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How The Mojahedin Khalq Buys Its Support in the U.S.

The Financial Times had a good story from last Friday on the Mujahidin-e Khalq’s payments to former officials and politicians in the U.S. to get them to speak on behalf of the terrorist group:

An Iranian exile group is spending millions of dollars in a lobbying effort to be removed from the US’s list of foreign terrorist organisations, recruiting a group of US national security luminaries to be its advocates.

Dozens of former officials across the political spectrum – from conservative John Bolton to liberal Howard Dean – have been paid tens of thousands of dollars to speak at events organised by supporters of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, or People’s Mujahedin, in the US, the Financial Times has learnt.

The response from some of the people tied to these MEK payments is a curious one. Some of them seem to think that it is all right to be paid to speak on behalf of the MEK because they genuinely support the group, as it that made everything all right. Here is one example:

None would disclose how much they had been paid but Ed Rendell, the former Pennsylvania governor, said he received $20,000 for an 11-minute speech. “But even if I was paid $50,000, I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t believe in it,” he said.

Is it supposed to be a consolation that the people the MEK has been paying aren’t just advocating on behalf of a listed terrorist group for the money? It seems to me that it is far worse that they “believe in” the MEK.

Another FT story from Friday explains that the MEK’s funding has allowed it to exaggerate its importance as an anti-regime group:

“Because of this campaign, they have been able to delude many into thinking that it is a rather powerful opposition organisation, which it is not,” said Wayne White, a former Middle East intelligence official in the State Department.

P.S. Paul Pillar commented last week on the Treasury Department’s announcement and related it to the MEK lobbying push:

The Treasury announcement also does not address Iranian motives in fooling around with al-Qaeda, notwithstanding the sharply different interests and objectives between the regime and the group. The motives have to do with shared antagonism from the United States. In particular, they have to do with the United States’ own fooling around with the terrorist group-cum-cult known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq, which some in the United States foolishly believe should be accepted as a legitimate actor because it opposes the Iranian regime. Tehran is in effect saying, “If you are going to flirt with a terrorist group that is of particular concern to us, we will flirt with a terrorist group that is of particular concern to you.” It is important to remember this amid the renewed push, backed by vigorous lobbying on Capitol Hill and the paying of fat fees to notables who will speak on the MEK’s behalf, to get the group off the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations. If delisting were to occur, the harmful effects would include substantial damage to the pro-democracy movement in Iran.

Daniel Larison – Amconmag

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