THE WASHINGTON TIMES – Embassy Row
Former U.S. officials are urging Secretary of State John F. Kerry to listen to his own words about Syria and turn his outrage toward the massacre of 52 unarmed Iranian dissidents shot execution-style by Iraqi gunmen in a refugee camp north of Baghdad where the United States had guaranteed their safety.
“This week you made an astute observation: ‘This is not the time to be spectators to slaughter.’ Although you were referencing Syria, your observation also applies to what happened last Saturday morning at Camp Ashraf, Iraq,” they wrote in a letter to Mr. Kerry.
About 100 dissidents were in Camp Ashraf on Sept. 1, protecting the property of more than 3,000 others who had relocated to Camp Liberty, a smaller refugee site closer to the Iraqi capital.
Iraqi gunmen burst into the compound, tied the hands of many of the victims behind their backs and shot them in the head.
The survivors arrived Thursday in Camp Liberty in a truck convoy. Along the route, a roadside bomb exploded, disabling one of the trucks but causing no injuries.
Iraq announced Thursday it is holding seven dissidents whom the gunmen had kidnapped in the attack.
The massacre at Camp Ashraf was the fourth deadly attack on the dissidents since 2009, when the United States turned over responsibility for the camp to the Iraqi government, which has close ties to Iran.
The group of 35 prominent Americans wrote Mr. Kerry to seek his help in relocating the survivors to safety in other countries.
They complained that the U.S. is relying too much on Iraqi government promises to investigate the attack at Camp Ashraf, an assault the Iranian dissidents blame on Iraqi soldiers acting under orders from Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite Muslim who increasingly is tilting toward Iran’s Shiite theocracy.
Iraq repeatedly has denied any role in the attack, and the State Department this week reminded Baghdad of its responsibility to protect the Iranian dissidents, who are considered political refugees under international law.
In the former officials’ letter, sent Wednesday on the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, they warned that “additional massacres are imminent.”
The signatories include former CIA directors Porter Goss and retired Gen. Michael Hayden; former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh; former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Guiliani; former House speakers Newt Gingrich and Dennis Hastert; former Democratic Party chairmen Howard Dean and Edward Rendell; and retired generals Hugh Shelton, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; George Casey, former Army chief of staff; and James Conway and James L. Jones, both former commandants of the Marine Corps.
The letter also was signed by five men with first-hand experience with the dissidents, who served as the armed wing of the National Council of Resistance of Iran until 2003 when they surrendered their weapons to U.S. forces.
Retired Army Brig. Gen. David D. Phillips and retired Army Cols. Thomas V. Cantwell, Wesley M. Martin and Leo McCloskey were commandants at Camp Ashraf, and retired Army Col. Gary Morsch was the chief medical officer there.
Meanwhile, a victims tribute will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington.