Iran: The Untold Story Segment 9
August 15, 2019
ENJETI: Welcome to our series, Iran: The Untold Story, and our continuing look at the main Iranian opposition group. I’m Saagar Enjeti, I’m filling in this week for Buck Sexton. Today, we examine Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
NARRATOR: Born into an educated, middle-class family in Tehran, Maryam Rajavi began her activism in college. She called for freedom, justice, and the end of the Shah’s dictatorship. The Shah’s regime imprisoned her brother, an MEK member, in the ‘70s. The secret police, or SAVAK, killed her sister in 1975. After the 1979 revolution, Maryam Rajavi became one of the MEK’s most effective organizers. She ran for Parliament in 1980 and received 250,000 votes despite bans and ballot fraud. As the mullahs cracked down on dissent, many friends were killed. Her younger sister, pregnant at the time, was executed in 1982. She advanced in the MEK and Maryam embraced the role of women even in the military who are shut out of political power by the mullahs. Her advocacy for women and 10-point plan for Iran today enjoys wide support among the Iranian people and hundreds of world leaders. Her efforts transform the group into one of the most progressive political parties in the world, in which women play the leadership role. For her and her movement, gender equality is a plan of action and at the heart of the Free Iran movement.
TOWNSEND: Women will continue to lead this movement and it is among the greatest threats to the current regime.
NARRATOR: In 1993, Rajavi resigned from the MEK when the NCRI coalition elected her its president-elect. As she has made clear in dozens of interviews, she’s planning now to help run Iran after the fall of the mullahs and to prepare her country for free and fair national elections. Today, Rajavi leads an opposition movement that is considered Tehran’s number one enemy.
RAJAVI: Today, the ruling mullahs fear the rule of the Mujahedeen e-Khalq, MEK, and resistance units in leading and continuing the uprisings.
Linda Chavez: I want to thank first and foremost Madame Maryam Rajavi. She is a woman who deserves our admiration, for her grace, for her strength, her determination and most of all for her leadership in this movement.
NARRATOR: In a display of bipartisan global support for her movement, some 350 dignitaries and lawmakers from 47 countries joined thousands of MEK members in their new home in Albania, called Ashraf 3, in July of this year.
ENJETI: We are now joined by Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the former prosecutor and mayor of New York and who now serves as an attorney to President Trump. Welcome, Mr. Mayor, we really appreciate it.
GIULIANI: Very nice to see you, thank you for having me.
ENJETI: Sir, I understand you were recently in Albania where you met Maryam. What is she like and why do you support her?
GIULIANI: Sure, I was there for the four-day conference called Free Iran 2019. Probably the 11th year that I’ve gone to a conference like this. Usually they hold it in Paris. And this year we held it in Albania because Albania is a place where the Iranian dissidents have built a city, really, called Ashraf 3. It’s a beautiful city. It has residences, it has tremendous amount of conference rooms. So the conference was about basically how can we replace the regime of Iran with a democratic government, which the MEK has been attempting to do for 20 years. I have about 11 years involvement with them. But they have a tremendous amount of support in the United States, bipartisan, about 200 members of Congress, equal number of Republicans and Democrats. I was there with former Senator Lieberman, Democrat, former Senator Torricelli, who’s actually one of their principal people. He’s been involved with them longer than I have. And what they are is basically the National Council of Resistance in Iran is headed by Madame Rajavi. She’s the president-elect. And it’s made up of a group of organizations including the MEK that are resistance groups, like the French Resistance, against the Ayatollah. They’ve been active since the revolution. A hundred and twenty thousand of their people have been killed but they still are going strong. And both the ayatollah and Rouhani have announced within the last year that they are the biggest threat to the regime. In the years past, it was always doubt that was created about how strong are they in Iran, how much support od they have. I think that all has been put to rest now with basically Rouhani’s statement and the Ayatollah’s saying that the MEK, and sometimes they’ll call PMOI, is our most dangerous threat, the only one capable of putting a government together, and therefore we’ve got to wipe them out, which is what they do. If they find that you’re a member of this organization, or suspect that you’re a member of this organization, by and large you don’t get a trial. You’re either imprisoned or you’re shot depending on the circumstances. And so 120,000 since the beginning of the revolution. Probably another thousand in the last couple of years. And they have a government-in-exile. They have tremendous support. They have tremendous support in what’s called the Iranian diaspora. And they have a charter, 10 points, which largely looks like our Bill of Rights. Significant thing is, they’re headed by a woman. This is, this is the Middle East. This is right next to the Arab world. Not only are they headed by a woman, roughly half their leadership are women. And when they were an active revolutionary group, some of their tank commanders were women. So, like Israel, women, everybody in this organization, is prepared to fight to free Iran. Although 20 years ago they basically gave their arms to the American military and now they’re just a political operation, not a military operation. But their history was as both a political and military operation.
