The Mujahedin-e Khalq [MEK], an OFAC-designated Foreign Terrorist organisation [FTO] that opposes the regime in Iran, has today published an Open Letter in the New York Times*, requesting that the organisation be removed from the list of FTOs. The letter, which was directed to President Obama, was signed by fourteen former American ambassadors, mayors, cabinet ministers, general officers, governors, congressmen, and the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI]. 3400 MEK members reportedly presently reside in Camp Ashraf in Iraq. there have been two major incidents where Iraqi troops have entered the camp and killed MEK members, and questions have been raised as to reason for the absence of US troops to prevent these acts.
The MEK, which committed terrorist acts, including the assassination of US military officers, in the past, argues that the group, which was disarmed, has not committed any terrorist acts since 2001, and no longer meets the statutory requirement for listing as an FTO. This conflicts with information reportedly contained an FBI report, dated 2004, that alleges post-9/11 terrorist planning. The EU and the UK have delisted the MEK, but it remains designated in Canada and Australia.
Readers of my articles may recall that I have previously discussed** what I feel are flaws in their argument, and I am concerned that so many former US government officials, now private citizens, appear to be acting as lobbyists to attain the delisting. Frankly, there are valid points to be made by both sides, but in an overabundance of caution, it may be best, for the time being, to maintain the FTO designation, lest this group, after delisting, commence a major fundraising drive in the US. This could expose US banks, through whose accounts contributions may flow, to increased risk of violation of existing Iran sanctions, or to financial crime risks, for some groups are known to engage in criminal
activities to raise funds.
Finally, their loyalties regarding the West are still a subject for debate, due to their prior history of violence against US nationals. I would leave the sanctions in place, if I were OFAC, to minimise risk to US financial institutions.
*Page A9, 11 October, 2011.
**Iranian Terrorist Organisation Seeks removal of FTO Sanction, World-Check 4 July, 2011.