‘How I was brainwashed by the Tank Girls’

Anne Singleton said ordinary British Muslims were increasingly vulnerable to recruitment by extremists

A white British woman who was sucked into an extremist Muslim terror group warned yesterday of the dangers of "brainwashing" by radical groups operating in the .

Anne Singleton said ordinary British Muslims were increasingly vulnerable to recruitment by extremists, who use psychological tricks to turn them into unquestioning followers prepared to carry out atrocities for their cause.

The 48-year-old mother of one, who lives in Leeds, became involved with fanatics while studying at Manchester University in the 1970s.

Her boyfriend at the time, an Iranian called Ali, was interested in a radical group known as the People’s Mujahideen of Iran, or MKO, which was formed a decade earlier and aimed to free from capitalism, imperialism, reactionary Islamic forces and despotism.

Today Miss Singleton recalls with horror how the group, which is based in Iraq and wants to overthrow Iran’s current regime, was able to convince her to give up her life in the UK and travel abroad with them as a brainwashed slave.

Her indoctrination, conversion and submission to the MKO happened gradually over a period of ten years.

She now regards the group “ known as the "tank girls" because there are so many women in its ranks “ as a dangerous cult which uses psychological manipulation.

"I thought I was a saviour of the world and would have done anything for the Mujahideen. I worshipped those people. I thought they were of a higher order."

In 1992, Miss Singleton was asked to go to for military training.

"I loved the camp and it felt liberating to obey orders, because you lose all responsibility for yourself," she said.

But a year later she began to have doubts.

At this point she met her husband Massoud, another disillusioned MKO member, and in 1996 they made the decision to leave. It took them a further three years to break free.

Miss Singleton and her husband are involved in the campaign group Iran Interlink highlighting the dangers of groups such as the MKO.

She works as a computer programmer while raising her six-year-old son.

Yesterday, she warned that many British Muslims are at risk of suffering the same brainwashing as she did.

"Look at the young men in West Yorkshire who are being targeted by the terrorist organisations.

"Psychological manipulation can happen to anyone, any time. If you’re lucky you end up with a timeshare. If you’re unlucky you end up blowing up yourself and innocent people on the Tube."

 

By MATTHEW HICKLEY – 2nd February 2007

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