U.S. removes Mujahideen Khalq from terrorist list

U.S. removes Mujahideen Khalq from terrorist list
# 29 September 2012 02:15 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. The United States on Friday removed the Mujahideen Khalq (MEK), an exile Iranian group in Iraq, from its list of foreign terrorist organizations, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

The decision made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton enabled the group, also known as the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, to have its assets under U.S. jurisdiction unfrozen and do business with American entities, the State Department said.

It said the decision, which took effect on Friday, came as the organization has renounced violence over the years and cooperated in closing Camp Ashraf peacefully, an issue that had resulted in deadly clashes with the Iraqi security forces.

"The secretary’s decision today took into account the MEK’s public renunciation of violence, the absence of confirmed acts of terrorism by the MEK for more than a decade, and their cooperation in the peaceful closure of Camp Ashraf, their historic paramilitary base," the agency said in a statement.

"With today’s actions, the department does not overlook or forget the MEK’s past acts of terrorism, including its involvement in the killing of U.S. citizens in Iran in the 1970s and an attack on U.S. soil in 1992," the department added, raising "serious" concern as well about the group’s alleged abuse of rights.

The MEK is an Islamic movement founded in September 1965 in opposition to the shah of Iran, and it subsequently fought to oust the Islamic regime which took power in the 1979 revolution by launching a campaign of bombings and assassinations in the 1970s and 1980s.

The group fled to Iraq in 1986 and set up Camp Ashraf near the Iranian border after being given refuge by then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

It was branded by Washington as a terrorist organization in 1997 for killing six Americans in the 1970s.

The MEK fighters were disarmed in June 2003 following the U.S.- led invasion of Iraq, and Camp Ashraf was placed under the protection of the U.S. military police before the Iraqi government took over the security responsibility in January 2009.

On the same day of the handover, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki announced that the militant group would not be allowed to base its operations on Iraqi soil.

Deadly clashes had occurred at the camp over the years, including one on April 8, 2011 in which 34 residents were killed when Iraqi forces in bulldozers and Humvees stormed the camp.

A UN-brokered deal late last year allowed the exiles to move to the grounds of Camp Liberty, the former U.S. military base near the Baghdad airport.

With the final convoy of 680 residents reaching Camp Liberty on Sept. 16, the MEK completed the evacuation of some 3,000 people and would wait for relocation to a third country.

Secretary Clinton told Congress in February that her decision to delist the group would hinge in part on its willingness to relocate peacefully. In early June, a U.S. federal judge gave the Obama administration until October to make a final decision.
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