Along with usual efforts of MKO propaganda campaign, the group held another gathering in Washington DC last Thursday. According to Eric Lach article posted on TPM Muckraker Website,
"a prominent group of former government officials gathered for a panel on Iran. Among them were a former National Security Adviser, a former CENTCOM Commander, a former Democratic Senator, a former Democratic Presidential candidate, a former Republican Attorney General, a former Republican Homeland Security Secretary, a former CIA Director and a former FBI Director.
Almost to a man — and they were all men — they expressed support for a group considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
The panel, organized by a consulting firm called Executive Action, LLC, was called “Iran’s Nuclear, Terrorist Threats and Rights Abuses: After Engagement and Sanctions, What?” and the group in question is the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization, also known as the MEK."
Eric Lach reveals that the agenda of panelists was the removal of MKO from United States’ list of FTOs describing the true nature of MKO as a cult-like organization, according to US State Department documents:
"So what is the MEK? The State Department website states that the group “advocates the violent overthrow of the Iranian regime and was responsible for the assassination of several U.S. military personnel and civilians in the 1970’s.” When it was founded by students in the 1960s, the group’s philosophy blended Marxism and Islam, and it later developed a strong feminist bent. In fact, according to The New York Times, the MEK became for a time the “only army in the world with a commander corps composed mostly of women.” Membership is in the several thousands, with large pockets in several European capitals. About 3,400 live at Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad, where they have been declared “protected persons” under the Geneva Convention — a status that does not apply to members living outside the camp.
After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the group fell out of favor with Ayatollah Khomeini. In 1981, the MEK attempted to overthrow the regime, which responded by arresting and targeting group members. In a subsequent bombing campaign, the MEK managed to kill Chief Justice Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, President Mohammad-Ali Rajaei, and Prime Minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar. One bomb cost current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei the use of his right arm. Popular sentiment in Iran turned against the MEK, and the group fled, first to France, and then, in 1986, to Iraq, where they were offered safe haven by Saddam Hussein.
Hussein armed the MEK with tanks and other heavy military equipment, and deployed “thousands of MEK fighters in suicidal, mass wave attacks against Iranian forces” during the Iran-Iraq war, according to the State Department. In 1991, Hussein used the MEK to crack down on Iraqi Shia and Kurds. ”Take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards,” MEK leader Maryam Rajavi commanded her troops at the time, according to The New York Times. During the rest of the 1990s, and through 2001, the MEK was engaged in various anti-Iranian attacks and operations, and it received millions of dollars in Oil-for-Food program subsidies from Hussein. None of the speakers at last week’s panel mentioned the MEK’s prior ties with Hussein.
The State Department states that the MEK maintains “the capacity and will” to commit terrorist acts across the world. But the members living at Camp Ashraf agreed to be disarmed in 2003, and surrendered two thousand tanks, armored personnel carriers, and heavy artillery pieces. And the group’s political arm, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which maintains offices in several capitals, says its goal is to establish a “pluralist democracy” in Iran. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the MEK “has had little success luring new recruits and is composed mostly of its founding members.”
Several of the speakers at last week’s panel said it’s widely known that the MEK was put on the terrorist list in 1997 as a nod to Iran’s then-new reformist president, Mohammad Khatami. None of the speakers, however, said that the State Department considers the group to have “cult-like characteristics,” and that Maryam Rajavi has established a cult of personality. MEK members are not allowed to marry, attend weekly “ideological cleansings” and children are separated from parents. When Elizabeth Rubin, a New York Times Magazine reporter, toured Camp Ashraf in 2003, she found Rajavi’s image displayed “almost as ubiquitously as the image of Saddam in Iraq or Khomeini in Iran.”
”Every morning and night, the kids, beginning as young as 1 and 2, had to stand before a poster of Massoud and Maryam, salute them and shout praises to them,” Nadereh Afshari, a former MEK member, told Rubin. And inside Iran? Rubin reported that, at the time, “the street protesters risking their lives and disappearing inside the regime’s prisons consider the Mujahedeen a plague — as toxic, if not more so, than the ruling clerics.”
So what brought Washington heavyweights to the MEK cause? It remains unclear. The group’s political arm is known to have a global support network and active lobbying efforts in major Western capitals. Being delisted would allow the group to fundraise and operate freely in the U.S. The State Department claims that since the fall of Hussein, the group has had to rely on front organizations to solicit contributions from expatriate Iranian communities. Meanwhile, the group that has been organizing the panels, Executive Action, LLC, bills itself as “a McKinsey & Company with muscle.” From the group’s website:
If you are under attack by political or business adversaries, unsure of how to do business in emerging markets, or being treated unfairly in the media, then you need ExecutiveAction.
This week, The Wall Street Journal reports, Jones and Richardson were in Brussels, for yet another pro-MEK panel, this one alongside former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton."