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For former Iranian 'terrorists,' a warm Washington welcome

With Washington luminaries in attendance, the Iranian dissident group NCRI and its formerly armed wing MEK inaugurated their sleek new offices Thursday, within sight of the White House.

By Staff writer / April 11, 2013

Maryam Rajavi, President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), speaks at a press conference at the Palais Eynard, in Geneva, Switzerland, in February.

Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone/AP

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Washington

An Iranian dissident group that languished on the US list of terrorist organizations for more than a decade under both Democratic and Republican administrations marked its full rehabilitation Thursday when it opened sleek new offices – complete with floors covered by plush Persian carpets – within sight of the White House.

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Just how stunning the reversal of fortunes has been for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its formerly armed wing, the Mojahedin-e Khalq, or MEK, was underscored by the long list of Washington luminaries who attended the office inauguration.

From prominent former members of Congress to former national security officials and high-profile diplomats, the caliber of the American advocates on hand for the ribbon-cutting demonstrated how effective the Iranian opposition organization has been at transforming its image – from that of a fringe group with a violent past to one in which it is the embodiment of the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people.

Referring to the NCRI’s platform, which states as its goal the fall of the ayatollahs’ regime and the establishment of “a free, secular, democratic, and non-nuclear Iran,” Gen. James Jones, who served as President Obama’s first national security adviser, described the objectives as “completely in sync with our core [American] values.”

That is a remarkable turnaround for a group that President Clinton placed on the list of terrorist organizations in 1997 – ostensibly as a result of the one-time Marxist group’s violent acts, including against Americans, but by some theories as part of a campaign to pave the way to negotiations with the Iranian regime.

Whatever the reason, the terrorist designation stuck through the Bush administration and was only lifted by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last September after a long court battle.

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