|Director Louis Freeh - What Terrorism Exports Say|
|Friday, 17 February 2012 15:55|
Thank you very much. Thank you. Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much, Patrick, for the introduction. And my colleagues, many of whom, as you heard, are longstanding colleagues, many good friends. I think I worked with all of you directly or indirectly over the years and it's a pleasure to be here with you this afternoon and welcome to New York City.
Thirty-seven years ago, my first job as an FBI agent was here in New York City. I was assigned to an organized crime squad and in those days and continuing a little bit even today, cosa nostra or the Mafia, as we called them, we looked at as very young FBI agents, a terrorist equivalent organization run by people who would kill, murder, main, threaten for their own purposes and who terrorized, literally terrorized, segments of our city, our community, infiltrated and interrupted parts of our economy and we were motivated every day to go out there and work against this organization and the people that ran it. People, as Mayor Guiliani said, who were evil.
And in many ways, those of us who are up here advocating very strongly for the things that you heard, and I'll talk about it in a different vein perhaps, we are doing the same thing today. We are fighting a huge, immense terrorist organization run by evil people who are dangerous as anything we have see on Earth and we are committed to defeating that organization.
Let me say a word about these advocates as you heard, many of them aren't here. For a long time, we have been united together in this cause. And the background, the expertise of these people, including my colleagues here on the left, is just absolutely amazing. We wrote to our secretary of state, signed by twenty-one individuals, it's on the internet, you can find it, former CIA directors, the former attorney general of the United States, the secretary of homeland security, the NATO demand, the chairman of the joints chief of staff, ambassadors, governors, from all sides of politics, all dimensions, saying one simple thing, we happen to be experts with respect to terrorists and terrorism. And we have looked at the facts, we have looked at the law, more importantly, we have done our due diligence, we've done our own investigation, we have interviewed the leadership of this organization, Ms. Rajavi. We have talked to the people in the leadership. We didn't just decide one day we were going to come up here, we all did our due diligence. Don't you think we called back to our organizations and asked the simple question, are we okay advocating for this group? Do you think for one moment that this group had any terrorist inclinationes, we all would have gotten calls from our friends? That's how it works, saying, you know, we can't tell you the details, but you really shouldn't with in the Waldorf Astoria this morning and advocating this group. None of us have gotten these calls.
The other thing important thing to keep in mind is that the State Department, the State Department, if it had the facts, if it had the evidence, if it had even classified information that they wanted to redact, do you think for a moment they would be in contempt of the court of appeals for the District of Columbia for now eighteen months if they had one scintilla of evidence or information that would support the continued listing of this organization as a terrorist group? They don't have it. They don't have the facts. And the law says, if you don't have the facts, you've got to delist.
So as the court found eighteen months ago, the Secretary of State, not her personally, but the Department of State, violated the constitutional rights of the PMOI by denying fair process with respect to the continuation of this listing without any factual record. They said, go back, review it again, and come and tell us and tell the plaintiff, the PMOI, what you found. Well, if the State Department doesn't want to come back to court and we wish they would, and some judges may start to think they are in contempt of a court, which is a very serious thing. But even if they didn't want to come to court, they would leak something in Washington's papers. They know how to do that, obviously. Have you seen one leak? And I'll talk about this crazy story again in a moment. Have you seen one leak by any source in the United States government, FBI, CIA, DNI, who said we can't really talk about the details, but this is a bad group? We haven't seen any of it. And the reason is because there is no facts, no one believes that in the United States government.
You know, a couple of weeks ago, I had the somewhat new experience of being outside the White House protesting and demonstrating against this insane policy that persists in this unjustified listing of the organization. I'm standing there with the former secretary of homeland security, former CIA director, and we are giving speeches outside the White House. So I got a text later in the day from a secret service agent who runs the detail in the White House, and he said, I understand you were protesting outside the White House. And I said, no, no, I wasn't protesting, I'm a witness. So let me talk a little bit about what being a witness is. You know, a twenty-five year old FBI agent in New York City is a lot of things, but he or she is primarily a witness, a witness. And a witness observes facts and then testifies under oath and presents those facts to a fact finder, sometimes a judge, sometimes a jury, but we have a wonderful rule of law in this country that says witnesses are expected to speak the truth and are expected to have the facts and expects to be cross-examined of these facts. When I got this text from the secret service agent, a couple of things went through my mind. But one thing went through my mind, and actually I had a conversation with him, I said, I'm outside the fence here, but I said do you know who is visiting the President of the United States today? He said yes, the Iraqi Prime Minister, it just so happen to coincide with our visit. I said, I'm sure you guys have all of the security clearance for the delegation that came in. He said, of course we do, that as a matter of fact. I said I wonder if someone looked at Mr. Hadi Al-Ameri. Hadi Al-Ameri is the transportation minister in Iraq who visited the White House. He visited with the President of the United States on the same day that me and the other folks who would outside the fence, outside the wire. He is a really interesting character. He used to command the brigade of the RIGC. RIGC is the primarily terrorist exporter and implementer for the terrorist regime in Tehran. And he is visiting with the President of the United States. So what's wrong with that balance?
