Israel’s image as a victim of terror is taken for granted by most Americans. Thus, the NBC report from February 9 of this year was all the more stunning. Obama administration officials leaked to NBC that Israel had teamed up with a violent, cultish, US-terror listed Iranian organization called the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) to assassinate Iranian scientists.
Citing US government sources, NBC reported that Israel financed, trained and armed the MEK to carry out the deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists. That Israel had a role in the assassination of the scientists took few by surprise.
That it collaborated with a fundamentally anti-Israeli, Marxist-Islamist terror organization to pull off the attacks was perhaps a bit more surprising. (That the Obama administration would divulge this information and embarrass its close ally Israel publicly was also unexpected.)
The MEK’s history of violence and anti-Israeli activities is long and bloody. In the 1970s, it established deep ties with Yasser Arafat and both provided and received training from the PLO fighters. Much of the late Shah’s antipathy towards Arafat was rooted in the latters ties to the MEK and other opponents of the Pahlavi dynasty, publicly complaining “that some of the groups of the [Palestinian] resistance trained Iranian saboteurs to infiltrate our territory, kill our people and blow up various installations.”
(…)Exactly when Israel’s ties with the MEK were established is unclear. But by the early 1990s, as I describe in my book, a relationship was forming, though its full nature and extent remains unknown.
(…)Political one-night stands are not unusual in the Middle East. Even tactical collaboration with sworn enemies takes place. But associating Israel with a cultish Iranian terror group is damaging to Israel on several levels.
First, any attempt by Israel to hold the higher moral ground and point fingers at the regime in Tehran will be lost if Israel itself is entangled with violent terrorist groups that kill indiscriminatingly. This may have implications for other states’ willingness to collaborate against terrorist groups targeting Israel.
Trita Parsi is the President of the National Iranian American Council and the 2010 Recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.
The above article was published in thedailybeast.com on May 15th, 2012 (12:45 p.m. EDT).