I think it was 2003 or 2004 when I happened by a rally thrown by supporters of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq on Capitol Hill. It attracted maybe 100 middle-aged Iranian emigres from the Virginia suburbs. Their bored twenty-something girls in pink sweatclothes tried their hardest not to fall asleep standing up; I tried my hardest not to leer, because Persian women — my God. If memory serves, only one politician showed up, some Republican who isn’t in Congress anymore, and lamely vowed to take the MEK off the State Department terrorism list.

Now that same rally and that same vow attracts Rudy Giuliani, Fran Townsend, Michael Mukasey and Tom Ridge. This for a terrorist cult sponsored by Saddam Hussein, who urged the massacre of the Kurds after the 1991 Gulf War. (The quote in the headline is attributed to co-cult leader Maryam Rajavi.) Here’s a sampling from Elizabeth Rubin’s 2003 New York Times Magazine piece on the MEK:

Afshari, who fled the group 10 years ago, told me how friendship was forbidden. No two people could sit alone and talk together, especially about their former lives. Informants were planted everywhere. It was Maryam’s idea to kill emotional relationships. ”She called it ‘drying the base,”’ Afshari said. ”They kept telling us every one of your emotions should be channeled toward Massoud, and Massoud equals leadership, and leadership equals Iran.” The segregation of the sexes began almost from toddlerhood. ”Girls were not allowed to speak to boys. If they were caught mingling, they were severely punished.”

Though Maryam and Massoud finagled it so they could be together, they forced everyone else into celibacy. ”They told us, ‘We are at war, and soldiers cannot have wives and husbands,”’ Afshari said. ”You had to report every single day and confess your thoughts and dreams. They made men say they got erections when they smelled the perfume of a woman.” Men and women had to participate in ”weekly ideological cleansings,” in which they would publicly confess their sexual desires. It was not only a form of control but also a means to delete all remnants of individual thought.

Yet all the MEK has to say is that it wants to dismantle the Iranian theocracy — with the same rigor as me saying I want to dismantle Cliff Lee’s deal with the Phillies, except I’m not willing to resort to terrorism to do so — and it strokes a certain conservative erogenous zone. Here’s Giuliani:

“The United States should not just be on your side,” Giuliani said. “It should be enthusiastically on your side. You want the same things we want.”

Yes, forced celibacy, the most famous of all Giuliani Values. Support for the MEK is the anti-Khomeinism of fools.

Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman