World Bulletin/News Desk
The U.S. State Department on Friday formally removed the Iranian dissident group Mujahadin-e Khalq from its official list of terrorist organizations, but underscored that it still has "serious concerns" about the group.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took the decision, effective on Friday, in view of 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 their paramilitary base in Iraq, the State Department 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 statement said.
"The Department also has serious concerns about the MEK as an organization, particularly with regard to allegations of abuse committed against its own members."
Officials said last week that Clinton had taken the decision to remove the MEK from the terrorism list, but the formal announcement was made only after appropriate notification of Congress.
The U.S. decision comes after years of intense lobbying by the MEK, which had seen many of its members stranded in Iraq as the group fell out of Baghdad's favor after Saddam Hussein's downfall in 2003.
The MEK's Paris-based leader Maryam Rajavi, who has sought to recast the group as a potential opposition force in Iran, welcomed the decision.
"I understand that this decision was difficult and required political courage. This has been the correct decision, albeit long overdue, in order to remove a major obstacle in the path of the Iranian people's efforts for democracy," she said in an emailed statement.
The group marshalled the support of dozens of members of Congress as well as notable political, government and media figures.
The United States had repeatedly said its decision on the MEK's terrorist designation hinged partly on the group's remaining members leaving Camp Ashraf, an Iraqi base where they had lived for decades, and moving to a former U.S. military base in Baghdad from which they were expected to be resettled overseas.
Officials said this month that the final large group of dissidents had moved from Camp Ashraf to the new location, ending a long standoff with Iraqi authorities.
The group, also known as the People's Mujahideen Organization of Iran, calls for the overthrow of Iran's leaders and fought alongside Saddam's forces in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. It also led a guerrilla campaign against the U.S.-backed Shah of Iran during the 1970s, including attacks on American targets.
Removal from the list means Washington will no longer block the group's property and interests in property in the United States and that U.S. entities may engage in transactions with the MEK without obtaining a license.
Iran has condemned the U.S. decision. "By taking this step the government of America must be held accountable for the blood of thousands of Iranians and Iraqis assassinated by members of this sectarian group," Ramin Mehmanparast, spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency on Wednesday.Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Eylül 2012, 10:32