Iran says Obama administration’s removal of group from US terror list shows ‘double standards’

Iran condemned on Saturday the Obama administration for taking an Iranian militant group formerly allied with Saddam Hussein off the U.S. terrorism list, saying it shows Washington’s “double standards.”

The Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), which began as a guerrilla movement fighting Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, helped overthrow the monarch in 1979 then quickly fell out with the Islamic Republic’s first leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. It fought in the 1980s alongside Saddam’s forces in the eight-year Iran-Iraq war but disarmed after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The State Department delisted the group on Friday, meaning that any assets the MEK has in the United States are unblocked and Americans can do business with the organization. On Saturday, at their Paris headquarters, MEK members gathered to celebrate, tossing flower petals and displaying photos of members killed in the past 15 years.

The group claims it is seeking regime change through peaceful means, aiming to replace Tehran’s clerical system with a secular government.

However, a senior State Department official suggested that removing MEK from the U.S. terrorist list does not translate into a shared common front against the Islamic Republic.

The MEK was removed from the European Union’s terrorist list in 2009.

US Moves to Redefine ‘Islam’ in Official Terms

The Obama administration’s recent move to drop references to Islamic radicalism is drawing fire from counterterrorism experts who warn the decision ignores the role religion can play in motivating terrorists. In the report, due to be released this week, counterterrorism experts from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy argue that the threat from radical Islamic extremists has to be defined in order to fight it, and that it can be done “without denigrating the Islamic religion in any way.” Obama administration officials have said that linking Islam to the terror threat feeds the enemy’s propaganda and may alienate moderate Muslims in the United States.