Iran Says U.S. Plot Suspect Belongs to MKO Exiles
Iran has affirmed to the U.N. chief that one of the suspects in an assassination plot on U.S. soil belongs to an Iranian exile group that is seeking to overthrow its Islamic regime, media reports said Saturday.
A police probe into one of the suspects, following an Interpol request, suggested the individual "is a member of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq Organization," the Tehran mission in the United Nations said in a letter to U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday, the official IRNA news agency reported.
The letter did not explicitly identify or give the whereabouts of the suspect, but was apparently referring to Gholam Shakuri.
However, it said the new revelation proves that "U.S. claims about the involvement of the Iranian government (in the alleged plot) do not border reality."
The United States alleges Shakuri is an Iranian official in the elite Quds unit, a shadowy special operations outfit in the Islamic republic’s Revolutionary Guards, and that he co-conspired with an Iranian-American car salesman, Manssor Arbabsiar, to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
While Arbabsiar is in U.S. custody, American officials say they believe Shakuri is in Iran, and they have called on Tehran to turn him over to face charges.
Tehran has vehemently denied any involvement in the alleged plot, and accused Washington of seeking to divert attention from domestic economic woes and foreign policy failures in the Middle East and attempting to fuel tensions between Iran and its neighbors.
The Mujahedeen-e Khalq Organization, also known as the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, is the main armed Iranian exile group that aims to overthrow Iran’s Islamic regime.
The United States and Iran consider the group to be a terrorist organization but it was removed from a list of 50 banned militant groups compiled by the European Union in January 2009.
On October 27, Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi confirmed an Interpol request concerning Gholam Shakuri, hinting the suspect was a member of the Mujahedeen group.
"There are 150 Gholam Shakuris (in Iran). Interpol sent us a question about this name, and our investigation showed a certain Gholam Shakuri who lives in the United States and is a member of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq Organization," Salehi was quoted in Iranian media as saying in Saudi Arabia.