MEK’s big-money push to get off US terrorist list (3)

“We've never seen this kind of money,” says Mr. Parsi. “At one conference with 10 speakers, if they average $50k a pop, that is half a million dollars just in speaker fees.”

A large-scale operation

In scale and effectiveness at drawing in big names, this campaign stands alone, says Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a group that for years has sought to increase the voice of Iranian-Americans in Washington and advocated US-Iran engagement.

“We've never seen this kind of money,” says Mr. Parsi. “At one conference with 10 speakers, if they average $50k a pop, that is half a million dollars just in speaker fees.”

One reason may be the caliber of the MEK’s advocates today, and their insistence that they would not back a group with links to terrorism.

For example, Mr. Freeh, who was in charge during some of the FBI’s investigations of the MEK in the 1990s, told an MEK-linked conference in Washington in March that there is “absolutely no credible evidence, we think even on a classified basis,” that justifies the MEK's terrorist listing.

He made no mention of the FBI’s 2004 report that found the MEK “actively involved in planning and executing acts of terrorism.”

Freeh asked the audience if such prominent panelists – which on that day included Shelton, Dean, Rendell, and Anita McBride, the former chief of staff for Laura Bush – would be there if there was “even a remote possibility” the MEK were in fact terrorists.

MEK’s big-money push to get off US terrorist list (2)


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