Iraqi Police Raid Camp of U.S.-Protected Cultists Whom Saddam Sponsored
In one of the more bizarre subplots of the Iraq war, the United States has for years protected thousands of members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, an Iranian organization chartered by Saddam Hussein to carry out terrorist attacks against Iranian targets. The MEK has a cultish aspect to it — Elizabeth Rubin wrote a great and detailed profile of the organization several years ago — and the State Department officially designates it a terrorist group. That said, there’s no evidence, as far as I’m aware, that any of the 3000 or so people at Camp Ashraf in Iraq have done anything wrong.
Still, for years the Shiite-led Iraqi government, which has a great deal of antipathy toward the anti-Iranian organization, has wanted access to the MEK facility. The United States has resisted, for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is that the military feared the Iraqi security forces would abuse the camp’s inhabitants. And today, in an evident exercise of sovereignty under the Status of Forces Agreement, Iraqi police breached Camp Ashraf and ran wild. The Washington Post has what it claims to be video from inside the camp. It’s ugly.
The Post quotes an MEK member saying the camp is currently “under siege.” Defense Secretary Bob Gates visited Iraq today. Does Gates know about this? Could he stop the assault? Or are these the wages of Iraqi sovereignty?