Why Do Progressives Ignore MEK Attacks on Iranian Scientists?

by Kevin Jon Heller

Two posts today by ostensibly progressive bloggers claim that MEK has not been involved in a terrorist attack in years.  Joshua Keating at FP:

The idea that a group blamed for the killing of six Americans in the 1970s, as well as dozens of deadly terrorist bombings against Iranian targets afte,r that is “the largest peaceful, secular, pro-democratic Iranian dissident group” — as its advertising boasts — doesn’t pass the laugh test. But it’s also true that the group, despite its creepy cultlike behavior, hasn’t carried out a terrorist attack in years.

And Spencer Ackerman at Wired (the source, not coincidentally, of Keating’s claim):

For over a decade, the MEK carried out bombings and hijackings on regime targets inside and outside Iran, including an audacious April 1992 coordinated raid on 13 Iranian diplomatic facilities around the world. The State Department listed them as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1997. But it’s been years since the MEK attempted a terrorist attack.

Neither post is even remotely sympathetic to the MEK, which makes their failure to even mention allegations that the MEK has been killing Iranian nuclear scientists particularly baffling.  It’s not like those allegations come solely from Iran; they have been confirmed by US intelligence officials, as NBC reported earlier this year.  Perhaps Keating and Ackerman do not believe the US officials.  Or perhaps they believe them but do not consider killing Iranian nuclear scientists to be acts of terrorism.  (They are, as I’ve explained before.)  If so, they should tell us.

Pretending that the allegations do not exist is unacceptable.


2 Responses

  1. I’m wondering how a nation could be considered to be in a state of peace with another state whose leadership has explicitly and publicly called for its annihilation (and currently pursuing a means). Iran hasn’t been exactly coy about its intentions towards Israel. 

    There are some very obvious disadvantages to waiting until Iran has the actual means at its disposal to pursue its objectives. So there is a compelling security interest in trying to avoid that potentiality. This would satisfy the principle of necessity. It appears they also adhere to distinction and proportionality. These principles would seem to matter, to me at least, more than location (whether technically public or not) or type of weapon (whether explosive or not).

    If necessity, proportionality, and distinction are technical irrelevancies to the legal definition of terrorist, what is the whole point of the classification in the first place?

  2. Great question worthy of much meditation.

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