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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

French Police Raid Mujahedin

PARIS -- Masked and heavily armed French police raided the offices Tuesday of an Iranian opposition group accused of links to terrorism, rounding up 165 members and seizing $1.3 million in U.S. currency, the government said.

On the orders of France's leading anti-terrorism judge, some 1,300 police poured into the streets and blew down doors of offices of the People's Mujahedin of Iran in a vast sweep early Tuesday of sites north and west of Paris.

Police also seized large quantities of computer material and sophisticated transmission systems, an investigator said on condition of anonymity.

France Info radio reported that Maryam Rajavi, wife of Mujahedin leader Massoud Rajavi, was among the detained. A spokesman for the People's Mujahedin of Iran could not immediately confirm the report.

The offices raided Tuesday housed the political arm of the group, which was declared a terrorist organization by the European Union in May 2002. The United States also labels the group a terrorist organization.

The group, also known as Mujahedin Khalq, has an army in Iraq, the National Liberation Army of Iran, which has been fighting the Muslim clerical government in Tehran. In May, the army began turning in its weapons to U.S. forces under a surrender agreement.

The raids were carried out on the orders of anti-terrorism Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere for "criminal association aimed at preparing terrorism acts and for financing a terrorist enterprise," the Interior Ministry said. The sites of the People's Mujahedin of Iran in the Paris region "are considered organizational, logistical and operational bases of questionable financing," the ministry said.

The Mujahedin denounced the action. "The individuals arrested in the unjustifiable raids ... were all in France legally and had not conducted any illegal activity whatsoever," said a People's Mujahedin spokesman, Ali Safavi, speaking by telephone from London.

It was the first time since the EU named the group a terrorist organization that authorities detained members.

The money -- in $100 bills -- was found in a villa in Auvers-Sur-Oise, north of Paris, where the group was headquartered, police said. The sweep included buildings in Yvelines west of Paris. Of the 165 people rounded up, 158 were kept for questioning, police said.

The Mujahedin have been in France since 1979. Massoud Rajavi was expelled from France to Iraq in 1986. Rajavi then set up an army in Iraq.