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Who Will Convict the US Government for “Material Support of Terrorism”?

This past week saw the conviction of Tarek Mehanna for “material support of terrorism,” a special charge these days for those with Arabo-Muslamic sounding names. A charge that earned Mehanna 17.5 years in prison.

Aside from the problematic nature of the case, (Mehanna’s digital history proves he did not fit the picture of the eager-to-be-entrapped-or-turned-informant-wannabe-AlQaede-esque-terrorist, also Mehanna was essentially convicted of “translating documents”), there is another saliently unsurprising point that has been brought to the fore: the hypocrisy of the US government and the elite political class.

Hypocrisy amongst politicians? Like, what’s new, right?

Political hypocrisy is a given in our cynical culture, a daily fact of life. We are so used to the double standards when it comes to ‘crime and punishment’ that many of us are blind to it when it occurs.

So, the US government can train terrorists in the Nevada desert that it’s own State Department has designated part of a “foreign terrorist organization” and no one blinks an eye:

Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) conducted training, beginning in 2005, for members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq…M.E.K. has remained on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations—which meant that secrecy was essential in the Nevada training. “We did train them here, and washed them through the Energy Department because the D.O.E. owns all this land in southern Nevada,” a former senior American intelligence official told me. “We were deploying them over long distances in the desert and mountains, and building their capacity in communications—coördinating commo is a big deal.” (A spokesman for J.S.O.C. said that “U.S. Special Operations Forces were neither aware of nor involved in the training of M.E.K. members.”)

Before Seymour Hersh uncovered the sordid fact that the US government was directly involved in the training of terrorists in Nevada, it was well known (though under-reported), that there was a bi-partisan involvement of current and former government officials in both lobbying and receiving money from the MEK:

Congressmen (including Democrats) and former government officials have met with the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an organization that was designated a terrorist group in 1997 when the list was first compiled, and is STILL ON THE LIST–for now.

MEK has a very aggressive and organized lobby effort in Washington D.C. According to one House staffer, the MEK is “the most mobilized grassroots advocacy effort in the country — AIPAC included.” Their mission is to be delisted as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), push the USA to foment war with Iran, i.e. “regime change,” and have themselves installed into power. Sound familiar?

Again, the hypocrisy is glaring, and as we pointed out in the past, exposes some crucial points:

1.) It is a felony to provide a designated terrorist organization with “material support,” which many elected officials it can be argued have been doing!

2.) “Numerous Muslims inside the U.S. have been prosecuted for providing ‘material support for Terrorism’ for doing far less than these American politicians are publicly doing on behalf of a designated Terrorist group.” Read Glenn Greenwald’s piece for a far from comprehensive list of Muslims who have been charged for doing far less than what these politicians did!

What should we do? Sit idly by while those with power flaunt the rule of law and treat the rest of us like subjects and serfs unworthy of equality before the law? Have we ceded “immunity” to the powerful political class in consequence of their law-breaking?

Recently, the Department of Treasury has announced that it is investigating three former high ranking officials for receiving money from the MEK:

The Department of Treasury is investigating payments to three former top-ranking government officials for speaking on behalf of a group on the U.S. terrorist list…Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, former FBI Director Louis Freeh and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Hugh Shelton.

While this is welcome news, it does put the government in the embarrassing position of investigating prominent officials for supporting terrorists while having simultaneously trained the exact same terrorists! The question is, who is going to investigate the government for training MEK operatives in the Nevada desert?

The three officials being investigated were not the only ones receiving money and perks in exchange for lobbying on behalf of the MEK. There are at least “nearly two dozen prominent former officials who have received up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees in exchange for their efforts on behalf of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK).”

This is why I propose a grassroots effort, starting with an online petition and campaign calling for the Department of the Treasury to expand its investigation of officials who have been aiding the US State Department designated “foreign terrorist organization” the MEK.

Those who will be the subject of this petition are as follows:

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey: Lobbied on behalf of, or met with and received money.

