May 22, 2002

US says Iraq-based Iran opposition aids Iraq government
By Jonathan Wright WASHINGTON, May 22 (Reuters) - The Bush administration has alleged the Iraqi-based opposition to the Iranian government performs internal security functions for the Iraqi government, adding a new allegation against a group which the United States has called a foreign terrorist organization since 1997 . The opposition Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), also known as the People's Mujahideen, dismissed the allegation as Iranian government propaganda. A document obtained separately also appeared to challenge a U.S. claim that the group helped the Iraqi government against a Kurdish uprising after the Gulf War in 1991 . The allegations appear in the "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001" report released by the State Department this week and did not appear in the same report in previous years . "In 1991, it assisted the government of Iraq in suppressing the Shia and Kurdish uprisings in northern and southern Iraq. Since then, the MEK has continued to perform internal security services for the Government of Iraq," the 2001 report said . "In the 1980s the MEK's leaders were forced by Iranian security forces to flee to France. Since resettling in Iraq in 1987, the group has conducted internal security operations in support of the Government of Iraq," a separate passage said . A U.S. State Department official said the United States had suspicions in the past and had been able to confirm the facts in the course of the last year. "It's now in the realm of certitude," added the official, who asked not to be named . In a written response, the Mujahideen said: "The new allegation and lies are another gift and 'goodwill gesture' to the religious fascism ruling Iran ". "Astonishingly it has taken eleven years for those who are making these allegations to reach 'the realm of certitude' about the lies that the mullahs' regime has repeated a thousand times," the statement added . Reuters separately obtained a copy of a 1999 legal document signed by a senior official of a major Iraqi Kurdish group that said there was no evidence the Mujahideen took part in the Iraqi government's 1991 campaign against the Kurds . The document, which was part of a lawsuit in the Netherlands, was received on condition that the author and the original recipient remain anonymous. The Iraqi Kurds have regular contacts with the Iranian government . ("We) can confirm that the Mujahedin (sic) were not involved in suppressing the Kurdish people neither during the uprising nor in its aftermath. We have not come across any evidence to suggest that the

Mujahedin have exercised any hostility towards the people of Iraqi Kurdistan," it said . The State Department lists the Mujahideen as a "foreign terrorist organization" but, alone of such groups, it runs an office in Washington and enjoys widespread support among members of Congress hostile towards the Iranian government . The office has stayed open since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. The State Department and the Justice Department each say the other is responsible for any sanctions the authorities should take against the organization . The Mujahideen has a large and well-equipped military force on the Iraqi side of the Iranian border. It receives much of its money from the Iranian community in the United States . Members of Congress sympathetic to the Mujahideen were unavailable to comment on the new allegation, which would tend to discredit the organization in the eyes of many Americans . The Mujahideen challenged its designation as a "foreign terrorist organization" in the U.S. courts and won a partial victory last June when a federal appeals court ruled that the State Department should give such organizations a chance to answer the allegations against them . The Mujahideen statement said the organization would challenge the new allegations in the U.S. courts.