Human trafficking is an operative tool that serves several purposes for terrorist organizations. It facilitates the recruitment and retention of their recruits and provides a support mechanism for them. Leaders of the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MEK/ MKO/ PMOI/ NCR/ Cult of Rajavi) have managed their forces with the most complicated techniques of human smuggling around the world, in particularly form Iran to Iraq and from Iraq to Europe and etc. The group’s illegal trafficking has continued since its relocation in the Albanian territory.
During the past two months, there have been two reports on the MEK’s involvement in human trafficking in Albania and Greece. On December 5th, 2021, Alice Taylor of the Exit reported on the arrest of two commanders of the MEK, Narges Azdanloo and Hassan Nayeb Agha by the Albanian police. Gjergji Thanasi of Gazeta Impakt wrote of the group’s background of smuggling two men in Greece, on January 30th, 2022. Referring to the violent background of the MEK, Thanasi warned the Albanian security services to verify the case of these two people in the MEK’s camp in Manza, north of Tirana.
Trafficking is a tactic of warfare to intimidate populations and reduce resistance just as enslavement and rape. Terrorist groups appear to grow human capital, tactical adaptability and ideological reinforcement for their organizations by employing trafficking acts and means to exploit vulnerable adults and children for a variety of purposes, including sexual exploitation, forced labor and slavery, and even war. The recent testimonies published by former child soldiers of the MEK prove that leaders of the group, Massoud and Maryam Rajavi have committed all of these crimes against their own members, just as the ISIS did against their female and child recruits and the Yazidi women.
Although the case of MEK’s human traffickers and their victims have hardly ever investigated in the media and scholar communities –due to the group’s propaganda or Western political interests—the threat of the residence of two thousand radicalized members of the MEK in a European country should not be neglected.
The important argument here is that victims of trafficking by terrorist groups are too often being punished instead of protected. States fail to identify and protect victims, often because of their alleged association with terrorist groups and their illegal immigration. This makes the victims to resort to their predator again for the alleged support. This has frequently happened to members and ex-members of the MEK.
The Albanian authorities and the Human rights bodies should take into consideration that the majority of the MEK’s rank and file are victims of the group’s cult-like oppressive system. They have been radicalized under Rajavi’s cult of Personality. They have been terrified of the outside world by the group’s propaganda. Thus, the Albanian state must support them to get deradicalized in order to join the life outside the MEK’s camp.
The second step is to protect the defectors of the MEK to begin their new life in the free world. The Association for the Support of the Iranians Living in Albania (ASILA) seems to be ready to accomplish the second step. However, the first step is certainly possible if the Albanian authorities take proper action to do their national and humanitarian responsibility to aid residents of Camp Ashaf 3 release from the bars of the cult of Rajavi.