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People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK)

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The People’s Mujahedin of Iran (Mojahedin-e Khalq-e Iran, or MEK) is an Islamic- and Marxist-inspired militant organization that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The group was founded in 1963 as an armed guerrilla group after the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi violently suppressed opposition to his regime. In recent years, the MEK has tried to reshape its image to conform to American ideals, although its cult-like structure has remained largely the same.

The MEK has a history of using force and violence against the government in Tehran—against both the Shah and the subsequent Islamic Republic—as well as against countries perceived to be supporting them, like the United States. For years, the group was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. But after an aggressive and well-funded lobbying campaign supported by a bipartisan cast of high-profile former public officials, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in September 2012 that the group would be removed from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.[1]

The group has become a permanent fixture in Washington, particularly among Iran hawks. Its increasing clout “has coincided with a flow of money from the group to American politicians.”[2] From 2009 to 2015, the MEK reportedly spent more than $330,000 on political contributions. Since being removed from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations, the MEK’s influence on Capitol Hill has apparently “spread from the fringes of Congress to include more mainstream and respected Republicans and Democrats.”[3]

Ties to the Trump administration

The MEK’s close ties to high-profile figures were clear after the election of Donald Trump in November 2016. Observers noted that several of the people under consideration for posts in the Trump administration had tracks records supporting the MEK, including Rudy Giuliani,John Bolton,Clare Lopez, and Newt Gingrich.[4] As one writer put it, should any of these people serve in the Trump administration, “the MEK will have the highest level access it’s ever enjoyed in the U.S. government, a remarkable journey for a fringe Islamic-Marxist group that, until 2012, was on the State Department’s terrorism list for its role in assassinating Americans.”[5]

The MEK saw Trump’s election as an opportunity to significantly influence U.S. policy toward Iran. On January 9, 2017, just days before Trump took office, a bipartisan group of 20 former U.S. officials published a letter to Trump urging him to open a strategic dialogue with the MEK. They reprinted a letter they published in 2015, calling much more firmly for a U.S.-MEK strategic relationship. That letter stated, “Today we call for an end to the misguided position of those in Washington who seek to isolate, exclude or otherwise ignore Iran’s largest, most established and best organized political opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), led by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. In recent years we have come to know Mrs. Rajavi and the NCRI, and we know the resistance far better than many in Washington who believe that the NCRI should be kept at arm’s length for one reason or another.”[6]

This characterization of NCRI—a front group for the MEK—is contradicted by numerous reports. For instance, journalist Mehdi Hassan points out that the MEK “lacks support inside of the Islamic Republic, where it has been disowned by the opposition Green Movement and is loathed by ordinary Iranians for having fought on Saddam Hussein’s side during the Iran-Iraq war.”

Hassan adds that the MEK “has all the trappings of a totalitarian cult…A 2009 report by the RAND Corporation noted how MEK rank-and-file had to swear ‘an oath of devotion to the Rajavis on the Koran’ and highlighted the MEK’s ‘authoritarian, cultic practices’ including ‘mandatory divorce and celibacy for the group’s members (the Rajavis excepted, of course). ‘Love for the Rajavis was to replace love for spouses and family,’[7] explained the RAND report.”[8]

Barbara Slavin of the Atlantic Council also disputed the idea that the MEK represents any kind of legitimate Iranian opposition. “They’re not the leading edge of any kind of regime change movement,” she said. “Many Iranians are eager for change, but they don’t want to go from the frying pan of an Islamic government to the fire of the MEK.”[9]

Journalist Jason Rezaian—who was held in captivity in Iran for a year and a half—wrote that John Bolton’s appointment as Donald Trump’s national security adviser significantly advances the MEK’s agenda. “The MEK is the type of fringe group that sets up camp across the street from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and hands out fliers filled with unsubstantiated claims,” Rezaian wrote. “This is America—we let crazy people talk. That’s their right, and I would never suggest that they be prohibited from doing that. But giving the MEK a voice in the White House is a terrible idea. In John Bolton they have someone who will do it for them.John Bolton wants regime change in Iran, and so does the cult that paid him.”[10]

