Monday, February 28, 2005

Mujahideen-e Khalq Collapsing - Members are taking the Iranian Amnesty

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: AP - Middle East: "Opposition group members back in Iran


TEHRAN, Iran -- About 100 former members of an Iranian opposition group who fled to Iraq returned home Monday, the largest number to do so since Iran offered an amnesty in 2003, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

The Mujahedeen Khalq, Iran's biggest armed opposition group, was founded in the late 1960s and moved to Iraq as a base for its activities against the Islamic regime of Iran in early 1980s.

The "repentant ex-members" of the Mujahedeen Khalq fled their camp in Iraq and appealed to the Red Cross for assistance in returning to Iran, Shahriar Haidari, governor of the Iran-Iraq border area of Qasr-e Shirin, told the news agency.

Haidari said 133 others have also applied to return and are expected next week.

Local officials, contacted by The Associated Press, refused to provide more details.

Iran offered the amnesty to members who had not been involved in armed attacks. The returnees will be debriefed and sent back to their families, IRNA said.

Some 4,000-5,000 members of the group have been disarmed since the U.S.-led coalition forces toppled Iraqi former president Saddam Hussein. Last December, 27 former group members returned to Iran.

The Mujahedeen Khalq is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. The group, which sided with Saddam in his 1980-88 war against Iran, is well armed and for years fought Iran's Islamic rulers from Iraq with the backing of Saddam's regime.

It was disarmed by U.S. forces in Iraq soon after major hostilities ended."