One of former Mass. Governor Mitt Romney's (R) top foreign policy advisers became the subject of a report by Salon on Tuesday for his links to a group of Iranian terrorists who were responsible for killing Iranian civilians and U.S. citizens during the 1970s.
Known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization, or just MEK, the group is described by the U.S. State Department as a cult-like sect formed in the 1960s to combat western influence, driven by a mixture of Marxism and Islam. It is also the largest armed resistance group opposed to the current Iranian regime.
That's where Mitchell Reiss comes in. As the former policy planner director for the State Department during President George W. Bush's administration, and in his current role as the president of Washington College, Reiss has aided that campaign, likely in a paid capacity, giving speeches to advocate for a renewed status as a non-terrorist entity. He's also Romney's top foreign policy adviser.
The MEK claims to have renounced terrorism since 2001, and has embarked on a campaign to rehabilitate their image in western eyes. It regularly pays influential individuals tens of thousands of dollars for brief speaking engagements, and a number of high profile political figures have come out in support of the group, including former Vermont Governor Howard Dean (D). It is not clear where their funding comes from.
Although the last two administrations did not see reason to remove the MEK's terrorist status, there's an ongoing review behind the scenes at the State Department, which was ordered by the courts.
That could be used as a point to joust with Romney's campaign given that Republicans so doggedly hammered President Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign for allegedly "palling around with terrorists," over his connection to William Ayers.
Reiss speaks in favor of the MEK in the video below.
Image credit: Flickr commons.
The video below is from a July 17, 2011 symposium held in Washington, D.C.