By Elise Labott
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to notify Congress on Friday that she plans to take Iranian exile group Mujahedin-e-Khalq, or MEK, off a State Department terror list, three senior Obama administration officials told CNN.
Notification will be followed by formal removal in coming days from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, which includes more than 50 groups like al Qaeda and Hezbollah. Clinton recently designated the Pakistani-based Haqqani network a foreign terrorist organization.
Such a listing attaches a certain stigma and allows the United States to legally go after financing and take other steps against individuals associated with these groups.
By Jill Dougherty
Two senior U.S. State Department officials warned Friday that the government of Iraq and an Iranian exile group that the Iraqi government is trying to remove from its refugee camp at a military base in Iraq are at a dangerous "impasse" and the issue must be resolved soon.
Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, coordinator for counterterrorism, told reporters in a conference call that the Iraqi government's "patience is running thin" over the refusal of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq to continue transferring to another location in Iraq.
The U.S. government has designated MEK as a terrorist group. It is committed to overthrowing the government of Iran but also has been implicated in a series of terrorist attacks, including the deaths of seven Americans in the 1970s.
Benjamin said it appears that the group has misunderstood a recent court order that requires U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, by October 1, to decide whether to remove the MEK from the terror list. The secretary has said several times that her decision would be guided, in part, by whether the group moves peacefully from Camp Ashraf to a holding facility near Baghdad as the Iraqi government is demanding.
By Jamie Crawford
The United States warned an Iranian dissident group that it may have "over-interpreted" recent events, and should not presume its removal from the U.S. terror list is guaranteed.
The Obama administration has told Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) an orderly departure from its base Camp Ashraf inside Iraq will be a central condition to any decision regarding the group's removal from the list.
From Camp Ashraf, the residents travel by convoy under United Nations and Iraqi government auspices to a former U.S. base in Iraq where they can be processed and eventually re-settled to countries in Europe and elsewhere.
Some 2,000 MEK members have left Camp Ashraf since the process began, but none have moved since May 5. Some 1,200 to 1,400 still remain at Camp Ashraf.
By Jamie Crawford
A federal appeals court has ordered Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make a prompt decision on whether to remove an Iranian dissident group from the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations.
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia gave Clinton four months from Friday to deny or grant Mujahedeen-e-Khalq's request for removal from the list, or the court would issue a so-called writ of mandamus and remove the group itself.
"We have been given no sufficient reason why the secretary, in the last 600 days, has not been able to make a decision which the Congress gave her only 180 days to make," the court said in its ruling. "If she fails to take action within that (four month) period, the petition for a writ of mandamus setting aside the (foreign terrorist organization) designation will be granted."
The State Department had argued for an open-ended decision-making process.
By Jamie Crawford
An Iranian dissident group on the U.S. government's list of terrorist organizations is showing signs of cooperation, but the United States has not decided whether to remove it from the list, a Department of Justice attorney told a federal appeals court panel Tuesday.
An attorney for Mujahedin-e Khalq urged a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to issue a writ of mandamus, essentially an order compelling the State Department to comply with a previous order, and to make a decision on delistment in a timely manner.
MEK is seeking the enforcement of a 2010 ruling by the same court ordering the State Department to review the group's status on the Foreign Terrorist Organization list. In its ruling, the District Court gave the State Department 180 days to review the request from MEK to be removed from the terror list.