Bolton is perhaps the most influential figure to have close ties to the MEK, but he is not the only one. Signatories to the letter sent to Trump in 2017 included former Senators Joe Lieberman (an independent who had been a Democratic senator), former democratic Senator Robert Torricelli, Barack Obama’s former national security adviser Gen. James Jones as well as Republican figures such as Rudy Giuliani and Tom Ridge.[11] Former Democratic National Committee chief, Howard Dean and civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) as well as leading Republican figure, Newt Gingrich have also been prominent public supporters of the MEK, demonstrating the breadth of the organization’s connections.[12]

Questions of Credibility

According to the U.S. State Department, “The group participated in the 1979 Islamic Revolution that replaced the Shah with a Shiite Islamist regime led by Ayatollah Khomeini. However, the MEK’s ideology—a blend of Marxism, feminism, and Islamism—was at odds with the post-revolutionary government, and its original leadership was soon executed by the Khomeini regime. In 1981, the group was driven from its bases on the Iran-Iraq border and resettled in Paris, where it began supporting Iraq in its eight-year war against Khomeini’s Iran. In 1986, after France recognized the Iranian regime, the MEK moved its headquarters to Iraq, which facilitated its terrorist activities in Iran. Since 2003, roughly 3,400 MEK members have been encamped at Camp Ashraf in Iraq.”[13]

By 2012, most of the residents of Camp Ashraf had been relocated to another facility in Iraq—Camp Liberty—to await resettlement in third countries. The MEK’s cooperation in the relocation—which had previously sparked concerns of a planned mass suicide by group members resistant to the move[14]—was reportedly a key factor in Clinton’s decision to delist the group.[15]

Because of the MEK’s cult-like organization under leader Maryam Rajavi, its support for Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War, and its participation in Saddam Hussein’s crackdowns on Iraqi Shiites and Kurds, the group has been described by the New York Timesas “a repressive cult despised by most Iranians and Iraqis.”[16]

U.S. officials have recognized this reputation. “While they present themselves as a legitimate democratic group worthy of support, there is universal belief in the administration that they are a cult,” one official told CNN after the decision was made to delist the group. “A de-listing is a sign of support or amnesia on our part as to what they have done and it does not mean we have suddenly changed our mind about their current behavior. We don’t forget who they were and we don’t think they are now who they claim to be, which is alternative to the current regime.”[17]

Despite its murky reputation, MEK has presented itself to western backers as a popular and democratic Iranian opposition group that could lead the Islamic Republic to democracy—often even referring to Rajavi, who lives in exile in Paris and has never run for office in Iran, as the country’s “president-elect.”[18]

In April 2015, Rajavi was invited to provide testimony at a congressional hearing on ISIS, spurring widespread criticism. Two former officials who were also scheduled to speak at the hearing, former U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford and former State Department official Daniel Benjamin, refused to testify alongside Rajavi. Benjamin decried the invitation to Rajavi as “disgraceful” while Ford agitatedly told Al Monitor: “What the fuck do the MEK know about the Islamic State?”[19]

In the face of this backlash, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX)—who had invited Rajavi—defended her presence as relevant given the threat to MEK members at Camp Liberty in Baghdad from ISIS.[20] According to Eli Clifton, MEK’s significant campaign contributions to Poe “may offer at least part of the answer” for the unusual invitation.[21] During her testimony, Rajavi argued that the “ultimate solution” to extremism such as ISIS, is “regime change” in Iran. The Nation’sAli Gharib responded: “It sounds counter-intuitive—Iran’s aid to the Iraqi government and various Iraqi militias, after all, is widely credited with stopping ISIS’s advances there—but not when you know about the MEK’s tortuous past.”[22]

There have been reports that the United States has directly aided the MEK, providing assistance that would have been illegal given the group’s terrorist designation. In April 2012 journalist Seymour Hersh reported that U.S. special forces had provided communications and weapons training to MEK members in the Nevada desert sometime from 2005 to 2007, considerably improving the group’s capabilities inside Iran. “The MEK was a total joke,” a Pentagon consultant told Hersh, “and now it’s a real network inside Iran. How did the MEK get so much more efficient? Part of it is the training in Nevada. Part of it is logistical support in Kurdistan, and part of it is inside Iran. MEK now has a capacity for efficient operations that it never had before.”[23]

Divisive Impact on U.S. Politics

The MEK has had a divisive impact in the United States. While it has garnered supporters from across the U.S. political landscape, it has also spurred negative reactions from representatives of nearly all political factions.

