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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

SLUG: 2-304422 France Iran Opposition (L-O)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:/b>

DATE=06/17/03

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=FRANCE/IRAN OPPOSITION (L-O)

NUMBER=2-304422

BYLINE= LISA BRYANT

DATELINE=PARIS

CONTENT=

INTRO: French police arrested more than 150 members of an Iranian opposition group, in early morning raids near Paris. Lisa Bryant reports from the French capital that the arrests are France's first against the group, since the European Union designated it a terrorist organization.

TEXT: The French Interior Ministry says more than 12-hundred security officers were used in the operation, which targeted the People's Mujahedeen of Iran. The raids simultaneously targeted 13 villas and other sites around Paris. The Ministry says police seized roughly one-point-three-million dollars in U-S currency, along with computer equipment and other material.

The French news agency reports that among those detained were the wife and brother of group's leader, Massoud Radjavi. The group has designated Mrs. Radjavi the future president of Iran.

The raid was ordered by French counter-terrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, against what he called, a criminal association aimed at preparing terrorism acts, and financing a terrorist enterprise. Last year, the European Union declared the People's Mujahedeen a terrorist organization.

The group describes itself as the political arm of the Iraq-based Mujahedeen Khalq movement, which aims to overthrow the clerical government in Iran. The State Department has designated the Mujahedeen Khalq a terrorist organization.

The People's Mujahedeen has offices in several western countries. Its leader, Mr. Radjavi, made Paris its headquarters following Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

Seven years later, France expelled Mr. Radjavi to Iraq. He set up a headquarters outside Baghdad, from which his group launched attacks against Iran.

Mr. Radjavi's whereabouts are apparently unknown, following the U-S led war in Iraq. One European official told the French news agency he may be somewhere in Europe. (SIGNED)

NEB/EBB/AWP/RAE



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