Canada drops Iranian group from terror list

Canada's government said Thursday that it has removed an Iranian opposition group once allied with Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime from its official list of terrorist organizations.

The government's move to delist Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or MEK, follows similar moves by the United States and the European Union.

The MEK, a small, armed exile group, has said it wants to replace Tehran's clerical regime with a secular government through peaceful means.

The MEK, also known as the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, carried out a series of bombings and assassinations against Iran's clerical regime in the 1980s and fought alongside Saddam's forces in the Iran-Iraq war. But the group says it renounced violence in 2001.

The United States noted when delisting the Paris-based group in September that the MEK had not engaged in terrorism for more than a decade.

Any person or group on Canada's terrorist list may have their assets seized, and there are criminal penalties for assisting organizations that are on the list.

Critics of the MEK say it has cult-like characteristics and that delisting it would be seen even by moderate Iranians as an endorsement of terrorism.

Maryam Rajavi, the group's leader, welcomed the decision.

"The designation of the most anti-terrorist and anti-fundamentalist movement in the world only emboldened the real terrorists and the godfather of terrorism and fundamentalism, namely the dictatorship ruling Iran," she said in a statement.

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