A series of irreversible setbacks in recent months has apparently sealed the fate of the Mojahedin-e Khalq’s (MKO, aka Rajavi cult) in political circles.
On December 12, 2006 Judgement of the Court of First Instance of the European Court of Justice in case T-228/02 was announced. By pouring money into top legal teams, the MKO had been convinced of a favourable outcome. But British Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett clarified the European position; new legislation has ensured that all the MKO’s assets remained frozen and its proscription as a terrorist entity remained unchanged. The Court did, however, rule that the EC give the reasons for its proscription to the MKO.
The MKO reaction to this setback was to pretend it wasn’t true and to disseminate its own version of the Court ruling. Rajavi sent two MEPs to Camp Ashraf in Iraq to celebrate with the captive combatants ‘the removal of the MKO from the terrorist list’. Rajavi told his followers they would soon be re-armed to resume training in earnest to pursue their twenty-five year quest to overthrow the Iranian regime in its entirety through the National Liberation Army (the front name used for Mojahedin military activity).
The MKO also had its members in Europe, North America and Australia set up any publicity stunt possible, from pickets to petitions to say the Court must abide by its own ruling and remove the MKO from the EU terrorist list – as though the Court was defying the law which itself had just ruled upon.
The European judgement was rapidly followed by an equally damning US Supreme Court ruling on MKO fundraising. Then the Iraqi government announced its determination to close (actually to reclaim as Iraqi territory) Camp Ashraf, and have the foreign terrorist MKO expelled from the country.
At the end of April 2007, the US State Department published its review of terrorist entities. The report marks the MKO out as a dangerous cult with operatives, trained by the former Iraqi regime in bomb making and weapons use, still at-large.
Now, the final nail in the MKO’s political coffin has surely been the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as France’s President. France is home to the MKO’s western HQ and residence of co-leader Maryam Rajavi. As Interior Minister in 2003, Sarkozy gave the go-ahead to Judge Brugiere to raid the MKO headquarters in Auvers-sur-Oise during which 160 members were arrested and evidence of planning and financing terrorist activity uncovered. Evidence which is referenced by the State Department report.
Identified as both a terrorist organisation and as a cult, how are the Rajavis responding to this series of devastating setbacks? Can the group stage a comeback?
The MKO has already closed some websites, stopped live discussion on their TV and refuse to give any reaction to the US report. However, if we take the MKO’s reaction to the EU Court ruling as typical, it is certain we have not heard the last from them. We also know from the reaction to Maryam Rajavi’s arrest in 2003 when she ordered self-immolations to force the French judiciary to release her on bail, that this group will not go quietly.
Significantly, the MKO’s own analysis places blame for the group’s difficulties on its critics. Of these critics, the most troublesome have been ex-members of the organisation who have been outspoken in their exposure of the organisation’s cult activity and its close ties with the Saddam Hussein regime. With ex-members constantly giving the lie to the Mojahedin’s seductive claims to democracy, feminism and popular regime change, it is not surprising that the MKO leaders see these people as the biggest obstacle to their ambitions.
Massoud Rajavi’s plan fourteen years ago was for his wife – whom he nominated president elect – to carry this seductive message to western politicians and media and for her to find western sponsors to allow him to continue the quest he began under the patronage of Saddam Hussein – to somehow engineer the violent overthrow the Iranian regime and to install the Rajavi regime in its place.
It would be easy to assume from this that Rajavi’s efforts to keep Camp Ashraf intact is based on its military capacity. However, with the continuation of the FTO label, if Rajavi agreed to the removal of the Camp and its members, this would allow him to forge ahead with the claim that the MKO has renounced violence. But the Camp has much greater significance to the Rajavis as their ideological training ground. The camp provides the conditions of isolation and de facto imprisonment which are necessary to the imposition of cult mind control and psychological coercion on the members. Without these conditions, members would be free to have contact with their families, and to make value judgements using external points of reference which would certainly result in mass exodus from the organisation.
Rajavi will keep his people in Camp Ashraf at any price. He has employed people to lobby the Defence Ministries of European countries on his behalf. In the UK a minor academic, who has a track record of support for the Rajavis, has been tasked to make overtures to the Ministry of Defence in order to create a bridge for senior MKO members to pressure the department (the threat of mass suicide in Camp Ashraf is just one of those ‘pressures’). The only purpose for such contact would be to beg for the preservation of Camp Ashraf or provision of a similar discreet base in a third country, possibly Jordan.
While this is ongoing, the situation in Rajavi’s western bases is hardly less desperate. With Sarkozy’s election, Maryam Rajavi’s trial on terrorism charges will likely go ahead sooner rather than later. The Rajavis will need diversionary tactics such as the self-immolations staged while she was held in custody in 2003.
To mark the anniversary of her arrest on June 17 the MKO is planning to announce that five million French citizens have signed a petition to have the MKO removed from the terror list. However, this will only work if the ex-members are not able to expose these funny numbers. The aim is to keep them quiet for as long as possible to allow the MKO propaganda machine to work unhindered.
Reliable sources have revealed to Iran-Interlink that the Rajavis have already set in motion a new wave of attacks by Mojahedin cult members, particularly in the UK, aimed to intimidate and silence the ex-members and other critics whom they blame for this situation (the Rajavis never believe their own activities to be at fault). The attacks typically begin with distribution of slanderous colour brochures in the places of residence and work followed by indirect harassment and intimidation. The next step is to send members to physically intimidate the target. Criminal damage and physical harm have been reported previously in several cases, including a Catholic priest who was attacked while coming to the aid of one such ex-member.
The information given to Iran-Interlink ties in with previous attempts by the MKO to undermine the ex-members’ efforts. For years the Rajavis have tried to discredit them with the accusation that they are working for the Iranian Intelligence Ministry. Inside the Mojahedin the ‘crime’ of working for the regime carries with it an automatic death penalty. Whenever this accusation is made the Rajavis are giving tacit permission to MKO members to execute the target.
While this kind of low-level intimidation has become standard for this terrorist group (as with many others), the conditions which it faces now should alert western governments to act quickly to prevent any escalation into violence, even death.
The main consideration with the Mojahedin is that it is a cult. When Maryam Rajavi goes to trial the Mojahedin will, without doubt, respond with a series of orchestrated protests including more self-immolations. But, with their backs now against the wall the Rajavis may have no option but to order more forceful expression to avoid submitting to the course of justice. As a destructive cult, there is no doubt that the MKO will resort to violence in response to outer threat. The MKO will follow the predicted path of all cults and kill its own members as well as killing external threats. This may begin with self-immolations and targeted assassination of its critics. It may even affect a wider circle, including members of the public. Whatever violence ensues, the perpetrators of these acts will be as much the victims of the Rajavis as the targets are.
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Iran Interlink Brief – Iran Interlink, May 2007