Lobbying campaign takes Iranian dissident group off US terror list

A supporter of the Iranian opposition group based abroad, the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (Mujahedeen-e-Khalq) shouts slogans as celebrate the removal of the group from the US black list of designated terror groups in Washington, DC on September 28, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mark Garten)
A group with a history of bombings and murders, including the killing of US citizens, which also happens to oppose the current Iranian government, has paid its way off of a US blacklist, Lajos Szasdi, an international affairs analyst told RT.

­The US Secretary of State announced the removal of the Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (MKO) from its list of terrorist organizations on Friday. Originally one of the main participants of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, it is now in opposition to the government in Tehran, and with the help of Israeli special forces carries out “assassinations of nuclear scientists in Iran and obtains information on the Iranian nuclear program,” Szasdi says.

RT: Why has Washington chosen now to remove Mujahadeen-e-Khalq from its list of terrorist organizations?

Lajos Szasdi: This group, the MKO, has been apparently very successful in gaining the support of both the Republican and Democratic parties, civilians, as well as retired members of the military, senior officers included. So apparently, there has been a very successful lobbying campaign before the government to overturn the government’s decision, made in 1997, to place the MKO on the terrorist list of the Treasury Department.

There is also another issue. Washington might find this group highly useful. It seems that they have made use of it since 2007, in trying to destabilize the internal situation in Iran, and apparently with the cooperation of the Israeli secret service, the Mossad. They have used this group to conduct, it is said by some authors, assassinations of nuclear scientists in Iran and obtain information on the Iranian nuclear program. And they've carried out some acts of sabotage – they caused the explosion of a missile factory as well. There is some strategic interest in terms of current and ongoing, bad relationships, to say the least, to put it mildly, between the United States on one side and Iran on the other.

And this group has also been carrying out a highly successful lobbying campaign, which is very interesting because according to some sectors in the press, if you spoke for ten minutes in favor of the group in a speech, you could have gotten twenty thousand dollars. And they have been paying for speeches defending their cause, so they would be removed from the list of being terrorists, between ten and fifty thousand dollars. So, it is quite interesting.

RT: Do you think this will influence the upcoming Iranian elections, is that the intention?

LS: The Iranian candidates will try to portray this event, the fact that the US government removed this group from the list of terrorists … it would be a further justification of any hardening of the position that the United States has no interest in finding a negotiated solution, but on the contrary – they are supporting its enemies. 

It is going to, in any case, work to the detriment of the relationship between the West and Iran, and in particular the United States and Iran. It is going to favor taking hardening positions towards the West and the United States. I think it is quite inevitable in light of the rhetoric coming from Washington, alongside that coming from Tel Aviv regarding Iran and the Iranian nuclear program. It might not make much difference, but it certainly is going to be ammunition for those that would try to suppress the idea of any dialogue with Washington, because after all, Washington is not offering any olive branch for such a kind of dialogue.