Potential Secretary of State appointee Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, is coming under fire for connections to an Iranian dissident group. Regardless, many within Trump’s inner circle are advocating for Giuliani to become Secretary of State. Unlike outspoken Trump critic Mitt Romney, Giuliani has long supported the president-elect, and many believe he should be rewarded for his loyalty.

Some are questioning Giuliani’s for his support of the Mujahidin-e-Khalq (MeK), which critics allege has engaged in terrorist activities and even killed Americans.

Writing for Politico, Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, the former coordinator for counter-terrorism at the State Department, blasted Giuliani for allegedly taking money from the MeK.

Iranian dissidents deny allegations

Representatives from the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the political arm of the MEK, have fiercely denied the allegations, calling Benjamin’s article a “hit piece.” NCRI U.S. Rep. Soona Samsami argues that most of the allegations have long been debunked by independent investigations.

For example, the MeK has noted that its principle leaders, including Massoud Rajavi, were actually in Iranian prisons when American military personnel and contractors were assassinated for supporting the Shah. Those assassinations may have been tied to a Marxist splinter group, which had taken up the MeK name while its primary leaders were in jail, and even assassinated more mainstream MeK members. These Marxists were pushed out of the MeK even before its leaders were released from prison.

Benjamin also claimed that the MeK participated in attacks against Iraqi Kurds and other groups at the behest of Saddam Hussein.

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The current deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Hoshyar Mahmud Mohammed Zebari, has denied these allegations, as have many prominent Kurds. The MeK alleges that the accusations are a result of smear campaigns carried out by the Iranian government.

The MeK also notes that as many as 100,000 or more MeK members were killed by the Iranian regime. The United Nations and other respected international authorities have previously condemned these atrocities.

Benjamin denies unarmed dissidents deserved protection

Some of Benjamin’s assertions raise concerns even for more neutral observers.

Benjamin questioned the MeK’s status during the Iraq war as “protected persons” under Geneva Conventions, despite the fact that the group had voluntarily disarmed and no concrete proof could be found that members were still engaged in armed resistance. Somehow, the idea that the American military would protect a large group of disarmed dissidents in a war zone was an “incredible anomaly.”

Basic human rights, as well as signed agreements between the military and MeK, stipulate that the United States had a responsibility to protect the members of the MeK after they disarmed.

The dissidents were all but trapped at Camp Liberty after being forced to abandon their base at Camp Ashraf. Meanwhile, Shia government of Iraq is now heavily influenced by the Shia government of Iran.

Even in spite of promises of protection from the United States military, and the Iraqi government, the MeK was attacked several times. From July 2009 to October 2015, camps Ashraf and Liberty were attacked seven times by the Iraqi security forces and pro-Iran Iraqi Shia militia groups, resulting in the deaths of at least 141 residents and the wounding of more than 1,300.

The MeK’s previous struggles with the government of Iran does not negate their rights to protection. The Geneva Conventions and other international agreements explicitly provide protection for unarmed persons in war zones.

If the United States or United Nations had wanted to pursue legal actions against members of the MeK or its leadership, they were free to do so. In fact, as the New York Times points out, several US Agencies, including the CIA & FBI screened all MEK members in Camp Ashraf, but found no grounds to charge anyone.

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