Washington backed Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult) terror group HQ in Paris denies involvement in Saudi assassination plot
... The defendant, Gholam Shakuri, identified by the Justice Department as an operative of the elite Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, is actually a “key member” of the Mujahedeen Khalq, Iran’s Mehr News Agency reported. Mr. Shakuri, who is at large, had last been seen in Washington and in Camp Ashraf, the group’s enclave in Iraq. “The person in question has been traveling to different countries under the names of Ali Shakuri/Gholam Shakuri/Gholam-Hussein Shakuri by using fake passports including forged Iranian passports,” American officials did not immediately comment ...
Rick Gladstone, New York Times, October 19 2011
Iran Says Saudi Plot Defendant Belongs to Exile Group
Iran injected a new twist on Tuesday into the week-old American accusation of an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, asserting that one of the defendants really belongs to an outlawed and exiled opposition group.
The defendant, Gholam Shakuri, identified by the Justice Department as an operative of the elite Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, is actually a “key member” of the Mujahedeen Khalq, Iran’s Mehr News Agency reported.
The agency did not explain the group’s possible motive but left the implication that the plot was a bogus scheme meant to frame and ostracize Iran.
It said Mr. Shakuri, who is at large, had last been seen in Washington and in Camp Ashraf, the group’s enclave in Iraq. “The person in question has been traveling to different countries under the names of Ali Shakuri/Gholam Shakuri/Gholam-Hussein Shakuri by using fake passports including forged Iranian passports,” Mehr said.
American officials did not immediately comment on the Mehr report. Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, reiterated the American view in a daily press briefing in Washington that “this was a serious breach of international law and that Iran needs to be held accountable.”
The opposition group itself dismissed the Mehr report as nonsense. Shahin Gobadi, a spokesman, said in an e-mailed response that “this is a well-known tactic that has been used by the mullahs in the past 30 years where they blame their crimes on their opposition for double gains.”
The group, also known as the National Council of Resistance of Iran, is regarded by Iran as a violent insurgent organization with a history of assassinations and sabotage aimed at overthrowing the Islamic government that took power in 1979. While the group claims to have renounced violence a decade ago, it is still classified as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department, but not by Britain or the European Union. It maintains a headquarters in Paris.
Mehr said it had learned what it called the new information about Mr. Shakuri from Interpol but was not more specific. Calls and e-mailed queries to Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France, were not immediately returned.
If Mr. Shakuri were in fact a member of the opposition group, it would be an embarrassing turn for the United States, which announced the suspected plot with some fanfare a week ago in a televised news conference by Attorney General Eric. H. Holder Jr., who said American investigators believed high officials in Iran’s government were responsible.
The Justice Department has accused Mr. Shakuri and Mansour J. Arbabsiar, a naturalized Iranian-American citizen from Corpus Christi, Tex., of conspiring to hire assassins from a Mexican drug gang for $1.5 million to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States.
American officials have acknowledged the suspected plot sounds hard to believe but asserted they have the evidence to back it up. Saudi Arabia, apparently accepting the accusation as fact, has accused Iran of a “dastardly” scheme, and other American allies say they regard the accusation seriously.
Britain has gone farther than others, announcing on Tuesday it had ordered British banks to impound any assets of the two defendants as well as three other Iranian officials in the Quds Force suspected of running the plot.
Since Mr. Holder’s news conference, Iran has sought to counter the accusation with a mix of verbal counterattacks, accusing the Obama administration of concocting the plot to divert attention from other problems, conspiring with Israel to malign Iran and driving a wedge into Iran’s relationship with Saudi Arabia.
Iran scholars in the United States have said the suspected plot, while sounding far-fetched and amateurish, is not implausible. Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, said it could reflect an attempt by Iran’s security forces to retaliate for what they view as American-hatched plots carried out within Iran.
“It is suggesting, if true, that they’re trying to meet pressure with pressure,” he said. “From their perspective, the United States is involved in Iran’s internal affairs.”