Members of the Iranian dissident group known as the Mujahedin e-Khalq, or MEK, really don't like me. I don't trust them, either. I've been reporting on the MEK for the Huffington Post since last summer, and members of the group have threatened my house and hacked my email.
Christina Wilkie, huffpost
Like many people who've researched how the MEK actually works, I don't believe that they're freedom fighters in exile as they claim to be. Nor do I believe their values are democratic, as they claim they are.
I believe the MEK is a militant cult of personality, whose leaders, Maryam and Massoud Rajavi, figured out in the 1980's that they could survive by doing mercenary work on behalf of governments that hate Iran. Saddam Hussein was their first patron, and he granted them land in Iraq to build a walled, military compound, Camp Ashraf, where until a few months ago, more than 3,000 members lived.
There, they would wake up every day and worship images of Maryam Rajavi before commencing with the day's Army base-type tasks. The MEK claims to subsist on foreign contributions, but that's only partly true.
In America, their well-paid U.S. advocates, men like former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, wax on about how the MEK renounced violence a decade ago and just needs U.S. backing in order to topple the Iranian regime and seize power. I've watched these guys earn $40,000 for an eight-minute speech.
I've watched the MEK protests outside the State Department office on C Street, N.W, all dressed in identical Maryam Rajavi t-shirts, banging drums and accusing Clinton of violating human rights, breaking international law, and callously leaving them to die at the hands of Iraqi soldiers.
I think Clinton understands that they're a dangerous cult, and that all the other potential outcomes of the 30-year standoff between the MEK and the outside world would have likely been much, much worse.
The debate over whether or not the MEK is a terrorist group doesn't matter. It never really did. After dozens of conversations and background briefings over the past year, I don't believe Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decided to delist the MEK how and when she did because the secretary suddenly changed her mind on the question of whether or not they are terrorists.