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Iran dissident group removed from U.S. terrorist list

September 28, 2012 |  5:23 pm

Khalq supporters
WASHINGTON -- The State Department formally removed the Iranian dissident group Mujahedin Khalq from its list of terrorist groups, even while pointing out its lingering concerns about the organization.

In a statement issued Friday under Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's name, the department said it knew of no confirmed acts of terrorism committed by the group in more than a decade and cited its cooperation in removing some of its members from a paramilitary camp in Iraq formerly under U.S. protection.

Even so, the department said it remained concerned about allegations that the group, also known by the initials MEK,  had abused some of its own members.

"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 statement said.

MEK members follow an ideology that combines elements of Marxism and Islamism. Some critics and former members have described it as a cult.

It has been a staunch opponent of the Iranian regime and is viewed by Tehran as a mortal enemy. Its leadership, based in Paris, has campaigned for years in Washington to have it removed from the stigmatizing terrorist list.

It has paid a list of prominent former U.S. officials and journalists to lobby for it or speak publicly on its behalf. Although group members dream of a day when the group could run a new Iran, many analysts are skeptical that it has much popular support or influence. 

Maryam Rajavi, the group's Paris-based leader, hailed Clinton for her decision, saying it "was difficult and required political courage."

The Iranian government condemned the decision and blamed the group for an incident in which  a senior Iranian diplomat in New York for the U.N. General Assembly was assaulted on the street.


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 --Paul Richter

Photo: Supporters of the Iranian opposition group Mujahedin Khalq celebrate the group's removal from the U.S. terrorism  list in Washington. Credit: Antonov Mladen / Agence France-Presse