THE HUFFINGTON POST
One would have thought that Iraq’s Prime Minister Maliki’s government had enough on its hands, what with a calamitous escalation of sectarian strife harkening back to the worst days of Iraq’s bloody and traumatic post-Saddam days.
I was wrong.
As international attention has been focused on the Syria crisis, Maliki allegedly ordered elements of his Iraqi militia, along with their Iranian Revolutionary Guard allies from the terrorist Quds force, to undertake an unprovokied mass murder of the remaining inhabitants of Camp Ashraf over the weekend.
The 100 persons who were attacked are members of the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran (MEK), were left behind by the mutual consent of the UN and the Iraqi government to care for the remaining personal property of 3000 refugees who had been forcibly transfered to a smaller, more decrepit camp known oxymoronically as “Camp Liberty,” a former U.S. military base on the outskirts of Baghdad.
The MEK is a pro-American Iranian dissident organization which had provided invaluable intelligence support to American military forces in Iraq. Following the example of Great Britain and the European Union, the MEK was voluntarily removed over a year ago from the U.S.list of terrorist organizations by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after a thorough investigation by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Both the U.S. Court and the U.S. State Department determined that there was no grounds whatsoever to maintain the MEK on a U.S. list of outlawed organizations. It’s leadership supports an end to the Islamist regime in Iran and the creation of a full-fledged, secular western – allied democracy.
For many terrible years, the remaining inhabitants of Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty have been languishing and suffering periodic Iraqi assaults on their temporary indefensible housing awaiting repatriation as UN refugess to third countries under the direct protection of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). They are being subjected to harrasment, deprivation and evident danger as the Iraq Govenment — which considers them “fifth columnists” in their midst — does everything possible to make their lives as miserable and as fearful, as possible.
The premediated attack by Iraq’s government on these defenseless persons may portend a broader assault on the unprotected inhabitants of Camp Liberty if Maliki is not held to account and prevented from doing so by intervention at the highest levels of the U.S. government and the Secretary General of the United Nations.
The details of the attack are slowly leaking out to international media. To prepare for the attack, a group of intelligence agents from the Iraqi prime minister’s office headed by Haidar Azab were deployed on the night of August 31 to Ashraf. Azab is already under indictment by a Spanish court for his participation in two prior massacres at Ashraf in 2009 and 2011.
And the facts of what happened the night of August 1 are horrific. The inhabitants were lined up, Gestapo like, handcuffed, and then summarily executed one by one with many being shot point blank in their eyes with silencers. 52 civilians were initially killed, dozens wounded in the melee, and 14 taken hostage who are likely going to be taken to Iran to be tortured and eventually executed by Iran’s government. The videos are disturbing and shocking and I caution anyone viewing them that they are very graphic:
YOUTUBE: Iraq Commits Massacre at Camp Ashraf, Death Toll of Iranian Exiles at 52 and Rising
For Iraq and its Iranian allies to wantonly undertake such a massacre under the very nose of the United Nations personnel assigned to protect them compels an international criminal investigation by the UN and the International Criminal Court.
The survivors of the attack must be protected and given adequate and UN supervised medical treatment. The hostages taken by Iraq need to be immediately released to the custody of UNAMI, and if UNAMI is unable to do its job, to the U.S..
But as the massare at Camp Ashraf so dramatically illustrates, the necessity to URGENTLY repatriate the remaining 3000 survivors of Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty out of Iraq on humanitarian grounds to avoid a further disaster. These men and women are desperate to find a safe haven out of Iraq and are being kept there against their will. They are innocent pawns caught in the cross hairs of an Iraqi regime prepared apparently to do the blind bidding of an Ayatollah determined to eliminate every last member of the MEK.
The United States can no longer permit the status quo to continue. They have earned every conceivable grounds to be granted immediate humanitarian parole under U.S. law to enter the U.S.and persons who have given so much to help the U.S. in recent years.
The more Americans and the world know about what happened at Camp Ashraf, the more they will question why are taxpayers footing the bill to provide Maliki any foreign assistance if this is what their dollars are getting.
Follow Amb. Marc Ginsberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@ambmcg