Well, we are witnesses to that. And I can't conduct official investigations. But I can still use the internet and pictures of Minister Ameri in September of last year, visiting and kissing the supreme religious leader in Tehran. I tell you, if I was running a detail in the White House, I certainly wouldn't give him a clearance to come into the United States.
So a little bit about the details. Like Mayor Guiliani said, I want to go back to his discussion of appeasement and I come, Mayor, to the same conclusion that you do. After exhausting every other possibility, it's the policy, the illusion of appeasement, that if we can just somehow maintain a basis for a dialogue, things will be better in the end. Appeasement didn't work in 1933 when another U.S. administration was turning its back to Crystal Knot when the S.S. St. Louis almost touched our shores in Miami with hundreds of Jews who were fleeing certain death in Europe. We ignored that. No one wanted to take the Jewish refugees from Germany. And the long history of appeasement of Iran and Al-Quaida in the United States. I'll talk about that in a moment.
Let me talk about the history. The history here is a very embarrassing one and a very disturbing one. In 1997, you all know the history, but I think it's worthy of reviewing quickly. 1997, the administration, the Democratic administration, decided to put the MEK on the foreign terrorist organization list and it was done very clearly and there are witnesses, there are witnesses, including myself at the time, I was the FBI director, who understood it was being put on there for a political reason, not because the group had any factually documented terrorist activity or inclination against the United States. It was put there to facilitate a dialogue with the Mullah forces. At the same time that I got a call from the Secretary of State who was complaining that we were still fingerprinting the Iranian wrestlers who were coming into the United States. This is when we were opening our cultural doors in advance of this dialogue. She said, why are you fingerprinting these wrestlers, they are complaining. I'll tell you why we are fingerprinting them, because when you look at the wrestling team, there is one guy who doesn't look like a wrestler. He is the MOIS agent. And if we fingerprint them, he probably doesn't show up with the team the next time. She said, you have to stop, they are very upset about it. We didn't stop. And then we had the awful terrorist attack against the Khobar barracks in June of 1996. General Shelton and I were working on this at the time.
It became very clear, as the FBI conducted the investigation, told by the President, to leave no stone unturned. We are police officers, so we understand that to mean no stone unturned. We went out, we got agents in Saudi Arabia interviewing some of the Hezbollah members who were on that team, killing nineteen Americans, general, nineteen U.S. airmen, murdered, hundreds more wounded.
And we came up with evidence, witnesses. Evidence that although the attack was carried out by the local Saudi Hezbollah, they were recruited by the RIGC, General Sharifi, who is still working there. Bobby knows Mr. Ameri who commanded one of the sister brigades. They were given passports in the Iranian embassy in Damascus, they were given $250,000 of U.S. cash. They were assisted in getting the truck that compacted the fertilizer bomb. So our FBI agents got all of this information directly, directly from people involved in the bombing. So we came back and I went over to the national security adviser, to the President, and I said, we have evidence, we have evidence that the attack was carried out by the Iranian regime using the RIGC and its Hezbollah agency. And the response I got, and I have a lot of strange experiences in Washington, but this response I keep telling people, was the strangest one I ever had. He looked at me and said, who knows about this. I said excuse me. He said, who knows about this. I said the director of the FBI, the attorney general who was sitting there, dozens of FBI agents, and now you, sir. He said this is a real problem. The problem was, what are we going to do and how are we going to confront the Iranian regime with evidence that they just murdered nineteen Americans. And the response was, we didn't confront them. We couldn't even get an indictment until a new administration came in despite very overwhelming evidence.
An indictment, by the way, it recites, it's still on our books, that the Iranian regime and its agents organized and precipitated that attack. That's what the mayor was talking about in terms of appeasement. So we put the organization on the list to appease a regime.
The next administration, a Republican administration, fell into the same trap. They were told, and we have witnesses in the administration who will say this, I wasn't there, they were told in effect that we wouldn't be seeing all the IEDs in Iraq that were blowing up young American soldiers if we kept this organization on the list. So we kept them on the list. And you know what, the dialogue attempts continued, the nuclear weapon programs, and more IEDs, and more sophisticated IEDs, continued to kill Americans, and not just in Iraq. So the politics of appeasement, ladies and gentlemen, don't work. They didn't work in 1933. They didn't work with Al-Quaida.
Al-Quaida blew up our embassies in East Africa and then they tried to blow up a class Destroyer of the United States Navy. That didn't work.
It was only 9/11 and our very heroic mayor who ran the response and took over the country's response at an incredibly difficult time with great integrity and great skill. It was only then that the United States responded and responded as it had to. We are still, unfortunately, stuck with our rotten on-the-shelf policy with respect to Iranian appeasement. And there are still apparently some knuckle heads at foggy bottom who harbor the illusion that if we just don't annoy them too much, we'll somehow be able to have a dialogue. We know that is preposterous, it's silly, it's ridiculous to even put that as an argument. That's the only possible explanation.
