In 2005, the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) started training members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (M.E.K.), a Iranian opposition group, which has been linked to the killing of six Americans and, in 1997, was listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department.
In 2002, the M.E.K publicly revealed that Iran had begun enriching uranium at a secret location. After the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, the M.E.K’s ties with the Western intelligence deepened and JSOC began operating inside Iran in an effort to substantiate the Bush Administration’s fears that Iran was building the bomb at one or more secret underground locations.
Despite growing ties, and an intensified lobbying effort organized by its advocates, the M.E.K. has remained on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organization, necessitating the covert nature of the JSOC training of M.E.K. personnel at a Nevada facility, as documented with multiple sources by The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh.
According to one of Hersh’s informants, JSOC provided M.E.K. personnel with “the standard training,” including “commo [communications], crypto [cryptography], small-unit tactics, and weaponry” over a period of six months.
Allan Gerson, a Washington attorney for the M.E.K., noted that the M.E.K. has publicly and repeatedly renounced terror and would not comment on the training in Nevada. He did say that if the claims of cover training were true, then this was “especially incongruent with the State Department’s decision to continue to maintain the M.E.K on the terrorist list. How can the U.S. train those on State’s foreign terror list, when others face penalties for providing a nickel to the same organization?”
Although corporate media, including NBC, have identified M.E.K. as the organization responsible for the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, they have not addressed the JSOC-M.E.K. connection. Nevertheless, based on Seymour’s documentation, it appears clear that the U.S. was not only sharing intelligence with M.E.K. personnel, but actively training their members on U.S. soil.
Seymour M. Hersh, “Our Men In Iran?” The New Yorker, April 6, 2012. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/04/mek.html
Glenn Greenwald, “U.S. Trained Terror Group,” Salon, April 6, 2012, http://www.salon.com/2012/04/06/report_us_trained_terror_group/singleton/
Student Researchers: Scott Templeton and Michael Garber, Sonoma State University
Faculty Evaluator: Mike Nackord, Sonoma State University