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US problems in dispersing MKO terrorists from Iraq

11/20/04 London, Nov 20, IRNA - The US has encountered "complex logistical problems" in their attempts to disperse most members of Mojahedin-e Khalq (MKO) terrorist group held at their Camp Ashraf military base in Iraq, IRNA has learnt.

After being vetted by the US, most residents of Camp Ashraf are treated as protected persons under the Geneva Convention, some have unresolved claims to be Prisoners of War from the Iran/Iraq war, and a small number are the subject of US or international warrants.

"There are some who have international arrest warrants out for terrorism and are being treated differently, but the majority are essentially free to go," a British Foreign Office source said.

The diplomat told IRNA that the US in association with the Iraqi Interim Government had offered a "deal" to most of the MKO members that asked them to fulfill two conditions.

"One is that they must sign a statement renouncing terrorism and all its forms. The second, if acceptable, practical arrangements are in place for them to go onwards and that is the key problem," the source said.

The greatest difficulty for many was that practical onward arrangements must be in place and was said to involve "a lot of logistics being in the middle of Iraq."

"Many of these people do not have the necessary documentations for where they want to go " even if this is back to Iran," the diplomat said. "It is very messy," he said.

All of the some 3,800 residents at Camp Ashraf are understood to be Iranian but went to stay in Iraq to continue their terrorist activities against Iran after being expelled from numerous countries, especially in Europe, where many are believed to be asylum seekers.

"Some countries are fine and I believe some have decided to go and that it is " the end of the story. But that's just not the case for everybody," the Foreign Office source told IRNA.

The diplomat said there was "an ongoing discussion between all the relevant parties, which include the Iraqi authorities, the US, international agencies like UN, and even the International Red Cross, who are basically just trying to work out the best way forward."

With regard to Iran's position, amnesty has been offered to all those being held by the US at Camp Ashraf, except for 50 named members of the MKO, who are wanted for terrorist offenses.

Iran is believed to have only made this known at diplomatic meeting without making any formal request. "It is difficult to take forward with Iran. There is no formal extradition process," the Foreign Office source said.

The diplomat did not know if any of those subject to international arrest warrants for terrorism were made by Iranian authorities.

"I don't know if Iran has put through claims through Interpol. I don't see why not. It would make a lot of sense if they did, but as far as I am aware they haven't," he said.

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