The fascinating story of the controversial life of Camp Ashraf in Iraq from
its foundation in 1986 to the present day is told in this book. Originally
created to accommodate the Iranian opposition group Mojahedin-e Khalq (aka
MEK, MKO, PMOI, Rajavi cult) and its leader Massoud Rajavi for coordinating
the violent overthrow of the regime in Iran, Camp Ashraf became the MEK’s
main military and ideological training base. The MEK later became known as
Saddam’s Private Army as it became an integral element in the Iraqi
dictator’s repressive apparatus.
But, even years after the fall of Saddam the MEK still has the support and
backing of many in the West and is therefore able to resist opening its
doors to the outside world. It is the hidden life inside Camp Ashraf which
renders it so controversial. The isolated garrison became the experimental
ground for Rajavi to turn his group into a dangerous, destructive mind
control cult. Rajavi keeps the rank and file in the camp in a state of
modern slavery to perform acts of terrorism and to fulfil propaganda roles
in Western countries for the group’s many masters.
Massoud Rajavi’s methods of enthralling his followers include banning
marriage and having children, instilling irrational phobic reactions to
external factors, denying any contact with the outside world through radio,
television, letters or telephones. In particular members must have no
contact with their families. This book exposes the hidden life of the camp
and its inhabitants. It speaks for the silent victims of the Rajavi cult and
for the families who wait outside the camp for news of their loved ones.
In conclusion, the book examines the ways to deal with the problem of how to
dismantle a dangerous destructive mind control cult and free its members as
various parties vie for control over the group for their own agendas.
1965 – 1986 THE
MEK AND IRAQ
1986 – 1991 THE
1988 – 1993 THE
1991 GULF WAR
1991 – 1997 THE
1997 – 2003 CAMP
ASHRAF PRISON – NO EXIT
2003 – 2007 THE
MEK PLACED ON LIFE SUPPORT
2007 – 2009 A
GROWING HUMANITARIAN CRISIS
CAMP ASHRAF -
PAST ITS ‘BEST BEFORE’ DATE
The controversial life of Camp Ashraf from its
foundation to the present day makes a fascinating story in itself. The camp
was created by Saddam Hussein in 1986 to accommodate the Iranian opposition
group Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and its leader Massoud Rajavi. Founded in 1965
the MEK first took up arms to try to oust the Shah. Two years after the 1979
Iranian revolution Rajavi tried to engineer a coup against Ayatollah
Khomeini. It failed and he fled to Paris in 1981. Rajavi then tried to
conduct his armed struggle against the new Islamic Republic from Paris but
when this failed he was given succour in Iraq where Camp Ashraf became the
MEK’s main military and ideological training base.
The close relationship between Saddam and
Rajavi led to the MEK being dubbed Saddam’s Private Army; Camp Ashraf played
an integral role in the survival of the Iraqi dictator after the First Gulf
war when Rajavi used his forces to help crush the Kurdish and Shiite
uprisings. In 2003 Camp Ashraf became an enemy target for the Multi National
Forces when Operation Iraq Freedom removed Saddam Hussein from power. Then
in a paradoxical move the US Government provided military protection for
Camp Ashraf for eight years while its inhabitants remained on the US
Camp Ashraf came under the control of the
democratically elected Government of Iraq in January 2009 (under the Status
of Forces Agreement). After that time it was inevitable that the camp would
close. Successive Iraqi governments since 2003 insisted that the Americans
close Camp Ashraf and expel the foreign terrorist group Mojahedin-e Khalq
from the country because of the group’s history of terrible crimes against
the people of Iraq.
In the course of twenty five years Camp Ashraf
has seen many changes. But the real story of course is not about the camp
but about the lives of the people who inhabited it; how they came to be
there and why they must now leave.
In its forty five year history, the MEK
organisation has undergone many public image changes; from guerrilla
fighters, resistance army, terrorist entity to feminist democratic
opposition. The man who has led the group through all these superficial
incarnations is Massoud Rajavi. And behind the glamorous advertisements of a
sophisticated and relentless propaganda machine, his single-minded pursuit
of power at any cost and his fundamental belief in the use of violence to
achieve this aim of power, has not changed one iota in all this time.
Rajavi was a charismatic speaker and skilled
psychological manipulator. He discovered in himself a talent for
totalitarian control which matched his narcissistic ambition for power.
Although he began to convert the Mojahedin-e Khalq organisation into a cult
while still in Paris, it was the acquisition of the isolated, closed world
of Camp Ashraf which provided the perfect crucible to extend his experiment.
In Camp Ashraf he has forced the MEK members along a most extraordinary
route of mental and physical anguish to meet his needs.
Over the years former members who escaped from
Camp Ashraf have told their stories to a world unwilling or unable to
listen. Thousands of them consistently and courageously described the
conditions of the internal revolutions and Rajavi’s bizarre requirements for
members to divorce and to remove all the children from the camp; to undergo
the daily humiliations of public self-confessions which enforce the celibacy
and gender apartheid; to suffer micro-management of their every waking
moment which imposed deliberately exhausting work schedules and disorienting
indoctrination sessions; to be deprived of any information from and contact
with the outside world and their families. Rajavi did all this to keep his
members from leaving. When this failed, he imprisoned them.
Camp Ashraf is now a double prison for the
residents. They are trapped by Rajavi’s psychological manipulations which
engender paralysing fear in everyone behind the barbed wire fences which he
has had erected to keep them physically inside. But they are trapped
ultimately by the misguided ignorance and misplaced sympathy of all those
external agencies which could take action to free them but don’t.
The life of Camp Ashraf has reached a critical
juncture. It must close. The residents must leave. But over and above
Massoud Rajavi’s refusal to leave, there are a host of third parties with
their own agendas which militate against closure. The main players are the
Americans and the Iranians who have developed their own narratives and myths
around the MEK in order to use it as a tool to aggravate and intensify their
thirty year enmity. Between the ‘bomb Iran, regime change’ pundits in
America and the ‘crackdown on foreign backed violent opposition’ proponents
in Iran, all the bases are covered.
It is these voices which dominate political
debates and media reporting on Camp Ashraf. But the political and security
issues are a decoy to avoid answering the fundamental question. After twenty
five years of testimony describing severe human rights abuses why do the
individual residents of Camp Ashraf still have no voice? Why do people
continue to escape the camp even in spite of the severe restrictions? At the
time of Saddam Hussein perhaps these questions could be ignored. But now?
The original inspiration to write the story of
Camp Ashraf came from witnessing the determination of the families of the
camp’s residents to rescue their loved ones. Since 2003 they braved bombs
and bullets to reach the gate of Camp Ashraf in the hope of finding their
relatives. They refused to give up, refused to take no for an answer. Even
when the MEK began to pelt missiles at them they refused to give up. Their
extraordinary love and courage needs to be voiced and this voice needs to
reach above the cacophony of the false hand wringing and political wailing
to those who are in a position to help.
But as the story unfolded it became obvious
that the really voiceless victims of Camp Ashraf are its residents. As the
stories of individual members emerged it was clear that many had died and
many more had suffered before their information could reach the public
domain. Currently around 3500 people continue trapped and held hostage to
the callous whims of the various pitiless powerful political forces who do
not care about their individual fates. This book must speak out on their
This book therefore is an attempt to tell
their story in the hope that this will halt the diversion of this issue to
everything else except this fundamental question – why are people risking
everything to run away from Camp Ashraf and the MEK and why is no one
listening to them?
* * *
is a campaigning and activist group. Its aims are to expose the MEK as a
destructive cult and to promote and protect the human rights of its victims
who are mainly based in Camp Ashraf in the Diyala province of Iraq. Further
information can be found at
Families at the camp –
acting as a humanitarian pressure group
Families as an
existential threat to the MEK
MEK denies medical
treatment to residents
and police activity at the camp
Events of April 8 2011
Aftermath of the April
A unique dimension
Finding a baseline
from which to move forward
Recommended steps for
progressing removal of the camp’s residents
representative Anne Singleton travelled to Iraq mid April at the invitation
of the Baghdad based human rights NGO Baladiyeh Foundation, officials of the
Government of Iraq and other NGOs involved in the Camp Ashraf problem. The
Baladiyeh Foundation, headed by Mrs Ahlam al-Maliki, provides humanitarian
assistance to a wide range of deprived sectors of Iraqi society arising
directly from the invasion and occupation of Iraq by allied forces in 2003.
Baladiyeh Foundation is concerned by the humanitarian crisis at Camp Ashraf
caused by the group’s leaders who are refusing to allow access to human
rights organisations to verify the wellbeing of all of the camp’s residents.
Anne Singleton, a leading
expert on the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) terrorist cult, was invited to speak
at al-Mostanserieh University in Baghdad on the problems of removing the
group from Iraq. She also participated in a one hour live discussion on Al-Masar
television presented by Dr Qeis al-Atwani on the topic ‘people want
Monafeqin Khalq terrorists out of Iraq’. (The term Monafeqin is a religious
term meaning hypocrites and is the preferred name among Muslims for the
Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq cult.)
Anne visited Camp Ashraf
shortly after the events of April 8 and had the opportunity to speak with
Iraqi military representatives and observers stationed at the camp
perimeter. She toured the outside of the camp to see where a third of the
land has been reclaimed.
When Iraq’s current
democratically elected parliament opened on 14 June 2010 it was known that
the Iraqi government would continue to work toward the removal of the MEK
from Iraq. It was known that the MEK would spill blood to resist this
outcome. It was therefore a game of wait and see until a bloody
Although the election
marked the beginning of a slow death for the MEK organisation in Iraq, eight
years since it was captured and disarmed, the MEK in its current situation
in Camp Ashraf is a spent force. The average age and both mental and
physical health of the residents as well as their social and educational
abilities indicate that it cannot function as a mass opposition force. Some
individuals of course will be found who remain loyal to the Rajavis and who
will continue to work for them in the future, but most of the residents are
in need of help rather than being able to help others.
By the time the
Government of Iraq (GOI) took charge of the camp in January 2009, the MEK
had become used to imposing its own will on the conditions related to its
survival and would not willingly relinquish an iota of this control. The MEK
had in effect maintained, after the fall of Saddam Hussein, a de facto
illegal territorial exclave run by non-Iraqis; a state within a state. Under
the Iraqi constitution it is impossible to allow such a foreign terrorist
group to remain in Iraq.
Since 2003 in particular
there has been a history of cynical political exploitation of the residents
of Camp Ashraf by multifarious elements. The people who reside in Camp
Ashraf are being treated as pawns by every party which has an interest in
the camp and the Mojahedin-e Khalq brand. Clearly, in order to be effective
in resolving the future of Camp Ashraf in a peaceful and humanitarian way,
it will be necessary to put aside the interests of these political players
and to look beyond the military and security aspect and to deal with the
residents of the camp as individuals. More than that, they must be dealt
with as the victims of a destructive cult.
The imperative which now
drives resolution of this issue is the legitimate demand of the Government
of Iraq that the MEK leave the country before the end of 2011. How this is
to be achieved is the essential difficulty. Putting aside the MEK’s victim
propaganda it is clear that in fact the MEK is the problem, not the
government of Iraq per se. So, the first question is how can all the parties
concerned work together to remove the MEK from Iraq as the Iraqi government
and indeed the Iraqi constitution requires?
As a helpful starting
point, Western governments and agencies could certainly support the
Government of Iraq position and provide positive practical interventions
rather than indulging in political sniping from the sidelines.
The Rule of Law
One important aspect of
the UNAMI mandate is that assistance was to be given to the new Iraqi
government to bring the whole country under the Rule of Law. In this
respect, the situation at Camp Ashraf should certainly have been a priority
since the MEK leaders are known worldwide not to obey any law except their
own. The minimum requirement that UNAMI should have demanded of the MEK from
the start of its mandate in Iraq was that the group obey Iraqi law.
To reinforce its position
the GOI recently began to release some of its intelligence information,
gathered over the previous seven years, on MEK involvement in insurgency
activity. Evidence was made available that Al Qaeda in Iraq had met with
MEK leaders and helped fund the MEK in exchange for logistical support for
Al Qaeda activities in Iraq. Evidence was also made available concerning MEK
attempts to influence the outcome of the elections of March 2010.
Families at the camp –
acting as a humanitarian pressure group
The two violent clashes
which took place between Iraqi security forces and MEK loyalists in July
2009 and April 2011, in which several MEK were killed, were assured
widespread attention in the West by intensive MEK lobbying. But since 2009
the most significant development at the camp has been the establishment of
the permanent presence of families of Camp Ashraf residents as a
humanitarian pressure group. In February 2010 a large group of families had
travelled from Iran to find their relatives. The MEK not only denied them
contact with their loved ones but attacked them as ‘agents of the Iranian
Intelligence Ministry sent to spy on them and destroy the camp’. The
families ignored these insults and continued to make their requests. The MEK
grouped at the gates of the camp to swear and throw stones at them. In
disbelief, the families travelled to Baghdad where they met Iraqi officials
responsible for Camp Ashraf and solicited their help. This was the first
time that Iraqi officials had been directly approached by families for help.
At this point some of the families went home as they had not planned to stay
for so long and their other commitments or health issues forced them to
return. But other families decided that they would stay and would not leave
until the situation had been resolved for them to meet their relatives. They
began to ask around what could be done. They questioned who was really in
charge of Camp Ashraf and why so little was being done to reach those
inside. A few Iraqi human rights organisations and personalities agreed to
help the families along with Sahar Family Foundation in Iraq. They called
themselves the Committee to Support the Families at Camp Ashraf.
The families returned to
Camp Ashraf and persuaded the Iraqi army to provide basic accommodation
(containers) and allow them to set up a permanent picket.
The families began by
approaching the camp gate and shouting messages for their loved ones. The
MEK leaders responded by staging angry demonstrations with members shouting
insults and swearing at the families. Rajavi thought they would give up and
go away after only a short time.
Instead, the MEK inside
the camp began to respond to the families, making surreptitious signals and
encouraging them to go on with their messages. The MEK leaders then emptied
the front of the camp where they were using several buildings, taking
residents further inside the camp to a distance where the voices of the
families could not be heard and they could not see one another. The families
began using hand-held loud-speakers. This tit for tat behaviour escalated as
the MEK began counter measures – banging bin-lids and metal cooking pots to
drown out the families’ voices. The MEK mounted audio equipment on the back
of a vehicle and stationed it in front of the families. They loudly
broadcast anthems and songs in an attempt to drown out the families’ voices.
The families in turn
brought their own loudspeakers and broadcast the sound of laughter of a two
year old child – something the MEK had not heard for many years. The
response of the MEK who were still in sight was astounding, they smiled and
nodded and again made surreptitious signals to encourage the continuation of
the families’ actions.
Both the families and the
MEK brought larger loud-speakers. The standoff escalated. By the end of the
autumn, the families had spread their protests to all the other gates of
Camp Ashraf on the perimeter and established their loud-speakers and banners
and pickets all around the camp. The MEK was forced to retreat into the
centre of the camp. In desperation the MEK installed American-made noise
parasite equipment to block the sound, broadcasting audio interference at
the families. The MEK were unaware at that time that reporters were present
and the exposure of this illegal action which has a detrimental health
effect forced them to quickly remove the equipment. (It has since been
reinstated.) But the evidence of American support for the MEK was clear for
all to see as reporters questioned how the MEK had taken receipt of such
equipment beyond the camp checkpoints and indeed who had supplied it.
Throughout 2010 and up to
the current time the families of residents in Camp Ashraf have played a
crucial role in determining the future of the camp. Their presence has
forced the MEK leadership to adopt more and more defensive positions, to
retreat further and further into the depths of the camp. Rajavi introduced a
special force to systematically patrol the perimeter fence and use catapults
and slingshots to aim metal missiles to deter anyone from approaching the
It is interesting
therefore to examine why this should be so and why these families present
such a problem for the cult.
Families as an
existential threat to the MEK
The fundamental question
is ‘what is the rationale which explains Rajavi’s refusal to allow the
residents of Camp Ashraf to have contact with their families?’ This is not a
recent phenomenon. It has been a cult rule for thirty years that all
contacts with families, including family relations inside the cult, are
strictly controlled by the cult. Only in cases where there has been
potential for financial gain, further recruitment of family members and/or
cooperation in MEK activities is anyone allowed to make contact with their
family wherever they are in the world. These contacts are ordered and
rehearsed and monitored to ensure that they keep to the purpose and do not
slip into any personal, emotional level.
Any family which does not
have any use for the cult is an enemy of the cult. The cult member is
indoctrinated to believe that their families are agents of the Iranian
regime and their aim is to prevent the member from pursuing their sacred and
ideological aim of struggle against the clerical dictatorship ruling Iran.
In this way, Rajavi inculcates an artificial phobic reaction of fear and
loathing in cult members against their own families. This means that any
encounter with a family member will trigger an automatic reaction in the
cult member to reject and hurt their family.
But this effect is only
partially effective and relies on both the constant reinforcement of the
phobic fear as well as preventing any actual meeting with or phone contact
or even written contact with the families. (This is why the cult members are
instructed to reject further family contact through the Red Cross Tracing
Service. The Red Cross ensure that they deliver the first contact directly
to the family member and do not allow the MEK leaders to deliver the contact
on their behalf because they know they would not reach the recipient.
However, the MEK instructs such recipients to inform the Red Cross to pass
the message to their family not to contact them again.)
The reason why Rajavi
tries so hard to prevent these contacts is that it is known that in cult
members generally (except perhaps in the case of persons born into cults)
the deep seated emotional ties to the person’s original family can, given a
very small opportunity, override the messages of the cult leader. In the
case of the MEK cult in which members are not allowed to form families
inside the cult, they live in a very black and white emotional landscape;
either love Rajavi or you are his enemy. But there exists in each member the
suppressed memory of former emotional relationships. These will, of course,
be triggered by contact (by letter, telephone or in person) with a family
member. Even contact with other people’s families can trigger this emotional
memory. A small and fleeting contact can override the indoctrination and
plunge the cult member into a spiral of confusion and doubt about their
exclusive relation to the leader.
As a result of this
contact many cult members simply ‘snap out of it’ and are then able to begin
the long and painful process of recovering from cult indoctrination. The
problem for members of the Rajavi cult who are resident in Camp Ashraf is
that they cannot physically leave. Otherwise they would be what is known in
cult jargon as a ‘walk out’; put simply a person who walks away from the
cult. The residents who have managed to escape the confines of Camp Ashraf
are in effect ‘walk outs’. The conditions of their escapes are significant.
Their escapes have been fraught with danger and difficulty. Firstly they
know there is no TIPF to take refuge in. They will be on their own and they
are aware that Camp Ashraf is far away from any place to get help and they
have no money or ID and are instantly identifiable as Iranian and from the
MEK. In addition, the MEK leaders have convinced them that the Iraqis will
kill them if they leave and hand themselves over. (The people inside Camp
Ashraf have had no uncensored news of the outside world for over two
decades. They have no idea of the real situation pertaining in Iraq.) But by
taking the steps to leave the physical confines of the camp they have also
left the cult. It usually does not take long once freed from the
psychological pressure imposed by the cult leaders until they regain their
critical thinking and their emotional responses.
Such escapees from
Rajavi’s cult report that the vast majority of residents in Camp Ashraf
would like to leave but have no way of getting out. They are not willing
members of Rajavi’s MEK nor are they indoctrinated members of his cult. They
It is the presence of the
families and these ‘walk outs’ which Rajavi fears more than anything else
because it signals the inevitable dissolution of his organisation. The
families of the residents inside Camp Ashraf are the true existential threat
to the MEK.
With this in mind it is
clear that the permanent presence of the families at the camp gates will
play a major role in the efforts to ensure that external agencies are able
to enter the camp and make serious efforts to relocate and rehabilitate the
MEK denies medical
treatment to residents
One of the issues over
which the MEK invented a false human rights crisis for Western consumption
after the Iraqis took over the camp was access to medical treatment.
As more and more members
succumbed to serious and life-threatening illnesses the MEK leader was faced
with a problem. If he allowed the member to be transferred to a suitable
Iraqi hospital for specialist treatment the member would be outside the
jurisdiction of the cult. Rajavi knows that members who are not subjected to
ongoing indoctrination, especially at a moment in their lives when they are
more vulnerable to ‘changing their minds’, will after even a short time
begin to question and doubt the path of their lives and that as this
critical thinking returns this will more than likely allow them to slip away
from the cult and regain their lives.
