iraqi Shia and Kurds who rose up against Saddam Hussein’s regime. In April 1992, the MEK conducted near-simultaneous attacks on Iranian embassies and consular missions in 13 countries, including against the Iranian mission to the United Nations in New York, demonstrating the group’s ability to mount large-scale operations overseas. In June 1998, the MEK was implicated in a series of bombing and mortar attacks in Iran that killed at least 15 and injured several others. The MEK also assassinated the former Iranian Minister of Prisons in 1998. In April 1999, the MEK targeted key Iranian military officers and assassinated the deputy chief of the Iranian Armed Forces General Staff, Brigadier General Ali Sayyaad Shirazi.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/FTRUTBYZYSOHAJF54LKNEHKF3Y Ali

    US and UN are fully responsible for the mess in Camp Liberty but the thing is that they are standing behind Nori Al-Maliki who is doing the dirty work for Iran the question is why?

  • Jo

    This is shameful and no one is helping these people.

    • Steve Jones

       …and who’s helping the Iraqis who took them in????

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lysander-Spooner/100002296276481 Lysander Spooner

    The MEK, PPK  and Jundullah are not dissidents.  They are on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.  Just because the US allows our elites to do business with terrorist organizations does not mean they are not breaking the law.  It seems the law only applies to us Mudanes while the elite can engage in whatever criminality they desire.

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