You know, Winston Churchill once said the Americans can be counted upon to do the right thing after they exhausted every other possibility. Well, this administration and administrations before them, have exhausted every rational possibility. There cannot be any other reason. So we call today upon our State Department, our President.
If you were the President of the United States, would you want the former FBI director demonstrating outside your house? Look, we may be civilians, but there is twenty-one of the most renowned, count me out of it, by the way, twenty-one of the most renowned terrorist experts in the world, saying, we've looked at this, we've studied it, we've interviewed Mrs. Rajavi, they are not a terrorist organization.
And thank you for your leadership, all of you who have worked so hard who have friends and relatives who have been killed in some cases and wounded, you have come from all over the country. Thank you for your courage and your leadership and we know that our friends in Camp Ashraf are listening to us today. Thank you. And as Churchill said, never give up. We never, never, never give up.
So let me close with a few brief thoughts. This silly article that the mayor spoke about, I mean, give me a break. Anonymous sources, by the way, they didn't say current U.S. officials, so who knows who anyone is talking about. The same propaganda that has come out of the regime and the RIGC doesn't make any sense.
Plus, we are in weekly contact, weekly contact, with the most senior policy makers in the United States, the State Department, and some of my colleagues will allude to that when they speak. No one has even made a remote veiled redaction of this kind. There is no substance to this. It's silly. We would love to question the reporter and the sources if we could. It's irrelevant. It has nothing to do with the three issues that we are here about today; it's a humanitarian issue, to prevent another genocide, a third genocide, against the residents of Camp Ashraf, to support liberty, and to support Iranian freedom, and to make sure that the U.S. guarantee, the U.S. guarantee which you heard about, which is a promise to protect. This wasn't casual, this wasn't done by some master sergeant because he felt bad for the residents in Camp Ashraf while he was there. This was a written promise by the United States of America to protect the lives of these men and women if they fulfilled their conditions, which they did.
Now, we are going to be very tough as witnesses to ensure that the United States does not try to outsource this responsibility to the United Nations. We are not going to let that happen.
As you heard, we can be in Camp Ashraf tomorrow at our own expense, by our own transportation. We can go to Camp Liberty. We'll tell you in five seconds whether it's a prison camp or a liberty camp by the way. We're happy to do that. Here is a regime, the Iraqi regime, the Maliki government. We had senior members, senior members of our Congress, the Congress of the United States of America, asking for permission to visit Camp Ashraf and, you know what, he said no, no, go away, you can't go there.
Two of the attacks, two of the attacks against Camp Ashraf, forty-seven people murdered, hundreds wounded, in 2009, 2010, 2011, I'm sorry, happened while the United States Secretary of Defense was visiting with the Prime Minister of Iraq. This is not going to be an easy thing to do, but we are going to push and we are going to force everybody's hand on that. So a couple of things we have to do.
Demonstrators, we have to get a little bit more active. The witnesses, the witnesses here are going to get a little bit more active. They don't like activist judges, but we are going to be activist judges. We are going to get lawyers back into the court of appeals and remind the court with all due respect, your Honors, you gave a charge, the secretary of state, and one might say, being a lawyer, that the State Department is approaching contempt of your Honors and you ought to get them back in here and get some answers out of them.
And number two, Patrick Kennedy has talked about this, and your friends in Congress, and you have a lot of them, I counted over one hundred senators, senior leaders, Democrats, Republicans, you managed to unite people on the furthest of political spectrum. How about a resolution that says, you know, you don't spend, Mr. Prime Minister, another U.S. dollar until you fix this situation and protect these people?
We're going to keep being witnesses. We're going to keep testifying. We write articles, we go on TV, we do everything we can to be heard. And you're the most important why we are being heard. And the end of this, we are making some progress. We have Ambassador Fried, no such representative existed a short time ago. Al-Maliki has moved from dispersing people to all over the country where they would be critically vulnerable to going to Camp Liberty. Camp Liberty is not what it's been advertised to be. We are going to make sure it's a safe, temporarily refugee transit as people come out of the country. But we have got to get this delisting done. I had the most Kafkaesque conversation with a senior member or the State Department who said, yeah. He said, I'm working hard with the German foreign ministry and the French foreign ministry, so they will accept these people. One of my colleagues said, but Mr. Ambassador, this listing, which is not justified under the facts of the law, is a little bit of a self-contradiction. We're going to ask Congressmen around the United States to support the relocation of Camp Ashraf residents in their districts when the State Department maintains their terrorists. I mean, I can't think of a more ridiculous position to be in. The State Department, they not need some lawyers, they just need some rational, logical thinkers.
But we are making some progress. We are actually getting calls from the State Department now saying we want to brief you on what's going on. Before they wouldn't even answer our mail. We are making progress. We are going to increase those efforts and this is going to go and end I'm very hopeful to the right place. Mrs. Rajavi, you still have my welcome. I want to give a personal tour of the FBI headquarters when you come to the United States, which I hope will be soon, and we'll make it a big tour and you can all come with me.
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