Iraq rejects security guarantees for MKO

The Iraqi government has refuted recent US claims that it has granted immunity to members of the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO).

A senior Iraqi official said Saturday that, contrary to Washington contentions, Baghdad has not provided security guarantees to the MKO dissidents.

"The Iraqi government is determined to abide by a parliamentary verdict to extradite members of the Mujahedin Khalq Organization," IRIB quoted the high-ranking official as saying on condition of anonymity.

Baghdad announced in a statement on Dec. 22 that MKO members at Camp Ashraf must close their training ground and leave the country no later than six months.

Iraq has also drawn up a list of MKO members who must stand trial for the operations they carried out in the war-torn country. The organization is notorious for the help it extended to former dictator Saddam Hussein in the massacre of Iraqi Kurds.

"Remaining in Iraq is not an option for them," read the statement, which came amid stepped-up Iranian calls for Iraq to expel MKO members.

White House spokesman Benjamin Chang, however, claimed on the following day that Washington had received guarantees from Baghdad that the MKO members residing in Iraq would not be "forcibly transferred" from the country.

The guarantees were claimed by the US to have been provided by the interim Iraq-US security pact recently reached between the two countries.

The Iraqi official disputed the claims, indicating that no country has so far agreed to provide sanctuary to the terrorist organization.

The Mujahedin Khalq Organization, which identifies itself as a Marxist-Islamist guerilla army, was exiled from Iran in 1986 for its many acts of terrorism against Iranian civilians and officials.

Washington has declared the MKO as a terrorist organization but has used the group as a proxy-army to promote espionage activities in the region and to support its campaign against the Iranian nuclear program.

Former CIA agents revealed in 2006 that MKO members received widespread support from upper Washington echelons, such as former attorney general John Ashcroft, Vice President Dick Cheney and former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld.

The group masterminded a slew of assassinations and bombings inside Iran, one of which was the 1981 bombing of the offices of the Islamic Republic Party, in which more than 72 Iranian officials were killed, including then Judiciary chief Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti.

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