In Paris on Sunday 15 June, a judge ordered detention of the leader of MKO and a number of her followers to face trial for possible links with terrorism. The following is what the Observer reported of the French police raid to arrest the suspects and the aftermath.
The leafy rue des Gords in this little market town north of Paris hardly lives up to its reputation as a new world capital of terrorism.
It was here that hundreds of police smashed open the doors of suburban houses in a dawn raid which the French claimed had pre-empted worldwide strikes by the militant Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mujahideen.
About 20 members of the organisation were on hunger strike on the pavement this weekend, watched by riot police and comforted by neighbours who had lived alongside the exiled Mujahideen for 22 years. The operation, involving 1,300 police, concentrated on 21 rue des Gords, home of Maryam Radjavi, the most visible leader of what has been dismissed as a violent Marxist-Islamic sect.
Around the building a permanent encampment for followers had been set up. But police blocked attempts by residents – all political refugees – to return and collect their belongings as they continued to search cellars and attics.
The suicide attempts by fire in Paris, London, Rome and Berne focused attention on the movement without clarifying why France chose last week to turn on the Mujahideen, given refuge here after falling out with Tehran’s Islamic leadership.
Labelled as Maoist when it was founded in 1965, the Mujahideen worked alongside Ayotallah Khomeini when he planned the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. But the allies soon fell out and thousands of Mujahideen refugees sought sanctuary in France in 1981. They campaigned against oppression in Tehran, where their members were tortured and hanged in public.
Radjavi was still being held by police this weekend, among more than 160 people taken into custody. The DST, the French equivalent of MI5, claimed that she and her husband, Massoud, were ready to turn Auvers into their terrorist headquarters.
Referring to allegations by Iran that the Mujahideen were responsible for at least 500 murderous attacks inside the country, Pierre de Bousquet, the DST’s director, said the organisation could no longer claim that its aim was to defend human rights and bring about democracy.
‘The attempts at self-immolation to protest against the arrest of Madame Radjavi are proof of a new fanaticism,’ he said. ‘Auvers was to become the Mujahideen’s world headquarters after the loss of bases in Iraq.’
The Observer – 18/06/2007