For this reason the MEK
insisted that any sick person must be accompanied by at least one other
loyal cult member. These minders were to be sent as a kind of mobile
As well as the security
concerns of allowing MEK outside the camp, the Iraqis knew full well why the
MEK wanted to send these minders and refused. They argued that there are
many Farsi speaking Iraqi medical staff working in Iraq’s hospitals who
would be available for translation in a medical environment. The MEK of
course lobbied Western parliaments on the grounds that the Iraqis were
refusing them medical treatment when in fact this was not the case. The MEK
were trying to dictate unreasonable terms. In this way they denied many Camp
Ashraf residents from accessing treatment. Several have died as a result who
could have been saved.
In March 2010, MEK
leaders had denied a delegation from the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights
access to the inhabitants of the camp. Surprisingly, given the unusually
inflated degree of interest in Camp Ashraf among members of the European
Parliament, other national European parliaments, and human rights bodies
like Amnesty International, this denial did give rise to protest or
parliamentary questions; concerns were not raised over what may be going on
inside the camp.
Over the autumn of 2010
the Iraqis were aware that three people had died as a result of not
receiving early medical attention because the MEK refused them access to
proper medical care. One more person was murdered by hanging (the MEK
explained this as a suicide in protest at the families coming to visit
them). After further enquiries, the campaign group Iran-Interlink was made
privy to information that the cult leader was now prepared to kill or force
the terminally sick people to commit suicide in order to put the blame on
the Iraqi authorities.
and police activity at the camp
peaceful demonstrations by Iraqis demanding the MEK’s removal from Iraq and
in support of the demand of the families to see their relatives took place
on a frequent basis. The MEK response was invariably to initiate violent
resistance – hurling rocks and other missiles at demonstrators - and to
attempt to incite a violent response in the external groups whoever they may
be. But while Iraqi media gave widespread coverage to these events, Western
media did not find it interesting or newsworthy that local Iraqi citizens
despise the MEK, nor that their peaceful demonstrations outside the camp
were met with violence by the MEK. It is unsurprising then that Western
politicians could be fooled into believing that the situation at the camp
was a simple case of the Iraqi authorities violating the human rights of the
In the autumn of 2010
Iraqi police received information about criminal activities taking place
inside Camp Ashraf. When the police arrived at the camp to investigate, the
MEK leaders refused to allow them access and started fighting with them
using batons and knives to prevent the security officers from discharging
their functions. At the same time some MEK loyalists were seen to be
deliberately injuring themselves only later to accuse the Iraqi police of
using heavy handed tactics.
Events of April 8 2011
Since January 2009 the
GOI had attempted, in vain, to bring the residents of Camp Ashraf in line
with Iraqi and international law. One of the issues which arose during this
period was that of land ownership. Camp Ashraf had been built on land
illegally confiscated by Saddam Hussein from local tribes and farmers on
which he built his own military base Khalis garrison. He later gifted the
camp to Massoud Rajavi, who renamed it Camp Ashraf, to use as a base for his
fighters. In addition, over the years the MEK also unlawfully expanded its
camp to occupy farmland to the north of the camp.
Since 2005 the Iraqi
Judiciary had worked hard to adjudicate on such land disputes all over the
country and in the case of the land occupied by Camp Ashraf, at least some
of the original owners were able to provide documentary proof that they were
the rightful owners. This made it imperative on the GOI to return this land
The GOI tasked the
military to take action to reclaim a 20 km square portion of this land (the
total land mass of Camp Ashraf was 51 km sq.). The area to be taken lay to
the north of the camp from where a road identified as Road 100 (the main
boulevard of the camp) runs east to west.
There were conflicting
reports as to what happened next. Iran-Interlink enquired of various
official and non-official sources, including non governmental observers at
the camp who witnessed the activities.
On April 3, the Fifth
Division in Diyala replaced the Ninth Division which had been protecting
Camp Ashraf. At the same time the MEK leaders were informed and served with
legal notices to say that the Iraqi military would shortly be reclaiming the
swathe of land situated to the north of Road 100 in order to restore it to
its rightful owners. Although the MEK appeared to agree to this at the time,
they immediately began a public relations campaign in the West to claim that
the Iraqi military had invaded Camp Ashraf. "The forces of Iraq's Fifth
Division invaded Camp Ashraf with columns of armoured vehicles, occupying
areas inside the camp, since midnight on Saturday," claimed an MEK public
Brigadier Tarek Azzawi,
chief of military operations at the camp explained to an AFP reporter, "It's
a replacement of forces, not a new deployment."
"The Fifth Division in
Diyala has replaced the Ninth Division that protects Ashraf, and we have not
advanced even one metre," he said. "There were no clashes," he added.
An MEK spokesman reported
that 40 to 50 uniformed US troops arrived at Camp Ashraf on April 2 and
departed on the afternoon of April 7.
Speaking several weeks
after the events, a US military spokesman, Colonel Barry Johnson said in an
interview with the Miami Herald that the American soldiers had been sent to
Camp Ashraf to “assist a new Iraqi army unit that was rotating into the area
to replace another unit. When they left April 7, "there were no major
concerns about the capability of the new Iraqi Army unit to assume the
mission,” he said”. The Colonel told the newspaper, “The US units were not
aware of any impending Iraqi operation at the camp.”
On April 8, having served
legal notice, Iraqi military personnel arrived at the camp with bulldozers
and other heavy vehicles in order to break through the barbed wire perimeter
fence which had been reinforced by the MEK. They would then break through
the three metre high earth banks - which the MEK had erected to prevent
escapes and to prevent anyone seeing into the camp. The MEK of course had
been forewarned of this operation and as such had been given the opportunity
to move whatever they had from the area into the remaining section of the
camp – a further thirty square kilometres.
As the Iraqis approached
the camp perimeter and began to dismantle it, two MEK came forward and set
themselves on fire in front of the Iraqi soldiers. Inside the camp, a crowd
had been assembled whose task was to shout slogans and make as much noise as
possible, taunting the Iraqis with insults and threats.
From behind the
earthworks MEK specially trained and organised forces erupted and began to
throw metal missiles and to catapult smaller ones at the soldiers as they
began their task of breaking down the fence. Other offensive weaponry
wielded by the unarmed MEK involved included clubs and knives. Molotov
cocktails were used to set fire to the Iraqi military buildings and vehicles
at the compound nearby. The MEK were wearing different coloured protective
headgear and were coordinated to operate in various locations using an
assortment of weapons. According to a former member who had recently escaped
the camp, this type of offensive ‘resistance’ activity had been planned and
practiced by the MEK for years in advance.
The MEK activity was
intended to prevent the military from doing their work. However, the
military had been ordered to complete this task and did not have orders to
retreat from the scene. One commander explained that they had given legal
notice of their intention several days previously which as far as they were
concerned had been accepted and they had not therefore anticipated this
reaction. An order was given to shoot at the legs of the protestors in order
to regain control of the scene. Several individuals were shot during this
activity. Some of the soldiers drove military diggers at the crowd to try to
disperse them. Several MEK were crushed under these vehicles. During this
incident tens of Iraqi soldiers were also injured, some seriously and had to
be evacuated from the scene.
At the end of the
operation, the Iraqi military had taken the land and driven the MEK back
into the remainder of the camp. Over the next two days, they established a
new fence along the perimeter just north of Road 100. The MEK moved
residents out of the buildings close to the new perimeter fence and
re-housed them out of sight and earshot of activities outside the camp.
Aftermath of the April
As usual because of the
absence of official third party observers on the ground during the event,
there has been little independent verification about what really happened at
the camp. In the following days, the United Nations announced that 34 MEK
died during the incident. The MEK verified this figure – subsequently
increased to 35. Investigators for the United Nations said that most of the
dead were shot, though an unspecified number were crushed to death when
Iraqi troops and armoured personnel carriers moved into the camp. According
to the ICRC representative in Baghdad, some of the injured MEK were taken to
hospital in Baquba. Six were arrested and taken to Khalis police station
where they were visited by the ICRC. The MEK, as before, produced their own
films of the event which were distributed and broadcast with no critical
qualification (for example, that this was the view of only one side of those
involved in the incident). Calls came from all quarters for an independent
enquiry. The GOI remained tight lipped about the event, preferring to launch
its own investigation before answering external enquiries.
One eyewitness – a former
member who was a bystander at the scene - said that only two people (a
brother and sister) from the higher ranks were injured. They were shot in
their legs, which appeared to be self-inflicted; that is, they deliberately
shot themselves. All the other victims among the dead and injured came from
the lower ranks. According to Iraqi officials some individuals were killed
by the MEK as they tried to run away from the camp during the violence. Some
were killed as they were forced to rush the Iraqi posts throwing petrol
bombs and pre-fabricated missiles.
The bodies of most of the
victims – the ones who did not die in hospital in Baquba - were kept inside
the camp by the MEK and neither their families nor any Iraqi agencies were
given access to them. Iraqi coroners were not able to carry out post mortem
examinations on the bodies to determine the actual cause of death. On April
10 the MEK invited an American team comprising civilian and military
personnel into the camp to perform forensic examinations on 28 of the
victims and interview some of the wounded. The Americans transferred some of
the injured to their facilities for medical treatment. The Iraqi authorities
were not involved in or consulted about any of these activities. This was a
private agreement between the MEK and the US military. (Unofficial observers
stationed at the camp perimeter report that the US military runs daily
helicopter sorties over the camp, and they believe make regular landings
inside the camp out of sight of the Iraqi military.)
A deplorable state of
affairs reigned over the fate of the dead as the MEK now prepared to play
their political games using the bodies as bargaining tools.
Since the MEK’s cemetery
now lay in the part of land which had been reclaimed by the Iraqis it was
assumed that the dead would be buried according to normal Muslim practice
within a short time inside the camp. Rajavi, the MEK leader, pronounced
through his interlocutors that the MEK would only bury the dead in their own
cemetery and only on condition that the land which had been seized be given
back to them and that the Iraqis did not conduct further investigations.
This was a demand the Iraqi government found impossible to even consider as
it would contravene its own laws. In any case, after a cursory search of the
reclaimed land, some unmarked graves had been found in the MEK cemetery
which needed investigation. As well as this, caches of arms and ammunition
had already been discovered in the cemetery and in other locations.
The Iraqi authorities
were petitioned by relatives of the dead, some of whom were among the
families who had been encamped outside the camp for the past fourteen
months. In response to appeals by these families for humanitarian
consideration, the Iraqis agreed to allow the MEK to bury the bodies in the
original MEK cemetery. But the issue of returning the land was not open to
In turn the MEK rejected
this concession because the Iraqi government had stipulated that fewer than
200 MEK members attend the burials. This is because both the government and
the MEK knew that the MEK was using this (having large numbers attend the
funerals) as an excuse to occupy the land and then refuse to leave. They
would thereby create yet another incident in which they could shed more
blood and divert attention from the real problem which is that they have
been holding hostage thousands of people without any contact with the
The MEK demanded that
their supporters in the European Parliament, Struan Stevenson and Alejo
Vidal Quadras as well as their supporters in the British House of Lords,
Lord Corbett and others, be brought to Iraq for the funerals. The idea was
that they would be taken inside the MEK controlled part of Camp Ashraf
without any Iraqi oversight and the funerals would take place as a publicity
stunt for the MEK.
The Iraqi authorities
again reiterated that the funerals could take place in the MEK cemetery with
no more than 200 MEK present. If any foreign visitor should attend they
would also be required to abide by Iraqi law which meant that they would not
be allowed to enter Camp Ashraf without an Iraqi security escort.
Typically the MEK and its
supporters in these Western parliaments depicted a false picture of the
crisis over the dead bodies. The MEK published photographs of elderly
Iranian women in Paris holding pictures of the dead people with the
headlines ‘Iraqi army bars burials’. None of the women in the pictures was a
relative of the dead people. It was a propaganda move. The message given was
that it was Iraqis who would not allow the funerals. This was simply not the
case. The MEK used the bodies as bargaining tools, issuing impossible
demands to drag the issue out as long as possible. They had no concern for
the real families of the victims or the rotting bodies in the camp. The
MEK’s aim was to maintain their image as victims of Iraqi cruelty. It was
also to detract attention from the allegations that at least some of the
dead were killed by the MEK themselves as had happened in the clashes in
July 2009. The standoff also detracted from demands by the families for
independent agencies to enter the camp and rescue their loved ones. More
than anything, MEK loyalists would parade the ordinary camp residents past
the bodies and use them as evidence to reinforce the cult message that the
Iraqis would kill them if they tried to leave.
Several of the families
of the victims lodged official complaints with the Iraqi Judiciary and
demanded the forcible return of their loved ones to them. As the next of
kin, they argued, they had priority rights over the bodies of their
relatives. To date no bodies have been returned to the next of kin.
(Interestingly, the MEK’s
advocates in Western parliaments have now moved on from the issues of the
lost land and the MEK’s refusal to bury the dead, and are again concerned
with the presence of the families at the camp perimeter.)
The Iraqi military
immediately began a process of critically examining its own response to this
violent incident in order to develop and implement any changes needed as a
result. No doubt the security agencies from any one of the European
countries which had recently experienced violent riots in their own capital
cities over the recent economic crisis would have been happy to share with
the Iraqis the findings and recommendations of their own enquiries had they
been consulted. Regarding the incident as extremely regrettable, the Iraqis
were however, confident of their ability to conduct their own enquiry.
With violence erupting in
various countries in the Middle East and North Africa, the events at Camp
Ashraf would not normally have elicited much interest in the West. But, the
MEK’s backers in Europe, wary of Iraq’s increasing economic and social ties
with Iran, took this opportunity to launch a political attack on the Iraqi
government. They inflated the importance of Camp Ashraf to the level of an
international crisis. Their tactics involved what amounted to political
bullying and their accusations were at times ludicrous (American circuit
speakers sat on MEK organised press conference panels and with straight
faces referred to the event as a “massacre” or even “genocide”). The result
was that various parties which found it in their own interests to condemn
the Iraqi government, including some human rights organisations, and others
who were simply too lazy to investigate the issue further, were vociferous
in their demands that the Iraqi army be investigated.
But, the issue was not
that simple or straightforward. The incident had not been one sided. More
sophisticated people, while condemning the killings, began to look more
deeply into the event and, taking into account the nature, the history and
the behaviour of the other party to this incident, came up with a different
view. Twelve members of the European Parliament from five political groups
addressed a letter to their colleagues pointing out that, “The group has
developed a very strong lobby in the European Parliament over the last
couple of years claiming to be the only serious Iranian opposition group”.
The letter continued:
“While the main responsibility for the
incident seems to be with the Iraqi security forces, they have so far only
acknowledged responsibility for the death of three inmates. We therefore
fully support the call of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay
for an independent investigation into the incident.
“This unacceptable blood shed should not,
however, distract us from an objective and level headed analysis of the
track record of the PMOI [MEK]. We urge all members to seriously consider
the history, actions and behaviour of the PMOI before signing any
declarations or letters of support in favour of this group in the future.
Their method is very simple: they mobilise MEPs justified outrage at the
nuclear issue, the human rights violations and the very character of the
Iranian regime, but instrumentalised [sic] such opinion for a different
purpose – the political legitimation [sic] of the Mujahedin organisation
“Surprisingly, the allegations of massive
human rights violations inside the Mujahedin organisation are never [the]
subject of debate. According to overwhelming evidence the former militant
group has turned into a repressive sect far removed from the respectable
image the representatives of this group display when visiting the European
Parliament. The human rights violations the leaders are committing against
the group’s members are amply documented, starting with Human Rights Watch (HRW)
and many witness reports of ex-members who were able to flee (including
testimonies in the European Parliament).”
The letter went some way
to viewing the incident objectively.
Right minded observers
acknowledged that this was an internal issue for the Government of Iraq to
deal with, and in any case, an investigation would need to look at the
conduct of the Iraqi military and riot police in a countrywide context
rather than being generalised from one isolated incident.
Above all it was
acknowledged that the role of the Iraqi military remained indispensable for
both protecting the individuals inside the camp from danger and preventing
the leaders from launching attacks on outsiders who need to enter the camp
to perform the various duties needed to deal with the camp’s residents. This
is a role which they took over from the Americans. They did not invent the
role nor did they change its character.
A unique dimension
The MEK control of Camp
Ashraf and over the lives of the residents being held hostage there does
not, however, present a normal situation. This is a unique situation with
its own dynamics and it will require a radically different approach to find
a peaceful and effective resolution to the problem.
The phenomenon which is
being dealt with here is that of a dangerous, destructive cult rather than a
political or military group. The basic problem from the start was that
neither the American army nor the Iraqi army was prepared in any sense to
deal with this type of group. In 2003 the US army was met by “leaders who
were fluent in English and who took pains to establish ties with the United
States by claiming – falsely, as it turned out – that a large portion of the
group had advanced degrees from American universities and family members
resident in the United States”. (RAND, August 2009) Because the army was not
informed about or able to deal with a violent cult, they were persuaded on
the ground by the deceptive and manipulative methods of the MEK leaders.
Instead of demanding the surrender of an enemy target, they entered without
authority into a cease-fire situation instead. Basically they were duped by
the MEK, which continued to call the shots right up to 2009.
In the same way, the
Iraqi army was unprepared and unqualified to deal with the cult inspired
behaviour of the MEK. In this case, the MEK knew they would never be able to
persuade the Iraqis to allow them to remain in Iraq. Instead of schmoozing
them, they maintained at best a hostile intransigence, and when it suited
them they did what they could to provoke a violent reaction. Faced with what
was suicidal violence, the Iraqi army did not have the knowledge or
experience to take the sophisticated decisions needed to control the group.
Experts in the MEK and in
cult behaviour are clear that it is not the role of the army or the police
to deal with this group. Lessons should be taken from the 1993 standoff at
the Waco ranch when police ignored the advice of cult experts and the
confrontation ended in the mass deaths of the ranch residents.
At this stage there are
two main impediments to moving forward on this issue.
One is the deliberate
smokescreen of obfuscation, lies and deception created by the MEK itself in
relation to the camp in order to distract from the central issue. This is
accompanied by complete intransigence in terms of accepting any alteration
to the situation of the residents of Camp Ashraf. From the time of Iran-Interlink’s
last report in August 2009 negotiations with the MEK leaders have yielded no
progress whatsoever. Clearly this is not a way forward.
The other difficulty is
that no external body has independent access to the interior of the camp to
either investigate or help in the camp. This is a vital point. The MEK will
currently only allow access into the camp to agencies – including its own
political supporters - which accept MEK oversight and control over whom they
meet and where they visit. This is not a tenable situation from which to
investigate allegations of human rights abuses and false imprisonment of
It is this second
difficulty which must become the focus for action. Only when investigative
missions are able to get inside the camp, and gain free access to all its
residents without interference by the MEK leaders, will the first impediment
be swept aside allowing all relevant agencies to deal with the facts on the
ground rather than grappling with propaganda and political pressure.
The problem is how to
break the deadlock with the MEK on one side refusing to even admit anyone
into the camp, and Iraq and external bodies on the other side trying to find
a peaceful and effective way to remove the residents of Camp Ashraf.
The key difficulty
attending any approach is that the MEK loyalists will continue to resist and
try to provoke violence in order to prevent any interference in the internal
affairs of the camp.
In this respect, one
particular issue which overrides all others (political, social,
humanitarian) in dealing with the MEK is what can be referred to as the fear
factor. This is what makes external agencies afraid to interfere in any
meaningful way. Put simply, the MEK has threatened the mass suicide of the
residents should anybody interfere in the internal affairs of the camp. This
is a real threat and cannot be treated lightly – European capitals witnessed
a handful of public MEK self-immolations in July 2003 which killed two and
permanently disabled and disfigured the others. But it is necessary to
assess how realistic this threat is and work out how to avoid such a
potential outcome. It is clear from the MEK reaction to Iraqi soldiers that
MEK loyalists are prepared to launch suicidal violence to repel such
interference. It is not clear however how many of the other residents might
be involved. An understanding of this fear factor and how it artificially
influences approaches to the MEK is integral to finding an effective
Finding a baseline
from which to move forward
While various external
bodies, prompted by MEK lobbying, have called for an independent
investigation into the events of April 8, this will not move the issue
forward or help the Iraqi government to deal with the problem – the hidden
agenda here is to focus blame on the Iraqi authorities and obfuscate on the
realities inside Camp Ashraf.
