NEW YORK — The Obama administration has taken the Mujahideen-e-Khalq off the U.S. terrorist blacklist culminating an expensive PR campaign by the Iranian dissidents.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s decision took into account the MeK’s public renunciation of violence, the absence of confirmed acts of terrorism by the group for more than a decade, and their cooperation in the closure of Camp Ashraf, their paramilitary base in Iraq, the State Department said in a statement.
Following an extensive review, U.S. officials found no evidence of the group’s involvement in terrorist activity.
The decision was based on a “global evaluation of the group’s activities,” a senior State Department official told reporters in a background call on Friday afternoon.
The MeK was responsible for terrorist attacks in Iran in the 1970s that killed several U.S. military personnel and civilians, according to the State Department. The group denies any role in the deaths of U.S. military personnel.
The State Department said that it “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 decision, effective immediately, allows U.S. citizens to support the group without the need for a license.
“It is certainly plausible to assume that this action will assist in our efforts to support the UNHCR in its efforts to find homes for these people outside Iraq,” a second senior State Department official said on background.
Britain and the European Union took the MeK off their lists of terrorist organizations in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
“I understand that this decision was difficult and required political courage,” Mrs. Rajavi said. “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.”
“We do not see the MeK as a viable opposition or democratic opposition movement ,” the first senior State Department official said. “We have no evidence and we have no confidence that MeK is an organization that could promote the democratic values that we would like to see in Iran.”
The Clinton administration designated the MeK as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997 in an attempt to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough with the Iranian government.
“The United States’ double standard in dealing with terrorism and instrumental use of these groups for political gain is not a new issue,” foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as saying by Iranian state media.
“If the U.S. government goes ahead with this move, then it will be accountable for the blood of thousands of Iranians and Iraqis spilt by this cult… and it weakens world efforts in combating terrorism,” he said.
The MeK, whose leadership is based in Paris, invested a lot of money in an intense and expensive campaign to get itself off the U.S. terrorist blacklist. The group has prominent Republican as well as Democratic supporters, some of whom have admitted taking money to speak on behalf of the group.
The group’s supporters plan to celebrate outside the State Department on Friday.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
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