On 22 June, British lawmakers removed the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO) from the UK’s list of banned terror groups, after a seven-year campaign by the organization.
Legislators approved the decision of the Court of Appeal, which ruled in May that the MKO, which has been guilty of many bloody terrorist attacks in Iran for 30 years, should no longer be listed as a proscribed group.
It killed several of Iran’s new leaders in the early years after the 1979 revolution and backed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in the 1980-1988 war with Iran.
According to a recent speech by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, the group has killed over 16,000 people in and outside Iran, including one president, one prime minister, four ministers and dozens of parliamentarians. Its terrorist activities are being carried out even today.
Recently, Iranian authorities arrested a group of MKO operatives for the assassination of Sheikh Hashem Samiri, a Friday prayers leader in the city of Ahvaz. Many of its members are wanted by the International Criminal Police Organization, Interpol.
The decision gives the group more freedom to organize and raise money in Britain. “After so many years of waiting, so many years of campaigning, so many setbacks and frustrations, at last our government has seen the light,” said Baroness Angela Harris, a House of Lords peer who backed the move.
British Home Office minister Tony McNulty said that the government had unsuccessfully appealed against the Court of Appeal’s decision because of the group’s violent past.
“The MKO admitted responsibility for a number of horrendous crimes carried out against the Iranian people, both civilian and military targets,” McNulty said.
The MKO is considered a terrorist organization by the US and the European Union so it is subject to an EU-wide assets freeze. However, its supporters say they now expect the EU to review the MKO’s status following the decision by the British court and lawmakers.
“I think it would be strange if they did not follow our lead,” Lord Steven Bassam said.
It is noteworthy to point out that a 2007 German intelligence report from the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution called the MKO a “repressive, sect-like and Stalinist authoritarian organization which centers around the personality cult of Maryam and Masoud Rajavi”.
For its part, Iran condemned as a “disgrace” the decision by Britain to lift a ban on the MKO.
“The British government’s action regarding the group of munafiqin is a disgrace and utterly condemned,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said in a statement.
Iranian officials always refers to the MKO, which carried out a bloody wave of assassinations in Tehran in the early 1980s, as the “munafiqin,” meaning hypocrites.
“This action … is in line with London’s new policy to play with the card of terrorists to put pressure on the region’s nations and governments,” Hosseini said.
“This group is resented by Iran, Iraq and the world because of many terrorist operations it has done in these two countries,” he added.
The British decision comes at the same time as Iraq has just prohibited any contact with that group and is supporting the deportation of its members.
Dr. Ali al-Dabbagh, the Iraqi government’s spokesperson, said in a statement the Iraqi cabinet, in its regular session, deliberated MKO’s presence on Iraqi soil, its interference in Iraq’s local issues, its provocative participation against the elected Iraqi government and institutions, and its encouragement of terror against the Iraqi people”.
The remotion of the MKO from UK’s list of banned terror groups reveals the hypocrisy of the British authorities, who claim to be partners in the “war against the terror” but are willing to protect or even use terrorists in order to promote their interests in the Middle East and elsewhere.
The bloody background of the MKO is not apparently enough to persuade a British court and the Parliament that it is a terrorist organization.
It would be interesting to know if British authorities would have reached the same conclusion if the victims of the MKO ‘s actions had been British or Americans.