But there are facts
which, when taken into consideration, will form a baseline from which a plan
can be developed. Indeed, perhaps the most useful way to approach this
problem for everyone involved is to start with the desired outcome – the MEK
as a foreign terrorist group leave Iraq. From this point it is possible to
identify the steps needed to achieve this goal.
An initial approach would
be to first identify what exactly is meant by the Mojahedin-e Khalq
organisation as it exists at Camp Ashraf. For the GOI the MEK represents the
last remnants of the former Saddam regime which in addition to being
culpable for horrific crimes against the Iraqi people over twenty years, is
still being used to interfere in the internal affairs of the country. The
Iraqis have every reason to demand the removal of every last vestige of the
MEK from Iraq.
For Western observers
however, the issue is slightly more complex. Duplicitous and misleading MEK
lobbying in the West, in particular concerning the current existential
threat to the continuation of Camp Ashraf, has led to a completely false
view of the problem.
The fundamental error of
external bodies is that they have accepted at face value that the MEK as an
entity has a voice. It does not. That everyone in the camp speaks with the
same voice. They do not. And, that this MEK voice represents the interests
of all the residents of the camp. It does not. When American agencies
‘encourage’ the GOI to negotiate with the MEK over this issue they
completely miss the point – because it is a cult, negotiations with anyone
from the MEK will only ever represent the interests of one person, the cult
leader Massoud Rajavi.
In the recent violence of
April 8, 2011, eye witnesses have said that up to 200 members took part.
That is, 3200 members have not been directly involved. Does this mean that
Rajavi has been unable to coerce them into defending him? Is it the case
that 3200 people therefore are unwilling to support Rajavi? How many of the
residents of Camp Ashraf are willing and able to continue as members of a
terrorist group or as members of a mind control cult?
The honest answer is that
nobody really knows what is happening inside Camp Ashraf.
The only reliable
information we have are the testimonies of the handful of residents who have
recently escaped and who can tell us about current conditions in the camp.
Interestingly, aside from some new details, their stories tally in the
fundamental essentials with the testimonies of thousands of former MEK
members who have spoken out over the years to expose severe human rights
abuses and violations inside the organisation which affect every single
member, even at the highest leadership level.
The consistent theme of
all the testimonies given by those who have left the MEK is that the leader
does not represent their interests. The individuals remaining in the camp
are not there of their own free will and are subject to daily psychological
and physical coercion to force them to remain there.
As irksome as this may be
for the GOI therefore, it is not possible to advocate for the wholesale
removal of the MEK from Iraq as a group. They must not be treated as
possessions. This is called slavery and every concerned human rights group
should be alert to this situation and take an active role in preventing the
wholesale transfer of slaves to another location where they will remain
under the ownership or hegemony of one man, Massoud Rajavi.
Recommended steps for
progressing removal of the camp’s residents
The first step toward
resolving this issue is for all the agencies involved - UNAMI, UNHCR, and
others – to gain free and unfettered access to every resident of the camp.
This will allow them to conduct an investigation into the actual conditions
of their captivity and to ascertain any specific individual needs which they
may have, whether medical or otherwise. This may or may not be achieved
through negotiation with the MEK leaders as they are currently engaged.
Certainly, external agencies will need to be clear, concise and
uncompromising in their demand that the MEK leaders give full access to the
whole of the camp.
The proper framework for
such an investigation is to acknowledge that the MEK leaders will not be
truthful about the situation inside the camp and cannot be relied upon to
represent the interests of the residents. Above all it must be acknowledged
that the MEK leaders do not have authority over the residents except that
gained through fear and coercion and the leaders have not been elected or
appointed by the residents to represent them. Indeed, the MEK leaders have a
vested interest in hiding many of the aspects of the situation inside Camp
Ashraf including the lack of basic human rights, keeping people prisoner and
disallowing contact with the outside world.
In this context a leap of
faith is required to depart from all previous methods of confrontation and
containment. Untested an approach it may be, but it will be essential for
all the agencies involved to take the advice of cult experts, particularly
experts on the MEK. The MEK has an armoury of defensive tactics with which
to prevent such interference. The obvious one is to meet all attempts to
enter the camp with violent, suicidal resistance. But the MEK system is also
supremely manipulative as the American army discovered in 2003. Certainly
both MEK cult experts and recently escaped residents will be needed to
identify loyal cult leaders and activists. These experts will also be able
to identify and challenge the MEK’s manipulative techniques which would
otherwise be effective in deceiving less experienced agencies – no matter
how well meaning.
The agencies involved
must also take into account the experience and demands of the families of
current residents. It is these people who can speak on behalf of the
interests and needs of the 3400 individuals living there and not yield to
the false and distracting concepts of either protecting the ‘rights’ of an
artificial entity (the MEK) or submitting to the arbitrary dictates of its
Once external agencies
have been able to enter Camp Ashraf, the first major task will be to
separate loyal MEK leaders from the rest of the residents. Then it will be
possible to establish from among the remaining residents which are loyal to
the MEK leader Massoud Rajavi and separate these from the residents who want
to dissociate from the group. There will also be several people who are
subject to arrest because they are under investigation by the Iraqi
Judiciary for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Iraq.
Naturally at this stage
it is reasonable to ask, ‘once the individuals are separated into various
types and separated from one another – presumably in the same camp - what
then is to be done with them?’
The simple answer would
be that they must all be given access to full information about their
current situation which will enable them to make informed decisions about
their individual futures. That means facilitating contact with the outside
world through telephone, radio, television, print media and the internet.
should then be granted a reasonable period of time to recover from the
pressure of the leaders and the effects of indoctrination before being asked
to determine their next steps. After which a realistic and reasonable set of
alternative possibilities should be put before them. For those who
dissociate from the MEK these options might include: remaining at the camp
or in Iraq as a refugee; voluntary repatriation to Iran with the help of the
ICRC, Iraqi human rights ministry and Iranian embassy officials; transfer to
a third country as a political refugee.
But the cult experts will
suggest an additional dimension; perhaps more difficult to understand and
implement but ultimately the most effective way to rescue the victims of
this destructive cult. This dimension is to introduce into the cult
environment – the physical, mental and emotional environment of the cult
member – exactly those elements which the cult leader has taken extreme
pains to deny them. In the case of the MEK, in addition to access to
external information as mentioned above, the restoration of normal emotional
relations will have a profound effect on these individuals.
It is not by random
chance that Massoud Rajavi’s reaction has revealed that the greatest enemy
of the MEK cult is not the Iraqi army or the Iranian regime or even shifting
political fortunes and contingencies. As described above, the presence of
families of cult members immediately outside the perimeter fence presents
the greatest existential threat to the continuation of his control over the
residents. MEK cult members are forbidden to be in relationship with anybody
except Massoud Rajavi. They are forced through psychological coercion to
worship him – though the real emotion is fear of course. The experience of
countless former members has shown that when genuinely loving alternative
relationships are available to them – particularly the unconditional love of
a parent and other close family members - the cult victim very quickly snaps
out of their cult mentality and begins to regain his/her critical faculties
and the ability to begin the process of recovery and reintegration into
External agencies which
have a genuine concern for the individual residents of Camp Ashraf would be
advised to examine this advice and integrate it into any rescue package they
devise to resolve the crisis at the camp.
Anne Singleton addressing delegates at al-Mostanserieh
Baghdad April 2011
Report written and published by
PO Box 148
Leeds LS16 5YJ
Tel: +44 (0) 113 278 0503
has published a second report on Camp Ashraf, Iraq and the situation of
Mojahedin-e Khalq (aka MKO, MEK) cult members at the camp. After
consultation with the Government of Iraq, Massoud Khodabandeh has described
events since January 1, 2009.
According to the report, Iraq is determined to rid itself of the foreign
terrorist cult led by Massoud and Maryam Rajavi as soon as possible, but is
hampered by western intransigence over where these people should go.
The 3416 individuals inside Camp Ashraf have no legal status in Iraq. They
are not entitled to 'protected persons' status under the Fourth Geneva
Convention. Neither will they be granted political refugee status by Iraq.
Nor will Iraq forcibly repatriate them. But, although the MKO has been
de-proscribed, at its own behest, as a terrorist group in Europe, no western
country is willing to offer asylum to the individuals -- even though 1015
MKO members have a passport or residence permit of a third country.
After months of fruitless negotiations with MKO leaders -- with U.S.
observation -- a police post was established inside Camp Ashraf at the end
of July. In spite of violent resistance by the MKO which led to 11 deaths,
the camp residents are now subject to Iraqi law. Following evidence that MKO
leaders were committing widespread and systematic human rights abuses inside
the camp, the Iraqi Human Rights Ministry, in conjunction with international
humanitarian agencies, is now set to properly monitor activity at the camp.
Massoud Khodabandeh made several recommendations in his report. The
Government of Iraq should remove around seventy MKO leaders in order to
protect the rank and file members from human rights abuses and coercion. The
camp must be thoroughly searched -- something the U.S. Army failed to do
Stressing that western governments bear a responsibility toward the MKO's
victims trapped inside Camp Ashraf, Mr. Khodabandeh says that western
politicians must prevent further political abuse of MKO members by the
Rajavi leadership and guarantee the rights of those individuals who renounce
violence and are willing to return to society. European governments should
work with Iraq and the UN to find third countries to which other individuals
in Camp Ashraf can be transferred.
For more information contact: Anne
Singleton +44 (0) 113 278 0503
Second Baghdad Report
Government of Iraq Activity
Outline of Iraq’s demands in relation to the MKO
Government of Iraq dilemma
Government of Iraq tightens its control of Camp Ashraf
July 28 and 29
Government of Iraq plans
The role of Sahar Family Foundation, Baghdad
Reaction of the MKO leaders and advocates
Second Baghdad Report
In February 2008 Massoud Khodabandeh reported his findings following his
visit to Iraq as consultant to the Government of Iraq (GOI) on the issue of
the Mojahedin-e Khalq terrorist organisation (MKO) and its headquarters,
Camp Ashraf in Diyala province.
This second report is the result of a follow-up consultation on the issue of
Camp Ashraf since the Government of Iraq (GOI) took over responsibility for
the base in January 2009 pursuant to the status of forces agreement with the
Background information covering the period up to January 2009 when the GOI
took over responsibility for Camp Ashraf and the Mojahedin-e Khalq
organization can be found at the following link:
Camp Ashraf Countdown http://www.iran-interlink.org/?mod=view&id=4330
Background information covering the period from March 2003 to February 2009
when the U.S. Army was responsible for Camp Ashraf and the Mojahedin-e Khalq
organization can be found in the RAND Report: ‘The Mujahedin-e Khalq in
Iraq, A Policy Conundrum’ http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG871/
Since December 2003 successive Iraqi governments (from the first interim
government to the present elected government) have demanded that the
American Army close Camp Ashraf and remove the foreign terrorist Mojahedin-e
Khalq (MKO) militants which U.S. forces had corralled inside it from their
country. The current situation therefore is not the result of a new decision
by the Government of Iraq. It is based on the MKO’s historical enmity toward
the Iraqi people for two decades as part of the suppressive apparatus of
Saddam Hussein. The Government of Iraq regards the MKO as a foreign
terrorist entity with the additional characteristic that it is a dangerous,
destructive cult. Reasons why the U.S. Army failed to close Camp Ashraf are
detailed in the RAND report.
The following outlines the activities pursued by the GOI and the MKO before
July 28, 2009.
Government of Iraq Activity
After the American Army handed
over responsibility for Camp Ashraf on January 1st this year pursuant to the
status of forces agreement (SOFA), the Government of Iraq (GOI) put into
effect several lines of action toward removing the MKO and closing Camp
Ashraf as a fundamental aspect of taking full, sovereign control of the
A joint committee was formed between various governmental departments
including the Defence and Security Ministry, Interior Ministry and the Human
Rights Ministry. The Committee, headed by Iraq’s National Security Advisor,
Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie, drew up plans and coordinated activities on behalf
of the Government of Iraq led by Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and
President Jalal Talabani. Dr. al Rubaie developed a plan for the difficult
task of dismantling an extremist cult that adopts an enlightened,
humanitarian approach which could become a blueprint for tackling similar
Government officials held frequent negotiations with the MKO with the
observation of U.S. Army personnel. (It should be noted that since the
January 2009 handover a contingent of 25 American soldiers has remained at
Camp Ashraf in an observational role. To date, they have not raised
significant concerns regarding the activities by the Iraqi authorities in
pursuit of this sovereign right to dismantle and remove the MKO from the
country.) The U.S. has been involved at all times and at all levels,
including the US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker.
Outline of Iraq’s demands in relation to the MKO
From January 1, 2009 the GOI’s primary, basic demand was that the
individuals resident in Camp Ashraf obey Iraqi and international law. The
MKO, in any country they reside, regard themselves as ‘outside the law’ of
that country. The Iraqi Government challenged this situation and has been
completely open about the process.
There are 3,416 people in Camp Ashraf, all fingerprinted and eye-scanned.
The GOI required that all the residents at Camp Ashraf leave the country
within six months. The options made available to them as individuals are
They could voluntarily repatriate to Iran under the supervision of the ICRC
and the Iraqi human rights ministry. Since 2003 under an amnesty granted by
the Iranian government, over 250 individuals from Camp Ashraf have
successfully been voluntarily repatriated.
They could find a third country to relocate to. It is known that 1015 MKO
members have a passport or residence permit of a third country and can leave
Iraq for these countries.
If these options could not be fulfilled in a short timescale then the GOI
would remove the MKO from Camp Ashraf and re-locate them in the far west of
the country for their security.
The GOI made it clear that political refugee status will not be granted to
any member of the MKO in Iraq.
From December 2008, the GOI began negotiations with western diplomats in
Baghdad in an effort to find third countries to which the MKO individuals
could be transferred. Although these western governments were quick to
demand that Iraq should not force any of the MKO back to Iran, none were
willing to accept them in their own countries. When, on January 26 the MKO
was removed from the EU terrorism list, it seemed there was a fresh
opportunity to provide an exit route for MKO members. Unfortunately, Western
governments have not been cooperative in offering refuge to the individuals
who must leave Iraq for somewhere.
In response to GOI efforts to
negotiate a positive and peaceful outcome, the MKO leaders showed not only
absolute intransigence - they failed to make any concessions at all during
the six months of negotiations – but stalled the negotiations by repeating
their impossible demands of the Iraqi government.
The MKO leaders have, throughout, continued to claim, falsely, that they are
protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention, although there can be
no doubt that the Geneva Convention referred to has not applied since June
The MKO leaders demanded that the U.S. is obliged under the terms of the
Geneva Convention to continue to protect them. The MKO leaders demand that
they remain in the camp as a group, claiming, again falsely, that they have
the right to residence in the camp and in Iraq.
The MKO leaders have refused consistently to allow any Iraqi (or U.S.)
authorities inside the camp. On April 7 it was reported that the MKO leaders
refused to allow a group affiliated to the Iraqi ministry of human rights to
access the residents of Camp Ashraf.
The MKO leaders refuse to allow access to individual members for interview
or to allow anyone to leave voluntarily.
The MKO leaders continue to demand that the MKO be kept intact as a
military/terrorist organisation inside the camp.
Government of Iraq dilemma
Hampered by this
intransigence, the GOI was faced with a dilemma. The evidence points to a
situation in which the top leaders of the MKO, Massoud and Maryam Rajavi,
continue to preside over a situation inside Camp Ashraf in which the
individual members are subjected to a harsh and unremitting regime involving
daily violations of their basic human rights.
Dr. al Rubaie described the MKO as "an indoctrinated and tightly disciplined
organization of extremist zealots who have employed terrorism and at times
even self-immolation to secure their aims. In normal everyday language we
can say that they have been ‘brainwashed’".
It has been a fundamental aspect of the Iraqi approach to ending the MKO’s
presence in the country that, in the words of Dr. al Rubaie, "The Government
of Iraq does not deal with the MKO as an organization. We deal with the
residents as individuals."
Any implication that Iraq has made this assessment of the MKO in isolation
is wrong. An article in The Economist (April 8, 2009) stated: “the PMOI is
widely reviled by human-rights groups for nurturing a messianic cult of
personality around Mr Rajavi and his wife, Maryam, and for enforcing a
totalitarian discipline on its adherents. Several defectors testify, in the
words of one of them, to a “constant bombardment of indoctrination” and a
requirement to submit utterly and unquestioningly to the cause. No sources
of news are allowed without the PMOI’s [MKO’s] say-so.”
It is clear that in relation to human rights violations of the individuals
living inside Camp Ashraf, it is the MKO leaders who have proven to be the
perpetrators. The MKO leaders have also been actively obstructive, indeed
provocative, toward those wishing to investigate and alleviate this
Since January 1, several MKO members have escaped Camp Ashraf. Their
testimonies point to a deterioration in the human rights situation in the
Under observation by the ICRC and the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights, Dr. al
Rubaie has focused efforts to protect the individuals inside the camp
following allegations that human rights abuses are being perpetrated by MKO
leaders against the residents. To this end he has said, "We believe that if
we can separate individuals from the all-encompassing domination by their
leaders, we can allow them to begin to exercise their rights as individuals
and make appropriate choices. That is, we hope to remove them from the toxic
effects of their indoctrination and leaders."
In response to the many obstacles thrown up by the MKO to their removal from
Camp Ashraf, Dr. al Rubaie said, "The Iraqi Army unit posted to defend and
secure Camp Ashraf has exercised patience and extreme restraint in spite of
the staged provocations and demonstrations that Ashraf's self-appointed
leaders have launched in defiance of the legitimate exercise by the
Government of Iraq of its sovereignty." He added, "Ashraf is not above the
Government of Iraq tightens its control of Camp
The Iraqi government has given
guarantees that none of the captives will be forced to return to Iran
against their wishes. By March, in order to move forward on this issue and
establish a police post inside Camp Ashraf, Iraqi military and police
personnel increased their control over the camp by limiting the access and
the flow of people and goods. Only authorised personnel were allowed to
leave and enter the camp and all goods except food and medical supplies were
stopped, including building materials such as cement and metal. The MKO
leaders lobbied agencies and lawyers to claim that the Iraqis were blocking
food and medical supplies to the camp and had effectively laid siege to the
camp. Unfortunately none of these experts visited the camp and relied solely
on information supplied to them by the MKO when their statements were
issued. Iraqi officials were not interviewed by these advocates of the MKO.
On June 9, Al-Arabiya TV (Dubai) reported the following: "The Iranian
opposition group, Mojahedin-e Khalq, whose headquarters in Iraq are confined
to Camp Ashraf in Diyala Governorate, has reported that the Iraqi Police's
Rapid Response Forces tightened their embargo on the camp's occupants and
banned the entry of goods and people to it. The Iraqi Committee for the
Defence of Camp Ashraf had issued a statement denouncing the tightening of
the noose around the group by the Rapid Response Forces as well as threats
to the camp's occupants of murder and arrest, warning of a possible
The channel interviewed Staff Major General Abd-al-Karim Khalaf, chief of
operations at the Iraqi Interior Ministry, via telephone from Baghdad.
Asked if the government is planning to close down Camp Ashraf, Staff Major
General Khalaf says: "As an Interior Ministry, we are responsible for
certain matters relating to the camp, such as providing protection for the
camp and securing its outer perimeter; guaranteeing the entry of
humanitarian goods as stipulated by international agreements - a matter that
we handle in transparent fashion; and ensuring that the camp's residents do
not interact with security forces, and all three of these objectives are
He adds: "Some of the security units were replaced - the brothers dispatched
by the Interior Ministry left certain positions - and the Interior Ministry
is bound by the constitution to provide protection - and is capable of doing
so - but its work is hampered by these people [the Mojahedin-e Khalq], who
are escalating the situation with certain positions and statements and are
providing wrong and highly exaggerated accounts. Interior Ministry personnel
have not interacted with them at all, and no siege has been laid around the
camp. The camp has certain outlets through which some humanitarian goods and
basic necessities are allowed to pass, and they remain operational."