Neoconservatives are a case in point. Several high-profile neocon outlets have praised the group, arguing that it could serve to spearhead regime change efforts in Iran. After news agencies reported in early 2012 that the MEK—with support from Israel—was involved in the assassination of Iranian scientists, a number of neoconservative mouthpieces hailed the group. The Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Postran an editorial stating: “Were the MEK to play the critical role in derailing an Iranian bomb, it would be far more deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize than a certain president of the United States we could mention.”[24]

Similarly minded ideologues—like Raymond Tanter, a member of the Committee on the President Danger—have called the MEK “the best source for intelligence on Iran’s potential violations of the nonproliferation regime,” arguing that delisting the group “would allow regime change to be on the table in Tehran.”[25] At a rally for the group in Paris, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani proclaimed, “Appeasement of dictators leads to war, destruction and the loss of human lives. For your organization to be described as a terrorist organization is just really a disgrace.”[26]

But other neoconservatives view the group with antipathy, largely because they think that an alliance with it is short-sighted with respect to the goal of achieving regime change in Iran. An example is Michael Rubin, who has been sharply critical of MEK supporters. Responding to the news about the MEK’s alleged role in assassinating Iranian scientists, Rubin wrote: “By utilizing the MEK—a group which Iranians view in the same way Americans see John Walker Lindh, the American convicted of aiding the Taliban—the Israelis risk winning some short-term gain at the tremendous expense of rallying Iranians around the regime’s flag. A far better strategy would be to facilitate regime change. Not only would the MEK be incapable of that mission but involving them even cursorily would set the goal back years.”[27]

Lobbying Campaign

Organizations sympathetic to the MEK garnered an impressive array of establishment supporters inside Washington to speak in favor of delisting the group. The effort, according to the New York Times, “won the support of two former C.I.A. directors, R. James Woolsey and Porter J. Goss; a former F.B.I. director, Louis J. Freeh; a former attorney general, Michael B. Mukasey; President George W. Bush’s first homeland security chief, Tom Ridge; President Obama’s first national security adviser, Gen. James L. Jones; big-name Republicans like the former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Democrats like the former Vermont governor Howard Dean; and even the former top counterterrorism official of the State Department, Dell L. Dailey.”[28]Mitchell Reiss, a top foreign policy advisor to the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan presidential campaign, also spoke on behalf of the group.[29]

A potential explanation for this diverse list of supporters is the large speaking fees the MEK network has offered to big-name public figures. “Your speech agent calls, and says you get $20,000 to speak for 20 minutes,” said a State Department official quoted by the Christian Science Monitor. “They will send a privat e jet, you get $25,000 more when you are done, and they will send a team to brief you on what to say.”[30] Pro-MEK individuals and organizations also reportedly donated thousands of dollars to the campaigns of several sitting members of Congress, including Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Bob Filner, Ted Poe, Mike Rogers, and Dana Rohrabacher.[31]

Underlying the MEK’s more mainstream backing has been a bedrock of support from foreign policy hawks. In addition to Woolsey and other former Bush administration officials, the group has enjoyed the avid backing of Iran hawks like former ambassador John Bolton and groups like the Iran Policy Committee(IPC), a right-wing U.S.-based outfit whose putative goal is “empowering Iranians for regime change.”

In a 2005 policy paper, IPC placed the delisting of the MEK at the forefront of its proposals for U.S. policy toward Iran. The “continued designation since 1997 of the main Iranian opposition group, Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK), as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department assures Tehran that regime change is off the table,” wrote the report’s authors. “Removing the MEK’s terrorist designation would be a tangible signal to Tehran and to the Iranian people that a new option is implicitly on the table—regime change.”[32]

The MEK’s critics have likened the organization’s advocacy campaign to that of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), an Iraqi exile group led by Ahmed Chalabi that worked to drum up U.S. support for an invasion of Iraq in the 1990s and early 2000s. By presenting itself to Western supporters as an Iraqi government-in-waiting, INC enabled Iraq hawks in the United States to claim that there was Iraqi support for the U.S. action. For Iran hawks, write Ali Fatemi and Karim Pakravan of the National Iranian American Council, “Maryam Rajavi, the MEK leader and self-proclaimed president of Iran, is their new Chalabi.”[33]

IPC has embodied the link between pro-MEK groups and pro-INC groups. A 2010 investigation by the U.S. foreign policy blog LobeLog found that “through 2006, IPC shared an address, accountants, and some staff with multiple organizations that either fronted for or had direct ties to the INC, even sharing staff members with those groups. Some of those ties have continued through today.”[34]

History

Founded in 1963, MEK was one of a number of Iranian factions that supported the overthrow of the shah in 1979.[35] It used violence against Americans in the run-up to the revolution, launching a string of assassinations and attacks against American military and diplomatic officers in Iran in the 1970s.

