The U.S. government harbors a number of exiled political groups, some self-styled “governments-in-exile,” some banned opposition groups and parties, and other groups that have carried out terrorist attacks.
Some of the latter groups have close links to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), otherwise known as the “Islamic State.”
Some Republican presidential candidates and both Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Congress have criticized the recent nuclear and sanctions relief deal with Iran because they claim that Iran harbors terrorist groups.
These opponents of closer U.S.-Iranian relations are referring to Iran’s support for Hamas, Lebanese Hezbollah, and the Houthis of Yemen, all of whom have legitimate grievances against Israel, Israel and Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia and its proxy government in Yemen, respectively.
The United States has aided and abetted two Iranian exile groups, one of which, the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), which has coordinated attacks against the Iraqi and Iranian governments with ISIL.
The MEK, aside from maintaining its support offices in the United States, has received the support of such U.S. politicians as former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, former CIA directors James Woolsey and Porter Goss, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former FBI director Louis Freeh, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Attorney General Michael Muksaey, former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, and former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean.
All of these and other supporters of the MEK, by default, provide assistance to the MEK’s on-the-ground partner in Iraq, ISIL. The MEK also coordinates terrorist attacks in Iran with the Pakistan-based Iranian Baluchi separatist group, Jundallah.
In 2004, the United States dropped the MEK from its list of foreign terrorist organizations and changed its status to a “protected organization.”
Although the MEK and its two leaders, the husband-wife team of Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, some former MEK members consider the Rajavis to be “cult leaders,” the Jim and Tammy Fay Bakker of terrorism, if you will.
Although the MEK and its umbrella organization, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, are based in Paris, the group maintains a number of fronts in the United States.
The MEK also works closely with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The MEK has also maintained links to the National Council of Iran, headed up by the son of the deposed Shah of Iran, “Crown Prince” Reza Pahlavi. Pahlavi maintains his headquarters in Potomac, Maryland, a wealthy Washington suburb.
In 2015, the MEK opened an office on Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington, just a block from the White House.
Former Obama national security adviser General Jim Jones and former Bush ambassador to the UN John Bolton attended the grand opening of the office.
Bolton has appeared on television recently decrying the nuclear deal and prisoner swap with Iran. The MEK also maintains a presence in New York from which it lobbies against Iran at the United Nations, often in concert with American Jewish groups.
Ironically, during the Shah’s reign, the Shah and MEK were bitter enemies. In those days, the MEK received support from the Communist bloc.
The U.S. government provides sanctuary to the East Turkestan government-in-exile that helps provide Uighur child soldiers to ISIL forces in Syria and Iraq via Turkey.
Another government-in-exile supported by Washington is that of the rival pretender to the Iranian throne, Mohammed Hassan Mirza II, the leader of the Qajar dynasty, which was exiled from Iran by the rival Pahlavi dynasty in 1923. The Qajar dynasty has its headquarters in Dallas.
In 2014, Razak Abdul A’imma al-Haidari, an Iraqi MP from the Badr Parliamentary bloc, charged that the MEK and ISIL were coordinating their terrorist activities in Iraq.
The U.S. continues to provide the MEK with security at the “Temporary Transit Location” at the former Camp Liberty (Camp Ashraf) U.S. base.
In 2014, the MEK hailed ISIL as “part of a popular revolution against the Maliki regime” in Iraq. Later, the MEK tried to hide its past support for ISIL by claiming that ISIL was a creation of Iran. In fact, ISIL and Iran are bitter enemies and Iranian troops have engaged ISIL in battle in northern Iraq near the Iranian border.
The United States also provides sanctuary to leaders of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, which has direct links to the ISIL-affiliated and anti-Russian Caucasus Emirate. Ruslan Tsarni (Tsarnaev), the uncle of Boston Marathon bombing figures Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, had links to the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Ichkeria leaders are found mainly in the Boston, Washington, and New York areas.
The East Turkestan “government-of-exile” is based in Washington, DC. It has helped to provide mercenaries from China’s predominantly Muslim Uighur Xinjiang province, including child soldiers, to ISIL in Syria and Iraq. Some of these children have carried out war crimes by executing hostages. China considers the East Turkestan groups to be terrorist organizations.
The Royal Lao Government-in-exile, which has been involved in clandestine guerrilla warfare against the Lao government in coordination with the Hmongs, has its headquarters in Gresham, Oregon.
The so-called “Federal Republic of Vietnam,” the successor to the U.S.-supported South Vietnamese government and which is said to have been involved in anti-Hanoi guerrilla activities in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam, has its headquarters in Missouri City, Texas.
Southern Florida has been the home of exiled right-wing groups from Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Many of these groups have been supported by the CIA.
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