Commenting on the accusations made by the Committee for the Defence of Camp
Ashraf, the Major General maintained that "there has been no interaction
with the camp's residents, and the protection forces are stationed around
the camp's perimeter, so how can there be a tightening of the noose? How can
the noose be tightened when the camp has specific outlets and when more than
one party - not just the Interior Ministry - are overseeing the camp? One of
these outlets is located near a Multinational Forces position and these
forces can see what is happening."
Asked if "you have any political or military orders to close the camp in the
near future," Staff Major General Khalaf says: "No, not at all." He
reiterated the role of the Interior Ministry in securing the camp and
regulating the flow of goods into it.
July 28 and 29
After six months of fruitless
negotiation, the GOI decided on a course of action. In order to ensure that
the residents of Camp Ashraf were subject to Iraqi law and establish the
right to exercise control over protecting their human rights, it was
necessary to establish a police presence inside the camp to oversee
On July 28 the Iraqi Army undertook an operation to enter Camp Ashraf with
the intention of establishing a police post inside the camp’s perimeter. The
Iraqi Army assessed the target as a foreign terrorist group with cultic
behaviour which had consistently used violence in the past. It was
understood that the group had been disarmed by the U.S. Army and therefore,
in order to mitigate the risk of excessive force being used to take control
of the camp the Iraqi riot police used in the operation did not carry
The Iraqi Army called in riot police to deal with the violent resistance
that was put up by the camp’s residents. The operation took place over two
days. Eleven members of the MKO were killed and around 200 injured. Police
captain Firaz al-Atbi from the Diyala province police force reported that
about 60 members of Iraq's security forces were also injured, 20 seriously.
The MKO reaction was as violent as had been expected, perhaps more so. The
MKO’s own videos, which were broadcast uncritically in western media, show
MKO women commanders in military uniform directing the rank and file in
violent attacks on Iraqi personnel. Iraqi riot police are shown with rope
batons, harshly beating back the massed protestors. Iraqi police officers
reported that the MKO were being directed to throw themselves under the path
of moving vehicles and that many of the casualties and some of the MKO
deaths resulted from this type of activity. Police also reported MKO members
hitting their own heads on the tarmac to create superficial head injuries.
On August 1, following the approval of Iraq's government, a
medical team from the US-led Multinational Force-Iraq arrived at Camp Ashraf
to provide medical assistance to the injured MKO members.
By August 2, the Iraqi police had established a post inside
the perimeter of Camp Ashraf and renamed the camp as ‘Camp of New Iraq’
under the flag of Iraq. The Diyala province's Police Chief Major General
Abdulhussein al-Shimari issued a statement that "members of the Mojahedin-e
Khalq Organization (MKO) at Camp of New Iraq have to comply with the
one-month time limit to leave Iraq. The organization members should either
return to Iran or seek asylum in a third country”.
August 3, Abdul Nassir al-Mehdawi, governor of Diyala
province, which has jurisdiction over Ashraf, confirmed that 36 MKO members
had been arrested the day after the clashes. "Their cases are being
investigated now. They are being charged with inciting trouble," Mehdawi
said. "We will deal with them according to Iraqi law; we won't send them
back to Iran."
Also on August 3, a mass grave was discovered inside the
MKO camp. Diyala province police officials said that the mass graves
contained the bodies of Kuwaiti nationals who had fallen victim to the
Ba'ath regime's seven month-long invasion of Kuwait. “We have been informed
that a mass grave has been found in Camp Ashraf. Of course we knew there was
a graveyard in the MKO headquarters, but we had thought that it was a place
of burial for MKO members,” said Abdulhussein al-Shemri, a local police
commander. Independent confirmation of this report will expose MKO
complicity in Saddam Hussein's war on Kuwait, which killed more than 3,664
Iraqis and 1,000 Kuwaitis. MKO leaders are said to have kept the mass grave
a secret so far by refusing the entry of Iraqi (and previously U.S.) forces
into their base.
Following the operation to set up a police post inside Camp Ashraf, the MKO
launched a propaganda blitz in western media. This relied initially on the
uncritical dissemination of films shot by the MKO leaders from inside Camp
Ashraf which showed alleged Iraqi brutality toward the MKO ‘victims’. In
line with typical MKO propaganda tactics, they disseminated false reports
that up to two hundred MKO had been killed by Iraqi security forces.
The Iraqi security forces announced 11 deaths from among the MKO members.
These eleven were buried very quickly inside the camp by the MKO without any
ceremonies. Iraqi authorities were refused access to the bodies in order to
carry out post mortem examinations. This is contrary to the normal MKO
custom of holding elaborate military ceremonies headed by leading members to
bury their martyrs.
From information gathered from various sources it can be ascertained that of
the eleven dead two had been shot in the back. The Iraqi army and police are
clear that they did not fire any bullets during the operation. They believe
that the dead must have been shot by the MKO themselves. On July 29, General
Ray Odierno, commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq said that while
he had not been apprised of the decision to launch the raid, he could
confirm that the Iraqis used "non-lethal force."
The Iraqi police say that five of the dead were among those who deliberately
threw themselves under Iraqi vehicles during the operation to enter the
camp. There are also unconfirmed allegations that other victims bore
injuries consistent with falling from high buildings.
Iraq's Human Rights Minister, Ms Wijdan Michael, believes that at least some
of those killed are from among those people known to have problems with
remaining with the MKO. Among the dead was Mr. Mohammad Reza Bakhtiari. He
is known to have attempted to escape from the camp on two occasions. Both
times he was ‘arrested’ and prevented from escape by the MKO leaders.
During the entry to the camp tens of Iraqi police officers were injured by
MKO members throwing hand-made bombs, stones and other missiles. Two of them
received serious injuries and were hospitalised for some days.
The aim of the GOI was to establish a police station inside the camp. This
was negotiated with the MKO leaders over two weeks, but they refused to
cooperate. The Iraqi Government concluded that there was no other option but
to start moving in forcefully to fulfil its obligation to deal with the
terrorist cult. The GOI is clear about its mission and while it is necessary
to have a police station inside the camp, every effort has been made to
respect the human rights of the people inside. In fact according to the
Human Rights Ministry of Iraq, the police station is necessary to ensure
respect for the human rights of the residents.
Government of Iraq plans
Although a police post has
been established inside the camp, the Iraqi authorities have still not
gained access to every building. The MKO have erected physical barriers
around many of their buildings inside Camp Ashraf and are resisting
inspections by the police.
The police have reported that the MKO place the women in front and the men
in the back. They regard this as an attempt to present a ‘soft’ target in
order to manipulate police activity. The Iraqi police are aware that, in
line with Rajavi’s ideological directives the leaders of the violent
activities at Camp Ashraf are women military commanders.
Since the police post was established, the MKO leaders have organised a sit
down hunger strike among the rank and file. From observation of this
activity, the police believe that they eat and drink enough to keep them
going for several months. But the police are concerned that the leaders may
kill people and claim they have died in the hunger strike.
The police say there is no doubt that the MKO leaders have weapons in the
camp. They are also certain that there are other activities or entities
inside the camp that the MKO is very afraid of being exposed. The police are
adamant that they will evacuate the MKO from the camp and get to the bottom
of this. This is to be done shortly.
The Government of Iraq has good reason to be angry with the US embassy and
military which are in many ways actively supporting the MKO. One of the most
recent escapees from the camp has produced evidence that after he handed
himself over to the Iraqi police and asked them to remove him from the camp,
US army personnel intervened, arrested him and took him to some MKO leaders.
These MKO leaders tried to persuade and intimidate him to stay, but when he
refused they were forced to hand him back again to the Iraqi police, who
were finally able to take him to safety in Baghdad.
The role of Sahar Family Foundation, Baghdad
In 2008 the U.S. Army closed
its temporary internment and protection facility (TIPF) for MKO members who
asked to leave the group. This resulted in dispersal of those who rejected
MKO membership and had escaped from Camp Ashraf. After consultation with
Massoud Khodabandeh and Batoul Soltani (a former member of the MKO’s
Leadership Council who had also taken refuge at the TIPF), the GOI agreed to
the interim measure of creating Sahar Family Foundation, an NGO, with the
remit to provide temporary help to those who wished to escape Camp Ashraf.
Ms Soltani remained in Iraq as the director of Sahar Family Foundation and
successfully aided the former residents of the TIPF. Some were voluntarily
repatriated, a few remained in the Kurdish Regional Governorate where the
American Army had moved them, and the rest were brought to Europe to
establish claims as political refugees.
Sahar Family Foundation is now in consultation with the Human Rights
Minister in relation to the people in Camp Ashraf as well as those who have
already escaped since January 1. Sahar Family Foundation is expected to work
with the GOI to establish a separate camp for the people who request to
leave the MKO. Sahar Family Foundation is also expected to work with Nejat
NGO in Iran to bring the families of these people to the camp and will try
to find solutions for individuals. The Iraqi government will help in this
Reaction of the MKO leaders and advocates
The MKO’s western propaganda
system includes Lord Corbett's system in the UK, Raymond Tanter's system in
the U.S., Alejo Vidal-Quadras’s system in the EU and U.S. Congresswoman
Ros-Lehtinen ( http://ros-lehtinen.house.gov/). In Middle East circles it is
widely believed that Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen is the orchestrator on
behalf of AIPAC. She is also believed to be the person co-ordinating payment
to the MKO through various channels (including the Lord Corbett system). She
is originally from Cuba and it is believed that she uses the expertise of
anti-Cuba consultants and PR agencies in support of the MKO.
A major setback for the MKO propaganda system following the July 28/29 Iraqi
police operation has been that it took place just as parliaments were
closing for the summer vacation. This limited their ability to disseminate
misleading information in order to elicit support and indeed to garner any
parliamentary support. Undaunted, Rajavi’s propaganda system was successful
in having western broadcast media give uncritical airings to the MKO’s own
footage of the event as filmed from inside Camp Ashraf. The films as shown
only superficially described what had transpired at the camp.
However, the exaggerated figures of dead and injured did not rouse the
censure of western political figures. Instead, the US Administration in
particular emphasised that this was an internal matter for the Iraqi
Several hunger strikes were therefore established by the MKO leaders outside
U.S. embassies in western capitals. The problem they soon encountered is
that it took some weeks for parliaments and even media to return from their
summer vacations. The hunger strikes have now been continuing for over six
weeks and yet there have been no evidence that anyone is starving to death.
In response, Rajavi has ordered that the MKO members in Camp Ashraf, who are
far away from the critical observation of the western media, continue the
hunger strike to their deaths. While it is possible that this is another of
Rajavi’s propaganda tactics, it is also highly probable, based on past
behaviour, that they will kill one or two of the rank and file members to
put pressure on the Iraqi government and the U.S. Administration.
There are some in the Government of Iraq who believe the U.S. has a direct
interest in prolonging resistance to entering and searching Camp Ashraf. The
MKO camp has never been searched, even after U.S. forces disarmed the MKO in
2003 (see the RAND Report). There are serious questions about what might be
discovered if the Iraqi police are able to get in to investigate the whole
camp. Cognisant of this dilemma, the GOI is willing to discuss this aspect
of its activities on the understanding that the U.S. army accepts that the
removal of MKO personnel from the camp is inevitable.
The MKO has already begun to transfer its people and resources to Britain
and Sweden to prepare for the collapse of the camp. The MKO believes that
since France and Germany have good trade links with Iran they will not
tolerate them as much as Britain (due in main to the influence there of the
Jackson Society and AIPAC) and Sweden (due to the relaxed laws that they
The MKO is currently demanding
that U.S. Army or the U.N. take control of Camp Ashraf from the GOI.
Following publication of the RAND Report it should be the duty of the U.S.
Army to help and facilitate in any way possible the immediate closure of
Camp Ashraf and the removal of the MKO personnel from Iraq. The more help
given by the U.S. to achieve this, the more that amends will be made not
only to the Government of Iraq, but to the MKO members and their families
who have suffered needlessly for the past six years due to the failure of
the U.S. to deal properly with this terrorist cult.
The GOI estimates that the MKO will remove at least one thousand of its own
personnel and bring them to Europe – the preferred locations are the U.K.
and Sweden. About 1000 will return to Iran within a few months and the rest
will disappear during the first year.
The MKO will bring their activities to the EU (the financial, fraud and
counterfeit departments will be transferred to London). The UK or other
countries will not be in a position to prevent this.
The best outcome will be if the rank and file can be helped to integrate
into normal society. This means that they first have to be separated from
the cult leaders for some time.
In consultation with the GOI I have put forward the following steps.
The leading seventy MKO personnel should be detained and separated from the
rank and file cult members. This will allow them to be relieved of the
mental pressures imposed by MKO leaders. If this is done, the rank and file
can be detoxified and reintegrated back into society in a matter of a few
months. (Where possible, the U.S. Army should be kept out of this process,
but they should be given whatever they want to take out of Camp Ashraf
before starting the plan.)
The GOI should arrange for individual, private interviews and counselling to
all of the residents of the camp. The GOI should arrange for a thorough
search of the camp. It is already known that there are weapons inside the
camp in direct contravention of the ceasefire agreement. It is known that
there are people buried inside the camp that are unaccounted for, in
particular a mass grave allegedly containing Kuwaiti nationals has already
been found. It is known that the U.S. Army failed to search the camp in 2003
even though there were rumours of illegal activities and resources at the
Western governments and humanitarian agencies must cooperate fully with the
Iraqi authorities to help restore basic human rights to the people trapped
inside Camp Ashraf. Any activities or resolutions should reflect the
realities on the ground and give support to the humanitarian approach taken
by the Government of Iraq to resolve this difficult problem. Parliamentary
and/or humanitarian agency fact-finding missions should apply directly to
the GOI to visit Camp Ashraf to verify such facts as would influence their
activities and/or statements.
The focus of western politicians must be to prevent any further political
abuse of Mojahedin-e Khalq members in Camp Ashraf held captive by their
leaders, and guarantee the individual rights of those who renounce violence
and are willing to return to society.
Any concerns raised in western parliaments should, above all, reflect the
responsibility of western countries toward the victims of the Rajavi cult.
In particular, for individuals in Camp Ashraf with residency or asylum
rights in western countries, provision should be made for their rapid
transfer back to these countries. European governments also should work with
the UNHCR to find third countries to which other individuals in Camp Ashraf
can be transferred.
The GOI should facilitate the work of Sahar Family Foundation to open a
separate temporary camp as an alternative to Camp Ashraf to which people can
physically escape and not be forced to continue as members of a foreign
terrorist group in Iraq against their will. (Sahar Family Foundation has a
list of over 200 individuals who have expressed their desire to leave the
MKO but who have no alternative place to go until their final destination is
The MKO should be required to allow free and unfettered access to all of the
individual residents inside Camp Ashraf to the Iraqi authorities and to
official humanitarian investigative agencies.
The MKO should be required to allow free and unfettered access to the
immediate family members of all the individual residents inside Camp Ashraf
without supervision by MKO operatives.
Mojahedin leaders, Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, and other leading members who
have escaped the camp should be arrested and brought to justice through
international courts for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Report written and published by
PO Box 148
Leeds LS16 5YJ United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 113 278 0503
January through February, Iran-Interlink representative Massoud Khodabandeh
was invited by the Iraqi Government for a series of consultation meetings on
Camp Ashraf. His report has now been published.
Camp Ashraf is home to Forward Operating Base (FOB) Grizzly, but also
contains 3,400 foreign terrorist fighters from the Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq
Organisation (MKO or MEK) who were corralled and disarmed by US Special
Forces in 2003. The fighters have been under US military police protection
for five years and now the Iraqi Government wants them removed from the
MKO leader Massoud Rajavi has told his group to stay in Iraq at all costs
until they can be re-armed, but human rights organisations agree that Iraq
is extremely dangerous place for the Iranian group and that any who do not
wish to be voluntarily repatriated must be taken to third countries as
While in Baghdad, Massoud Khodabandeh met with officials from Iraq's
Ministries of Human Rights, Defence, National Security as well as
non-governmental agencies to formulate a two part solution. He reported
Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs position that 'both the MKO and PKK are
foreign terrorist organisations. They are especially harmful to the
relations between Iraq and its neighbouring countries at this point of time.
Iraq cannot accept nor afford further problems by accommodating
international terrorist organizations whether as a group or as individuals.'
An interim plan was immediately agreed by Iraq's Ministry of Human Rights to
permit the establishment of Sahar Family Foundation. Organised by former
members of the MKO and families of people still trapped in the camp, Sahar
now provides short-term rescue facilities for ex-MKO who are no longer being
protected by US forces in Iraq before they are taken to third countries.
SFF can be contacted directly in Iraq on Tel: +964 - 7808481650 (Arabic and
Farsi), and outside Iraq at Sahar, BM 2632, London WC1N 3XX, U.K., Tel: +44
- 2076935044 (English only).
In his conclusion to the report Mr Khodabandeh outlined a longer term plan
which will enable western governments to protect the human rights of the MKO
members by taking the whole group out of Iraq to safety.
In an interview with Alaraghieh television, Massoud Khodabandeh said he
fully endorsed "the right of the Iraqi people to enjoy security and have
justice served against the perpetrators of violent acts in their country…"
In January the Criminal Court of Baghdad issued additional arrest warrants
for three leading MKO members in Camp Ashraf. It is believed that the
handling of members of the foreign terrorist group which American soldiers
are protecting will be a test of US-Iraqi relations over the coming months.
The report can be obtained online at www.iran-interlink.org or hard copy
from [email protected]
Introduction – What is the problem with Camp Ashraf?
Why the MKO must leave Iraq
What is Camp Ashraf
What is happening at TIPF
TIPF to close in six months
Results of consultation in Iraq
Families of MKO members
Sahar Family Foundation statement
Introduction – What is the problem with Camp Ashraf?
The Mojahedin-e Khalq (MKO) came into existence in 1965 to conduct armed
opposition against the Shah of Iran. Among those killed during its first
armed campaign the group were 6 American contractors in Iran. Most of its
members were imprisoned during the 1970s. After the Shah was ousted in 1979,
the MKO prisoners were released and after initially supporting the
revolution for two years, then began to challenge Ayatollah Khomeini for
more power. This led to exile first in France and subsequently in Iraq.
Saddam Hussein gave financial, military and logistical support to the group
and used it during his war with Iran and then to suppress Kurdish and Shiite
uprisings in March 1991, thereby guaranteeing his grip on power.
First welcomed in the early 1980s by western governments for its opposition
to the revolutionary government of Iran, the MKO's violent and mercenary
behaviour, which led to thousands of civilian deaths in Iran during its
terrorist campaigns, led to its proscription as a terrorist entity.
Following a report commissioned by the US State Department in 1994 the group
was added to the US terror list in 1997. The UK proscribed the group in
2000, the EU in 2002, and Canada in 2005. In May 2005 Human Rights Watch
published a report titled ‘No Exit’ detailing human rights abuses carried
out by the organization against its own members. The incarceration of
dissenters in Abu Ghraib prison was made possible by the full integration of
the MKO in Saddam Hussein’s security apparatus; well before 1991 the MKO had
become Saddam’s private army.
In anticipation of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Massoud Rajavi told MKO
combatants they would launch an all-out attack on Iran. An operation
announced as ‘the black phase’. Instead, he escaped into hiding and in April
2003 agreed a ceasefire with US Special Forces. By June, Rajavi submitted to
the US demand that his fighters completely disarm. All MKO members in Iraq
were corralled into Camp Ashraf and have remained there since that time as
prisoners under the protection of US military police aided by a Bulgarian
The MKO remain at risk of revenge attacks by Iraqis. In spite of this
threat, Massoud Rajavi has insisted that the active MKO members remain in
uniform in Camp Ashraf and has resisted all humanitarian efforts to help
them move or even to have members with residence rights in western countries
brought to safety. Rajavi’s perverse insistence that the MKO be treated only
as a whole entity and not as individuals and the fact that, ostensibly, the
group presented no trouble, discouraged the American army from disturbing
the status quo. American soldiers continue to protect a group which its own
State Department has proscribed as a foreign terrorist entity, but which
some in the west regard as a possible bargaining chip against Iran.