The group was expelled from Iran in 1981 when it fell out of favor with Ayatollah Khomeini in a post-revolutionary power struggle.[36] Since then, it has launched thousands of attacks against Iranians it has deemed “agents of the regime,” peaking at a rate of three assassinations per day in the 1980s, and staged high-profile raids on Iranian diplomatic offices all over the world—including an orchestrated set of attacks on 12 diplomatic facilities in 10 countries on a single day in 1992.[37]

In the mid-1980s, MEK settled in Iraq as a guest of Saddam Hussein, who offered the group use of Camp Ashraf, an encampment and army base north of Baghdad. There, not only did MEK fight on the Iraqi side of the Iran-Iraq war, but it also helped Saddam crush the CIA-instigated Iraqi Kurdish and Shiite uprisings that came on the tail of the 1991 Gulf War, leading to the precipitous erosion of its support in Iran and Iraq alike.[38]

MEK’s fighters at Ashraf were disarmed by the United States following the fall of Saddam’s government in 2003. In the following years, the camp was subject to occasionally violent raids by the new Iraqi government, which sparked concerns about further violence or a humanitarian crisis when it ordered the camp closed by the end of 2011. Although the Ashraf issue is separate from the issue of MEK’s status as a terrorist organization, MEK’s backers in the West used the conditions at the camp to garner sympathy for the group’s broader agenda in Washington and to argue that its continued listing as a terrorist group is the cause of its mistreatment.[39]

MEK’s lobbying efforts were foreshadowed in a 1994 report by the U.S. State Department, which concluded that the group was unlikely to be serious about its democratic overtures. According to the Christian Science Monitor: “Noting the MEK’s ‘dedication to armed struggle’; the ‘fact that they deny or distort sections of their history, such as the use of violence’; the ‘dictatorial methods’ of their leadership; and the ‘cult-like behavior of its members,’ the State Dept. concluded that the MEK’s ‘29-year record of behavior does not substantiate its capability or intention to be democratic.’ “That report describes tactics that foreshadow the MEK’s lobbying campaign today, 16 years later. It notes a ‘formidable Mojahidin outreach program,’ which ‘solicits the support of prominent public figures,’ and the ‘common practice … to collect statements issued by prominent individuals.’”[40]

The group formally renounced the use of violence in 2001, but an FBI investigation found MEK members to be “actively involved in planning and executing acts of terrorism” as recently as 2004. In February 2012, NBC News reported that the Israeli government had coordinated with MEK to launch a series of assassinations against Iranian nuclear scientists.[41] The group’s delisting may open the door to future cooperation with the United States as well.

[1] Elise Labott, “Clinton to remove Iranian exile group from terror list,” CNN.com, September 21, 2012, http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/21/clinton-to-de-list-iranian-exile-group-from-terror-list/.

[2] Eli Clifton, “Poe’s Financial Ties To MEK May Explain Maryam’s House Testimony,” LobeLog, April 28, 2015, http://www.lobelog.com/poes-financial-ties-to-mek-may-explain-maryams-house-testimony/

[3] Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton, “Long March of the Yellow Jackets: How a One-Time Terrorist Group Prevailed On Capitol Hill,” The Intercept, February 26, 2015, https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/02/26/long-march-yellow/

[4] Eli Clifton, “Former Terrorist Group To Enjoy Close Ties To Rumored Trump Cabinet,” Lobelog, November 15, 2016, http://lobelog.com/former-terrorist-group-to-enjoy-close-ties-to-rumored-trump-cabinet/

[5] Eli Clifton, “Former Terrorist Group To Enjoy Close Ties to Rumored Trump Cabinet,” Lobelog, November 15, 2016, http://lobelog.com/former-terrorist-group-to-enjoy-close-ties-to-rumored-trump-cabinet

[6]“Letter – PEOTUS,” Scribd, January 9, 2017, https://www.scribd.com/document/336646842/Letter-PEOTUS-Final-20170109-w-Attachments

