Survivors’ Report- Editorial (No. 25)

Three years ago this month the world was turned upside down for this month’s lead contributor. It was in June 2003 that Ebrahim Khodabandeh and his Mojahedin colleague Jamil Bassam were extradited from Syria – following their arrest on smuggling charges – and imprisoned in Iran’s Evin. For their families it was a time both of distress and of a strange relief. At least now they knew where the men were.

They were not in the Mojahedin’s Iraqi camps under bombardment, nor were they in Europe being ordered to set fire to themselves to protest the arrest of MKO leader, Maryam Rajavi. Although Rajavi’s own arrest is the focus of Ebrahim’s article, his and Jamil’s situation is interesting in itself. For three years they have been in prison for acting on the orders of the Mojahedin cult and now, with their trial underway, a verdict is expected shortly.

Conversely, Maryam Rajavi and her leading cohorts are still awaiting trial in France on terrorism charges. After three years the two stories could not have more different outcomes. Ebrahim, beyond the reach of the organisation’s system of thought control, has become an outspoken critic of the Rajavi leadership.

Maryam Rajavi on the other hand still refuses to renounce violence as the only means at her disposal to achieve political power. Yet in spite of this, she continues to beg for the Mojahedin to be removed from global terrorism lists. Is she asleep? Is she dreaming? Or is she – as Maryam Khoshnevis describes Massoud Rajavi in her article ‘Sleep- Stricken’ – only pretending to be asleep so as not to be awoken from her dream of power.

Ebrahim worked in the Mojahedin’s ‘diplomacy’ section and is known to many MPs in Britain and in Europe. Similarly, Massoud Banisadr will be known to many legislators in the USA. His interview with Mahan Abedin is one of the most revealing to have come out from a former member who once stalked the corridors of power on behalf of the Mojahedin.

When Rosemary Hollis of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, visited Iran, she spoke about western support for the organisation: "They have managed to get a very few irresponsible people, being MPs or others, to go along with them. These are very dangerous and ruthless people."

But while western supporters of the Mojahedin are certainly irresponsible, I don’t believe this is sufficient to describe their support. Surely we want to know how and why, in defiance of all the documented evidence as well as the thoroughly researched assessments of their own governments, they come to support so obviously unsavoury a group.

While it might be possible to allege that some of the Mojahedin’s supporters are ‘paid’ in some way, or it may be possible to conjure up some private or sponsored agenda behind their support, these arguments, again, are not sufficient. When all the world is agreed, why do a handful of individuals, who are not notable as rebels, turn their face away from all the available evidence, even the evidence of their own senses, and speak glowingly about a known terrorist organisation?

If we listen to former members, no matter what their role was inside the Mojahedin, one thing they agree upon unanimously; the Mojahedin operates as a cult. As it is known that one of the main characteristic of cults is that they employ known methods of psychological manipulation and thought reform, then it is reasonable to add to Dr Rosemary Hollis’ description something from Ian Haworth’s excellent introduction to cults, ‘Cults, a practical guide’; "Too often rational people say, "It could never happen to me. I could never be recruited into a cult.”They do not realise that people do not ‘join’ cults, but are instead actively recruited” anyone can be recruited by a cult if they are not able to recognize the cult in advance and have the strength to walk away from it." Why would members of parliament suspect that for years a dangerous cult has been able to openly and actively recruit in the very buildings where they make laws to protect the citizens of their countries? But Massoud Banisadr was just one of those recruiters “ whether he was aware of it or not. And it would surely be naive to think that members of parliament cannot be recruited just by dint of their job. Indeed, because of their position, they are more likely to be targets for recruitment. As well as the core members which they use as dispensable slaves, a cult also needs recruits who can perform other activities on its behalf, people in positions of power, whether they be fundraising celebrities or legislating politicians.

Unlikely as it may seem, ‘it really could be you’.

SurvivorsReport.org    June 2006

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