Currently, according to US figures, there are around 3,360 active MKO
members remaining at Camp Ashraf in Iraq's Diyali province. There are now
109 people in the Temporary International Protection Facility (TIPF)
adjacent to Camp Ashraf who have left the MKO and are seeking refugee status
and removal to third countries. Over 100 were turned out of TIPF in December
2007 and have met with an uncertain situation described later in this
report. The US-led MNF also says 380 former MKO have accepted voluntary
repatriation and have been helped by the ICRC and Iraqi Ministry of Human
Rights to return to their families in Iran.
Now however, after five years, the Iraqi Government is insistent that the
MKO be removed in totality from Iraqi territory. In spite of claims by the
MKO in western circles that it has renounced violence, Iraq's Ministry of
Defence says there is no doubt the group is involved in ongoing violence in
the country. A solution to deal with the group has become more urgent.
The legal status of the MKO combatants in Camp Ashraf is somewhat unclear.
In 2004 the American army granted the MKO 'protected persons' status under
the Fourth Geneva Convention.
According to a report by Robert Karniol, Defence Writer of the Straits
Times, on February 4, the UN Fourth Convention Article 133 states that
"'internment shall cease as soon as possible after the close of
"The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) maintains that the Iraq
war ended with the transfer of sovereignty to the country's interim
government in June 2004, with the fighting since then characterised as 'an
internal conflict internationalised by the presence of multilateral
"'Neither the active MEK members nor the former MEK refugees are being
detained,' said Major Danielson [MNF spokesman]. 'The Ashraf refugee camp
refugees have every right to depart and travel in Iraq using an Iraqi-issued
laissez-passer. They can also repatriate to Iran if they desire, or they may
stay in the camp."
However, it is not only Massoud Rajavi's insistence that his combatants wait
in Camp Ashraf to be re-armed which blocks moves to deal with them. Since
every major western country has proscribed the MKO as a terrorist group, it
is virtually impossible to find a safe haven for the group outside Iraq.
The Straits Times report continues, "'They are definitely in a legal limbo.
No one wants them,' said Mr Said Boumedouha, a researcher at Amnesty
International in London."
"The US State Department's 2007 report said the MKO maintains "the capacity
and will to commit terrorist acts in Europe, the Middle East, the United
States, Canada and beyond."
"The report notes the MKO's "cult-like characteristics," such that "new
members are indoctrinated in MEK ideology and revisionist Iranian history
[and] required to ... participate in weekly 'ideological cleansings.'
"Children are separated from their parents, it adds, and Mrs. Rajavi "has
established a 'cult of personality.'."
"According to Said Boumedouha of Amnesty International, 'Our position is
that they shouldn't be returned to Iran due to the fear of torture and the
death penalty. And they shouldn't be handed over to Iraq for the same
reason. Their immediate future looks bleak.'"
However, events in Iraq are unfolding which make it imperative for western
countries to address this issue.
Why the MKO must leave
In December 2007 unconfirmed reports arose indicating uncertainty over
the future of Camp Ashraf. It is understood that the original owner on whose
land the camp is sited, who fled Iraq under Saddam Hussein, has returned to
Iraq with title deeds and has now achieved a court order demanding that his
land, part of which was illegally gifted to the MKO by the former Iraqi
dictator to build their military base, be evacuated and returned to him in
Although this has not been confirmed, subsequent events appear to verify
this news. In December US military police began removing people from the
Temporary International Protection Facility. Visitors to the camp were also
told by military police that the TIPF would be closing in six months' time.
In January 2008 officials of the Iraqi Government invited Massoud
Khodabandeh of Iran-Interlink to a series of meetings in Baghdad where the
issue of how to deal with foreign terrorist groups in Iraq was being
addressed by various agencies.
As a result of these meetings Mr Khodabandeh has reported that the Iraqi
Government is united and determined in its demand that the MKO be removed in
its entirety from Iraqi territory. In this respect, no differentiation is
made between active or former members of the group. The Iraqi Government
regards the MKO as a terrorist entity which is still attached to the
Ba'athist remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime. Requests to the Americans
since 2004 to remove the group have not produced any result. The government
is now taking the matter into its own hands and will deal with the group on
its own terms.
Major Danielson has said that 'they [the MKO] are not charged with criminal
offences', however this situation has now changed. The Iraqi Government has
passed the case of the MKO to the Judiciary which is pursuing legal action
against the whole group. Three separate judges have already issued arrest
warrants against three leading members in Camp Ashraf. As the sovereign
government of the country it is expected that American forces will comply
with its legal rulings in relation to the MKO.
Mr Khodabandeh said, 'In each of the meetings I attended, I put to the
Iraqis a proposal which I believe is the only realistic and humanitarian way
forward for the people trapped in Camp Ashraf, and this was universally
welcomed. It is time now for all security and humanitarian agencies in Iraq
to stop prevaricating, to work together and to adopt a realistic plan in
order to act on this situation and resolve it to the advantage of all
This report seeks to describe the situation and offer what can be the only
possible workable solution which will assure a safe and secure future for
the people in Camp Ashraf.
What is Camp Ashraf
Camp Ashraf is situated northeast of the Iraqi town of Khalis in Diyali
province, 60 kilometers north of Baghdad and about 20 kilometers west of the
border with Iran.
Along with at least six other sites in Iraq, Camp Ashraf was given to the
MKO as a headquarters and training site by Saddam Hussein. From this base,
the Iraqi military equipped the MKO with tanks, artillery and armored
personnel carriers. Since 1983, the group has conducted operations against
Iran during the Iran-Iraq War and later conducted operations against Iraqi
Kurds during the 1991 uprising against Saddam. Before 2003 it was the base
from which terrorist operations against Iran and inside Iraq have been
planned and directed.
Named after Ashraf Rabiee a leading political prisoner under the Shah, the
camp's vital function since 1986 has been as the main ideological training
base for both members and supporters of the Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq
Organisation (MKO). The base is still used for the MKO's military and
Following the March 2003 invasion of Iraq the base came under bombardment by
American forces. After some initial resistance, with fifty fatalities on the
MKO side, all MKO personnel were rounded up and corralled in Camp Ashraf.
Over 3800 members were recorded. The MKO leader, Massoud Rajavi fled and
went into hiding as American Special Forces attacked. He now issues his
directives to the MKO members in Iraq and in western countries from a secret
hideaway. In the months leading up to the invasion, a few hundred MKO
members had been hastily transferred to Europe where they remain today.
Among them was Massoud Rajavi's lieutenant, Maryam Rajavi, who was arrested
in France in June 2003 and is awaiting trial on terrorism related charges.
Maryam Rajavi provides the MKO's acceptable western front. She heads
Rajavi's deception campaigns in western political and media circles.
At present, within the boundaries of Camp Ashraf is Forward Operating Base
Grizzly (formerly FOB Spartan, FOB Red Lion and FOB Barbarian). The FOB is
where the Coalition forces reside. The Bulgarian Army is currently running
the Temporary International Presence Facility, where refugees who defect
from the PMOI are held.
Inside Camp Ashraf itself the MKO leadership continues to maintain control
through its harsh cult methodology which denies all the members their basic
human rights. The group retains its military structure with uniformed
members undergoing both military and ideological training regimes.
Organisationally the chief characteristics of the Mojahedin-e Khalq
organisation are that:
• it uses psychological coercion and manipulation to recruit, indoctrinate
and retain its members
• it forms an elitist totalitarian society
• its leader is self-appointed, autocratic, messianic, not accountable and
• it believes 'the end justifies the means' in order to solicit funds,
recruit people, deceive potential supporters and to achieve political power
• its wealth does not benefit either the members or society
Even though he is in hiding, Massoud Rajavi continues as the sole decision
maker for the group. He continues to espouse the use of violence to achieve
his political aims. The MKO's stated aim is to overthrow the Iranian regime
in its entirety (that is removal of the system of Velayat Faghi) and replace
it with Rajavi's system of government with him as the country's leader.
MKO personnel are indoctrinated at Camp Ashraf in the group's ideology which
involves submitting to the total, lifelong leadership of Massoud Rajavi. The
MKO accept no other legal or moral law than that determined by Massoud
Rajavi, and they submit without question to his dictates. According to
Rajavi's ideology he demands total obedience, members must forswear marriage
and children, they must be willing to die or kill on demand. Under these
conditions the only reasonable deduction which can be made is that anyone
who has been indoctrinated in Camp Ashraf is owned by Massoud Rajavi. He has
devised the term 'living martyrs' to describe the relationship of members to
him. It means that members have effectively handed their 'life' to Rajavi to
use and dispose of as he will.
The absolute value of Camp Ashraf to Massoud Rajavi is its guaranteed
isolation. Members in the camp have no contact with the outside world. The
camp is an essential element in controlling the behaviour and beliefs of the
members. For this reason Rajavi has resisted any and all efforts to have the
MKO re-located on any grounds, whether security or humanitarian. Individuals
who have residence rights in western countries were instructed by Rajavi to
refuse help and to demand that the group be treated as a whole entity and
not as individual members. The continued wearing of military uniform
reinforces this group identity.
Although the MKO combatants in Camp Ashraf enjoy some of the highest living
standards in Iraq, the health, morale and wellbeing of camp residents has
deteriorated progressively over the past five years. People who left the
camp via TIPF have reported rape, fighting, murder and suspicious suicides
taking place as residents struggle with the severe restrictions imposed by
the MKO leaders. The head of Military Intelligence of Bulgaria was quoted by
Fars News as saying that during 2007 the Bulgarian unit has had to deal with
fourteen serious clashes in Camp Ashraf, describing them as "due to the
unrest of the detainees over the years" while stressing that there was no
threat to the Bulgarian soldiers.
The residents in Camp Ashraf were severely demoralized from the beginning of
their capture when their leader Massoud Rajavi abandoned them and went into
hiding instead of ordering the all-out attack on Iran which he had promised
them. The sheer cowardice of this act has had irreversible effects on the
If we argue that in general terms terrorism needs both 'form' and 'content'
together in order to come into being, then in this case, Camp Ashraf
represents the form, or container, for Rajavi's group. The content is his
ideology of hatred and violence. If the form is removed, then no matter what
is in the minds of the individuals, they will not go on to perform
terrorism. It is like taking the gun from their hands.
What is happening at TIPF
When the MKO combatants were forcibly disarmed and confined to Camp
Ashraf by US Special Forces in 2003 they were subsequently interviewed by
FBI and military interrogators. Fingerprints and DNA samples were taken and
ID cards were issued. During the course of these interviews several
individuals expressed their wish to leave the MKO. The US army was obliged
to establish a Temporary International Presence Facility (TIPF) alongside
Camp Ashraf to house anyone who wanted to leave the MKO.
Both the residents of Camp Ashraf and the TIPF are guarded to protect them
from revenge attacks by Kurdish and other Iraqis whose knowledge of the MKO
is as part of Saddam Hussein's repressive apparatus. Inside Camp Ashraf
itself the MKO leadership continues to maintain control. The methodology of
this control includes strict gender segregation, obligatory daily
'cleansing' reports and submitting to a micro-managed lifestyle including
the denial of any external information. This state of affairs is what
American and Bulgarian soldiers have been protecting for almost five years.
Over these five years several hundred people have left Camp Ashraf to take
refuge with the Americans. As its tight grip on the members came under
threat with each defection, the MKO response was to frighten its members
with tales of rape and abuse by US soldiers if they ended up in TIPF.
The group has sent infiltrators into TIPF to try to control the atmosphere
(aimed at discouraging people from going back to Iran) and also to direct US
military police behaviour toward the group. In addition, conditions in TIPF
until very recently were very basic with tents and US army rations for both
soldiers and those who left the MKO. Camp Ashraf provides a standard of
living which is excellent in comparison with air conditioned buildings,
plentiful good food, plumbed bathrooms and a range of leisure facilities.
The refusal of the US army to make conditions outside Camp Ashraf better
than conditions inside the MKO run camp has led to accusations that the
intention has been to give leverage to the MKO leaders to keep people in the
terrorist organisation. Indeed, the MKO has created its own 'Exit' unit to
house around 200 people inside Camp Ashraf. These are people who have left
the MKO but who, due to MKO pressure, are too afraid to go to TIPF and so
remain under MKO hegemony.
Under the terms of protected persons status of the Fourth Geneva Convention
detainees are not to be forcibly deported or repatriated. However, the US
military reports that from TIPF, 380 have accepted voluntary repatriation
and have been helped by Iraq's Ministry of Human Rights and the
International Committee of the Red Cross to be reunited with their families.
Some 208 former members, who remained in TIPF because they did not wish to
go to Iran, asked for UN refugee status and transfer to third countries.
However, with the huge demand on the UN and aid agencies to deal with
massive internal displacement and Iraqi refugees, nothing has been
accomplished to find places for them.
TIPF to close in six months
In January 2008, a senior Iraqi official appeared on Alaraghieh
television explaining that the original owner of the land on which Camp
Ashraf has been constructed has been granted permission by an Iraqi court to
re-possess his land – land which had originally been illegally confiscated
by Saddam Hussein and gifted to the MKO. The owner has been told that his
land will be returned to him in six months. This will mean that both the
TIPF and the whole of Camp Ashraf must be evacuated of personnel – whether
American, Bulgarian or Iranian – within the next six months.
This news shed light on events which began in December 2007 when US Military
Police began a process of emptying TIPF. Visitors to the camp say they were
told by American soldiers that TIPF would be closing in six months' time.
They were told that the TIPF might possibly be moved to Mosel in Kurdistan,
but this did not happen.
According to those who left TIPF in December, US military police told them
they were free to leave and in fact could not stay as the camp was being
dismantled. One group refused to leave at all and are still in the TIPF. The
others were taken at intervals in small groups of up to five to a roadside
some short distance away. They were filmed to prove they were alive and
healthy and then left to make their own way. They were given American issued
'laissez-passer' which they were told would facilitate their exit from Iraq.
However these papers did not allow anyone to travel south toward Baghdad and
they were forced to move north. Those who arrived in Arbil managed to get
some papers from the Kurdish regional government which allowed them to
remain in the city. But these papers were taken away by local police after a
short time. They now have no papers except American issued ID cards.
The Iraqi Ministry of National Security said it does not recognize the
papers given to the former TIPF residents, and that if found outside the
camp, they would be arrested and imprisoned for belonging to a foreign
Scott Peterson of the Christian Science Magazine who has been following the
MKO's situation reported on February 11, "About 100 tried to leave Iraq,
some of them carrying US military letters for travel to Turkey. Documents of
the UN High Commissioner for Refugees show that at one point in their saga
nearly two weeks ago, 19 were turned back to Iraq by Turkey, dozens were
picked up in Kurdish northern Iraq and some forced to return to the dangers
of central Iraq, and 26 were missing."
Other reports state that one man was shot and wounded by border police and
is now in hospital in Arbil the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Amnesty
International said it was alerted to six individuals in prison in Turkey.
They were not returned to Iraq.
There are now 109 remaining in TIPF.
During his trip to Iraq, Massoud Khodabandeh intervened with Iraqi
Government officials with a rescue plan for these people. After talks with
Iraq's Ministry of Human Rights, officials agreed to set up an NGO which
would provide accommodation and food for those Iranians who had left the MKO
but who, since the Americans were closing TIPF, did not have anywhere to go.
The organisation – named Sahar Family Foundation – quickly set up a network
of places to which the former TIPF people could go, including Baghdad and
Mr Khodabandeh then visited the TIPF near Khales in Diyali province to
inform the remaining people that he would provide safe passage from the camp
to a place where they could stay until it was possible to send them to
another country. Three people immediately accepted this offer of help. More
have since followed. But this is an interim measure designed to rescue those
removed from TIPF and who reject MKO membership. It does not of course
address the main issue which is to find a place of safety for all the
residents of Camp Ashraf.
Concerned observers have pointed out the error in the logistics of closing
TIPF before the problem of relocating people from Camp Ashraf has been
resolved. TIPF represented the only way individuals could escape the
clutches of the MKO hierarchy. It is only fair to allow people somewhere to
escape to rather than be treated as Massoud Rajavi's chattels.
It is intended that the newly created NGO Sahar Family Foundation will
replace the function of TIPF in providing a safety net for those who want to
leave the MKO. Once they are safe they can then be helped either to go home
to their families or to find a third country in which to take refuge.
On January 31, 2008 Massoud Khodabandeh attended a Symposium at the
Centre for International and Inter-governmental Studies of the University of
The Symposium, a round table discussion centred on the issue of terrorism in
Iraq and possible solutions to this problem, was divided into 3 parts:
- the general threat posed by terrorist groups and the ways they operate in
- foreign terrorist organisations in Iraq
- the creation of terrorist organisations in Iraq and the global supporters
of these terrorist groups
Participants of the Symposium included Dr. Aziz Jabar Shayal, Dr. Samir
Alshweely and Dr. Rasheed Saleh, professors of Political Studies from the
University of Baghdad. Several governmental and non-governmental
representatives from a wide range of ministries and NGOs, including
representatives from Iraq’s Ministries of Defence, Human Rights and Security
Massoud Khodabandeh, who is also a researcher with the Centre de Recherches
sur le Terrorisme depuis le 11 septembre 2001 (Paris), and who was in
Baghdad for meetings concerning the fate of the remaining individuals
following dismantlement of Camp Ashraf which houses the disarmed Iranian
terrorist organisation Mojahedin Khalq Organisation, was invited to
participate in the discussion.
Prominent among the participants was Mr. Bassam Alhassani, advisor to Prime
Minister Noori Al Maleki.
The Symposium ended with a full report on the issues discussed and Dr. Aziz
Jabar Shayal delivered the concluding resolution in which one paragraph
emphasized the necessity for the dismantlement and deportation of the
foreign terrorist Mojahedin Khalq organisation and encouragement and
facilitation by the government and others to help the remaining individuals
find a safe palace outside Iraq and return to normal life.
The Symposium was covered by media representatives who reported from the
Alaraghieh television, Iraq’s main TV network, reported the Symposium and
broadcast a brief interview with Massoud Khodabandeh.
In the interview, Massoud Khodabandeh emphasised above all the right of the
Iraqi people to enjoy security and have justice served against the
perpetrators of violent acts in their country, in particular the criminal
heads of the terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq organisation which was involved in
the massacre of the Kurdish and Shiite uprisings against Saddam Hussein in
March 1991. Mr Khodabandeh said that in his belief and according to the
studies of the Centre de Recherches sur le Terrorisme, the phenomenon of
terrorism cannot have a single solution and needs inter governmental
cooperation as well as the involvement of NGOs to protect the human rights
of those who have been inveigled by terrorist leaders onto this path, and to
give them a second chance of integration back into their societies.
Thanking the organisers of the Symposium Mr Khodabandeh emphasised the cult
culture of terrorist organisations and the methods they use to brainwash
their followers. He also gave examples of foreign support by some
influential groups and parties who facilitate the flow of finance for
terrorism. Not the least the relationship between the remainders of Saddam
Hussein in Iraq, London, Washington and other countries with the Mojahedin
Khalq Organisation, and the way this relationship is becoming clear in the
escalation of violence in Diyali province.
The Symposium lasted for over two hours. Afterwards the participants formed
smaller groups to further discuss the variety of issues raised by the
Results of consultation in Iraq
Massoud Khodabandeh of Iran-Interlink was invited to Iraq by the office
of Prime Minister Noori Al Maleki for a series of consultations on the
problem of foreign linked terrorism in the country.
The Iraqi Government is seeking a rapid and thorough solution to remove the
remaining members of Mojahedin-e Khalq from Iraq and shut down Camp Ashraf.
While in Iraq Mr Khodabandeh met with representatives of the Iraqi
Ministries of Human Rights, Security, Foreign Affairs and Defence. He also
had meetings with advisors to Prime Minister Al Maleki, the Judiciary, NGOs
and human rights organisations currently in Iraq. Further meetings have been
held with representatives of the Kurdish Patriotic Union and regional
The following represents a summary of the findings of Mr Khodabandeh from
these meetings. It must be stressed that no differentiation is made at all
in the various views below between former and active members of the MKO.
