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March 21, 2008

The Mujahedeen is lobbying hard on Capitol Hill

To those who know the Mujahedin-e Khalq, its presence on Capitol Hill is disturbing. After all, the very men and women prowling the halls of Congress are named on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. It recently hosted a conference– complete with a decadent spread of Persian food- for Congress and staff in banquet hall of a congressional office building.

Termed a Marxist cult by Ervand Abrahamian, the MeK and its political arm, the National Council for Resistance in Iran, operates in the US through various front groups such as Committee for Support of Referendum in Iran. Several members of Congress receive campaign contributions by the group’s members and many others have been targeted, including high ranking senators and representatives from California.

Why a group that is on the State Department’s terrorist list can be so active on Capitol Hill is something that baffles many- particularly in the middle of the “War on Terror.”

MeK’s lobbying efforts are nothing new. In 1994, over 100 members of the House signed a letter to the president advocating that MEK be removed from the terrorist list. Privately, several signatories have said they were embarrassed about the move and now look at Iranian-American group that walks in their office with suspicion.

Here in lies the problem. Front groups for the MeK are positing themselves as ambassadors of the Iranian-American community. They urge members of Congress to resist dialogue and push military confrontation, as this, MeK contends, is what Iranian-Americans want. And with no other Iranian-American in sight, many believe them.

Part of my job at NIAC is to dispel this myth and voice the concerns of the majority of the community as reflected by NIAC’s membership, which spans 44 states. But the real burden lies with you. At this time of increased tensions between the US and Iran, Iranian-Americas who favor diplomacy cannot afford to remain outside the political discourse. Contact your member of Congress, write an op-ed in your local newspaper, or ask NIAC how you can get involved.

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