[7] Jeremiah Goulka, Lydia Hansell, Elizabeth Wilke, Judith Larson, “The Mujahedin-e Khalq

in Iraq: A Policy Conundrum,” RAND Corporation, 2009, https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2009/RAND_MG871.pdf

[8] Mehdi Hassan, “Here’s Why Washington Hawks Love This Cultish Iranian Exile Group,” The Intercept, July 7, 2017, https://theintercept.com/2017/07/07/mek-iran-rajavi-cult-saudi-gingrich-terrorists-trump/

[9] Rhys Dubin and Dan De Luce, “Bolton’s Ascent Gives Iranian Group a New Lease on Life,” Foreign Policy, April 30, 2018, http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/04/30/bolton-iran-mek-terrorism-trump/

[10] Jason Rezaian, “John Bolton wants regime change in Iran, and so does the cult that paid him,

[11]“Letter – PEOTUS,” Scribd, January 9, 2017, https://www.scribd.com/document/336646842/Letter-PEOTUS-Final-20170109-w-Attachments

[12] Dan Kovalik, “U.S. Hands Off Iran,” Huffington Post, July 12, 2018, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/us-hands-off-iran_us_59664101e4b09be68c0056d2

[13] U.S. State Department, “Country Reports on Terrorsm 2010: Chapter Six: Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” August 2011, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2010/index.htm.

[14] Barbara Slavin, “Mass Tragedy Feared as Closure of MEK Camp Looms,” Right Web, December 19, 2011, http://rightweb.irc-online.org/articles/display/mass_tragedy_feared_as_closure_of_mek_camp_looms.

[15] Elise Labott, “Clinton to remove Iranian exile group from terror list,” CNN.com, September 21, 2012, http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/21/clinton-to-de-list-iranian-exile-group-from-terror-list/.

[16] Scott Shane, “For Obscure Iranian Exile Group, Broad Support in U.S.,” New York Times, November 26, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/us/politics/lobbying-support-for-iranian-exile-group-crosses-party-lines.html?pagewanted=all.

[17] Elise Labott, “Clinton to remove Iranian exile group from terror list,” CNN.com, September 21, 2012, http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/21/clinton-to-de-list-iranian-exile-group-from-terror-list/.

[18] See Matt Duss, “The MEK Are Not Iran’s ‘Democratic Opposition,” Middle East Progress, July 19, 2011, http://middleeastprogress.org/2011/07/the-mek-are-not-irans-democratic-opposition/.

[19] Julian Pecquet, “Congressional invite to MEK sparks furious backlash,” Al Monitor, April 28, 2015, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/04/congress-mek-testimony-backlash-maryam-rajavi.html#ixzz3YdOS9KwQ.

[20] Julian Pecquet, “Congressional invite to MEK sparks furious backlash,” Al Monitor, April 28, 2015, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/04/congress-mek-testimony-backlash-maryam-rajavi.html#ixzz3YdOS9KwQ.

[21] Eli Clifton, “Poe’s Financial Ties To MEK May Explain Maryam’s House Testimony,” LobeLog, April 28, 2015, http://www.lobelog.com/poes-financial-ties-to-mek-may-explain-maryams-house-testimony/.

[22] Ali Gharib, “Cult Leader Will Tell Congress: Fight ISIS by Regime Change in Iran,” The Nation, April 28, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/blog/205521/cult-leader-will-tell-congress-fight-isis-regime-change-iran.

[23] Seymour Hersh, “Our Men in Iran,” New Yorker, April 6, 2012, http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/04/mek.html.

[24] New York Post, “Loose Lips,” February 10, 2012, http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/loose_lips_7xvSwHsWqSoIjyXIWl8nmI.

[25] See Right Web, Raymond Tanter profile, http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/Tanter_Raymond.

[26] Edward Cody, “GOP leaders criticize Obama’s Iran policy in rally for opposition group,” Washington Post, December 23, 2010,http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/22/AR2010122205180.html.

[27] Michael Rubin, “Re: Israel’s Iranian Allies of Convenience,” Commentary Magazine, Contentions blog, February 13, 2012, http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/02/13/israel-iran-allies/.

[28] Scott Shane, “For Obscure Iranian Exile Group, Broad Support in U.S.,” New York Times, November 26, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/us/politics/lobbying-support-for-iranian-exile-group-crosses-party-lines.html?pagewanted=all.

