America's Own Pet Terror Organization Gets a Very Special Treatment
This piece originally appeared at Salon.
On July 11, The Huffington Post published a post by Hossein Abedini, who was identified in the byline as a “Member of Parliament in exile of Iranian Resistance.” His extended HuffPost bio says that he “belongs to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran” (NCRI). The NCRI is the political arm of the Mujahideen-e Khalq, (MeK), the Iranian dissident group (and longtime Saddam ally) that has been formally designated by the U.S. State Department since 1997 as a Terrorist organization, yet has been paying large sums of money to a bipartisan cast of former U.S. officials to advocate on its behalf (the in-hiding President of the NCRI, Massoud Rajavi, is, along with his wife Maryam Rajavi , MeK’s leader). Abedini, the HuffPost poster, has been identified as a MeK spokesman in news reports, and has identified himself the same way when, for instance, writing letters to NBC News objecting to negative reports about the group.
Yesterday’s HuffPost piece by Abedini touted a recent rally, held on June 23 in Paris, which, he claimed, was attended by “over 100,000 Iranian exiles and supporters of the Iranian resistance from five continents.” The news report cited by Abedini actually says that “tens of thousands” of Iranians participated, and — reflecting what seems to be MeK’s bizarrely unlimited budget — they were transported by “more than a thousand buses . . . from all over Europe.” Abedini boasted that the rally’s keynote speaker was MeK leader Rajavi (whom he calls “the President-elect of the Iranian Resistance”) — it was a MeK rally — and quotes her at length demanding the removal of MeK from the list of Terror organizations.
As usual for a MeK event, Abedini was able to tout more than a dozen former high-level U.S. political officials from both parties who spoke to the rally, many of whom (if not all) have been repeatedly paid large sums of money for their MeK speeches. According to Abedini, this latest rally included many of the usual MeK shills: former GOP New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell, former Democratic New Mexico Governor and U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson, former GOP U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, former GOP Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former Democratic State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, andseveral retired U.S. Generals.
Shortly after the HuffPost piece appeared, several people on Twitter, the first of which (I believe) was the Iranian journalist Hooman Majd, noted that The Huffington Post had published a propaganda piece from a designated Terror group and wondered whether they would do so for all such Terror groups such as Al Qaeda. After several others, including The New York Times‘ Robert Mackey and myself, noted the oddity that HuffPost was publishing pieces from a designated Terrorist group, HuffPost deleted the piece. If one goes now to the URL where the post first appeared, one finds this: “ Editor’s Note: This post is no longer available on the Huffington Post” (the post can still be read in its cached version). No explanation is given for the deletion, but a HuffPost spokesperson, Rhoades Alderson, last night responded to my inquiry about it as follows:
It was published by mistake. By policy, we don’t publish blog posts by people affiliated with designated terrorist organizations. The blog editor who published it was unaware that NCRI is MEK’s political arm. When the mistake was discovered the post was removed.
Despite this “policy,” the same post by Abedini remains on the HuffPost’s UK site. Moreover, HuffPost has previously published numerous pieces from Abedini including one linking the Syrian and Iranian “resistance” and demanding Western support for both, another branding Iran the “epicenter of terrorism,” and other posts spouting the MeK line. All of those posts by Abedini remain on the HuffPost site.