WASHINGTON (JTA) – The State Department plans to comply with a court’s order to decide the status of a group that opposes the Iranian regime and that it lists as terrorist.
In an unsigned statement issued June 1, the spokesman’s office said that it "intends to comply" with a ruling earlier that day by the D.C. Circuit’s Court of Appeals ordering the State Department to decide within four months whether Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK, should be removed from its designated terrorist group list.
The court, which had first issued an order in 2010 demanding a decision within 180 days, expressed its frustration with the delay.
"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," it said, and ruled that if the department failed to decide within four months, the group would automatically be delisted.
A number of pro-Israel figures in recent years have joined the effort to delist the MEK, saying that it has reformed since its days under the shah when it targeted Americans.
They note also that the MEK base in Iraq has disarmed, per U.S. requests, and say delisting is vital now as the pro-Iranian Iraqi regime consolidates power and the thousands of residents of the MEK camp in Iraq are left defenseless, because removing the group from the terrorist list facilitates travel for its members.
Iraqi forces killed 34 camp residents in a raid last year.
The MEK is reportedly assisting Israel in exposing and sabotaging Iranian nuclear facilities.
Opponents of delisting say it serves no useful purpose, saying that MEK’s alignment with Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war has led to it being universally reviled, even among opponents of the theocracy.
They say that delisting would only needlessly provoke Iran during a period of sensitive negotiations over making its nuclear program more transparent.
MEK welcomed the judge’s decision. "The judgment once again demonstrated that maintaining the terrorist designation on the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) is absolutely illegitimate and unlawful, and is guided by ulterior political motives," it said in a statement.