Former New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani, a top Donald Trump supporter, was reportedly paid to advocate on behalf of a shadowy Iranian group that opposes Iran’s current leadership while it was listed by the US as a foreign terrorist organization.
According to a report in the Washington Post on Tuesday, Giuliani, who is a favorite to take the secretary of state position in the incoming Trump administration, gave a number of speeches on behalf of the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian Marxist organization that calls for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic and purports to be the true government of Iran, prior to its removal in September 2012 from the US State Department’s list of foreign terror organizations.
The MEK was added to the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations in 1997, primarily for its role in the murder of US citizens in Iran in the 1970s.
According to The Washington Post, Giuliani gave several speeches in 2011 and 2012 calling on the State Department to remove the MEK from its list, including at one March 2012 event in Paris in which MEK leader Maryam Rajavi also appeared.
That same month, six months prior to the group’s removal from the list of foreign terrorist organizations, the US Treasury Department opened a probe investigating US politicians who had received money to advocate on behalf of the group. Under US law, it is illegal for any US citizen to engage in any business or financial transaction with an organization listed as a foreign terrorist organization.
It is unknown how much money Giuliani received for his advocacy on behalf on the MEK or what happened to the Treasury Department’s investigation following the removal of the group from the list four years ago, according to the report.
A number of other US national security figures who are also linked to Trump were listed in the article as having worked on behalf of the group, including former UN Ambassador John Bolton, who like Giuliani is also considered a candidate to be Trump’s secretary of state, and former director of the CIA James Woolsey.
Derided by its critics as a cult, the group has journeyed through multiple countries and the shifting alliances of the Middle East over its four-decade history. The MEK helped Islamic clerics overthrow Iran’s shah before carrying out a series of bombings and assassinations against the Iranian government. It fought in the 1980s alongside Saddam’s forces in the Iran-Iraq war, but disarmed after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. It has since suffered violent recriminations from Iraq’s new Shiite-dominated government.