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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.

Submitting....

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