Recent reports revealed that leaders of the anti-Iran terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) are lobbying and paying big bucks to former high-ranking US officials to help them get taken off the US administration’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.
Former presidential candidate and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is currently one of the most prominent paid voices in a public-relations campaign on behalf of the anti-Iran terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq (MKO), an obscure and controversial Iranian militant group that is aggressively lobbying the Obama administration to remove it from the official list of terrorist organizations.
Dean and other luminaries from across the political spectrum have been paid vast sums of money by the group – as much as $20,000 for a 10-minute speech – to appear at events pushing the Obama administration to remove the MKO from the official list of terrorist organizations.
Dean himself has acknowledged being paid but has not disclosed specific sums.
The Antiwar Website, the Christian Science Monitor and the Huffington Post disclosed recently that although the group has a record of killing Americans during the 1970s and has subsequently used violent tactics against Iranian targets, many neoconservatives – and other prominent Americans, it seems – would like to rehabilitate the image of the group and use the MKO as a lever against Iran.
The list of American luminaries doing a paid dance with the MKO is long and contains former top officials of both parties. For example, on the Democratic side of the aisle, former presidential candidate and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, and former Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana have given short and highly compensated speeches before the group. On the Republican side, former Homeland Security chief and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, former presidential candidate and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Bush chief of staff Andrew Card, and anti-Iranian hardliner former Assistant Secretary of State John Bolton have done the same. And let’s not forget the bevy of former US national security officials who have least implicitly endorsed the "terrorist" organization’s goals: former directors of the CIA Porter Goss and James Woolsey and four-star generals James Jones (also a former national security adviser), Wesley Clark, Anthony Zinni, Hugh Shelton, and James T. Conway.
The MKO is behind a slew of assassinations and bombings inside Iran, a number of EU parliamentarians said in a recent letter in which they slammed a British court decision to remove the MKO from the British terror list. The EU officials also added that the group has no public support within Iran because of their role in helping Saddam Hussein in the Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-1988).
Many of the MKO members abandoned the terrorist organization while most of those still remaining in the camp are said to be willing to quit but are under pressure and torture not to do so.
A May 2005 Human Rights Watch report accused the MKO of running prison camps in Iraq and committing human rights violations.
According to the Human Rights Watch report, the outlawed group puts defectors under torture and jail terms.
The group, founded in the 1960s, blended elements of Islamism and Stalinism and participated in the overthrow of the US-backed Shah of Iran in 1979. Ahead of the revolution, the MKO conducted attacks and assassinations against both Iranian and Western targets.
Leaders of the group have been fighting to shed its terrorist tag after a series of bloody anti-Western attacks in the 1970s, and nearly 30 years of violent struggle against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In recent years, high-ranking MKO members have been lobbying governments around the world in the hope of acknowledgement as a legitimate opposition group.
The UK initiative, however, prompted the European Union to establish relations with the exiled organization now based in Paris. The European Court of First Instance threw its weight behind the MKO in December 2009 and annulled its previous decision to freeze its funds.
The group started assassination of the citizens and officials after the revolution in a bid to take control of the newly established Islamic Republic. It killed several of Iran’s new leaders in the early years after the revolution, including the then President, Mohammad Ali Rajayee, Prime Minister, Mohammad Javad Bahonar and the Judiciary Chief, Mohammad Hossein Beheshti who were killed in bomb attacks by MKO members in 1981.
The group fled to Iraq in 1986, where it was protected by Saddam Hussein and where it helped the Iraqi dictator suppress Shiite and Kurd uprisings in the country.
The terrorist group joined Saddam’s army during the Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-1988) and helped Saddam and killed thousands of Iranian civilians and soldiers during the US-backed Iraqi imposed war on Iran.
Since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the group, which now adheres to a pro-free-market philosophy, has been strongly backed by Neo-conservatives in the United States, who also argue for the MKO to be taken off the US terror list.