July 23, 1997
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Ms. Ros-Lehtinen,
The Foundation for Democracy in Iran welcomes your opposition to theregime in Tehran, as expressed in the letter you made public today withCongressmen Gary Ackerman and James Trafficant, but we are concerned thatyou have fallen into a trap laid by a group that has been closely associatedwith the Tehran regime, the People's Mujahidin Organization of Iran (PMOI),also known as the Mujahidin-e Khalq (MEK), the National Council of Resistance(NCR), or the National Liberation Army (NLA).
The State Department has carefully detailed the MEK's record of kidnappingand murdering American citizens in Iran during the late 1970s. It is alsodocumented the role played by the MEK in the Khomeinist revolution andthe revolutionary governments between 1979 and 1981. During that time,MEK guerrillas assassinated in cold blood an estimated 3,000-5,000 sympathizersof the former regime. Contrary to Mr. Trafficant's statement this afternoonthat the group had "purged" those responsible for the 1979-1981murders, the group's leader at the time, Massoud Rajavi, remains in controlof the group today.
We fully agree that the United States should take a firm stand againstthe Tehran regime. We are on record as fully supporting the U.S. policyof economic sanctions against the Tehran regime, and have advocated takinga tougher stance against the Islamic Republic's abysmal human rights recordas well. The United States should act in cooperation with its allies, wherepossible, and unilaterally if that fails, to increase pressure on the regime.We fully believe that a strong, free, and democratic Iran would abandonthe behavior the United States finds objectionable. However, we cautionyou that the MEK has shown that it does not support a democratic, pluralisticIran, but instead is dedicated to bloodshed and an era of renewed radicalism.The group's own statement of principles (Maryam Rajavi's "16 points")explicitly excludes from any future democratic polity in Iran groups itfinds objectionable or that disagree with its aims. Clearly, this is arecipe for more dictatorship, not for democracy.
As a human rights monitoring group, we are in contact with a large numberof opposition groups from all across the Iranian political spectrum, bothinside Iran and in exile. I can assure you that all these groups, whetherformer monarchists, leftist former allies of the Mujahidin, or membersof the Iranian clergy who oppose the regime on religious grounds, totallyreject the Mujahidin because of their totalitarian practices and theirhistory of collaboration with the Khomeini regime.
One case in point was the "invasion" of Iran by Mujahidintroops in concert with Iraqi forces in April 1988. Well before Iran's RevolutionaryGuards were able to deploy to ward off the MEK forces, teenagers and oldmen from frontier villages repelled the Mujahidin and inflicted heavy casualtieson them, according to international wire service reports. While the Mujahidindisputes these wire service accounts, the group acknowledges that it wasforced to call off its "march to Tehran." We believe the futureof Iran lies with the Iranian people, and the Iranian people have consistentlyand vigorously rejected the Mujahidin. Notwithstanding the group's propaganda,there is no objective evidence that the group can count on any supportinside Iran. The group's record during the Iran-Iraq war, when its guerrillasfought side by side with Saddam Hussein's troops against Iranian forces,have earned it a reputation as "collaborators" with the enemyin the eyes of most Iranians. Its actions since then - which include thedeployment of Mujahidin guerrillas to combat Kurdish opponents to SaddamHussein in northern Iraq last year - have done nothing to efface this imageof a group totally subservient to the orders of the Iraqi dictator.
We cannot believe that you would want to go on record as supportingSaddam Hussein, or a group that has been closely allied with the terroristactivities of the Khomeini regime in Tehran. We therefore urge that youwithdraw your signature from this letter.
So you can better judge our group, which supports no political partyor group in the domestic Iranian debate or in the United States, we inviteyou to review the attached statement we issued two days after the electionof Hojj. Mohammad Khatemi as president of Iran on May 23, 1997, in whichwe argue that measurable changes in Iran's behavior must occur before theU.S. should alter its approach toward Tehran. We also invite you to visitour website at www.iran.org, and to review a letter similar to yours, draftedby FDI in cooperation with Senators Alfonse D'Amato, Trent Lott, JosephLieberman, and others, that was sent to the President on February 19 ofthis year (available at http://www.iran.org/news/970218.htm).
We look forward to working with you to promote freedom and democracyin Iran, but are convinced that using the regime's own methods, terrorismand violence - as advocated by the Mujahidin - will only lead to anotherdisaster. There are many voices inside Iran who support these worthy goal,whose activities we would be happy to discuss with you at your convenience.
Kenneth R. Timmerman