The Washington Times – Embassy Row – By James Morrison
European lawmakers are warning President Obamathat his failure to remove an exiled Iranian opposition group from the U.S. terrorist blacklist gives the brutal Iranian regime an excuse to execute domestic dissidents and pursue nuclear weapons.
Last week, 210 members of the European Parliament and the national parliaments of Britain, France and Italy sent a letter to Mr. Obama appealing to him to lift the terrorist classification of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI).
“The designation of the PMOI serves as an impediment to our efforts in dealing with the Iranian regime’s growing threat to global peace and security. We urge you to end the designation,” they said in their letter.
The PMOI was the armed wing of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran. It maintained a military camp in Iraq under the protection of Saddam Hussein but surrendered to the U.S. Army in 2001 after the defeat of the Iraqi dictator.
President Clinton added the PMOI to the U.S. terrorist list in 1997 in an unsuccessful attempt to open relations with the Iranian regime. The Clinton administration claimed the PMOI killed Americans in the early 1970s and posed a terrorist threat to the United States.
The European lawmakers warned Mr. Obama that he is alienating a growing pro-democracy movement in Iran by continuing to keep the opposition group on the terrorist list.
“The designation provides justification for the Iranian regime to execute its opponents under the pretext of ‘Moharb’ [waging war against God] and ‘terrorist.’ … By maintaining the PMOI’s designation, the United States is alienating the pro-democracy Iranians who yearn for a democratic and nuclear-free Iran.
“We believe such a policy will further hamper our efforts to stop the Iranian regime from obtaining nuclear weapons.”
The lawmakers noted that a three-judge panel of the U.S. Appeals Court in Washington last month ruled that the State Department violated the organization’s due-process rights by refusing to allow it to examine documents used to keep the group on the blacklist. The court urged the State Department to review the decision made by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Her top counterterrorism official, Dell L. Dailey, had recommended the group be removed from the list.
The European officials also reminded Mr. Obama that the British Parliament in 2008 and the European Parliament in 2009 took the group off their own blacklists after concluding the PMOI was not a terrorism threat.