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What’s Behind the Campaign to Delist the Mujahedin al-Khalq Organization?

A growing number of former U.S. officials — both Republicans and Democrats — have hopped on the bandwagon to demand that the State Department delist the Mujahedin al-Khalq Organization (MKO) from its list of terrorist groups.

I consider the MKO a terrorist group for good reason. There is no doubt that the MKO has targeted Americans, and no amount of slick public relations should erase that. During my time in Iran, it was clear that while Iranians respect the United States and have little good to say about their own government, they all detest the MKO.

The enemy of my enemy is not always a friend: Iranian attitudes toward the MKO are analogous to Americans’ views toward American Taliban John Walker Lindh. Iranians despise the MKO for siding with Saddam Hussein as he murdered Iranians. After liberation, the MKO embraced America not because it loves liberty and apple pie but rather because it is an ideological chameleon. Only fools would believe that the MKO is sincere in its pro-American rhetoric. While the MKO claims credit for intelligence coups, more often than not it is either a conduit for other countries to launder their own collections or the MKO simply makes it up.

One thing is certain: embracing the MKO is the surest way to make anti-American the 65 million Iranians who dislike their government and dislike theocracy.

Still, MKO lobbying is slick and, as a cult, it can rely on the entirety of its members’ incomes to purchase support it might not otherwise receive. If American officials call for the delisting of the MKO, that is their right. For an honest debate on the issues, however, they should acknowledge the honorarium or consulting fees they receive from the group.


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