Terror Suspects’ Charges Reinstated
A federal appeals court on Monday reinstated charges against seven Los Angeles-area residents accused of raising money for an Iranian opposition group that the State Department had designated as terrorist.
U.S. District Judge Robert M. Takasugi dismissed the case two years ago, contending that the process by which the government classifies groups as terrorist is unconstitutional.
He said the seven alleged supporters of the Moujahedeen Khalq, also known as the MEK, were not given adequate opportunity to challenge the designation, in violation of their due process rights.
But a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, saying that the group had extensively litigated its designation before the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, as provided by law, and lost.
“Congress clearly chose to delegate policymaking authority to the president and the State Department with respect to designation of terrorist organizations,” the appellate court added.
The MEK has been on the State Department list since 1997 and was accused of carrying out terrorist attacks against Iran from bases in Iraq, then under Saddam Hussein’s control.
Despite the designation, the group received broad support from Democrats and Republicans in Congress. More than 220 lawmakers signed a petition a few years ago asking the State Department to drop the the group from its list of about 30 international terrorist groups.
The seven defendants, five Iranians and two Iranian Americans, were charged with providing “material support” to the group by soliciting donations at Los Angeles International Airport. They were accused of violating a 1996 anti-terrorism law.
The defendants contended that the donations were used to help destitute Iranian children. The Justice Department alleged that the money was used to buy rocket-propelled grenades.