Former homeland security advisor Fran Townsend: Lobbied on behalf of, or met with and received money.

Former White House chief of staff Andy Card: Lobbied on behalf of, or met with and received money.

Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Hugh Shelton: received about $20-30,000 per speech and a variety of perks, including first-class airfare to European cities.

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge: Lobbied on behalf of, or met with and received money.

Former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani: Lobbied on behalf of, or met with and received money.

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean: Lobbied on behalf of, met with and received money.

Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell: received about $20-30,000 per speech and a variety of perks, including first-class airfare to European cities.

Former FBI Director Louis Frieh: received about $20-30,000 per speech and a variety of perks, including first-class airfare to European cities.

Former Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson: Received money.

Former General Wesley Clark: Lobbied on behalf of, met with and received money.

Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif.: Lobbied on behalf of, met with and received money.

Former Congressman Tom Tancredo, R-Col.: Lobbied on behalf of and met with.

Ted Poe, R-Texas: Lobbied on behalf of and met with.

Dennis Moore, R-Kan.: Lobbied on behalf of and met with.

State Department Ambassador Daniel Fried: participated in phone calls “urging the pro-MEK members to pass along messages to MEK leaders in Paris.”

Former Sen. Robert Torricelli: Lobbied on behalf of, or met with and received money.

Former Sen. Evan Bayh: Lobbied on behalf of, or met with and received money.

Former CIA Director Porter Goss: Lobbied on behalf of, or met with and received money.

Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers: Lobbied on behalf of, or met with and received money.

Former National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones: Lobbied on behalf of, or met with and received money.

If this Department of Treasury investigation has any real teeth behind it, and is not just a mechanism to provide the illusion of justice, it will be comprehensive and thorough, including all those who received money, lobbied on behalf of or met with the MEK. Isn’t that what we have seen with those convicted of “material support of terrorism” for doing far less than these politicians?

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  • Danios

    I am responding to a comment by “Defend Muhammad” who posted the following on Facebook (would someone kindly post it in response to his comment on our fan page?). Defend Muhammad stated:

    Danios is a fool. Mr. Mehanna’s website linked to by Danios also includes articles by such terrorist luminaries like Abdullah Azzam, mentor of Osama bin Laden, and Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, mentor of Ayman Zawihiri.

    Here is a case of shoddy analysis, similar to what is often done in Western media. One could equally say that Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawihiri considered the Prophet Muhammad (whom “Defend Muhammad” is defending!) and Saladin his “spiritual mentors.”

    Just because OBL or Zawihiri considers someone to be their spiritual guide does not mean that the spiritual guide in turn would see them as rightly guided. This is a logical fallacy you are committing.

    Abdullah Azzam was the leader of the Afghan Arab mujahideen who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Azzam fought against the Soviet military. To my knowledge, he did not engage in acts of terrorism against civilians. In fact, if you had just looked at the translation from Tarek Mehanna’s website itself–which I reproduced in my article–you would have seen that Mehanna brought up Azzam’s own words to counter the claims by the e-jihadists who took Bin Laden’s opinion on targeting/killing civilians. How deceitful of you to then to use that as a proof!

    In fact, in Mehanna’s mind, Abdullah Azzam is the perfect example of a “true mujahid”, as opposed to Bin Laden.

    Azzam is praised by a great slew of Muslims, cutting across many ideological lines, including but not limited to terrorists like Bin Laden.

    Also, it was only after Azzam’s death that Bin Laden formed “Al-Qaeda” and shifted attention away from guerrilla warfare with Soviet military to terrorism against America and her allies. What Azzam would have thought of this is up for debate. But, just so you know, there are even those, such as Azzam’s own son, who believes that Bin Laden himself was responsible for killing Azzam.

