US says Iranian group no longer terrorists, but still sceptical
Under pressure from a court order, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Friday revoked the designation of an Iranian resistance group in Iraq as "terrorist," but expressed strong reservations, dpa reported.
The decision follows a years-long legal process that finally prompted an impatient US court in June to declare the People's Mujahideen Organization (PMOI/MEK) would be automatically delisted as a terrorist organization if Clinton did not act otherwise.
In de-listing the group, the State Department noted that it "does not overlook or forget the MEK's past acts of terrorism" and said it still had serious concerns about MEK as an organizaton "particularly with regard to allegations of abuse committed against its own members."
The status of the group was especially precarious because the Iraqi government, under pressure from Tehran, had pushed for the group to leave their base at Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad. About 3,000 people comprise the group.
The State Department was waiting for the last of the group to be relocated to another camp in Iraq, which happened just recently. Until US troops withdrew from Iraq last year, they had prevented the Iraqi government from breaking up Camp Ashraf.
The group fled their home in Iran for Iraq decades ago and until recently were welcome there.
The US State Department had listed the group as a terrorist organization, going back to its resistance to the US-friendly Shah regime in Iran, and the killing of some Americans in the 1970s.
Ironically, Iran also considers the MEK a terrorist group.