[29] Eli Clifton, “Romney Adviser Advocating For Controversial Iranian Terrorist Group,” ThinkProgress, August 23, 2011, http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/08/23/302480/romney-adviser-mek/.

[30] Scott Peterson, “Iranian group’s big-money push to get off US terrorist list,” Christian Science Monitor, August 8, 2011, p. 3, http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2011/0808/Iranian-group-s-big-money-push-to-get-off-US-terrorist-list/%28page%29/3

[31] Chris McGreal, “MEK decision: multimillion-dollar campaign led to removal from terror list,” Guardian, September 21, 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/21/iran-mek-group-removed-us-terrorism-list.

[32] Iran Policy Committee, “U.S. Policy Options for Iran,” February 10, 2005, http://www.iranpolicy.org/uploadedFiles/USPolicyOptions_for_Iran_Feb2005.pdf.

[33] Fatemi and Karim Pakravan, “War With Iran? US Neocons Aim to Repeat Chalabi-Style Swindle Ali,” Truthout, July 15, 2011.

[34] Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton, “Neocon Iran Policy Committee tied to disgraced Iraqi National Congress,” LobeLog, September 10, 2010, http://www.lobelog.com/neocon-iran-policy-committee-tied-to-disgraced-iraqi-national-congress/.

-iraqi-national-congress/” http://www.lobelog.com/neocon-iran-policy-committee-tied-to-disgraced-iraqi-national-congress/.

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Sources

[1] Elise Labott, “Clinton to remove Iranian exile group from terror list,” CNN.com, September 21, 2012,http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/21/clinton-to-de-list-iranian-exile-group-from-terror-list/.

[2] Eli Clifton, “Poe’s Financial Ties To MEK May Explain Maryam’s House Testimony,” LobeLog, April 28, 2015,http://www.lobelog.com/poes-financial-ties-to-mek-may-explain-maryams-house-testimony/.

[3] Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton, “LONG MARCH OF THE YELLOW JACKETS: HOW A ONE-TIME TERRORIST GROUP PREVAILED ON CAPITOL HILL,” The Intercept, February 26, 2015, https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/02/26/long-march-yellow/.

[4] Eli Clifton, “Former Terrorist Group To Enjoy Close Ties to Rumored Trump Cabinet,” Lobelog, November 15, 2016, http://lobelog.com/former-terrorist-group-to-enjoy-close-ties-to-rumored-trump-cabinet/.

[5] U.S. State Department, “Country Reports on Terrorsm 2010: Chapter Six: Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” August 2011,http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2010/index.htm.

[6] Barbara Slavin, “Mass Tragedy Feared as Closure of MEK Camp Looms,” Right Web, December 19, 2011, https://rightweb.irc-online.org/articles/display/mass_tragedy_feared_as_closure_of_mek_camp_looms.

[7] Elise Labott, “Clinton to remove Iranian exile group from terror list,” CNN.com, September 21, 2012,http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/21/clinton-to-de-list-iranian-exile-group-from-terror-list/.

[8] Scott Shane, “For Obscure Iranian Exile Group, Broad Support in U.S.,” New York Times, November 26, 2011,http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/us/politics/lobbying-support-for-iranian-exile-group-crosses-party-lines.html?pagewanted=all.

[9] Elise Labott, “Clinton to remove Iranian exile group from terror list,” CNN.com, September 21, 2012,http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/21/clinton-to-de-list-iranian-exile-group-from-terror-list/.

[10] See Matt Duss, “The MEK Are Not Iran’s ‘Democratic Opposition,” Middle East Progress, July 19, 2011,http://middleeastprogress.org/2011/07/the-mek-are-not-irans-democratic-opposition/.

[11] Julian Pecquet, “Congressional invite to MEK sparks furious backlash,” Al Monitor, April 28, 2015, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/04/congress-mek-testimony-backlash-maryam-rajavi.html#ixzz3YdOS9KwQ.

[12] Julian Pecquet, “Congressional invite to MEK sparks furious backlash,” Al Monitor, April 28, 2015, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/04/congress-mek-testimony-backlash-maryam-rajavi.html#ixzz3YdOS9KwQ.

[13] Eli Clifton, “Poe’s Financial Ties To MEK May Explain Maryam’s House Testimony,” LobeLog, April 28, 2015,http://www.lobelog.com/poes-financial-ties-to-mek-may-explain-maryams-house-testimony/.

