United States/Iraq: US Army Transfers Top MKO Terrorists
The US military has transferred the senior members of terrorist Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) from Ashraf camp north of the Iraqi capital as it handed over the camp to Iraqi forces, an Iraqi Foreign Ministry source said.
The Iraqi army replaced American troops in taking control of Ashraf camp a few days ago.
Nearly 4,000 members of the MKO terrorist network fled to Iraq in the 1980s and settled at Ashraf camp, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Baghdad, which the group now uses as its headquarters.
The source at the Iraqi foreign ministry said the US military officials have moved the key members of the terrorist group from Ashraf Camp to prevent Iraqi government to have access to them.
"Current members of MKO inhabiting the camp are remorseful and not effective for the US military", the source added.
Iran’s Ambassador to Baghdad, Hassan Kazemi Qomi referred to the six month deadline to expel terrorist members of MKO from Iraq, and said, "During the past two years, many members of the terrorist organization have abandoned the group. They have also expressed regret for their past actions."
"Iran has pardoned a number of these people, allowing them to return to the country and their families," he said.
The future of the MKO in Iraq is uncertain and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has said he is looking for ways to end their presence.
Earlier, the Iraqi government and parliament announced that they are seeking a rapid final solution to remove the remaining members of the MKO from Iraq and to shut down Camp Ashraf.
Iraqi officials say the group is playing a significant role in violence and insecurity in the country.
The MKO is blacklisted by much of the international community, including the United States.
The MKO is on the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations subject to an EU-wide assets freeze, and has been designated by the US government as a foreign terrorist organization.
The MKO is behind a slew of assassinations and bombings inside Iran, a number of EU parliamentarians said in a recent letter in which they slammed a British court decision to remove the MKO from the British terror list. The EU officials also added that the group has no public support within Iran because of their role in helping Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war.
A May 2005 Human Rights Watch report accused the MKO of running prison camps in Iraq and committing human rights violations.
According to Human Rights Watch report, the outlawed group puts defectors under torture and jail terms.
The group, founded in the 1960s, blended elements of Islamism and Stalinism and participated in the overthrow of the US-backed Shah of Iran in 1979.
Ahead of the revolution, the MKO conducted attacks and assassinations against both Iranian and Western targets.
Leaders of the group have been fighting to shed its terrorist tag after a series of bloody anti-Western attacks in the 1970s, and nearly 30 years of violent struggle against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The group started assassination of the citizens and officials after the revolution in a bid to take control of the newly established Islamic Republic. It killed several of Iran’s new leaders in the early years after the revolution, including the then President, Mohammad Ali Rajayee, Prime Minister, Mohammad Javad Bahonar and the Judiciary Chief, Mohammad Hossein Beheshti who were killed in bomb attacks by MKO members in 1981.
The group fled to Iraq in 1986, where it was protected by Saddam Hussein and where it helped the Iraqi dictator suppress Shiite and Kurd uprisings in the country.
Along with at least six other sites in Iraq, Camp Ashraf was given to the MKO as their headquarters and training site by the former Iraqi dictator.
The terrorist group joined Saddam’s army during the Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-1988) and helped Saddam and killed thousands of Iranian civilians and soldiers during the US-backed Iraqi imposed war on Iran.
Since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the group, which now adheres to a pro-free-market philosophy, has been strongly backed by neo-conservatives in the United States, who also argue for the MKO to be taken off the US terror list.
The MKO has been in Iraq’s Diyala province since the 1980s. – FNA