A congressman is asking the Justice Department to probe sponsors of a fundraising event in Washington tonight for possible ties to an Iranian terrorist group supported by Saddam Hussein.
The Iranian-American Society of Northern Virginia’s “solidarity” fund-raiser at Washington Convention Center will attempt to raise $140,000 for survivors of the 30,000 victims in the Dec. 26 earthquake in Iran, reported the congressional newspaper, The Hill.
Rep. Robert Ney, R-Ohio, has asked Attorney General John Ashcroft to investigate whether some of the event’s sponsors are tied to Mujahedin-e Khalq, the MEK, or People’s Mujaheddin, a known terrorist group.
Ney, noting organizers featured an MEK official’s picture in marketing material, believes the event likely violates the global terrorist support ban.
“The MEK is hiding behind earthquake victims; you’ll find those [sponsors] are false groups,” Ney told The Hill. “They’re not supposed to operate, and I don’t know what they’re going to do with the money. I just think it smells.”
The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation said they were aware of the event, but they declined to comment.
The Hill said an MEK representative in Washington did not return repeated calls for comment.
An official with the Iranian-American Community of Northern Virginia would not provide any details on the participating groups, the paper said.
“It’s about solidarity with victims of the earthquake in Iran and to support the Iranian Resistance and call for referendum in Iran,” said the official, who would not give his name.
The official said all of the money raised would be donated to the American Red Cross, but a Red Cross spokeswoman declared it “will not be accepting donations from this fund-raiser.”
“Given the political undertones of the event, we just could no longer field donations because of the potential to compromise our neutrality, but the Red Cross has backed out of the event,” said Jacki Flowers.
The MEK was responsible for the deaths of at least six American servicemen and civilians in Iran during the mid-1970s and participated in the 1979 U.S. Embassy seizure in Tehran, the U.S. intelligence community alleges.
The group fell out of favor with the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1986 and went to Baghdad to operate under the covering of Saddam Hussein.
Intelligence sources say the group launched periodic strikes inside Iran and participated in Saddam’s deadly suppression of the Kurdish and Shiite minorities.