Reprinted from
TerroristGroup Supporters Meet in Washington

Kenneth R. Timmerman

Friday, May 26,2006

 WASHINGTON -– Dozens of self-avowed supporters of anIranian group on the State Department's list of internationalterrorist organizations met Thursday in a public building inWashington, D.C., to call on the Bush administration to legalize theactivities of their group.

The Mujahedin-e Khalq, also known as the People's MujahedinOrganization of Iran, was first blacklisted by the State Departmentin June 1994. Various front organizations, including the NationalCouncil of the Iranian Resistance, were added to the U.S. blacklistin 1997.

While the blacklisting has prohibited the group from openly lobbyingCongress, a variety of like-minded organizations have championed itscause, claiming to have no operational ties to the banned terroristgroup.

 "We sympathize with them," one of the organizers of Thursday'sevent told NewsMax, when asked why people attending the rally hadbeen given banners with photographs of MEK leaders Massoud and MaryamRajavi.

He said the event had been organized and paid for by"Iranian-American organizations," but would not name any specificgroup.

The MEK and its front groups have distributed letters in Congress insupport of its cause that have garnered as many as 226 signaturesfrom members of the House of Representatives. Many congressmen whosigned later said they had no idea they were supporting a terroristgroup.

 The MEK calls itself the Iranian "resistance," but otherorganized Iranian opposition groups in the United States and insideIran consider them traitors, because the MEK allied with SaddamHussein during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.

Called "Islamic-Marxists" by the former shah, today even the MarxistOrganization of the People's Fedaii Guerillas of Iran (OPFGI) hasrejected the group.

But some U.S. military officers who processed MEK members after theirtraining camp in Iraq was seized during Operation Iraqi Freedom in2003 believe the United States could use the MEK to lead an armeduprising against the Tehran regime.

Thursday's pro-MEK rally was sparsely attended compared to similarevents in the past. Elaborately staged to ressemble a U.S.presidential nominating convention in an elegant hall at 1301Constitution Ave., barely 100 people attended the event.

Participants were given noisemakers and other props to make the eventappear like a mass rally. Professional video crews were posted aroundthe large ballroom and sent live footage to a satellite truckoutside, which beamed it to Florida and then to Europe, technicianssaid.

 Organizers said the only member of Congress who addressed therally was Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas. An officer from the Department ofHomeland Security's Office of Protective Services said he had beenassigned to assist the private security detail hired by theorganizers.

When asked why the U.S. government was allowing sympathizers of agroup on the State Department's terrorist list to gather in agovernment-owned building -- the Andrew Mellon auditorium -– hesaid the decision had been made by his superiors. "I'm here to ensurethat people can express their First Amendment rights without threator restriction," he said.

Also addressing the group was proferssor Raymond Tanter, who chairsthe Iran Policy Committee, a private group in Washington that islobbying Congress and the Bush administration to remove the MEK andits front groups from the terrorist list.

Tanter had just returned from Paris, where he and other members ofthe Iran Policy Committee had been invited to address a similar eventsponsored by pro-MEK groups. IPC does not disclose its source offunding, but invites donations over the Internet.

While the MEK today opposes the clerical regime in Tehran, it tookpart in the 1979 revolution against the Shah. In a 1994 report toCongress, the State Department explained that it had designated thegroup as a terrorist organization because it had taken part in the1979 taking of the U.S. embassy in Tehran and had murdered Americansworking in Iran under the shah.

[Correction: According to theIran Policy Committee, Tanter appeared at the rally, but did not"address" it.]