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State Dept. reports weekend terrorist attack on Camp Hurriya, Iraq

Saddam Hussein, who supported MEK, had a hunting lodge at Camp Liberty, renamed Camp Hurriya. (Photo: U.S. Army)The State Dept. issued a formal announcement on Saturday, condemning the “vicious and senseless terrorist attack” at Camp Hurriya earlier that day. State said the attack killed 6 people and injured “dozens more.”

State said the government of Iraq would “promptly investigate the attack.”

Camp Hurriya was formerly Camp Liberty. Now the camp is used to house Iranian dissidents mostly belonging to a group called the People's Mujahedin of Iran.

The current government of Iraq customarily considered that group to be a terrorist group, moving the members from Camp Ashraf to the present location in 2012. The U.S. no longer designates the group as a terrorist group; former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton urged the change.

Supporters of the group believe Ashraf, where the group had actually stayed for more than two decades after being exiled in France in 1981, was safer than Camp Hurriya.

CNN reported:

The group was put on the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, which includes more than 50 groups like al Qaeda and Hezbollah, in 1997 because of the killing of six Americans in Iran in the 1970s and an attempted attack against the Iranian mission to the United Nations in 1992.

CNN also said the assault was a “rocket and mortar attack.”

State said:

We are consulting with the Government of Iraq and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) on the circumstances surrounding this tragedy, and we remain committed to assisting the Government of Iraq and UNAMI in their efforts to implement the December 25, 2011 agreement.

The People’s Mujahedin of Iran is the English name for the group traditionally called Mujahedeen-e-Khalq or MEK. The Council on Foreign Relations said Saddam Hussein supported the group with funds and arms:

The group publicly renounced terrorism in 2001 and has waged a sophisticated lobbying campaign in Washington to have its official status changed. The group was first designated as a terrorist organization by the Clinton administration. There is still controversy over delisting the group.

(Filed by Kay B. Day/Feb. 11, 2013)

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