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US Considers Removing PMOI Group From Terrorist List

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The U.S. government may omit the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (Mujahedin-e Khalq) from its list of terrorist groups, the U.S. State Department has announced.

Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published on Monday May 14 that Hilary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, had not made a final decision about the Iranian dissident group’s status.

The report indicates however that the State department was looking favourably at removing the group from the terrosit list “if it continued cooperating by vacating a former paramilitary base inside Iraq, called Camp Ashraf, which the group had used to stage cross-border strikes into Iran.”

The People’s Mojahedin Organization, an Iranian dissident group, has fought against the Islamic Republic from the early days of the regime’s establishment after the 1979 Revolution in Iran. During the eight-year Iran-Iraq War, it collaborated with Saddam Hossein’s Iraqi regime and, therefore, was allowed to settle in the area north of Baghdad referred to as Camp Ashraf.

When the United States invaded Iraq, the camp fell under U.S. jurisdiction, and once the U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq, the Iraqi government called for the immediate evacuation of Camp Ashraf.

Iran considers the PMOI to be a terrorist group, and analysts suggest that its removal from the U.S. terrorist list would put further strain on renewed diplomatic efforts to resolve the nuclear disputes with Iran.

The PMOI has been accused of assassinating U.S. citizens in Iran before the 1979 Revolution and was put on the U.S. terrorist list 15 years ago. Its U.S. assets have been frozen ever since.

In the past two years, the dissident group has started a campaign to remove its name from the U.S. terrorist list.

The United States and the UN are trying to move the Camp Ashraf residents to other settlements outside of Iran and Iraq, but about 1,200 of the 3,000 camp residents still remain.

Nuland stressed that the PMOI’s peaceful cooperation in evacuating Camp Ashraf would be key to the U.S. State Department’s final decision.

Iran regards the PMOI as one of its archenemies. Many Iranian officials have been targets of PMOI-organized assassination attempts, including Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

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One thought on “US Considers Removing PMOI Group From Terrorist List

  • Avatar
    May 16, 2012 at 1:42 pm
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    During a May 8 hearing before the U.S. Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia, the attorney for the U.S. Department of State aroused outrage among former U.S. military commanders – stationed at Camp Ashraf from 2004 until 2009 – when he alleged that weapons and ammunition might be hidden in Camp Ashraf in Iraq.

    In a joint statement, Brig. Gen. David Phillips (ret.), former chief of the Military Policy School at Fort Leonard Wood and former commander of all police operations in Iraq, which included the protection of Camp Ashraf until 2006; and Col. Wesley Martin (ret.), senior antiterrorism/force protection officer for all coalition forces in Iraq and the first colonel in charge of Camp Ashraf in 2006, who attended the oral hearing; as well as Lt. Col. Leo McCloskey (ret.), commander of Joint Interagency Task Force at Camp Ashraf until January 2009, described the remarks by the State Department attorney Robert Loeb as “absurd” and a “denigration of the admirable work of thousands of American service-people who protected Camp Ashraf and verified its inhabitants were unarmed.”
    During a withering 40 minute grilling by a three judge panel, Loeb remarked that the U.S. military had “never been able to inspect it [Camp Ashraf].” He also stated that the residents of Camp Ashraf did not permit the U.S. military to inspect the camp. “The MEK did not permit it at that time, and the military was unable at the time” to inspect Camp Ashraf, and “the MEK did not permit an inspection. . . . They did not permit a sort of door-to-door inspection of looking for [caches] of weapons or to actually disarm them door-to-door.” He also claimed that the U.S. military had been unable to verify that the MEK had disarmed.
    The retired U.S. military commanders consider the State Department’s unfounded allegations “as a desperate ploy to justify the Department’s disregard of the law and its non-compliance with the July 2010 judgment of the DC Circuit, which ordered a prompt evaluation of the terrorist designation.” The officers described the designation as “illegitimate, unlawful, unethical and unwarranted.”

    The decision by the U.S. Government to list the PMOI/MEK originated in 1997 as an attempt to appease the regime in Iran and has been the primary factor in the suppression and the violation of the rights of the residents of Camp Ashraf by the Nuri Al-Maliki government in Iraq. The designation also gave license to Iraqi troops to massacre dozens of defenseless residents of Ashraf and wound hundreds more in two brazen attacks on the Camp in 2009 and 2011

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