Minister of Human Rights Vajdan Mikhael Salem's point of view: Under no
circumstances can we accept the MKO (whether as a group or as individuals,
whether before or after renouncing terrorism) to stay in Iraq. We do not
recommend this because we know of their past and the danger posed by Iraqi
Shiite and Kurds (revenge) to them. They are only alive in Iraq because of
American protection for them. The Ministry will help in the transfer of
individuals to Iran or other countries in conjunction with the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The Ministry will also give guarantees
about good treatment by Iran under the terms of an amnesty for returning MKO
and, from its offices in Iran, regularly monitors the situation of those who
have already accepted voluntary repatriation.
Ministry of National Security point of view: We have evidence of the
co-operation between the remains of Saddam and Al Qaida with the MKO using
Camp Ashraf as a meeting place to plot against the Iraqi people. They are
part of the destabilization forces in Diyali province. These individuals are
trained by Saddam's Republican Guard and if given freedom inside the
country, they will be the core trainers for insurgents. This is not
acceptable and therefore the American Army should find other alternatives
for them outside Iraq.
(The National Security Minister Shirwan Al Va'eli has repeatedly insisted
there is no place for any terrorist organisation in the new Iraq and that
Iraq has and will continue to have full security co-operation with
neighbouring countries including Iran, Kuwait and etc, in order to eliminate
the threats of terrorism in the region. Minister Shirwan Al Va'eli has
stressed that he is talking with the Prime Minister and the Minister of
Defence to expand Iraq's cooperation with other countries to fight terrorist
networks and in this respect some workshops have already begun.)
Foreign Affairs Ministry point of view: The MKO and PKK are foreign
terrorist organisations. They are especially harmful to the relations
between Iraq and its neighbouring countries at this point of time. Iraq
cannot accept nor afford further problems by accommodating international
terrorist organisations whether as a group or as individuals.
Advisor to the Prime Minister's point of view: The MKO is the tip of the
anti-Iraqi forces still in Iraq. They are responsible for the massacre of
Kurds and Shiites and they should be handed over to the Iraq Judiciary to
bring them to justice. The fate of the MKO (and other remains of Saddam who
are wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity) is a matter for Iraq
and the US should hand them over.
Judiciary point of view: There are already claims against the heads of this
organisation (about 150 individuals). There are arrest warrants as recent as
a few weeks ago for crimes committed in the last few months by MKO heads (Abbas
Davari, the political liaison of MKO in Camp Ashraf, Mozhgan Parsaii,
Commander of Rajavi's army in Iraq and Sediqeh Hoseini, Secretary General of
the MKO). There are several ongoing investigations into the deeds of MKO
leaders against Iraqi people. The Judiciary should investigate all of these
and then decide who is to be deported and who is to be brought to justice.
UNHCR: (Ms Hanieh Mofti refused to accept a meeting with me or any of the
families of those trapped in Camp Ashraf, although she travels regularly to
Camp Ashraf for private meetings and dinner parties with the heads of the
terrorist organisation.) As far as I could ascertain, Ms Mofti is
sympathetic to the MKO's demand that all its members should be given refugee
status in Iraq but not under the jurisdiction of the Iraqi Government. They
should continue to be protected as a [uniformed military] group in Iraq but
without the permission of the Iraqi Government.
[We must assume that refugee status can only be given to individuals and not
to an army. In this case, perhaps Ms Mofti must wait for the US army to take
the military uniforms from these people and then treat them as individuals
according UNHCR rules.]
Amnesty International and other Human Rights organisations' point of view:
MKO members should not be given to Iran, nor should they be given to Iraq
because of the insecurity of human rights and the death penalty in those
countries. MKO members need to be given humanitarian protection (not
indemnity from prosecution for crimes) meaning that they will certainly need
to be taken to third countries.
American Army point of view: No official view was made. However, after 5
years the army is apparently still prevaricating about US polices against
terrorism. (Certainly the US army's ambiguous approach is widely perceived
as facilitating terrorism in the region.) Actual behaviour of the US army
toward internees at Camp Ashraf can only be interpreted as tacit approval
for the group's continued existence and activities. (Camp Ashraf is used to
host meetings of Diyali tribal leaders loyal to the Baathists).
The point of view of the Centre for International and Inter-governmental
Studies of the University of Baghdad: (from the report of the symposium and
according to their announcement and recommendation to the Iraqi Government)
MKO individuals have to be helped by western countries. They should not be
kept in Iraq for the good of people of Iraq and their own good. The group
should be dismantled by US and UK forces before transfer outside Iraq. The
main support for the group comes from London, Washington and Tel Aviv and
the Mojahedin should be transferred to these places with the help of their
Families of MKO members
When the interim Iraqi government assumed control of Iraq in June 2004,
the internees in Camp Ashraf were granted protected persons status under the
Fourth Geneva Convention. After years of forced [by Rajavi] estrangement,
the families of people trapped in Camp Ashraf began to hope that they could
at last get some news of their relatives there.
The Fourth Geneva Convention of course protects the internees from forced
repatriation. Instead the families risked their lives to travel to Iraq from
all over the world in the hopes of meeting a son or daughter, mother,
father, wife, husband, brother or sister. Some families had not seen their
relatives for over twenty years. Some were not even sure if they were still
Such family visits were undertaken according to the rights established under
Chapter VIII which deals with external relations of detainees, in particular
Article 116 which states: 'Every internee shall be allowed to receive
visitors, especially near relatives, at regular intervals and as frequently
Article 8 also clearly states: 'Protected persons may in no circumstances
renounce in part or in entirety the rights secured to them by the present
But from the beginning the visiting families met resistance. For four years
it has been almost impossible for anyone to visit their relative without the
presence of MKO minders who overshadow the families to prevent free
association or conversation. Even where families travelled to Iraq after
taking legal advice and procuring legal documents outlining their right to
have free and unfettered access to their relative, they have been unable to
secure such meetings. Unfortunately, in some cases families have been turned
away by American military police, acting presumably on orders from MKO
commanders to refuse access.
This latter state of affairs has been experienced by so many families that
there is no doubt in anyone's mind that the American soldiers are taking
their instructions from the MKO rather than vice versa. There is no reason
whatsoever – legal, moral or for security - that these families should be
denied these visits. In one case a UK resident family was told by an
American soldier to contact the MKO in Britain (where of course it is
proscribed so that this action of itself would be illegal) and to ask the
group to arrange a visit, including a stay in the MKO controlled Camp Ashraf.
This family were left wondering what the legal ramifications would be if
they had followed this advice, would they be allowed entry back into the UK
without arrest for contacting a terrorist entity in the UK and visiting a
terrorist training camp?
Where such obstacles are overcome and visits do take place due to the sheer
courage and persistence of families who turn up at the gate of Camp Ashraf
and refuse to leave, the conditions of the visit do not meet even a minimum
standard expected under the Fourth Geneva Convention or indeed under any
human rights legislation.
Families are harassed, insulted, physically assaulted and repeatedly accused
of being 'agents of the mullahs' regime' sent to undermine the MKO's
struggle for democracy and human rights in Iran. Among the most recent cases
of a family's attempt to meet relatives was the Mohammady family from
Canada. This was their ninth visit to Iraq in an attempt to visit their
daughter Somayeh who was taken to Camp Ashraf some years ago when she was
seventeen years old. Mr Mostafa and Mrs Mahboubeh Mohammady spent three
months in Iraq and saw their daughter for only 45 minutes.
This time the parents were allowed to stay in a bungalow in the US part of
Camp Ashraf for three days. On December 8, after constant requests to the
Americans, they were able to meet with their daughter, Somayeh, for 45
minutes. Somayeh was afraid to speak to her father stating 'he is an agent
of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry', but did talk to her mother.
On the morning of December 9 the American soldiers in charge of TIPF asked
the Mohammady family to leave the camp since they had met with their
daughter. The Americans escorted them to the gates and let them out while
still watching them from behind their gates. As Camp Ashraf is located in a
deserted area with the closest road and public transport some kilometers
away, the Mohammadys began walking. Suddenly they were confronted by a group
of MKO who pretended to be passing drivers and who offered them a lift.
Based on their prior knowledge and experiences of the MKO, Mr Mohammady and
his wife refused their offer and kept walking towards the main road. At this
point, the MKO grabbed Mrs Mohammady by force and pushed her into the car in
an attempted kidnap. At the same time Mr Mohammady was defending himself
against their physical attacks and also trying to secure their bags since
their assailants were slashing them with knives and managed to break open
their camera trying to remove the memory card by knife. When Mr Mohammady
started shouting for help one of the MKO guys pulled a gun from under the
driver's seat and put it to his head.
Realizing the seriousness of the situation the American soldiers who were
watching from a short distance intervened to rescue them and later arranged
for a safe ride to Baghdad. Upon arrival in Baghdad Mr and Mrs Mohammady
received medical attention for their injuries and began legal action against
the leaders of the MKO for the damages incurred by their family, including
this latest assault.
The result was that the Baghdad Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for
the three leading MKO members in Camp Ashraf - additional to two existing
arrest warrants for each of the three which had previously been issued by
two other courts.
In February two more families experienced disturbing meetings with
relatives. Ali Bashiri and his daughter traveled from Norway with legal
papers demanding a visit with the girl's mother. When Mr Bashiri went to the
US embassy in Baghdad with papers drawn up by a Norwegian lawyer he was
expelled. Eventually he and his daughter got to see the mother in the
presence of MKO minders. The mother did not come closer than three metres
and only swore viciously at her daughter before leaving.
In another case, Mr Reza Akbari Nasab traveled to Camp Ashraf to ask for the
body of his nephew Yaser who died there last year so the family could bury
him in Iran. Mr Akbari Nasab told Alaraghieh television:
"I went to the American Camp at Ashraf and asked to meet my brother and his
son, I also asked them to let me go to my nephew’s tomb and see the
documents of his death.
"The American officials told me to make my request to the MKO authorities
[sic]. During the hours I was waiting for my beloved ones the American
soldiers and officials hosted me in a courteous manner.
"I was enjoying the friendly atmosphere of the American camp which had
decreased the pressure on me when a man carrying a file came over shouting
at me: “why have you come here?”
"He was speaking Persian angrily so I didn’t recognize him. But he was no
other than my kind and lovely brother, Morteza!
"He was carrying a file which he said contained my writings on the death of
Yaser. He actually threatened me that he would hand them to the Americans
since I had written some polite criticisms of the American officials.
"I told him sympathetically: “you may be right, but let‘s have a short talk
which is something normal in any political organization’’. But he didn’t
accept and he didn’t even let me get closer than 3 meters.
"My former kind brother insulted me in front of the American soldiers. My
nephew Musa didn’t get permission to visit me since he is a German citizen
and the Mojahedin were afraid. The Americans didn’t answer my questions
simply and to answer my claim that the MKO members are manipulated they just
said that it’s not their responsibility!
"They didn’t let me visit the tomb of Yaser either.
"I expected more of American democracy.
"While leaving, I told the American lieutenant: ‘’you are developing a new
There are many families like the Mohammadys, Bashiris and Akbari Nasabs, who
refuse to give up on their relatives trapped in Camp Ashraf. But they have
limited resources. Following a meeting with Massoud Khodabandeh who
explained the situation in detail, the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights
pledged to help by supporting a newly formed non-governmental organization
called Sahar Family Foundation which will provide help to the visiting
families and to MKO members who leave the organization in Iraq.
Sahar Family Foundation has already established a network of safe
accommodation in several towns, including Baghdad, to house the individuals
who were removed from TIPF in December 2007. In January, three others left
TIPF to take refuge with the group.
Sahar Family Foundation statement
The Sahar (Dawn) Family Foundation is a non-governmental, non-political
and non-profitable organisation which has been established to provide
humanitarian aid to the families of members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq
Organisation (MKO) who are based in Camp Ashraf in Iraq. This foundation is
solely focused on charitable and human rights issues regardless of political
or group considerations and geographical boundaries and only aims to help
the suffering families.
The Sahar Family Foundation covers a great number of families as well as
former members of the MKO who seek help. This foundation enjoys good support
amongst the local and international bodies in Iraq which is the base of the
The MKO has been based in Iraq, precisely in Camp Ashraf, for more than two
decades. This organisation is run as a classic cult and therefore would not
give its members the chance of free association with the outside world or
with their families. Therefore the families of these members are suffering
severely and seek assistance from humanitarian organisations.
When the former regime of Iraq was toppled, a small light of hope lit the
hearts of the families and they thought that, in the new situation in Iraq,
they would be able to visit their beloved ones freely and adequately without
the presence of a third party. Some of these families have not heard from
their relatives for more than 20 years and some even don't know if their
beloved ones are still safe and sound. According to these families those who
are residing in Camp Ashraf – as is the case with many cults throughout the
world – are considered to be captives both mentally and physically and
therefore are assumed as hostages. The Sahar Family Foundation is striving
to reunite the members of these families again using every possible means.
Camp Ashraf is the base of the MKO members which is guarded by US forces in
Iraq. On the other hand the present Iraqi government insists that Camp
Ashraf must be dismantled. Iraqi constitutional law does not permit any
foreign terrorist organisations to remain in that country. The US State
Department as well as that of Canada, along with the European Union and the
British parliament and many other governmental and international bodies have
officially designated the MKO as a destructive and terrorist cult. Obviously
the members of a cult and their families are considered to be the prime
victims who must be helped. In May 2005 Human Rights Watch published a
report called 'No Exit' which details human rights abuses meted out by the
MKO against its own members.
At the present time Baghdad is the central meeting point for the
misfortunate families and the former members, as well as concerned entities
who are all waiting for the crack of dawn. They seek help from humanitarian
bodies throughout the world. Anyone can help a little. On the other hand, of
course, Camp Ashraf, according to many international security professionals,
is a centre for training terrorists. The families are concerned about the
fate of their children who are subjected to brainwashing and terrorist
Please contact us. We would be more than pleased to have your comments and
ideas. Help us in any way you can. The members of Sahar Family Foundation
are all volunteers who have moved to Iraq to work in the difficult situation
of that country merely to gain family reunions.
When the regime of Saddam Hussein came to an end, 3,800 members of the
Mojahedin-e Khalq organisation were bombarded, captured and disarmed by US
Special Forces in Iraq and confined to Camp Ashraf.
Five years on the American military must be given full credit for the
excellent job it has performed in containing the MKO in Iraq and keeping the
people secure. Dealing with a dangerous, destructive cult is not an easy
task. It is widely acknowledged that the American forces are perhaps the
only ones who could do this, particularly in the violent and chaotic
conditions of Iraq.
But the situation has now developed to the point at which urgent action must
be taken to deal with the group. As this report has shown, the MKO can no
longer stay in Iraq. The Iraqi Government has taken matters into its own
hands and is pressing on with moves to prosecute and punish any MKO members
the Judiciary can prove have been guilty of crimes against humanity and war
crimes in Iraq, and to quickly remove all others. The whole organisation is
at risk if it remains in Iraq.
Organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the
International Committee of the Red Cross and others are absolutely clear
that Iraq is not a place the MKO can stay. Indeed it presents perhaps the
most dangerous place in the world for the group’s members – even, as events
with the TIPF people has shown, for the ones who have separated from the MKO.
There should be no doubt at all that if the group does remain in Iraq and
the Americans step back even a little from protecting it then there will be
bloodshed and violence.
At this point in time, people are looking to the American Administration for
leadership to resolve this problem. The MKO are prisoners and must be dealt
with as such. It is expected that the American military will continue to
garner the credit for dealing with the MKO and assist the efforts of human
rights organizations, the families and the Iraqi Government rather than
hinder them. The American Administration is facing a legal and moral dilemma
which requires attention sooner rather than later.
In particular, does the American military intend to defy the Iraqi Judiciary
when arrest warrants are served by not handing over the subjects? Will
American soldiers continue to defy its moral and humanitarian obligations by
continuing to repulse the families of MKO members who want only a private
meeting with their relatives? Will American soldiers argue that they cannot
bring MKO members the short distance from Camp Ashraf to Baghdad to meet a
parent who has travelled thousands of miles to see them under the terms of
protected persons status?
Sahar Family Foundation was established as an interim measure to help
families of MKO trapped in Camp Ashraf and to help anyone who wants to
leave. There should be no doubt that the existence of Sahar will increase
and accelerate the defections from the MKO. Indeed this is already being
seen. American soldiers can either help or hinder in this situation. The
result will be the same but the credit for good action will go where it is
This however, does not address the fundamental problem of what to do with
the active MKO members in Camp Ashraf. They must be given refuge somewhere
and the only feasible place is in a western country. Currently MKO members
in the camp exist in a kind of legal and moral limbo. While western
governments are clear about the terrorist nature of the MKO in their own
countries, none wants to take responsibility for what happens to the people
in Iraq. Every major western government has proscribed the group as
terrorist. No one wants them.
In Europe, efforts to de-proscribe the Mojahedin-e Khalq organisation have
been led, particularly in the UK, by the neoconservatives in London,
Washington and Tel Aviv. They argue that the Mojahedin has renounced
violence. Until now, these powerful lobbies have evaded taking
responsibility for or even acknowledging the humanitarian crisis looming
over the people in Camp Ashraf. However, the value of this group for its
supporters is that it represents 'the largest Iranian opposition group'
because of the number of active members. It makes sense to have those
members safe rather than languishing in Iraqi jails. Supporters like the
British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom, chaired by Lord Corbett of
Castle Vale, have a moral and political obligation to rescue exactly those
people they have vigorously promoted as the means to bring democracy to
Iran. The lives and rights of the MKO members in Camp Ashraf must be
protected as a priority.
This is only possible if they are brought to safety in the west. As one
Iraqi Minister said bluntly, "the western supporters of the MKO especially
in the UK should keep their tools in their own closets!". Both Iraq and Iran
see Europe as the final and perhaps only destination for the MEK.
Transformed from an army into a civilian group, this would allow the active
members who wish to do so, to continue with non-violent opposition to the
Islamic Republic of Iran.
Certainly de-proscription of the MKO in the UK would enable Iraq to remove
the MKO as a group and allow London to receive them individually as
refugees. The resources which are currently used to maintain the camp in
Iraq must also be transferred to support them in the UK. Of course, any
members who wish to voluntarily repatriate to Iran should continue to be
protected by existing guarantees by the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights and
This is a rescue package which is workable and which will have the best
outcome for Iraq, the UK and the 'Iranian Resistance' which says it has
renounced violence. This solution provides a straightforward and
humanitarian resolution to the so-far intractable problem of what to do with
the group. Indeed, given the facts, it is probably the only solution.
Sahar Family Foundation
Contact (Iraq): [email protected]
Tel: +964 - 7808481650 (Arabic and Farsi)
As Ervand Abrahamian, a historian and author of ''The Iranian
Mujahedeen,'' told me: ''Rajavi said he was emulating the prophet'' --
Muhammad -- ''who had married his adopted son's wife to show he could
overcome conventional morality. It smacked of blasphemy.''
Rajavi liked having women around him and overhauled the command structure to
replace the men with women -- this time calling it a ''constitutional
revolution.'' It was also politically astute and added alluring spice for
their public-relations campaign in the West.
"Rajavi, Rajavi, Iran, Iran, Maryam, Maryam, Iran, Iran,'' shouted a dozen
young women commandos, trotting with their Kalashnikovs on a scrubby field,
camouflage leaves and twigs bouncing on their helmets, their faces blurred
by green paint. ''Run, run, fire, fire.'' They rolled, crouched, crept,
fired and regrouped around their commander. One stepped forward: ''We
weren't coordinated.'' Another shouted, ''The distance between us was too
much.'' Another shouted, ''Our speed wasn't adequate.'' They were given a
rest and then, spotting me, skipped up on cue, sweating and out of breath.
Nineteen-year-old Sahar began: ''My mother was pregnant with me when she was
arrested, and I was born in Evin Prison in 1983. When I was 1 year old, my
father was executed for supporting the Mujahedeen. Now I drive a Cascavel.
My mother is at another base. It's one of the reasons I decided to join the
As the leaders like to boast, the Mujahedeen is a family affair. (''We have
three generations of martyrs: grandmothers, mothers, daughters.'') Most of
the girls I was meeting had grown up in Mujahedeen schools in Ashraf, where
they lived separated from their parents. Family visits were allowed on
Thursday nights and Fridays. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, many of these girls
were transported to Jordan and then smuggled to various countries --
Germany, France, Canada, Denmark, England, the United States -- where they
were raised by guardians who were usually Mujahedeen supporters. When they
were 18 or 19, many of them decided to come back to Iraq and fill the ranks
of the youngest Mujahedeen generation. Though ''decided'' is probably not
the right word, since from the day they were born, these girls and boys were
not taught to think for themselves but to blindly follow their leaders.
