MKO Members Arrested in Europe

TEHRAN (FNA)- 10 members of the notorious Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) were arrested in France and Switzerland last week on charges of money laundering, judicial sources said.

Ten people close to the MKO were in police custody on Monday on both sides of the border.

Swiss and French officials jointly conducted the arrests on the request of Swiss judges examining the funding of the group.

The police swoop was coordinated between French and Swiss officials who were acting at the request of Swiss judges examining the funding of a group linked to the MKO, Reuters reported.

In June 2003, police arrested 167 people in the Paris suburb of Auvers-sur-Oise where the MKO is based. Of those arrested, 17 were placed under formal investigation, including Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the MKO’s political wing on suspicion of “associating with wrongdoers in relation with a terrorist undertaking”.

The MKO, whose main stronghold is in Iraq, 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.

Earlier this year the MKO called on the EU to remove it from its list of banned terrorist organizations after the British parliament upheld in June a court ruling that its inclusion on a list of banned groups in Britain was wrong.

But the EU said in July it was keeping the MKO on its blacklist, adding it saw no grounds for amending the listing of 48 groups subject to asset freezes and other sanctions in Europe.

A French source said then that Paris — a major player in diplomatic negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program and the current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency — came forward with grounds for the group to remain on the list.

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 the British court decision to remove the MKO from the country’s 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.

According to the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Britain has been provided with ample evidence of MKO involvement in terrorist operations against the Iranian nation.

“They have even met with some of the victims of the MKO terrorist acts. Still, the London Appeals Court has permitted a dangerous terrorist group to operate in Britain,” reads a letter by the Head of the Commission, Alaeddin Boroujerdi to his counterpart in the British parliament, Mike Gapes.

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.

MKO is also responsible for several acts of terror in Iran including the 1994 bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in Mashhad, eastern Iran.

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.

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