Yet current US officials and many Iran experts – hawks and doves alike – question the MEK's ability to change in light of the group's unique history and its cult-like characteristics. They say the fact that it is widely despised inside Iran also makes it a dangerous tool to change Iran’s Islamic regime.
All have been stunned by the speed, heft, and sheer wealth of the current delisting campaign, after years of determined but fruitless efforts.
Removing the terrorist designation is critical to the MEK to bolster its legitimacy. It would also enable the MEK to openly fund-raise in the US – despite having used fraudulent techniques in the past that prompted FBI investigations into smuggling rings, forgery, and fraud schemes that resulted in prison time for dozens of members.
A host of former American officials, in speech after speech since December, dismiss the MEK's terrorist designation. At more than a dozen events in Washington and Europe since December, they assert instead that the group offers a popular "third way” between failed dialogue with the Islamic Republic and military action.
"With Al Qaeda and Hamas, you would never think they would be able to drum up this kind of support," one State Dept. official told the Monitor. "But with the MEK, they trawl the halls of Congress. Picture this with any other terrorist group; find one."