Influential Pentagon figures are arguing that the terrorist status accorded by the US to the armed Mujahideen e Khalq group
Influential Pentagon figures are arguing that the terrorist status accorded by the US to the armed Mujahideen e Khalq group (MEK) in 1997 should be removed, allowing the group - which has been based in Iraq - to play a similar role to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.
The proposals will be discussed by President George W. Bush and his cabinet when the President returns from the Middle East at the end of this week
The MEK, whose ideology blends Islamism and Marxism, has regularly mounted armed incursions into Iran against the regime and was previously funded by Saddam Hussein. Its camps within Iraq were bombed by the US military during the recent war until a ceasefire was agreed.
The MEK's military expertise and discipline has impressed the Pentagon, which has suggested it could be renamed and operate with clandestine American help.
Douglas Feith, the under-secretary for policy at the Defence Department, has said that since the MEK has not targeted Americans or American interests since the 1970s, it need not stay on the State Department's list of terrorist organisations.
However, the State Department feels it would appear hypocritical for the US to remove the MEK from the terrorist list on the grounds that the group could be useful to America's aims in the Middle East.
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