|U.S. closes offices, freezes assets of Iranian opposition group|
DUNPHY, Associated Press Writer
Fri Aug 15, 8:33 PM ET
WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Colin
Powell ordered the closure of two offices in the United States connected to
an Iranian opposition group, the State Department announced. He also ordered
their assets frozen.
The Washington-based representative of the group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, accused the Bush administration on Friday of giving in to demands of the Iranian government, part of President George W. Bush's "axis of evil."
Treasury Department spokesman Taylor Griffin said that nearly $100,000 in financial assets belonging to the group was found in the United States and was frozen. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control carried out Powell's blocking order.
The State Department has considered the Mujahedeen Khalq a terrorist organization since the Clinton administration. The U.S. government says the group, known as the MEK and People's Mujahedeen, is the same as National Council of Resistance, although some resistance officials say they are only close affiliates.
It has been allowed to operate in the United States, where it often holds press conferences near the White House to accuse Iran of making weapons of mass destruction and supporting terrorists.
State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Powell's action was "based on information from a variety of sources that these entities functioned as part of the MEK and have supported MEK's acts of terrorism."
But Alireza Jafarzadeh, the National Council of Resistance's U.S.-based representative, suggested the opposition was a pawn in negotiations with Iran. The U.S. government wants access to senior al-Qaida operatives who may be under house arrest in Iran, and it is seeking U.N. access to suspected Iranian nuclear sites.
"This appalling act by the State Department is clearly kowtowing to the demands of the terrorist religious theocracy ruling Iran and is giving in to the godfather of international terrorism," Jafarzadeh said. "It will convince Tehran's rulers that their policies of blackmail and terrorism is profitable."
He said his group's activities in the United States are limited to public advocacy. He said the resistance has provided the U.S. government and the public with detailed information on Iran's nuclear programs.
Jafarzadeh said individuals who support the group are being left alone by the U.S. government, and non-U.S. citizens are not being deported. Federal agents ordered Jafarzadeh's office at the National Press Building in Washington closed, and shut down a People's Mujahedeen office elsewhere in the capital.
The Mujahedeen Khalq seeks to topple Iran's ultra-religious government. It has fighters in neighboring Iraq that formerly received support from the government of Saddam Hussein. During the Iraq war, the U.S. military briefly bombed MEK camps until the group capitulated and agreed to disarm.
The group is also listed as a terrorist organization by the European Union. French police in July raided the European headquarters of the group outside Paris and arrested 150 people. Many were quickly freed.
Treasury on Friday also ordered U.S. banks to block any assets found in the United States under the name of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran, but it was not immediately known whether any assets under than name were found and frozen.
Rep. Bob Ney, a Republican, praised the Bush administration for calling "the MEK for what they are — terrorists — and there is no such thing as a good terrorist."
An Iran analyst, Joshua Muravchik of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said the National Council of Resistance has been considered "one and the same" as the MEK, but he wasn't sure the MEK should be considered a terrorist group.
He questioned whether there was new evidence of MEK terrorist activity. If not, he said, the closing of the offices was apparently "aimed at throwing a bouquet to Tehran."
Muravchik, who favors a tough line on Iran, said the closing probably means there is "some pull and tug going on in the (U.S.) bureaucracy and the people who want to try to woo the government of Iran — as opposed to those who want to take a tough line on it — got the upper hand for the moment."
Iran-Interlink draws your attention to the identity of Mr Alireza Jafarzadeh as revealed in the article below which was recently published on this site.
Misuse of democratic institutions
October 3 , Reuters filed this report from the United Nations,
reflecting Mr. Mohammad Mohaddessin's remarks.
"Mohammad Mohaddessin, director of
international relations for the People's Mujahideen of Iran, also accused
the Iranian government of trying to spread its influence to the Soviet Asian
republics to fill the void left by Communism's collapse.
This information was published at a time
when the Mojahedin's benefactor and host Saddam Hussein had already used
chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers in the eight year war with Iran
and against his own Kurdish population in Halabja. The timing of this
interview also closely follows the uprising of the Kurds and Shiites after
the Gulf war in February 1991. The help which the Mojahedin gave to Saddam
Hussein in violently and murderously suppressing these uprisings has been