    Now, among “jihadis” overall, Abdullah Azzam has legendary status. Therefore, it is no surprise at all that those with Mehanna’s views and those with Al-Qaeda type views would both respect Azzam. In fact, both need to claim him in order to gain legitimacy. In conclusion, your argument is a very weak one, ESPECIALLY since the quotes from Abdullah Azzam that Mehanna reproduced GO AGAINST what you claim.

    As for Abu Muhammad Asem al-Maqdisi, you once again use simplistic Western media sort of argumentation. First, I think you meant al-Zarqawi and not al-Zawahiri. Second, you fail to mention that Zarqawi and Maqdisi had an ideological split. Maqdisi specifically rejected Zarqawi’s logic using the “night raid” to justify killing Shia civilians. You also failed to mention that the more ardent jihadis subsequently accused Maqdisi of “going soft.”

    You yourself reproduced the translation of Al-Maqdisi’s work which was on Mehanna’s website. I scanned it real quickly, but I didn’t see anything in it that justifies targeting/killing civilians. If there is anything in it like that, please post it (because I may have missed it, but I don’t think so).

    Once again, Tarek Mehanna approves of Al-Maqdisi, who he would hold to be a “true mujahid”, but meanwhile would reject Zarqawi and his tactics.

    To be clear, none of this analysis of mine means I agree with the ideologies of any of the individuals listed above. I believe in secular, liberal democracy. But, your inability to understand nuance is indicative of a Bushian “us vs. them” sort of mentality. I don’t agree with Tarek Mehanna’s world view (hundredth time I’ve said that), but justice and rule of law must have a fair hand.

    Lastly, you reproduce a translation Mehanna included, and then ask “And you call this free speech?”


    You need to learn what “freedom of speech” is, because you have no clue.

    Also, you just reproduced it, so should you be arrested too?

  • JD

    What If they were muslim?


    NY teen gets prison in religious-dispute firebomb

    WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — A Hasidic teenager was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in prison for the firebomb attack that badly burned a neighbor during a religious dispute in an insular Jewish enclave.

    A defense attorney said the sentence was fair but worried about prison life for an 18-year-old who has “never seen TV, never been on the Internet, doesn’t know who Babe Ruth and Derek Jeter are.”

    Shaul Spitzer of New Square had been charged with attempted murder but pleaded guilty to assault as potential jurors gathered for his trial in February. A trial would have brought unwanted attention to New Square, a New York village where nearly every one of the 7,000 residents is a member of the Skver Hasidic sect.

    Spitzer admitted that he attacked Aron Rottenberg, a plumber, outside Rottenberg’s home in May. He said he did it because Rottenberg defied New Square’s grand rabbi by worshiping with nursing home residents rather than at New Square’s main synagogue.

    Rottenberg, a plumber, claimed in a lawsuit that Spitzer was acting at the direction of the rabbi, David Twersky. The rabbi denied involvement and was not charged. The lawsuit was settled for $2.3 million.

    Rottenberg had asked Rockland County Court Judge William Kelly to be lenient with Spitzer, who was also burned, and the judge came down from the 10-year cap he had promised after the plea deal

  • JD

    What If they were muslim?


    Osmania University Beef Festival Leads To Violence

    A beef festival organized by Dalit students at Osmania University in Hyderabad, India on April 15th erupted into violence, the BBC reports. About 100 members of the Hindu right wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarti Parishad (ABVP) protested the festival, leading to five injuries according to The Hindu report.

    ABVP protested the beef festival on the ground that consumption of beef is against Hindu culture. Ramkrishna, senior ABVP leader told BBC, “Today they are asking for beef, tomorrow they will want alcohol.”

    The purpose of the festival was to oppose “food fascism” in university hostels, reports NDTV. The festival organizers demanded beef be included in the university canteen menu as it is part of their “cultural identity.”

    “The festival was intended to make the point that upper caste diktats over food habits need to be resisted, however another group of students opposed the idea on the grounds that it is against Indian culture,” a police official said in a quote reported by the NDTV.

    More than 1500 students attended the beef festival and consumed various dishes made of beef according to the BBC report.

