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French Police Arrest Members of 'People's Mujahedeen of Iran' - 2003-06-17

French police arrested more than 150 members of an Iranian opposition group in early morning raids near Paris. The French Interior Ministry says more than 1,200 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 $1.3 million in U.S. currency, along with computer equipment and other material.

The AFP 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 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 AFP news agency he may be somewhere in Europe.