After removing an anti-Iranian terror group from their blacklist, European Union lawmakers are now urging President Barack Obama to follow suit.
More than 100 members of the European Parliament have tried to persuade the US president to lift an American ban on the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), AFP reported on Thursday.
The MKO, which identifies itself as a Marxist-Islamist guerilla army, was founded in Iran in the 1960s but was exiled some twenty years later for carrying out numerous acts of terrorism inside the country.
The group is especially notorious for the help it extended to former dictator Saddam Hussein during the war Iraq imposed on Iran (1980-1988) and helped him in the massacre of thousands of innocent Iraqis.
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 the then Judiciary chief Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti.
The report adds that the lawmakers feel the group’s removal from the US list of terror is necessary as it has “clearly demonstrated” its commitment to the West and its opposition to religious fundamentalism.
The organization, known as the “Rajavi cult” after its leader Masoud Rajavi, was placed on Washington’s list of banned organizations in 1997.
The European Union had also initially banned the group, but later gave in to the intense lobbying of Rajavi’s wife Maryam and removed it from the terrorist list in January.
Renowned journalist Elizabeth Rubin of the New York Times brands the group as a cult, operating like “any other military dictatorship.”
“No one can criticize Rajavi. And everyone must go through routine self-criticism sessions…If there’s a sign of resistance, you are considered not revolutionary enough, and you need more ideological training. Either people breakaway or succumb,” she wrote in 2003.
The group’s cult-like activities include psychological coercion techniques, physical abuse and ‘forced sterilization’ to prevent members from leaving the group.
The MKO is responsible for several acts of terror in Iran including the 1994 bombing of a revered Shia shrine in Mashhad in eastern Iran.
In 2003, French anti-terrorist police arrested 165 members in Paris, including Maryam Rajavi, for ‘associating with wrongdoers in relation with a terrorist undertaking.’
More recently, around 10 members of the notorious organization were arrested in France and Switzerland on charges of money laundering on September 29, 2008.