    The beef festival was organized by the Telangana Students Association, Progressive Democratic Student Union, Student Federation of India and student groups from English and Foreign Languages University.

    S. Satyanarayana, Osmania University vice-chancellor announced yesterday that there would be no change in the hostel menu, reports NewsWala.

    Despite the violence, the organizers of the beef festival were generally pleased with the large turnout and aim to make this an annual event, reports Deccan Chronicle.

    The incident sparked a lot of conversation on Twitter. Below are tweets by activists, politicians and journalists:

  • Ahmed

    I don’t think the petition is open to British citizens…

  • Believing Atheist

    I would like to give LW one more tip if I may. Sorry I really don’t know where to place this tip, it’s on Daniel Pipes. He has been exposed by Haaretz on April 11 for his racism against Arabs

  • @BuddhaShrink,

    You are totally correct in that this is linked to a wider systematic problem. The War on Drugs, the Prison Industrial Complex, etc. all point to the fact that in the US there is Liberty and Justice for Some, i.e. the rich and the powerful get away with it while the powerless pay for it.

    I don’t think it is enough to just acknowledge this point and understand, those of us who know must act. What the Trayvon Martin case has proved to me so far is that a grassroots campaign of activists and groups can bring about change to an unjust situation.

    I urge everyone to sign this petition so we can increase the critical mass speaking out against the double standard of the two-tiered justice system:

  • Garibaldi

    Thanks for the tip BA.

  • Abdul-Rahman


    If you do a little research into the MEK they are hated by most Iranians (whether supporters of the current government or not). As the MEK not only now works with the CIA and the Zionist Mossad to assassinate Iranian scientists (to try to retard, with the assistance of unjust US imperialist sanctions, the Iranian scientific advancements and achievements); but also the MEK sided with and fought for Saddam Hussein’s Iraq military against Iran in the 1980s Iran-Iraq war and there after as well (Iraqi Kurds are also noted to hate the MEK as Saddam is supposed to have used the MEK against the Iraqi Kurds to help Saddam crush the northern Iraqi Kurdish rebellion after the 1st Gulf War).

    Saddam meeting with MEK leader Massoud Rajavi in Baghdad and of course Saddam with his buddy Rumsfeld back in 1983

  • Believing Atheist

    Here is a great story published today on Think Progress that I think LW should reproduce. It attacks Frank Gaffney, Creeping Sharia and the Islamophobia industry in general.

  • @Juergista,

    They are still on the terrorist list. Even if we entertained the idea that some court in DC took them off, then those activities, receiving payment, lobbying on behalf of would still be prosecutable.

    All links are provided above, secondly it is the Dept. of the Treasury that is investigating three former officials and so that is one reason we are calling on them to widen the scope of their investigation.

  • The war on terrorism is like the war on drugs: It has become big business: The very thing that former Republican President Eisenhower tried to warn everybody about: The Military/Industrial/Complex has grown into a Military/Itelligence/Prison/Industrial/Complex. Too many people have a vested interest in all these wars.
    Peace, like stay at home womens’ work, is in need of a source of revenue.

  • Garibaldi

    @Scott, all the links are provided. Also, the material support provided to MEK terrorists by Us officials is a matter of record, they are quite open and shameless about it themselves.

  • khushboo
  • MasterQ
  • Sloppy reporting. You’re charging these officials with what looks like scant evidence and a few unattributed quotes. Include the the hyperlinks to your evidence. Give your readers at least enough to go on to do their own digging. But you don’t. Your piece is loaded with unattributed quotes. You imply that you’re quoting from Seymour Hersh in your top box. Give either an attribution or a hyperlink.

  • Juergista

    The DC court said to de-list, it is actually the state department which is in contempt, but I guess you can not figure out so far, and by the way where is the evidence that MEK has paid them.

  • Garibaldi

    Sorry the earlier comment I made was really early in the morning, I request everyone to forward the petition!

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