Affiliates of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, are claiming to be behind a major letter from the Senate aimed at curtailing U.S. diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear dispute.
The letter, sent last week by forty-four Senators, calls for President Obama to abandon any further diplomatic efforts with Iran unless stringent preconditions are immediately met. While many assumed that the prominent American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobby was behind the letter, MEK-affiliates are now taking some of the public credit.
The lead author of the letter, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), enjoys ties to the Iranian-American Cultural Association of Missouri, an MEK-affiliate that released a statement supporting the letter.
The group claimed, “More than 30 Iranian-American communities, associations, organizations and professional entities representing and encompassing tens of thousands of naturalized Iranian-American citizens from across the United States lent their support to the bipartisan letter.”
As a U.S.-designated terrorist group, the MEK cannot technically operate inside of the country. However, a network of affiliate groups that “support” the MEK have operated with relative impunity to lobby Congress and to organize a public pressure campaign to remove the group from the terror list. A number of former U.S. officials who have received payment to advocate for the MEK have been subpoenaed as part of a federal investigation into the MEK’s U.S. operations.
Senator Blunt recently sponsored and participated in a pro-MEK event on Capitol Hill in May, organized by the Missouri group. The briefing featured many of the same former government officials now under federal investigation.
While the MEK’s public efforts have focused largely on pressuring the Obama Administration to remove the group from the terror list, the MEK is also apparently taking a more public role in working to influence U.S. policy regarding the Iranian nuclear dispute.
U.S. officials have also stated that the MEK, working with the Israeli Mossad, is responsible for the recent bombings inside Iran aimed at nuclear scientists.
While the MEK’s terror designation and federal investigations has not curtailed the group’s influence on Capitol Hill, there are indications that the organization has become emboldened by a recent U.S. court decision initiated by its supporters. The court ruled that Secretary of State has until October 1 to decide whether to keep the MEK on the terror list. If Secretary Clinton does not render a decision, the court says it will remove the group itself.
That has prompted the MEK to renege on a deal with U.S. and international negotiators to peacefully relocate out of its disputed Camp Ashraf compound in Iraq, where the group is based. The State Department had suggested the MEK’s cooperation in relocating would weigh heavily on any decision regarding the group's terror listing. The MEK had finally appeared to accept the terms for relocation, but following the recent court ruling has reportedly stonewalled the process.
U.S. officials say they are concerned that, if MEK does not leave the compound, the Iraqi military will attempt to remove the group by force. U.S. officials have said they are concerned the MEK believes it can now play out the clock and get removed from the terror list without cooperating at Camp Ashraf. The MEK is believed to want to retain the compound to stage attacks inside of Iran and to protect its leadership from prosecution, and has threatened mass suicides by its rank and file members if forced to leave the compound.