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Former members: Terrorist MKO Facing a Standoff

Tehran, July 25, IRNA – Two former members of the terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq Organisation (MKO), Ebrahim Khodabandeh and Jamil Bassam, said that the organisation has reached the dead-end, and the countdown has started for its decline.

Khodabandeh and Bassam, both 54, became members of the MKO in 1983 and quit the terrorist organisation four years ago.

Talking to IRNA, they uncovered issues about the terrorist group which are "interesting and surprising".


The interview with the two former MKO members started with the…circumstances "surrounding an accident". The question was: "Why the terrorist MKO has remained silent vis-a-vis the annual statement of the US State Department, after more than two months."

Khodabandeh, who was active at the MKO international relations section for some 20 years, said that the main reason behind this silence was that the statement refers to the MKO as a "Cult of Personality".

He believes that this title, as well as keeping the MKO in the list of "Proscribed Terrorist Groups" by the European Union which recently has been announced, would internationally weaken the position of the organisation.

Although the US State Department has put the MKO in the list of the International Terrorist Groups since 1984, it has underlined the organisation being a "cult" this year.

Khodabandeh, who has made broad studies on cultic organisations and cult leaders, said that according to definitions presented by psychiatrists and sociologists around the world, cultic organisations are those whose members are under mental coercion and mind indoctrination.

According to the law in European countries, unauthorized imposing of systematic manipulation on individuals is an offence which is subject to legal prosecution, he added.

Based on definitions, those who are under thought reform processes in such cults would carry out tasks on the demand of the cult leader they would have never done in normal life and natural situations, he noted.

Meanwhile Jamil Bassam, who was active in the MKO publications section in several European countries for years, outlined another important issue.

According to him, after the MKO was put on the list of terrorist groups by the US State Department as well as the EU, the organisation made great efforts, through American and European Courts, to be dropped from the list.

Regarding the issue, Bassam believes that the US State Department has adopted a "tougher" position on MKO by classifying it a cult as well as putting it in the list of terrorist organisations.

The US State department has come to such conclusion by receiving information from the massive number of former members of the organisation both in Iraq and in other countries, he added.

The statement has reiterated that the MKO, in addition to its terrorist record, has displayed cultic characteristics, too.

The State Department Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism on April 30 released the list of designated terrorist organizations. Once again Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) continues to occupy the status it has been designated since 1997.

This statement quotes: "In addition to its terrorist credentials, the MEK (MKO) has also displayed cult-like characteristics.

Upon entry into the group, new members are indoctrinated in MEK ideology and revisionist Iranian history. Members are also required to undertake a vow of "eternal divorce" and participate in weekly "ideological cleansings." Additionally, children are reportedly separated from parents at a young age. MEK leader Maryam Rajavi has established a "cult of personality." She claims to emulate the Prophet Muhammad and is viewed by members as the "Iranian President in exile."

Khodabandeh believes that the statement by the US State Department is the work of experts and professionals and is not politically motivated.


The two former MKO members further unveiled the efforts made by the terrorist organisation to establish relations with the war-mongering faction of the Pentagon.

According to them, after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the terrorist MKO made efforts to attract the attention of certain war-seeking elements of the Pentagon.

They also referred to internal disputes in the US saying the US State Department, contrary to the view of the Pentagon war mongers, is opposed to using the MKO as a tool.

Khodabandeh referred to the statement of the US State Department plus the classification of the MKO as a cult, the two huge "obstacles" in the way of such efforts.

He believes that by inserting the MKO in the list of terrorist organisations again, both by the US and the EU, efforts for the MKO cooperating with the west in general and the USA in particular are "blocked".

Considering the expert views presented on the terrorist MKO, the US State Department would argue that the cult is not trustworthy and would be placed in the rank of such groups as al-Qaeda, the two former MKO members said.

Regarding the question of the cults, they said that "methodology" is the prime issue, not the "ideology". In other words, in a cult, the use of methods for total mental domination on a person in line with the cultic tendencies would be under consideration.

Khodabandeh said that the position of the terrorist MKO for Washington is similar to those terrorist groups supported by the US in certain countries of the world, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, who later took action against the US interests.