[14] Ali Gharib, “Cult Leader Will Tell Congress: Fight ISIS by Regime Change in Iran,” The Nation, April 28, 2015,http://www.thenation.com/blog/205521/cult-leader-will-tell-congress-fight-isis-regime-change-iran.

[15] Seymour Hersh, “Our Men in Iran,” New Yorker, April 6, 2012,http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/04/mek.html.

[16] Quoted in Jasmin Ramsey, “Analysts Respond To Expected US Decision To Delist MEK From FTO List,” LobeLog, September 22, 2012, http://www.lobelog.com/analysts-respond-to-expected-us-decision-to-delist-mek-from-fto-list/.

[17] New York Post, “Loose Lips,” February 10, 2012,http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/loose_lips_7xvSwHsWqSoIjyXIWl8nmI.

[18] See Right Web, Raymond Tanter profile, http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/Tanter_Raymond.

[19] Edward Cody, “GOP leaders criticize Obama’s Iran policy in rally for opposition group,” Washington Post, December 23, 2010,http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/22/AR2010122205180.html.

[20] Michael Rubin, “Re: Israel’s Iranian Allies of Convenience,” Commentary Magazine, Contentions blog, February 13, 2012,http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/02/13/israel-iran-allies/.

[21] Scott Shane, “For Obscure Iranian Exile Group, Broad Support in U.S.,” New York Times, November 26, 2011,http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/us/politics/lobbying-

[22] Eli Clifton, “Romney Adviser Advocating For Controversial Iranian Terrorist Group,” ThinkProgress, August 23, 2011,http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/08/23/302480/romney-adviser-mek/.

[23] Scott Peterson, “Iranian group’s big-money push to get off US terrorist list,” Christian Science Monitor, August 8, 2011, p. 3,http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2011/0808/Iranian-group-s-big-money-push-to-get-off-US-terrorist-list/%28page%29/3

[24] Chris McGreal, “MEK decision: multimillion-dollar campaign led to removal from terror list,” Guardian, September 21, 2012,http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/21/iran-mek-group-removed-us-terrorism-list.

[25] Iran Policy Committee, “U.S. Policy Options for Iran,” February 10, 2005,http://www.iranpolicy.org/uploadedFiles/USPolicyOptions_for_Iran_Feb2005.pdf.

[26] Fatemi and Karim Pakravan, “War With Iran? US Neocons Aim to Repeat Chalabi-Style Swindle Ali,” Truthout, July 15, 2011.

[27] Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton, “Neocon Iran Policy Committee tied to disgraced Iraqi National Congress,” LobeLog, September 10, 2010, http://www.lobelog.com/neocon-iran-policy-committee-tied-to-disgraced-iraqi-national-congress/.

[28] U.S. State Department, “Country Reports on Terrorsm 2010: Chapter Six: Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” August 2011,http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2010/index.htm.

[29] U.S. State Department, “Country Reports on Terrorsm 2010: Chapter Six: Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” August 2011,http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2010/index.htm.

[30] Scott Peterson, “Iranian group’s big-money push to get off US terrorist list,” Christian Science Monitor, August 8, 2011, p. 7,http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2011/0808/Iranian-group-s-big-money-push-to-get-off-US-terrorist-list/%28page%29/7.

[31] Scott Peterson, “Iranian group’s big-money push to get off US terrorist list,” Christian Science Monitor, August 8, 2011, p. 8,http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2011/0808/Iranian-group-s-big-money-push-to-get-off-US-terrorist-list/%28page%29/8

[32] See, for example, Eli Clifton, “Defending MEK, Mukasey, Ridge & Freeh Attack Obama For Hastily Exiting Iraq, While Admitting He’s Trying To Stay,” ThinkProgress, August 15, 2011, http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/08/15/296188/mukasey-ridge-freeh-obama-iraq-mek/.

[33] Scott Peterson, “Iranian group’s big-money push to get off US terrorist list,” Christian Science Monitor, August 8, 2011, p. 8,http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2011/0808/Iranian-group-s-big-money-push-to-get-off-US-terrorist-list/%28page%29/8

[34] Richard Engel and Robert Windrem, “Israel teams with terror group to kill Iran’s nuclear scientists, U.S. officials tell NBC News,” NBCNews.com, February 9, 2012, http://rockcenter.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/02/08/10354553-israel-teams-with-terror-group-to-kill-irans-nuclear-scientists-us-officials-tell-nbc-news.

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