A banned Iranian Terrorist group has been mounting a persistent and expensive lobbying campaign in both Canada and the United States to have its ban lifted. The Mujahideen-e-Khalq has a violent past. Some describe the group as an authoritarian cult. But the group has supporters, including high profile current and former politicians who see MEK as a possible instrument of regime change in Iran.
Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) – Elizabeth Rubin
On April 5, 1992, a large group of Iranians attacked the Iranian embassy in Ottawa. No one was seriously hurt, but the place was ransacked. The attacks were claimed by the Mujahideen-e-Khalq or MEK as they’re often called.
The MEK is on the list of terrorist groups in both Canada and the United States. Ottawa reviewed the group’s status in December, but Public Safety Canada decided the MEK should remain on the list.
Not surprisingly, the MEK is not happy with that status. MEK has mounted an intensive and expensive lobbying effort aimed at politicians in Canada and the U.S. The group’s status is up for review in Washington and a decision is imminent.
To start off our conversation, we spoke with Elizabeth Rubin, a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine who has investigated MEK and its activities. She joined us from Brooklyn, New York.
Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) – Carolyn Bennett
The MEK spends a lot of cash lobbying in the U.S. – tens of thousands of dollars on speaker fees at million dollar conferences. The group’s efforts in Canada have been more subdued. But it has sponsored trips for Canadian members of Parliament to attend its annual rally in Paris.
Our next guest, Carolyn Bennett, is an MP who’s attended one of those rallies. Carolyn Bennett joined us in studio in Toronto.
Well, Carolyn Bennett is not the only Canadian parliamentarian who has met the MEK close up. In 2006, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney – then Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper – spoke at a rally in Ottawa organized by a MEK-controlled group. Mr. Kenney later said he had no idea there was any such connection.
We requested an interview with Minister Kenney but received no response. We also put in a request to the National Council of Resistance of Iran, MEK’s political wing, to provide a spokesperson to appear on the show. So far they have not responded.
Download CBC radio on Mujahideen-e-Khalq