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I met these folks

Reader comment on item: Washington Puzzles over the Mujahedeen-e Khalq

Submitted by russell wohlford (United States), Aug 24, 2006 at 11:20

I was in Iraq in 2003-04. I was there when the MEK peacefully capitulated and turned over their arms. I was a member of a team that verified the small arms and crew-served weapons that had been turned in. We checked serial numbers, in some cases, and compared the raw number of weapons present to the unit records they provided us.

Several members of each MEK company accompanied us to facilitate the count. They were very friendly, considering the circumstances, and quite helpful when there were difficulties in determining the exact type of each weapon. As you might guess there was some confusion regarding the designation of some weapons, the Iranians had different names and designators for almost all of them than the countries they were manufactured in. Add to this the fact that all of their documents were written in Farsi, their holdings included dozens of different types of weapons and variants thereof, few of them spoke English, and we had no interpreters with us.

It could have been an annoying day but our "hosts" were so amiable and quite frankly we could not have completed our task without their assistance. I spoke to many of the MEK that day, some used pidgin English, some were quite fluent. Many of them were students, teachers, or professors before the Islamic Revolution with a sprinkling of ex-Iranian military. Each mujahid I spoke to related his or her story in brief and they universally expressed the hope that they would be part of the force that went into Iran to liberate that state.

I regretfully informed them that this was unlikely as it was unlikely there would be an attack on Iran anytime soon if ever. I told them national policy was outside the purview of sergeants in the US Army but I had a great deal of sympathy for their cause. They seemed unaware of any State Department "terror" designator for their group and were baffled at being disarmed.

I enjoyed a feast of hot dogs, flatbread, and tea, thinking the whole time, "I know these guys have some kabobs stashed somewhere". We were treated to a lengthy film about the evils of the Islamic Revolution and the heroic resistance of the MEK. It was a flashy, well produced, and sympathy-inducing piece. I should note here that a rather large number of soldiers in my battalion, including some rather senior NCOs and officers, thought we were handling the MEK poorly; this made them a prime audience for a propaganda tearjerker. I had some long talks with other NCOs and with my soldiers about the MEK. We were angry.

For the record, I would have been honored to fight along their side against the Islamic Revolution and most of the guys, the joes, would have too. I wonder if they still trust us enough to help out when we need them. I would also like to say that it infuriated us that we had these guys penned up in their compounds while SCIRI and the Badr Corps were running rampant all over the Diyala Province. We caged the wrong bird.


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (17) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
correct me if I'm wrong... [337 words]Peter HerzNov 29, 2011 22:13191314
more on MEK [101 words]Peter HerzDec 1, 2011 05:55191314
revised thinking [147 words]russell wohlfordMar 7, 2013 11:19191314
linkage [8 words]Consul-At-ArmsJun 24, 2011 12:19186743
Arabs need a secular dictator [90 words]MotkeJun 17, 2010 01:11174480
Now, should Israel trust Clinton's umbrella [60 words]Yuval Brandstetter MDAug 12, 2009 11:05160103
Regarding Mujahideen-e Khalq [74 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Debanjan BanerjeeMay 11, 2009 20:51155254
The MeK is a secular alternative -- they deserve our benign support at least [143 words]Charles MartelAug 13, 2009 11:20155254
Remember Mossadeq [121 words]Charles MartelAug 16, 2009 05:34155254
As for Mossadegh... [117 words]Kepha HorNov 29, 2011 21:53155254
Seems to me that Mr. Kepha needs to study history more [369 words]Debanjan BanerjeeDec 4, 2011 11:26155254
Dear Debanjan [227 words]Kepha HorDec 9, 2011 16:49155254
Dear Kepha [743 words]Debanjan BanerjeeDec 10, 2011 12:27155254
2I met these folks [518 words]russell wohlfordAug 24, 2006 11:2053901
Read some history [436 words]The Historian...Nov 19, 2006 12:4953901
response to "The Historian" [1093 words]russell wohlfordNov 22, 2006 02:4053901
Response to "the Historian" [305 words]RSTAug 9, 2009 00:0653901

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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