|During the more than four decades since its founding, the MeK has become increasingly adept at crafting and promoting its image as a democratic organization that seeks to bring down Iranian regime.|
The MeK as Skilled Manipulators of Public Opinion
During the more than four decades since its founding, the MeK has become increasingly adept at crafting and promoting its image as a democratic organization that seeks to bring down Iranian regime, both secular and religious. This profile has been especially effective in the United States and Europe, where, until recently, the MeK’s extensive fundraising activities have been very successful.
But despite the MeK’s ongoing attempts to build political support from the West through a multifaceted public-relations campaign,6 it was not enough to prevent the group from being designated an FTO by the United States as well as by the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and the European Union.
According to U.S. law, providing any type of support—political, financial, or otherwise—for an FTO is a federal crime. Moreover, many of the MeK’s fundraising activities have been proven to be fraudulent (for example, claiming to be soliciting funds on behalf of Iranian refugees, child welfare, or medical services for children). The MeK has also been linked with a range of money-laundering activities.
If coalition forces, and particularly those involved in any type of negotiations with the MeK, had been apprised of the group’s long history of deception, they would have been far less likely to have made the kinds of concessions that proved so troublesome later on. However, they found MeK representatives to be friendly, appealing, and knowledgeable about the United States. Thus, they were susceptible to the MeK’s assertions of neutrality; its apparent willingness to help further coalition goals; its professions of support for democratic ideals, both within and outside its own organization; and its insistence that it had broad political support in the international community. Had the U.S. military, in particular, been more wary, it is unlikely that the MeK would have been able to avoid the surrender demanded by USCENTCOM, and even less probable that it could have elicited a request for review of its FTO status from General Odierno.