Bassam also believes that the MKO is trying to take advantages of the existing Iran-US disputes for its survival.

He added that as to restrictions faced by the MKO since it was included in the list of the International Terrorist Groups, the MKO members, in order to escape the restrictions in Europe and in the US, were active under the cover of "Iranian Societies" and "National Resistance".


The remaining question is that due to the negative impacts of the statement of the US State Department on the activities of the MKO, why the cult had remained silent over the past two months and had not given any response?

Khodabandeh gives an interesting answer to this question. He said that the MKO used to take a tough stance vis-a-vis previous statements issued by the US State Department but this time the case is different.

According to him, one reason behind the stillness is that the MKO is faced with a political "deadlock" in the international arena and is incapable of showing any reaction.

They both said that all cults are obliged to provide propaganda to feed their members in order to pretend that everything is going well.

The two former MKO members reiterated that the organisation has inducted its members that the west and the US are currently supporting the MKO. Therefore they do not want such negative reports reach their members so they keep silent regarding the statement.

The two believe that members of the cult are living in "delusion".

They give an example saying: "Those living in Ashraf Camp are presented with a false image of Iran. Therefore when we arrived in Tehran, we saw that the situation was totally different from what we had thought."

They added that the MKO has told its members inside the organisation that Maryam Rajavi is the designer of "third option" strategy, which in reality is to be executed by the Pentagon!

Khodabandeh said: "By issuing such statement, the US in fact has disappointed the MKO. Therefore, leaders of this terrorist group, in order to keep their members away from the reality, preferred to remain silent regarding the statement.

He emphasised that the recent report by the US State Department had passed through a point of no-return and has faced the MKO strategy in seeking a substitute for Saddam Hussein in the west with a complete deadlock.

He said that the stillness of MKO regarding the report precisely originates from this strategic deadlock.

Due to the severance of relations between those living in Ashraf Camp with their families and friends and in general with the realities of the outside world, Bassam said that the Iraqi formula is different from those in other parts of the world.

Despite the issuance of such statement by the US State Department, reports point to the cooperation between the MKO and some elements in the US Defence Department, he added.

Khodabandeh is of the view that Washington may use this card in its negotiations with Iran. However, the card is not so important because the Ashraf Camp in not a security concern for Iran any longer, he added.

Bassam believes that Washington has been trapped in Iraq. The MKO is trying to pretend that Iran is involved in the Iraqi problems and thus get closer to Washington, he added.

He said that the Iraqi government is willing to dismantle the Ashraf Camp. Referring to the current situation as sensitive for the MKO, he added that they are trying to come out of this quagmire before George W Bush’s second term is over.


The two former MKO members added that the objective of the terrorist organisation is to gain power by any means including cooperation with Saddam Hussein. The cult is seeking a person like the former Iraqi dictator to lean on, they noted.

They were convinced that the statement has placed an obstacle in the way of MKO efforts, to create such a point of backing by the US, and has made the organisation face an impasse.

Asking Khodabandeh about the role of the French government in toughening the tone of the statement, in response he referred to acts of self-immolations by MKO members in Paris in 2003, after the arrest of Maryam Rajavi and added that those MKO members arrested by the French police at that time, unveiled some realities indicating cultic relations inside the organisation.

Meanwhile, Bassam reiterated that in addition to the reports by the French government on the terrorist cult, disclosure made by over 2000 MKO breakaway members was effective in making the tone of the statement stronger.

According to them, the West is currently well aware that such cults are a threat to both their members and their surrounding environment.


The statement of the US State Department has referred to Europe as the two command headquarters of the organisation. Commenting on the issue, Khodabandeh and Bassam said if true, this could be alarming for Europe.

They further reiterated that both the US and Europe should be concerned over terrorist operations by the MKO members.

The move by some MKO members who committed self-immolation after the arrest of Maryam Rajavi on 17 June 2003 in Paris, is an indication of this alarm, they said urging both the US and Europe to be sensitive towards possible terrorist operations by MKO members.

Khodabandeh said that noting is more dangerous than a cult having reached the state of impasse. Under such condition, he said, the behaviour of a terrorist cult would be unpredictable and such a threat would endanger, before anything else, the security of countries they live in as well as its present and breakaway members.

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