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The Push Behind Delisting Iranian Group From Terrorist List The Push Behind Delisting Iranian Group From Terrorist List The Push Behind Delisting Iranian Group From Terrorist List The Push Behind Delisting...

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Blogs / Influence

The Push Behind Delisting Iranian Group From Terrorist List

September 24, 2012
Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or MEK, is reportedly set to be removed the State Department's list of terrorist organizations. It's a move that comes after a steady and methodical campaign, spearheaded by Iranian expatriates who funneled political donations to members of Congress, pumped out ads and secured the support of prominent politicians.

Various groups have put out ads calling for the State Department to take MEK off the list of banned organizations. The Guardian documents the donations made to various members of Congress and the firms behind the lobbying. Here's a sample from their reporting, which also comes from the Center for Responsive Politics:

-House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen accepted at least $20,000 from Iranian-American groups or their leaders. She has also been a vocal supporter of sanctions on Iran.

-Rep. Bob Filner has flown to France twice to address pro-MEK events, and has pushed for House resolutions to delist MEK. His France trips were covered by the head of an Iranian American group, who paid more than $14,000 to cover the expenses.

-Lobbying firms DLA Piper, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and diGenova & Toensing have received a combined total of nearly $1.5 million over the past year to push for MEK de-listing and to protect MEK members in Iraq.

U.S. citizens are not allowed to offer aid to groups on the terrorist list, but American supporters have maintained that they are not acting on behalf of MEK or aiding the group, but rather trying to influence American policy.

MEK are Iranian dissidents, many of whom now reside in Camp Ashraf and other sites in Iraq. In the 1970s, the group was involved in bombings against the Shah's regime, which killed some Americans. MEK then fell out of favor with clerics following the 1979 Islamic revolution, and led a bombing campaign against the Islamic government. Many MEK followers ended up in Iraq, and the group recast itself as pro-Democracy and anti-Saddam Hussein after the American forces invaded Iraq in 2003.


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