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Al-Qaeda forces in Iran, as prisoners, could become a bargaining chip in negotiations with the United States. Already, the
Al-Qaeda forces in Iran, as prisoners, could become a bargaining chip in negotiations with the United States. Already, the U.S. and French governments have cracked down on Iranian exiles who make up the Mujahedeen Khalq (MEK) and National Council of Resistance of Iran, two groups trying to overthrow Iran's regime. In August, Secretary of State Colin Powell ordered closed two Washington offices of the groups, eliciting rare praise from Iran. The groups had previously been allowed to operate despite their listing as terrorist groups by the United States and European Union. The groups accuse the United States and France of acting to appease Iran. But it is unclear what recent actions the U.S. government is taking toward MEK fighters in Iraq, who had been supported by Saddam Hussein. American warplanes bombed MEK sites during the Iraq war, and the group capitulated and agreed to disarm. But Iran may want the U.S. government to do more to group members in Iraq - such as turning them over to Iranian authorities - before it will negotiate over the al-Qaida operatives.

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