''Every morning and night, the kids, beginning as young as 1 and 2, had to
stand before a poster of Massoud and Maryam, salute them and shout praises
to them,'' Nadereh Afshari, a former Mujahedeen deep-believer, told me.
Afshari, who was posted in Germany and was responsible for receiving
Mujahedeen children during the gulf war, said that when the German
government tried to absorb Mujahedeen children into their education system,
the Mujahedeen refused. Many of the children were sent to Mujahedeen
schools, particularly in France. The Rajavis, Afshari went on to say, ''saw
these kids as the next generation's soldiers. They wanted to brainwash them
and control them.'' Which may explain the pattern to their stories: a
journey to self-empowerment and the enlightenment of self-sacrifice inspired
by the light and wisdom of Maryam and Massoud.
As we cruised around the grounds, Hossein Madani said: ''Did you know that
they built all this from scratch? That's why the combatants love their base
so much.'' And it was true; the Mujahedeen had managed to cultivate out of
the desert their own little paradise with vegetable gardens, rows of
Eucalyptus and poplar trees, sports fields and Thursday night movies. When I
asked about the fact that the land -- along with all clothing, ammunition,
gas and the like -- had been donated by Saddam Hussein and that the
Mujahedeen was, in effect, fighting one dictatorship under the wings of
another, both Madani and Bahshai insisted that the Mujahedeen's precondition
for setting up bases in Iraq was independence from Iraq's affairs. ''All
we've used is the soil,'' Bahshai insisted. Either she was an adept liar or
in deep denial, since everyone I spoke to -- Iraqi intelligence officers,
Kurdish commanders and human rights groups -- said that in 1991 Hussein used
the Mujahedeen and its tanks as advance forces to crush the Kurdish
uprisings in the north and the Shia uprisings in the south. And former
Mujahedeen members remember Maryam Rajavi's infamous command at the time:
''Take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian
Though for years the Mujahedeen preached a Marxist-Islamic ideology, it has
modernized with the times. Today, one of the standard lines of the
Mujahedeen's National Council of Resistance to politicians in Europe and
America is that it is advocating a secular, democratic government in Iran,
and that when it overthrows the regime, it will set up a six-month interim
government with Maryam as president and then hold free elections. But
despite its rhetoric, the Mujahedeen operates like any other dictatorship.
Mujahedeen members have no access to newspapers or radio or television,
other than what is fed them. As the historian Abrahamian told me, ''No one
can criticize Rajavi.'' And everyone must go through routine self-criticism
sessions. ''It's all done on tape, so they have records of what you say. If
there's sign of resistance, you're considered not revolutionary enough, and
you need more ideological training. Either people break away or succumb.''
Salahaddin Mukhtadi, an Iranian historian in exile who still maintains
communications with the Mujahedeen because it is the strongest armed
opposition to the Iranian regime, told me that Mujahedeen members ''are
locked up if they disagree with anything. And sometimes killed.''
Afshari, who fled the group 10 years ago, told me how friendship was
forbidden. No two people could sit alone and talk together, especially about
their former lives. Informants were planted everywhere. It was Maryam's idea
to kill emotional relationships. ''She called it 'drying the base,'''
Afshari said. ''They kept telling us every one of your emotions should be
channeled toward Massoud, and Massoud equals leadership, and leadership
equals Iran.'' The segregation of the sexes began almost from toddlerhood.
''Girls were not allowed to speak to boys. If they were caught mingling,
they were severely punished.''
Though Maryam and Massoud finagled it so they could be together, they forced
everyone else into celibacy. ''They told us, 'We are at war, and soldiers
cannot have wives and husbands,''' Afshari said. ''You had to report every
single day and confess your thoughts and dreams. They made men say they got
erections when they smelled the perfume of a woman.'' Men and women had to
participate in ''weekly ideological cleansings,'' in which they would
publicly confess their sexual desires. It was not only a form of control but
also a means to delete all remnants of individual thought.
One of the most disturbing encounters I had in Ashraf was with Mahnaz Bazazi,
a commander who had been with the Mujahedeen for 25 years. I met her in the
Ashraf hospital. Bazazi was probably on drugs, but that didn't explain the
natural intoxication she was radiating, despite -- or perhaps because -- she
had just had her legs amputated after an American missile slammed into the
warehouse she was guarding. The doctor told me he never heard her complain.
''Even in this way, she's confronting the Mullahs,'' he said. Bazazi
interrupted him. ''This is not me personally,'' she said in a soft high
voice. ''These are the ideas of the Mujahedeen. It's true I lost my legs,
but my struggle will continue because I have a wish -- the freedom of my
country.'' At the foot of her bed, surrounded by candles, stood a large
framed photograph of Maryam in a white dress and blue flowered head scarf.
In the chaotic days after the fall of Baghdad, several Mujahedeen members
managed to flee the military camps and were in Kurdish custody in northern
Iraq. Kurdish officials told me they weren't sure what to do with them. One
was Mohammad, a gaunt 19-year-old Iranian from Tehran with sad chestnut
eyes. He hadn't heard of the Mujahedeen until one day last year when he was
in Istanbul desperately looking for work. A Mujahedeen recruiter spotted him
and a friend sleeping on the streets, so hungry they couldn't think anymore.
The recruiter gave them a bed and food for the night, and the next day
showed them videos of the Mujahedeen struggle. He enticed them to join with
an offer to earn money in Iraq while simultaneously fighting the cruel
Iranian regime. What's more, he said, you can marry Mujahedeen girls and
start your own family. The Mujahedeen seemed like salvation. Mohammad was
told to inform his family that he was going to work in Germany and given an
The first month at Ashraf, he said, wasn't so bad. Then came the
indoctrination in the reception department and the weird self-criticism
sessions. He quickly realized there would be no wives, no pay, no
communication with his parents, no friendships, no freedom. The place was a
nightmare, and he wanted out. But there was no leaving. When he refused to
pledge the oath to struggle forever, he was subjected to relentless
psychological pressure. One night, he couldn't take it anymore. He swallowed
80 diazepam pills. His friend, he said, slit his wrists. The friend died,
but to Mohammad's chagrin, he woke up in a solitary room. After days of
intense prodding to embrace the Mujahedeen way, he finally relented to the
oath. He trundled along numbly until the Americans invaded Iraq, when he and
another friend managed to slip out into the desert. They were helped out by
Arabs, and then turned themselves over to the Kurds, hoping for mercy.
Mohammad fell ill, and the next thing he knew he was in prison. ''The
Mujahedeen has a good appearance to the outside world, but anyone who has
lived among them knows how rotten and dirty they are,'' he said.
Another Iranian whom I met at the Kurdish prison told me that he had been a
zealous Mujahedeen supporter for years in Iran, and when he finally made it
to the Iraqi camps, he was horrified to discover that his dream was a
Before I left Camp Ashraf, Massoud Farschi, one of the Mujahedeen spokesmen
who was educated in the United States, told me that he thought the
Mujahedeen was in the best position it had ever been in. ''We've said all
along that the real threat in the world is fundamentalism, and now the world
has finally seen that.'' The Mujahedeen, he said, is the barrier to that
fundamentalism. Nevertheless, two days later, in early May, Gen. Ray Odierno
of the Fourth Infantry Division was dispatched to the camp to negotiate the
Mujahedeen's surrender. American tanks were posted outside Ashraf's gates,
and two B-52's were circling the skies above. After a day of discussion, the
Mujahedeen commanders reached a capitulation agreement in which they would
consolidate their weapons and personnel into two separate camps. Lt. Col.
John Miller, also with the Fourth, attended a ceremony in which the men and
women bid farewell to their tanks. ''We saw folks kissing their vehicles,
hugging them,'' he said. One 50-year-old man broke down in front of them,
wailing. The women, he said, were much more controlled. Not so the women in
Europe, who until recently were crying on the streets for the release of
their beloved Maryam. They got their wish; a court ordered her released on
bail. As for Massoud Rajavi, he has not uttered a peep. In fact, he seems to
have disappeared. Some Iraqis claim to have seen him a few days before
Baghdad fell boarding a helicopter south of the capital.
After the negotiations with the Mujahedeen, it was reported that Odierno
said he thought that the group's commitment to democracy in Iran meant its
status as a terrorist organization should be reviewed. There are also Senate
staff members, Pentagon officials and even some people in the State
Department who have said that if all the Mujahedeen is doing is fighting the
''evil regime'' in Iran, it quite likely that it will be removed from the
State Department's terrorist list. ''There is a move afoot among Pentagon
hard-liners,'' one administration official said, ''to use them as an
opposition in the future.'' Recently Brownback submitted an Iran Democracy
Act modeled on the Iraqi Liberation Act, which would set aside $50 million
to help opposition groups overthrow the regime. The Mujahedeen, their U.S.
supporters say, has provided the United States with key intelligence on
Iran's nuclear program. One Congressional staff member working close to the
issue said that there was a national security directive circulating ''that
includes a proposal for limited surgical strikes against the Iranian
regime's nuclear facilities. We would be remiss if we did not use the
Mujahedeen to identify exactly what the Iranians have and in the longer
term, to facilitate regime change.''
Meanwhile, inside Iran, the street protesters risking their lives and
disappearing inside the regime's prisons consider the Mujahedeen a plague --
as toxic, if not more so, than the ruling clerics. After all, the Rajavis
sold out their fellow Iranians to Saddam Hussein, trading intelligence about
their home country for a place to house their Marxist-Islamist Rajavi sect.
While Mujahedeen press releases were pouring out last month, taking undue
credit for the nightly demonstrations, many antigovernment Iranians were
rejoicing over the arrest of Maryam Rajavi and wondering where Massoud was
hiding and why he, too, hadn't been apprehended. This past winter in Iran,
when such a popular outburst among students and others was still just a
dream, if you mentioned the Mujahedeen, those who knew and remembered the
group laughed at the notion of it spearheading a democracy movement.
Instead, they said, the Rajavis, given the chance, would have been the Pol
Pot of Iran. The Pentagon has seen the fatal flaw of hitching itself to
volatile groups like the Islamists who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan
and, more recently, the Iraqi exile groups who had no popular base at home.
It seems dangerously myopic that the U.S. is even considering resurrecting
the Rajavis and their army of Stepford wives.
Significant Dates in
(Rajavi cult, headed by Maryam Rajavi and Massoud Rajavi)
1965 People’s Mojahedin
Organisation of Iran founded, based on revolutionary armed struggle to free
Iran from capitalism, imperialism, reactionary Islamic forces and despotism.
Founder members Mohammad Hanif Nezhad, Saied Mohsen and Ali-Asghar
1966 Massoud Rajavi (born in Tabas, 1948) joined in 1966 when he
studied political law at Tehran University. (Massoud Rajavi later announced
himself as the ideological leader of Mojahedin.)
1969 Rajavi became a member of the 12 member Central Committee of the
1971 Mojahedin started their armed struggle – killing 6 American
1971 Mass-arrests of members by SAVAK (the shah’s secret service)
including Massoud Rajavi. Kazem Rajavi the brother of Massoud Rajavi began
an international campaign from Switzerland to have the death sentences of
all Mojahedin prisoners commuted to life.
1972 All Central Committee members of Mojahedin executed except
February 1979 – Massoud Rajavi released from prison as the revolution
swept away the monarchy. Rajavi became spokesman for the Mojahedin (later,
Rajavi announced himself as the leader of Mojahedin). 12 member Central
Committee including Massoud Rajavi take up leadership of Mojahedin.
4 November 1979 Occupation of the American Embassy in Tehran by
‘Students following the line of the Imam’. Rajavi and Mojahedin participated
and later demanded the execution of Americans Captured
November 1979 Mojahedin militia formed. Rajavi still the spokesman
and member of central committee of Mojahedin
1980 Presidential Elections in Iran for the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Rajavi’s candidature for President rescinded by Khomeini. Rajavi stood on
behalf of Mojahedin Khalq Organisation.
1980 Iraq invades southern Iran and war is declared between the two
nations. Rajavi and Mojahedin refused to fight alongside Iranian army.
May 1981 Khomeini dismisses Abol Hassan Bani Sadr as President.
Mojahedin and Rajavi tried to distance Bani Sadr from Khomeini.
20th June 1981 (30th Khordad 1361) Mojahedin
now headed by Massoud Rajavi hold a spontaneous demonstration of 500,000
supporters (Rajavi and Mojahedin claimed) who marched on parliament (Majlis).
Khomeini orders crackdown and over 30 are killed. Beginning of mass
arbitrary arrests and execution.
29th July 1981 Rajavi and Bani Sadr escape to Paris and
together establish the National Council of Resistance of Iran. The NCRI has
12 members including the Mojahedin. Rajavi claimed to be the head of
National Council or Resistance and not the representative of Mojahedin.
Rajavi appointed another representative for Mojahedin.
8th February 1982 Mousa Khiabani the Mojahedin’s Commander
inside Iran (who did not run away with Massoud Rajavi) is killed in a gun
battle with Khomeini’s forces. Rajavi’s wife Ashraf Rabii is also killed.
Massoud Rajavi marries Bani Sadr’s daughter Firouzeh in a matter of few
24th March 1983 Bani Sadr publicly announces his
separation from the National Council of Resistance because of disagreements
over Rajavi’s relations with Iraq. Massoud Rajavi had been getting very
close to Saddam Hussein.
1983 Mojahedin forced out of bases in Iranian Kurdistan by Iranian
Pasdaran. Rajavi signs a Peace Treaty with Iraq (Saddam Hussein) and
Mojahedin forces establish camps in Iraqi Kurdistan.
1984 Rajavi divorces Firouzeh Bani Sadr. Rajavi claims to have done
every thing to stop this but this is going to be a good thing for Mojahedin.
February 1985 Massoud Rajavi marries Maryam Abrishamchi (nee
Azodanlou) in a public (members) ceremony after she divorces her husband,
Central Committee member of Mojahedin Mehdi Abrishamchi. Massoud Rajavi
declares himself and Maryam Rajavi co-leaders of the Mojahedin and terms
this an ‘Ideological Revolution’. The marriage of Maryam Rajavi and Massoud
Rajavi is the start of the path for Mojahedin to become "Rajavi cult"
14th April 1985 Massoud Rajavi and his new wife Maryam
Rajavi expel the Kurdish Democratic Party led by Ghassemlou from the
National Council of Resistance.
1986 France asks Rajavi to leave Paris.
June 1986 Massoud Rajavi and Maryam Rajavi take the Mojahedin and
National Council of Resistance headquarters to Iraq.
June 1987 Mojahedin forces receive training from the Iraqi army and
the National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA) is established. Maryam Rajavi
appointed Deputy Commander in Chief of the NLA by Massoud Rajavi.
7 December 1987 The French government expel 14 Mojahedin members to
Gabon a former French colony in Africa. Mojahedin establish hunger strikes
in front of French embassies in Europe for over 40 days before the members
are returned. Massoud Rajavi and his wife Maryam Rajavi send messages of
Resistance against the French Government.
18 June 1988 Operation Chehel Cheraq into Iran reaches Mehran city.
The joint operation of Mojahedin and Iraqi army is headed by Massoud and
3 July An Iranian airbus downed by USS Vincennes. All 293 passengers
killed. Massoud Rajavi condemned the US action.
18 July 1988 Iran and Iraq accept UN Security Council Resolution 598
to end their eight year war. Massoud Rajavi and his wife Maryam Rajavi had
claimed that the only way to peace is the total overthrow of the Iranian
Regime by Mojahedin.
25 July 1988 the Mojahedin headed by Massoud and Maryam Rajavi
undertake operation Forouq-e Javidan (aka Eternal Light or Mersad), a
military invasion of Iran which is ambushed by the Iranian military. Over
2000 Mojahedin forces are killed.
20 August 1988 cease-fire effective between Iran and Iraq after eight
years of war.
3rd June 1989 death of Khomeini. Rajavi had claimed the
the Iranian regime will be toppled by losing its head. Contrary to his word,
he did not launch an attack on Iran.
October 1989 Massoud Rajavi announces the Internal Revolution. Maryam
Rajavi is appointed Secretary General of the Mojahedin. Massoud Rajavi
declares himself Ideological Leader of the resistance movement. Married
members of Mojahedin are required by the leadership (Massoud and Maryam
Rajavi) to divorce.
1991 Massoud and Maryam Rajavi announce that the Mojahedin Central
Committee has been expanded to several hundred members.
February 1991 The Gulf War. Rajavi orders children to be evacuated
from Iraq and sent to the west for fostering.
March 1991 Morvarid operation in which Mojahedin forces use tanks to
quell Kurdish rebellions in the north of Iraq. The suppression ordered by
Saddam Hussein, carried out by Mojahedin was headed by Massoud and Maryam
18th October 1991 NLA (Mojahedin) military parade in the
presence of Massoud and Maryam Rajavi held in Ashraf camp, Iraq as a show of
19th October 1991 Eleven more members added to the
National Council of Resistance making it 22 strong.
April 1992 Iran bombs Mojahedin bases in Iraq. Massoud and Maryam
Rajavi survive the attack. Mojahedin and National Council of Resistance
launch simultaneous arson attacks on Iranian embassies in thirteen western
21 December 1992 National Council of Resistance expanded from 21 to
150 members to include more Mojahedin personnel. NCRI officially becomes an
extension of the Rajavi cult.
August 1993 National Council of Resistance (headed by Rajavi)
expanded to 235 members to include more Mojahedin personnel. National
Council of Resistance sets up eighteen committees. National Council of
Resistance (headed by Massoud Rajavi) decides to appoint Maryam Rajavi as
President elect of the Democratic Islamic Republic of Iran [after the
overthrow of the current Islamic Republic of Iran].
10th August 1993 Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) unanimously elect
all-women Leadership Council of 12 members and 12 deputies. The Mojahedin
Central Committee is trebled from 1991 levels to 2,600 members.
October 1993 Maryam Rajavi made President elect for the future Iran
by the NCRI. Fahimeh Arvani appointed Secretary General of the Mojahedin.
Massoud Rajavi the Ideological leader of the cult.
1993 Maryam Rajavi sent to France by Massoud Rajavi to win back
western political support.
1994 US Foreign Affairs Committee commission the State Department to
report on the Mojahedin (Rajavi Cult). The subsequent report describes the
Mojahedin as a personality cult and says that the organisation is terrorist
August 1995 National Council of Resistance expanded to 560 members
(all Mojahedin members). Committees increased from 18 to 25.
October 1995 Maryam Rajavi visits Norway and addresses City Hall,
Oslo on behalf of Mojahedin and National Council of Resistance.
21 June 1996 Earl’s Court concert held in London. Maryam Rajavi
June 1996 Maryam Rajavi speaks to a private meeting of British
August 1996 National Council of Resistance now has 572 members. Only
6 are political parties, including the Mojahedin organisation. over 90
percent are officially from Mojahedin Khalq Organisation (Rajavi Cult)
1996 Maryam Rajavi recalled to Iraq by her husband Massoud Rajavi
after the failure of her mission.
1996 UK Charity Commission begins investigation into Iran Aid Charity
over alleged fundraising for Mojahedin and Rajavi cult.
1997 UK Charity Commission close Iran Aid Charity.
1997 Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) withdraw all personnel to Iraq. Launch
at least ten cross-border attacks on Iran.
October 1997 US State Department designates the Mojahedin headed by
Rajavi a terrorist organisation according to the Anti-Terrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act of the same year.
1999 the Mojahedin headed by Massoud and Maryam Rajavi targeted key
Iranian military officers and assassinated the deputy chief of the Iranian
Armed Forces General Staff, Shirazi
February 2000 Mojahedin (Rajavi
cult) launch operation Great Bahman with a dozen military attacks against
Iran. April 2000 the Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) attempted to assassinate the
commander of the Nasr Headquarters, Tehran’s interagency board responsible
for coordinating policies on Iraq.
2000 United Kingdom lists Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) as a proscribed
organisation under the Terrorism Act 2000.
11 September 2001 Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) make no comment on
terrorism following the World Trade Centre disaster. Witnesses say the event
was celebrated in the group's bases throughout the world.
