WASHINGTON - The deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists are being carried out by a local dissident group that is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s Mossad, NBC News quoted US officials as saying.
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According to the report, published Thursday, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (or MEK) was designated as a terrorist group by Washington in 1997, accused of killing US servicemen and contractors in the 1970s and supporting the takeover of the American embassy in Tehran before breaking with the Iranian mullahs in 1980. The group moved also moved its headquarters to Iraq.
Iranian leaders have accused Israel of orchestrating a series of hits on nuclear scientists in the Islamic Republic, but until now the charges have not been confirmed by US officials.
The American officials told NBC that the Obama administration is aware of the assassination campaign but has no direct involvement. In January, a few days after the latest assassination, Secretary of State Hillary said, “I want to categorically deny any United States involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran."
Mohammad Javad Larijani, a senior aide to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted by the NBC News website as saying, “They (Israelis) are paying … the Mujahedin. Some of their (MEK) agents … (are) providing Israel with information. And they recruit and also manage logistical support.”
He claimed Mossad is training MEK members in Israel on the use of motorcycles and small bombs. In one case, Larijani said, Mossad agents built a replica of the home of an Iranian nuclear scientist so that the assassins could familiarize themselves with the layout prior to the attack.
According to the NBC News report, American politicians have been pushing the US government to protect the 3,400 MEK members and their families at Camp Ashraf in Iraq, about 35 miles north of Baghdad.
"With the departure of US troops, the MEK feared that Iraqi forces, with encouragement from Iran, would attack the camp, leading to a bloodbath. At the last minute, however, agreement was brokered with the United Nations that would permit the MEK members’ departure for resettlement in unspecified democratic countries. As of this week, there’s been little movement on the planned resettlement," the report stated.
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