A number US President-elect Donald Trump’s top nominees for sensitive national security posts have accepted money from notorious anti-Iran terrorist group known as Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) and lobbied for the group’s removal from the US list of terrorist groups.
Describing MKO as “bizarre and brutal” with “plenty of American blood on its hands, as well as that of thousands of Iranians killed while the group was a strike force serving [former Iraqi dictator] Saddam Hussein” during his war on Iran in the 1980s, US-based magazine Politico revealed in a Saturday report that former New York City’s Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton, who are on Trump’s shortlist of nominees for Secretary of State and director of national intelligence, were on MKO's payroll and lobbied to erase the group from the State Department’s list of terrorist groups during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as the top US diplomat.
According to the report, the MKO paid Giuliani “handsomely for years” giving him “$20,000 or more and possibly a lot more for brief appearance before the [Paris-based] group” and for lobbying to delist them from Foreign Terrorist Groups (FTO) in 2012.
Earlier this month, The New York Times quoted Giuliani as admitting that he was “one of dozens of prominent Americans who worked for” MKO, receiving “payments at the same time it was on a State Department list designating it a terrorist organization” while persuading the Obama administration to revoke its terrorist listing.
“My ties to them are very open,” Giuliani said. “We worked very hard to get them delisted — by Hillary Clinton, by the way.”
This is while a US Treasury Department probe in 2012 examined whether speaking fees paid by several MKO front groups to a long list of American politicians, including Giuliani and lawmakers, violated laws barring US citizens from receiving money from designated terrorist organizations.
The magazine further identifies other high-profile nominees for high administration positions that have supported or lobbied on behalf of the terrorist group, including former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, ex-labor Secretary Elaine Chao (also the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) as well as former Bush security aide Fran Townsend, whose name has been mentioned as a possible Secretary of Homeland Security or director of national intelligence in the future administration.
The report also underlined that in addition to “longtime regime-change advocates” in the US such as Bolton, “who recently boasted before a MKO crowd in Paris that he had been engaged with them for a decade,” the terror group signed up Republican and Democratic politicians en masse.
It further identified other pro-MKO politicians such as former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, former DNC chair Howard Dean, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Hugh Shelton, former Obama National Security Adviser General Jim Jones, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, adding that the list “went on and on.”
The US State Department added the MKO to its list of foreign terrorist organizations in 1997 for the group’s involvement in the killing of Americans in Iran in the 1970s and an attack on US soil in 1992.