The Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) is also Known as the Cult of Rajavi. It is considered a cult because it meets all criteria of cults. The MEK is a fanatical armed group, which until 2012 was designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.
Cult is a term, considered pejorative by most people, for a relatively small group which is typically led by a charismatic and self-appointed leader, who excessively controls its members, requiring solid devotion to a set of beliefs and practices which are considered deviant outside the norms of society. The MEK is a cult focused on the personality of Massoud Rajavi, the charismatic leader who has been disappeared since 2003 and his third wife Maryam Rajavi has been the self-appointed president of the group for about three decades.
The Rajavis excessively control their members requiring them unwavering devotion to the group’s cause and ideology. They coerce members to work for them without being paid (forced labor). They require members to stay single forever. They coerce a layer of female members in the group’s hierarchy to sleep with Massoud Rajavi.
The MEK is a cartel too. It uses the resources of the enemies of the Iranian government to maintain its position within its members and sympathizers. This has formed a cartel culture around the MEK.
What is a cartel culture? Narcoculture describes the way of life and ideas of drug traffickers. Its existence depends on drug traffickers and drug trafficking maintaining a transnational network of production, transportation, and commercialization of illegal drugs.
Narcoculture in Mexico is a subculture that has grown as a result of the strong presence of the various drug cartels throughout Mexico. These cartels work like a cult. In July 2009, Reuters reported that a cult-like drug cartel was defying President Felipe Calderon in his home state in western Mexico by taking on security forces with a menacing mix of violence, pseudo-religion and gifts for the poor.
This drug cartel was called La Familia. It also wielded great power in local politics, making the organization harder to confront. What began as a means of comfort and protection among the poor and innocent in Mexico during uncertain times has found its way to becoming the foundation and justification for criminality and horrific acts of violence.
This is very similar to what the MEK does in Albania today. The group’s untransparent financial resources helps it launch huge charity campaigns, mobilizing doctors among poor citizens of Albanian villages, buying support among Albanian politicians and journalists. Meanwhile, the violent background of the group with thousands of innocent victims who were killed by the MEK’s terrorists make it very similar to La Familia.
Despite this paid support in Albania and some western countries, the group has almost no credibility in Iran. Houshang Shahabi, an Iranian-born professor of international relations at Boston University says, “They have been politically irrelevant in Iran since at least the mid-1980s and have little to no domestic support.”
As a matter of fact, the cartel culture ruling the Cult of Rajavi answers the question of why Albania would strain itself into one of the world’s most tense geopolitical standoffs, between the United States and Iran, by agreeing to host the MEK which until 2012 was designated as a terrorist group by the United States.
According to interviews conducted by The Guardian and the Intercept with MEK defectors, members spend most of their time working in the group’s troll farms demonizing the Iranian government and fomenting unrest among Iranian youth without presenting themselves as agents of the MEK.
MEK is a destructive cult which acts like drug cartels. It is dangerous because it is funded by hefty sources. Its power is based on money, cult and cartel culture. The Albanian government and international human rights body must take action to stop the MEK cartel grow in Europe.