In the last eight months, former Gov. Ed Rendell has been to Paris four times and Geneva twice.
He’s also joined rallies at the Capitol, White House, and State Department – all on behalf of a new cause he admits he knew little about until recently: the fate of a militant Iranian exile group living in Iraq called MEK, short for Mujahedeen-e-Khalq.
He’s been compensated for making speeches in support of MEK, designated by the State Department as a terrorist group, and pictured in ads and online videos that seek to get that designation lifted.
That’s landed him in the middle of an international controversy. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has issued a subpoena for Rendell’s records for speaking fees under a law that bars transactions with terrorist organizations.
And Iran’s quasi-official Fars News Agency over the weekend called him “among the most vocal advocates of the terrorist [MEK],” which Iran blames – with Israel – for deadly attacks on its nuclear scientists.
In MEK’s early history, the group was involved in attacks on Americans in Iran in the 1970s. During the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, exiled MEK forces fought with former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein against the government in Tehran.
Hussein rewarded the group with an outpost in Iraq 25 years ago, Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad, where about 2,800 members are currently holed up.