Embassy Row: Broken promises on Iranian dissidents

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Michael B. Mukasey feels betrayed.

The attorney general under President George W. Bush gave his personal assurance to the president of the Iranian resistance that its dissidents would be protected by Iraqi troops, not massacred by Iraqi gunmen.

He told a congressional briefing of his anguish over last month’s attack on Camp Ashraf in which gunmen killed 52 Iranian dissidents, many with their hands tied behind their backs. Seven were kidnapped.

“So, for God’s sake and their sake, let’s all stand up and do something about it,” he said.

Mr. Mukasey, one of many prominent U.S. supporters of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, said he and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani traveled to the French capital to urge resistance President Maryam Rajavi to endorse a transfer of the 3,400 Iranians at Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty in Baghdad. The transfer to Camp Liberty was supposed to help authorities relocate the dissidents to other countries for permanent resettlement.

About 100 dissidents had remained at Camp Ashraf to arrange for the transfer of personal belongings and other items. But on Sept. 1, gunmen entered the camp through gates guarded by Iraqi soldiers and went on a two-hour killing crusade.

Mr. Mukasey lamented that Iraq has failed to keep its promise to protect the dissidents after U.S. troops handed over command of the camps to Iraq on Jan. 1, 2009.

The dissidents had operated in Iraqi safe havens as the armed wing of the resistance until they turned over their weapons to U.S. troops in 2003.

Within six months of the transfer, attacks started on Camp Ashraf. Eleven were killed in July 2009 and 36 more in April 2011.

“We’ve stood by and watched as those people have been systematically slaughtered by Iraqi troops using weapons and equipment supplied by the United States and training by the United States,” Mr. Mukasey said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has denied responsibility for the attacks, but many analysts noted that he is allied with Iran, which wants the dissidents killed.

Retired Army Col. Wesley Martin, who commanded Camp Ashraf, dismissed State Department claims that it has no evidence that Baghdad was involved.

“There is no way anybody could come in or leave without engagement of the Iraqi forces,” Col. Martin said, adding that he could think of only one possibility but that would require the transporter from “Star Trek.”

“That’s science fiction,” he said. “The State Department needs to [face] the reality that it was an Iraqi assault.”

SORRY IN ZIMBABWE

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About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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