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Iran hails Iraq decision to expel armed opposition

Middle East Online

Iran's intelligence minister denies any link between handover of al-Qaeda fugitives and extradition of People's Mujahedden.

TEHRAN - Iran on Wednesday hailed a decision by Iraq's US-backed interim leaders to expel the Iranian armed opposition People's Mujahedeen, but denied suggestions of a secret deal involving the extradition of detained al-Qaeda members from the Islamic republic.

"The decision taken by the (Iraqi) Governing Council is very positive. We have been saying to the fighters not to be stubborn and to surrender, in which case we will show leniency," Intelligence Minister Ali Yunessi told reporters.

When asked if Iran could now hand over top members of al-Qaeda it says are in its custody, Yunessi said "there is no link".

"When it comes to terrorists, we do not do deals," added government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh.

"The judiciary will decide on what to do with them if they have not committed crimes against Iranians and if there are no Iranian complaints against them," he added, repeating statements that some detained al-Qaeda members here could be tried in Iranian courts.

Several Western diplomats have said Iran has been resisting handing over top-ranking al-Qaeda fugitives, complaining that the United States had failed to deal with the People's Mujahedeen after the invasion of Iraq.

"We have very good relations with the Governing Council, and we have had discussions (on the People's Mujahedeen) and this decision is the result," added Vice President Mohammed Ali Abtahi.

Iraq's interim Governing Council decided unanimously Tuesday to expel several thousand members of the People's Mujahedeen, branding the Iranian opposition force a "terrorist organisation".

The statement did not say where the people would be sent when they are expelled, but that its offices would be closed and its arms and financial resources confiscated.

The money would "be given to the compensation fund for victims of the former fascist regime" of Saddam Hussein.

The People's Mujahedeen, or Mujahedeen-e Khalq Organization (MKO) set up base in Iraq in 1986 and carried out regular cross-border raids in Iran, with which Iraq fought a bloody war between 1980 and 1988.

Several thousand Mujahedeen militiamen were disarmed by US forces following the fall of Baghdad in April and barred from undertaking military operations.

Around 4,000-5,000 people were grouped in Camp Ashraf, the main Mujahedeen base in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad, where they were screened for terror activities.

The US army announced in September that it had detained 3,856 members of the Mujahedeen.

The group kept out of the US-led war, although its bases were bombed by US warplanes. After lengthy negotiations, it struck a deal with the US-led coalition and withdrew to Camp Ashraf.
7 posted on 12/10/2003 4:01:35 AM PST by F14 Pilot
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To: All
Iran won't pay ransom for seized Western cyclists

Dec 10th, 2003

TEHRAN, Dec. 10 — Iran will not pay a ransom to drug-runners who have kidnapped three European cyclists in the rugged border region with Pakistan and Afghanistan, Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari said on Wednesday.

Iranian officials said the kidnappers demanded five million euros ($6.1 mln) for one Irishman and two Germans seized on December 2 near the city of Zahedan, capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province.
When asked whether Iran had any intention of paying Mousavi-Lari replied: ''Not at all.''
Deputy Interior Minister Aliasghar Ahmadi said recent drug seizures had left the traffickers strapped for cash.
''This is the price we pay for the war on drugs,'' he said.
Ahmadi said telephone calls from the kidnappers could have come from abroad, suggesting a cross-border gangster network.
Drug-runners use Iran's porous eastern borders to traffic opium and heroin along the transit route to Europe.
Security officials say firefights have killed 17 border guards and 28 smugglers on the border in the last eight months.
Although the Iranians refuse to pay, rumours abound that Germany has paid ransoms for release of its citizens, fuelling speculation that German tourists could be lucrative targets.
Western media have named the Irish cyclist as Aidan James Leahy, a mechanic in his 30s living in London.
Most European countries advise their citizens Iran is safe country for travel, but urge caution on the borders.
Iran's leading tourism official said there was no need for alarm.
''This could happen in any country. It is completely natural. The hostage-taking of three people on our border areas is not a sign of insecurity. We will nonetheless press for their release,'' Taha Abd-e Khodai told the Farhang-e Ashti newspaper.
Kidnapping is rare in Iran which is trying to promote tourism as a way of diversifying its oil-dependent economy.
Ten Europeans were kidnapped in three separate incidents in 1999. The hostages were freed unharmed and three of the kidnappers publicly hanged in 2001.
8 posted on 12/10/2003 4:03:50 AM PST by F14 Pilot
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To: F14 Pilot
Freedom ~ Now!
11 posted on 12/10/2003 8:07:11 AM PST by blackie
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To: F14 Pilot
Thanks for the ping!
21 posted on 12/10/2003 10:26:03 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: F14 Pilot
27 posted on 12/10/2003 3:23:50 PM PST by windchime
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To: F14 Pilot
Osama bin Laden is rumored to be in Iran.

Iran denies having any al Qaeda or any nuclear weapons program.

Neither denial is adequate.

Overthrow the regime and let the students rule.

31 posted on 12/10/2003 6:23:52 PM PST by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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