ENJETI: So, sir, Ms. Rajavi, she’s presented a 10-point plan for Iran. It covers things like universal suffrage, free market economy, non-nuclear. Does she have a chance to lead Iran into a democratic state?
GIULIANI: She does. I mean, she does have a chance. I mean, I don’t think people realize how much turmoil there is inside of Iran. Since January of 2018, I think I have my facts correct here, there have been over 250 major protests all throughout the country, not just in Tehran. And now they have spread into the economic sectors. So there have been taxi drivers that have gone out on strike and protest. There are teachers, all the teachers of the country went on strike. There are farmers, professors have joined the political activists. And you can see it. Videos that I saw when I was in Albania, because they have probably the MEK people, the PMOI people have the best window into Iran because they have very sophisticated communications equipment. For example, our entire conference was broadcast, to the consternation of the Ayatollah, all over Iran. So, he heard people from 47 different countries basically condemn him as one of the biggest tyrants in the world, which he is. And that there’s great support within Iran. It’s always hard in these situations to determine what’s the tipping point. We didn’t know what the tipping point was in Berlin. We didn’t know what it was in the Soviet Union. We didn’t know what it was in Eastern Europe. And even with the Arab Spring we didn’t quite know what the tipping point was and when it when it happened we were surprised. I tend to think that’s going to happen here. I think we underestimate just how fed up the Iranian people are with being oppressed for 40 years. After all, this regime has been in power 40 years. It enforces an extremist religious view. Iran was one of the more secular Muslim countries going into this. So, it isn’t like it’s embedded in the country to be extremist. And then things like women being stoned, women you can divorce a woman but she can’t divorce you, women are treated like worse than second-class citizens, like chattel. And I think that’s one of the reasons that Madame Rajavi has so many support from very strong women. You go to Ashraf 3 and the commandant, the head of it is a woman. A lot of the major roles filled by women. And they feel that this is important because they feel that a government has to be stood up. Doesn’t have to be just them, they have a lot of coalition partners. But there has to be a pretty close to an equal representation of women if you’re going to quickly move around away from the terrorist-supporting government it is now to being a contributing, you know, member of a community in the Middle East that’s moving toward democracy.
ENJETI: So, you spoke at Ashraf 3 at that conference about a new optimism and previous events. What did you mean by that?
GIULIANI: What I meant by that was, many of the times that we spoke in this event we were trying to save their lives in Iraq, get them out of Iraq, negotiating with the Albanian government. In the course of the delay that was imposed on us, even during the Obama administration, the Iraqis and the Iranians came in several times to Ashraf 2 and then to Camp Liberty where they were moved, and in the course of two to three years killed 120 of them. The last one, they have a museum there of the atrocities committed by the Iranian government which are crimes against humanity. At one point at the end of their being in Ashraf 2, they came in and they tried to eliminate all the remaining residents. There were about 110 remaining, but only 58 were there that day.
GIULIANI: And they also went into the hospital and killed the people in the hospital. If you go to Ashraf, you can see the pictures of the people in their hospital beds on the operating tables, shot in the head. Back in 1988, within a two-month period, the regime killed 30,000 members of MEK. Thirty-thousand people! We’re talking about, you know =
ENJETI: A small city, yeah.
GIULIANI: = crime against humanity type crimes. Crimes for which they should be prosecuted in the World Court or they should be prosecuted in the United States because among other things they attempted to kill me, Newt Gingrich, Bob Torricelli, a lot of Americans. Two bombing plots were uncovered. One was in February of 2018.