21 December 2001 German High Court closes 25 Mojahedin (Rajavi cult)
bases in Germany over social security misuse and fraud. Several million
marks had been used to buy weapons.
and 2001 the Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) was involved regularly in 213
mortar attacks and hit-and-run raids on Iranian military and law enforcement
units and government buildings near the Iran-Iraq border.
May 2002 European Union places Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) on its list of
18 April 2003 Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) armed forces in Iraq agree a
ceasefire with US Commanders.
20 April 2003 Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) armed forces in Iraq agree to
disarm under US control
3 June 2003 Australian Federal Police raid 10 Mojahedin (Rajavi cult)
bases in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne
11 June 2003 Iranian students protest in Tehran
17 June 2003 French Police raid Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) headquarters in
Paris - arrest leader's wife Maryam Rajavi and over 150 other Mojahedin
members on the orders of the anti-terrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere
20 June 2003 Anniversary of Mojahedin's mass demonstration in Iran
20 June 2003 Four Iranians (From Rajavi cult) have so far taken part
in the fire protests in London this week, after the arrests in Paris of 150
members of the Iranian opposition group, the People's Mojahedin or Rajavi
24 July 2003 Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) in Iraq refuse to allow families
into their camps to visit their relatives
15 August 2003 US State Department Amends Terrorist
Designation of Mojahedin-e Khalq to add its aliases National Council of
Resistance (NCR) and National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) now all
official names for Rajavi cult are listed.
September 2003 Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) repeatedly talked of as pawns
in a power game between the Pentagon and Iran
11 September 2003 Richard Boucher in a State Department Press
Briefing reiterated firstly that "the MEK (Mojahedin Khalq Organisation of
Rajavi cult) is a terrorist organization; second of all, that we are not
going to allow terrorist organizations to exist or operate inside Iraq."
27 September 2003 Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) deny 300 families of
Mojahedin members access to their relatives
2 October 2003 US State Department re-designates the Mojahedin and
National Council of Resistance as terrorist entities
10 October 2003 Shirin Ebadi wins Nobel Peace Prize
14 October 2003 FOX News introduces Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) spokesman
Alireza Jafarzadeh as its Iran expert
14 October 2003 Canadian Judge Gladys MacPherson rules
Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) a terrorist organization prompting a crackdown on
Mojahedin finances and activities there
3 December 2003 British House of Lords Debate says fall of Saddam
Hussein exposes Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) as international
terrorists with six massive military bases inside Iraq 10 December 2003 Iraqi Governing Council votes unanimously to expel
Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) from Iraq
26 December 2003 Earthquake in Bam, Iran
27 December 2003 Maryam Rajavi convenes meeting of top Mojahedin (Rajavi
cult) officials in Europe to explore ways to exploit the Bam earthquake and
raise funds under this banner
30 December 2003 Al Jazeera airs videotape secretly filmed by Saddam
Hussein's Intelligence officials of Massoud Rajavi an Mojahedin accepting
tanks, and money from Saddam's Secret Service
6 January 2004 Seventeen Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) members in US
captivity in Iraq have links to Canada but Mojahedin will not let them go -
demands whole terrorist organization be taken out together
14 January 2004 American Red Cross implicated in involvement in a
Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) fundraiser ostensibly for Bam victims to be held
January 24 to promote Maryam Rajavi and raise funds
21 January 2004 US Attorney General John Ashcroft to investigate a
charity event for ties to an Iranian terrorist group (Mojahedin or Rajavi
cult) backed by Saddam Hussein
22 January 2004 U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo backed out of plans to speak
at the fundraiser connected to the Mojahedin (Rajavi cult)
24 January 2004 Rajavi and Mojahedin's financial contacts with
foreign terrorists in Norway uncovered
24 January 2004 Former Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) members hold press
conference in Baghdad to demand help from the international community to
free dissidents inside the organization who are in Mojahedin and Rajavi
27 January 2004 Iraqi newspaper Al Mada revealed Mojahedin (Rajavi cult)
received illegal oil money from Saddam
29 January 2004 Pentagon Advisor Richard Perle criticized for
speaking at Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) fundraiser
6 February 2004 Sky News reports film showing Rajavi and Mojahedin
plotting with Saddam's Security chief for terrorist activities inside and
outside Iraq. The film includes transfer of large amounts of money to
finance the operations or Rajavi and Mojahedin
16 March 2004
Families of Mojahedin members appeal to international agencies to stop
Rajavi cult from preventing them visiting their relatives
17 March 2004 Five
mojahedin members are killed in an armed clash with police in Iraq
14 April 2004 Italian police raid Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) bases in
Italy - seize large amounts of documents and computers. Italian police acted
to prevent the transfer of Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) HQ in Baghdad to Rome
15 April 2004 Canadian Intelligence Service briefs MP about Rajavi
cult threat after he is misled into helping them
May 2004 US Department of State Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003
updates Mojahedin and National Council of Resistance (Rajavi cult) listing
as terrorist entity
11 May 2004 Stat Roo
magazine reports 12 women Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) leaders have refugee
status revoked in Germany
17 May 2004
Nejat Association reports the continuing arrival in Iran of dissenting
Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) who have fled Ashraf camp. Dissent is rife inside
the camp say the escapees
24 May 2004
UK Labour MP Steve McCabe accused of supporting terrorism as he attends
National Council of Resistance (Rajavi cult) meeting. In August 2003 the USA
designated the National council of resistance (Rajavi cult) part of the MKO/PMOI
(Mojahedin) terrorist entity
14 June 2004 Win Griffiths, MP, Sir
Teddy Taylor, MP, an independent journalist and Iran-Interlink visit Ebrahim
Khodabandeh and Jamil Bassam and other Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) prisoners in
Evin prison, Tehran
17 June 2004
Former Mojahedin and Rajavi cult members seminar in Paris to raise awareness
of Rajavi cult involvement in Iraqi terrorism, war crimes and human rights
17 June 2004
One year anniversary of arrest of Maryam Azdonlou (aka Rajavi) in Paris.
Azdonlou (Rajavi) is still awaiting trial on terrorism charges
30 June 2004
Ali Reza Jaafar Zadeh, Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) spokesman in FOX News,
continues to be exposed as a peddler of unsubstantiated rumours
9 July 2004
US Court of Appeals upholds decision that National Council of Resistance and
Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) are terrorist entities
26 July 2004
Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) in Ashraf camp, Iraq granted 'protected status'
under Fourth Geneva Convention. US State Department stresses it still
regards Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) as a terrorist entity and is in talks to
repatriate individual members to Iran on a voluntary basis
2004 Iranian judiciary prepares a complaint against Mojahedin (Rajavi
cult) to present in to an Iraqi special court
2004 Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) duped Swedish schoolchildren into attending
a pro-Mojahedin demo in Brussels, along with paying tens of Afghan refugees
to pose as Iranian supporters
2004 Jack Straw, UK Foreign Secretary told reporters there were no
grounds for removing Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) from terror list: "they were
and remain a terrorist organization".
2004 Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) agent in Germany arrested after kidnap
attempt on former member in Cologne shopping street
2004 Chief U.S. weapons inspector Charles Duelfer reports Saddam
Hussein used the United Nations-managed Oil-for-Food program to provide
millions of dollars in subsidies to Mojahedin (Rajavi cult)
October 2004 First voluntary
repatriations begun from Camp Ashraf under auspices of Red Cross and Red
Crescent. Seven former Mojahedin members returned successfully to their
19 November 2004 Antiwar Americans and
Iranians protest against Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) in Washington
20 November 2004 Draft statement for
Sharm Al Sheikh conference deals with Mojahedin Khalq or Rajavi cult as a
foreign terrorist group in Iraq
20 December 2004 A US federal appeals
court Monday reinstated indictments against seven defendants accused of
raising money for a terrorist organization Mojahedin Khalq or Rajavi cult
with links to ousted Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein.
20 December 2004 28 former Mojahedin (Rajavi
cult) members voluntarily repatriated from Camp Ashraf.
12 January 2005 13 former Mojahedin (Rajavi
cult) members voluntarily repatriated from Camp Ashraf.
10 February 2005 German police ban
Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) rally in Berlin over fears of violence by the group.
24 February 2005 British academic Ali
Ansari wins public apology after slander trial over comments made in the
Mojahedin's book Enemies of the Ayatollahs by Mohammed Mohaddessin
(Representative of Rajavi cult). Publisher Zed Books Ltd agreed not to
republish the book and all relevant copies of the book had been recalled and
the offending material destroyed
25 February 2005 Over 230 former
Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) members attended a meeting in the ICRI office in
Baghdad to formally request to be freed and repatriated to Iran.
9 March 2005 A new group of 132 former
Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) members repatriated. Another group of 100 returned
to Iran earlier this month.
29 March 2005 former Mojahedin (Rajavi
cult) members protest to French parliament to help free Rajavi's captives
from Iraqi camp.
... A RAND study examined the evolution of this controversial decision,
which has left the United States open to charges of hypocrisy in the war on
terrorism. An examination of MeK activities establishes its cultic practices
and its deceptive recruitment and public relations strategies. A series of
coalition decisions served to facilitate the MeK leadership's control over
its members. The government of Iraq wants to expel the group, but no country
other than Iran will accept it. Thus, the RAND study concludes that the best
course of action would be ...
At the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Coalition forces classified
the Mujahedin-e Khalq, a militant organization from Iran with cult-like
elements that advocates the overthrow of Iran's current government, as an
The MeK had provided security services to Saddam Hussein from camps
established in Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War to fight Iran in collaboration
with Saddam's forces and resources. A new study from the RAND Corporation, a
nonprofit research organization, looks at how coalition forces handled this
group following the invasion.
Although the MeK is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization by the
United States, coalition forces never had a clear mission on how to deal
After a ceasefire was signed between Coalition forces and the MeK, the
U.S. Secretary of Defense designated this group's members as civilian
"protected persons" rather than combatant prisoners of war under the Geneva
Conventions. The coalition's treatment of the MeK leaves it – and the United
States in particular – open to charges of hypocrisy, offering security to a
terrorist group rather than breaking it up.
Research suggests that most of the MeK rank-and-file are neither
terrorists nor freedom fighters, but trapped and brainwashed people who
would be willing to return to Iran if they were separated from the MeK
leadership. Many members were lured to Iraq from other countries with false
promises, only to have their passports confiscated by the MeK leadership,
which uses physical abuse, imprisonment, and other methods to keep them from
Iraq wants to expel the group, but no country other than Iran will accept
it. The RAND study suggests the best course of action would have been to
repatriate MeK rank-and-file members back to Iran, where they have been
granted amnesty since 2003. To date, Iran appears to have upheld its
commitment to MeK members in Iran. The study also concludes better
guidelines be established for the possible detention of members of
designated terrorist organizations.
New U.S. approach to
Mojahedin-e Khalq (MKO, MEK) in Camp Ashraf overlooks the victims’ human
... The problem is not the name of Camp Ashraf or the name MEK. The
Rajavi’s cannot simply re-name, re-brand or even relocate their group for
political expediency and expect the ‘members’ to continue as their slaves.
To solve this problem (before the question of whether they want to work for
or against anyone) the residents must be given access to the outside world,
to their families, to media, communications, get paid for their work and
have access to the post office, cinema, marriage registry, birth registry,
police station, legal aid, courts and legal bodies of the country they are
living in etc. Nine years after the fall of Saddam ...
Attitudes are slowly crystallising and shifting over what should be done
about the MEK, with the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey introducing a
new and positive approach in U.S. dealings with the group in Iraq. But the
July 4 Miami Herald article
‘Iranian dissidents in Iraq want refuge in 3rd country’
, also highlights the danger that various elements are still trying to
derive their own benefits from the MEK even though the demise of Camp Ashraf
has become inevitable. Of course you would need to ask those involved what
they each hope to get out of such a defunct group.
Ambassador James Jeffrey, addressing only MEK leaders, has urged them to
“‘dissolve’ their paramilitary organization and become refugees someplace
else in Iraq”. In its turn the MEK itself has already threatened to
massacre its own membersif any external body interferes in the camp. Jeffrey added
that the group "really believe that the U.N. and the United States will
protect them forever." Well, they have good reason to believe that to be so.
Trita Parsi’s timely article
Washington's Favorite Terroristsexposed U.S. hypocrisy in dealing with the MEK in Washington.
But we may very well see a similar level of support continuing in Iraq. The
obvious way this would manifest would be for the MEK to be taken (en masse)
inside a U.S. military base and held there until further notice. This would
protect the group from Iraqi attempts to expel them from the country, and
also obviate the need for the U.N. to enter Camp Ashraf and rescue the
individual residents from their enforced imprisonment by the MEK leadership.
The wholesale transfer of the residents of Camp Ashraf would truly be a
human rights disaster. The sooner it is acknowledged that Rajavi is nobody’s
representative but his own, the sooner the victims of the MEK will be
From the hardliners in Iran who want to keep their dangerous foreign
backed enemy, to the neoconservatives in the U.S. who want to keep the
hatred between Iran and the west (as the neocon version of Holocaust denial,
the fact that the MEK has killed so many Iranians is what feeds this
hatred), to Iraqi internal factions which want to use the MEK for attacking
other factions, to Europeans who still believe the MEK are a useful
bargaining chip with Iran or can be used to influence the internal affairs
of Iraq. All these have an interest in keeping the MEK intact. None wants
the dissolution of the camp or the organisation. They all want to stop the
camp being disbanded because they are using the MEK for their own various
The problem is that without taking the necessary action to access the
individual residents of the camp they are essentially being left in the
ownership of the Rajavis and their backers. In this respect where are the
human rights organisations which should be directly involved in helping
these victims? What attempts have the U.N. made to actually get inside the
camp and have free access to the residents? Human Rights Watch published its
‘No Exit’ report in 2005 which was laudable, but what have they done since
then? Amnesty International still prefers to think of the MEK as an entity
and ignore the existence of the individuals in the camp. What has AI said
about the internal problems of the residents; the daily violations and
abuses of their basic human rights?
The problem is not the name of Camp Ashraf or the name MEK. The Rajavi’s
cannot simply re-name, re-brand or even relocate their group for political
expediency and expect the ‘members’ to continue as their slaves. To solve
this problem (before the question of whether they want to work for or
against anyone) the residents must be given access to the outside world, to
their families, to media, communications, get paid for their work and have
access to the post office, cinema, marriage registry, birth registry, police
station, legal aid, courts and legal bodies of the country they are living
Nine years after the fall of Saddam and the disappearance of the cult
leader it is not acceptable for a U.S. official to simply try to move the
group from one part of the world to the other part without the slightest
concern about the human rights of the captives there.
Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK,
NCRI, Rajavi cult) began their terror campain by killing Americans
... Massoud Rajavi was on the stage and while he had his hands on his
waist he began a war cry against the USA, and in his admiration for Osama
Ben Laden and his organization, Al Qaeda, he said, ”This was fanatical Islam
which trembled and shacked the basis of US Imperialism and they destroyed
the twin towers which were the symbol of their power, and successfully
reduced it to rubble through their successful mission”. Then he (Massoud
Rajavi) with a smile on his face continued his war cry and said, ”What will
happen to the USA if revolutionary Islam with our Ideology and Maryam’s
leadership comes to power, then this paper tiger (the USA) will be destroyed
as a whole.” ...
Mojahedin began their
terrorist operations against American citizens and American offices located
in Iran in 1971 which are as follows:
- June 22, 1972- U.S. Air Force Brigadier General HAROLD PRICE, chief of the
Air Force Section of U.S. Military Advisory Group in Iran.
- January 1973 – bombing the office of Shell Oil Company.
- A few days later bombing the office of Pan American airlines
- 3 June 1973 – assassination of U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Hawkins,
U.S. military mission.
- 25 May 1974 bombing of Jewish American establishments like General and
British establishments like Yorkshire Bank and Tichno Co. HQs
- January 27 1975, in response to the visit of Henry Kissinger to Iran the
explosion of the office of TT International and Joan Doer Company.
- 11 May 1975 – assassination of Colonel Paul Schaeffer and Lieutenant
Colonel Jack Turner, U.S. Air Force officers in the mission.
- 4th July 1975, PMOI’s terrorists stopped the motorcade of the American
Ambassador in Tehran and opened fired on his car, but because of the
darkness inside of the car, an Iranian official who was working for American
Embassy in Tehran and was the PMOI’s infiltration agent was killed by
- In July 1975, two bombs were exploded in two places, first in the USA and
Iran Committee building and the second one in the English Consul in the city
- 28 August 1976 – 3 civilian employees of Rockwell International, Donald J
Smith, Robert R Grangrad and William C. Catrel, advisor to the Iranian
military were subject to bombing and kidnapping.
1. In December of 1970 carried out an abortive attempt to kidnap U.S.
Ambassador Douglas MacArthur.
2. President Richard M. Nixon’s trip was marred by a series of bombings,
including one explosion at the tomb of the Shah’s father shortly before the
President and his hosts were scheduled to arrive.
3. The offices of El Al Airlines, Shell Petroleum, British Petroleum,
British Overseas Airways, a Jewish Emigration office in Tehran, and numerous
other U.S. facilities and properties were bombed and victimized.
4. In 1979, they supported the American Embassy occupation in Tehran and
participated in the occupation of the Embassy by their agents who were
As a result of the terrorist operation which happened in 9/11 in the USA,
every country became astonished and confused at such brutal and barbaric
acts, which targeted thousands innocent people in the twin towers, and all
these countries and their governments condemned such brutality and savagery.
But, surprisingly the PMOI’s operatives and leaders threw a very big party
in Bagherzadeh Garrison in Iraq and celebrated that incident and showed
their admiration for that terrorist act by dancing, shouting and
congratulating one another in front of their leaders, Massoud and Maryam
Massoud Rajavi was on the stage and while he had his hands on his waist he
began a war cry against the USA, and in his admiration for Osama Ben Laden
and his organization, Al Qaeda, he said, ”This was fanatical Islam which
trembled and shacked the basis of US Imperialism and they destroyed the twin
towers which were the symbol of their power, and successfully reduced it to
rubble through their successful mission”. Then he (Massoud Rajavi) with a
smile on his face continued his war cry and said, ”What will happen to the
USA if revolutionary Islam with our Ideology and Maryam’s leadership comes
to power, then this paper tiger (the USA) will be destroyed as a whole.”
After the downfall of Saddam Hussein, all the PMOI members underwent various
interviews for recognition of their identification by the US State
Department’s agents, the CIA, FBI, and specifically US Military Information
section MI. They gained a huge amount of very valuable information from the
PMOI members – all of which documents and information substantiate and prove
that the ideology and the strategy of the PMOI are all anti-western, and
particularly anti USA.
After the downfall of Saddam Hussein, the PMOI rapidly mobilized all its
organization for three weeks to destroy all books, CD’s, tapes, newspapers,
archives, and even the members’ personal memorandums which were produced in
various of Rajavi’s sessions and gatherings. Whatever could be interpreted
as anti-USA were pulled out of their library, archives, offices, storage
rooms and etc, and were all burned to ashes under the direct supervision of
the PMOI’s commanders. Right now if you go to the PMOI’s main garrison Camp
Ashraf, you won’t find even a single piece of paper which is anti-USA. They
performed the same exercise with their computers as well.
The US State Department has justly listed the PMOI and its political wing
the National Council of Resistance (NCRI) as a terrorist organization in its
terrorist list. While the State Department listed them as a terrorist
organization, it did not have the valuable information which it now has now.
In a report that was published in 2005 by the US State Department regarding
the terrorist organization list, it mentioned justly that the PMOI is a
potential threat and is a very dangerous terrorist organization. In that
report it was mentioned that the PMOI has the potential to become a
dangerous organization in any period of time because of their special
terrorist training and cohesive organizational structure. For instance, on
17th of June 2003 when Maryam Rajavi was arrested by French Police, PMOI
leaders ordered their members to set themselves on fire in public streets.
If there was no complaint and protest from the international bodies and
humanitarian organizations against this kind of brutality and savagery, it
was still going to become one of the biggest of human catastrophes.
Tthe US State Department has justly listed the PMOI as a terrorist
organization in the terrorist list and has justly mentioned in the US State
Department report that the PMOI has signs of being a cult. we must stress
that even though the State Department reports of 2005 and 2006 are not
complete, that the report shows that this organization is a religious cult.