The Mujahedin-e Khalq is trying to steer its supporters in the United States toward war, which shows that the enemy of our enemy is not our friend.
The Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) is in the news again. Images of Newt Gingrich bowing to the Iranian dissident group’s leader, Maryam Rajavi, after speaking to MEK members at a Paris rally, and Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page’s unauthorized, paid speech at the same event have brought renewed attention to the MEK’s expensive (and possibly illegal) lobbying operation in Washington.
Gingrich and Page aren’t the only high-profile figures the MEK has enlisted in its bid to get off the State Department’s foreign terrorist organization list. The group has persuaded a number of onetime officials, including former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former Homeland Security Adviser Francis Fragos Townsend, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, to argue its case. These public figures have taken money, in some cases more than $30,000 per speech, to speak on the group’s behalf. As a result, the U.S. Treasury Department has begun to look into the fees, because, according to the Supreme Court, “advocacy performed in coordination with, or at the direction of, a foreign terrorist organization” constitutes the federal crime of “material support of terrorism.” The speakers have also failed to register as lobbyists under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, and there is an increasing push for criminal investigations [...]
Once upon a time, the MEK did enjoy some measure of popular support in Iran. But after getting shoved aside by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s party after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the MEK spent the next two decades launching terrorist attacks against the new regime and its military, harming bystanders in several instances. The MEK joined sides with Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), moving to camps in Iraq in 1986 and fighting against Iranian conscripts. Frustrated that Saddam failed to install it in power in Tehran by the end of the war, the MEK attempted its own invasion of Iran (using more of Saddam Hussein’s military munificence), resulting in the death of thousands of its members. These acts destroyed the MEK’s credibility among Iranians. Trapped in the Iraqi desert, the group’s leaders transformed the MEK into a cult after the failed invasion—engaging in such practices as mandated divorce and celibacy, sleep deprivation, public shaming, separation of families, and information control—and continued its terrorist attacks in Iran.