GIULIANI: They caught people in Albania who were coming to the New Year’s celebration. And I attended that with Madame Rajavi. And they were going to blow us up. And then in Paris, last year, in late June of 2018, four people were arrested in Brussels, one an Iranian diplomat, and they had both explosives and plans of the Paris Convention Center where I was speaking, Newt Gingrich was speaking, former Attorney General Mukasey, Tom Ridge, many prominent Americans. So, among other things they were plotting to kill Americans. Somebody should take this seriously. I mean, the French government is prosecuting it, but not with the determination that should accompany something like this.
ENJETI: Sure. Why do you think the Iranian regime is so afraid of her? Why do they keep having these cyber attacks against her and her followers around the world?
GIULIANI: Because they are a true threat. I mean there’s no other real organized opposition to their government. This is an opposition that can bring together, in Paris, a hundred thousand people, which is what they’ve done for the last ten meetings over the last ten years that I’ve been at. And this year, of course, Albania is smaller so you can’t do 100,000. But they got about 10,000, eight to ten thousand people, representatives of 40 different nations. Former prime minister of Canada. The former prime minister of four or five of the European countries, the deputy prime minister in France, I mean just a large amount. And of course, the biggest delegation was U.S. delegation. And it was about an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, including several present members of Congress. There’s a resolution in Congress supported by approximately 200 members of Congress, about the MEK and about the fact that they are a vehicle for democracy in Iran and should have the support of our government.
ENJETI: So, if the Iranian regime were to fall and Ms. Rajavi she was able to govern, could she be able to govern during a transition period? Do you think she could prevent the chaos?
GIULIANI: Well, what they do, what they—these are the questions of course we ask them all the time, and I’ve seen evidence that they have a functioning government-in-exile. They evaluate the problems in Iran every day. They are enormously active in communicating within Iran. They remind me of the Voice of American in one aspect during the Cold War, which used to broadcast into =
GIULIANI: = the Soviet-dominated countries every single day. They broadcast, they try to 24 hours a day. And they have ministers, shadow ministers for each one of the agencies of the government. And they have a plan for transition. And the plan for transition would say they’d put up an interim government immediately and they would attempt to get to a full election within six months so that there’s—so it isn’t an imposed government, it’s a democracy. And her proposition is that she doesn’t want to dominate, she wants to be elected or not elected, or elected to something and they would share leadership with maybe 10, 12 other groups. This was the original plan for Iran when they deposed the Shah, which was hijacked by the Ayatollah, who completely outmaneuvered them, got them to agree to have him come back on the theory he’d be peaceful and just a religious leader. And the moment he came back, violent demonstrations broke out all over Iran to demand that he take over as the Supreme Leader. And within a short period of time, a new constitution was written. It’s not a constitution at all. There’s a parliament, there’s a prime minister, but the supreme leader makes all the decisions. He can veto anything the Parliament does. He can veto anything the prime minister does. And he can just give out decrees and that becomes the law. So, they could pass a law saying, “Women can’t be stoned.” He can take the law, tear it up and say, “Oh, we’re going to stone ten women a day.” And he does things like that.
ENJETI: Final question for you, sir. What else should the American public know about Ms. Rajavi?
GIULIANI: What they should know is that this is a true disciple of peace, democracy. Her whole life has been spent trying to obtain democracy for her country, first against the Shah who killed I think her sister. And then against the Ayatollah who killed another relative. I think another sister. Her family has been the victim of both the Shah’s oppression and murder and been the victim of the even more increased murder under the Ayatollah. And people should know that this is a regime that has more blood on its hands than any regime in the world, and that it is the biggest supporter of terrorism in the world. Why do we want to negotiate or trust a regime that’s the biggest supporter of terrorism in the world? And I made that challenge to the European governments. Hasn’t Iran proven to us that they are too irresponsible, that they are too murderous to have nuclear weapons in their hands? It would be too dangerous for the world. And I think the European governments have to develop the kind of courage that President Trump has.
ENJETI: Thank you so much for joining us, Mr. Mayor.
GIULIANI: Thank you.
ENJETI: We appreciate it. Thank you, Mayor Giuliani. And we’ll see you next time on Iran: The Untold Story.
[end of audio]