Jeff Smith noon, March 8
Filner-backed Iranian paramilitary group to lose U.S. terrorist label, sources say
The Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, a paramilitary group of Iranian exiles based in Iraq, is about to be removed from the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist organizations, according to Washington sources.
The Associated Press says in a dispatch this morning that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will announce the move sometime later today.
The controversial Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, known as the MEK for short, has long battled the terrorist designation, which was first imposed by the Clinton Administration in 1997 and kept in place by both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Insisting its members have been wrongly labeled as terrorists, backers of the group have conducted a years-long lobbying effort which has included staging large rallies in Paris, for which financial supporters have paid to have U.S. politicos flown in to speak.
As previously reported, Democratic Congress Bob Filner, now running for mayor of San Diego, has traveled free of charge to two of the Paris events via first class flights.
The MEK backers have also paid a variety of speaking and travel fees to notable U.S. journalists; politicians of both parties; ex-government officials; and military figures, including ex-Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein, who got $12,000.
According to today's AP report, "Clinton's decision comes just days after the last big batch of the Iranian exiles reluctantly left their decades-old paramilitary base in northeastern Iraq, relocating for now to a refugee camp outside Baghdad.
“The U.S. had demanded that the MEK's 3,000 members comply with an Iraqi demand to leave Camp Ashraf as a condition of being removed from the list of foreign terrorist organizations."
"Several American military officials and defense contractors were killed by the MEK in the 1970s, U.S. officials maintain, and its attacks have claimed the lives of hundreds of Iranians. But the group insisted that it forswore violence more than a decade ago and now only seeks a peaceful overthrow of Iran's theocratic regime."
A Treasury Department investigation of whether former U.S. officials backing MEK were "providing illegal material support to designated terrorists" will most likely now become moot in the wake of the decision to take MEK off the terrorist list, according to the AP report.
More like this:
- More MEK money fallout: Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein paid $12,000 for speech — Aug. 31, 2012
- Columnist Vows to Return Speaking Fee to Controversial Iranian Group Backed by Filner — July 5, 2012
- Christian Science Monitor Investigates Mojahedin-e Khalq — Aug. 8, 2011
- Filner's Road to Paris — July 27, 2011
- Breaking Stories: Paris Sojourn — Nov. 8, 2007