As former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani was rumored to be on President Trump’s radar for secretary of state in 2016, The Washington Post reported that Giuliani was one of numerous U.S. officials to profit off of advocating for a group listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization.
The group, Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), was placed on the terrorist organization list in 1997 and was not removed until 2012.
For years, Giuliani has been one of the most prominent American officials to advocate on behalf of the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), a Marxist Iranian opposition group that claims to be the legitimate government of Iran and resembles a cult. A Treasury Department investigation in 2012 examined whether speaking fees paid by several MEK front groups to a long list of U.S. politicians, including Giuliani, violated laws on Americans receiving money from designated terrorist organizations.
The State Department added the MEK to the list of foreign terrorist organizations in 1997 due to its involvement in the killing of U.S. citizens in Iran in the 1970s and an attack on U.S. soil in 1992. The group, which has about 3,000 members living in exile in Iraq, has not conducted a confirmed act of terrorism in more than a decade. In the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the United States mostly disarmed the MEK and provided its members with protection at their Iraqi base, Camp Ashraf.
According to The Post, Giuliani gave several speeches at the behest of Iranian American organizations in 2011 and 2012, both calling on the State Department to remove the terrorist designation and criticizing the U.S. government’s effort to relocate members of the group after they were booted from Camp Ashraf by the Iraqi government.
In March 2012, Giuliani traveled to Paris to speak at an MEK conference alongside the group’s secretive leader Maryam Rajavi. While there, he called the U.S. military base in Iraq where the United States wanted to relocate the MEK a “concentration camp.” Those comments later appeared in an MEK ad in the New York Times.
The Post notes that many of the grievances raised by Giuliani and other advocates were valid; however, it is illegal to do business with groups listed as terrorist organizations, and Giuliani might have broken the law.
A probe into such matters was initiated by the Treasury Department, but following MEK’s removal from the list, it was unclear what became of the investigation.