An Iranian exile group is spending millions of dollars in a lobbying effort to be removed from the US’s list of foreign terrorist organisations, recruiting a group of US national security luminaries to be its advocates.
Dozens of former officials across the political spectrum – from conservative John Bolton to liberal Howard Dean – have been paid tens of thousands of dollars to speak at events organised by supporters of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, or People’s Mujahedin, in the US, the Financial Times has learnt.
Washington designated the MEK, a Marxist-Islamist group that supported the 1979 seizure of the US embassy in Tehran, as a terrorist organisation in 1997. But the group says it renounced terrorism in 2001 and has appealed to be taken off the list, which also includes al-Qaeda and Hizbollah. It fell out with Iran’s Islamic government after the 1979 revolution.
The group has also hired Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, a lobbying firm, to persuade members of Congress to support its cause and has taken out several $100,000-plus newspaper advertisements. The Department of State is due to make a ruling next month.
To help advance its cause, groups linked to the MEK have recruited more than 40 former officials to speak on their behalf. They include Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor; Jim Jones, President Barack Obama’s first national security adviser; Wesley Clark, the retired army general; and Tom Ridge, the first homela…