Last week, the Branch 1 of Tehran’s criminal court announced that 104 fugitive members of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MKO) terrorist group must introduce their attorneys to the court to represent the cases of their clients.
The historic judiciary statement noted that the named individuals would have one month to introduce their lawyers to the court, otherwise, the necessary decision would be taken in accordance with the law of the land.
Among the individuals named were Masoud Rajavi and Maryam Qajar Azedanlou (Rajavi), the ringleaders of the MKO terrorist cult, and Mehdi Abrishamchi, their right-hand man.
Earlier on June 21, Mohammad Dehqan, Iran’s vice president for legal affairs, announced that a series of measures have been taken to extradite MKO terror cult members, most of whom are currently based in Western countries.
Five days later, deputy chief of Iran’s judiciary (international affairs) Kazem Gharibabadi stated that legal measures have been initiated in various European countries against MKO members, criticizing the unnamed European nations for not properly pursuing Iran’s complaints.
Interestingly, days after the announcement, Albania banned the cult leader from entering the country, pointing to the beginning of the end of the cult’s Albania stint.
What are MKO terror cult crimes
The horrendous crimes committed by the MKO terror cult are well documented and include terrorist attacks, sabotage of civilian infrastructure, participation in military aggression, and complicity in Baathist Iraq’s genocide of the Kurds.
In Iran alone, 17,161 victims of their terrorist actions have been documented, among them President Mohammad Ali Rajaee, Prime Minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar, Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, as well as several lawmakers, ministers and scholars.
After failing to seize power and losing their socio-political base in Iran, the terror cult sought refuge in Baathist Iraq and participated in Saddam Hussein’s aggression against Iran, which was overtly backed by the West.
Post-Baathist Iraq acknowledged the former regime’s aggression against the Islamic Republic and Iraqi Kurds, convicted and punished many of those responsible, but none of the MKO members have so far been held accountable for their crimes, in Iraq or Western countries.
In only the 1988 operation against Iran, the terrorist group’s crimes included aggression and violation of UN resolutions, chemical attacks on Iranian villages with hundreds of victims, urbicide (city-killing) of Iranian cities and towns, and massacres of medics, voluntary helpers and others.
During the war and the subsequent Iraqi uprising against Saddam Hussain’s regime, MKO directly participated in genocidal campaigns against the Kurdish population, with over 4,000 victims in the vicinity of Kirkuk alone.
Testimonies from former MKO members confirm that Rajavis and senior MKO officers personally ordered the brutal massacre of Kurdish civilians, claiming that members of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) were hiding in Kurdish traditional clothing, which was a blatant lie.
The same testimonies say many MKO members were horrified by the massacres but were not in a position to oppose their leaders because they would have risked their lives.
Experts believe that by brutalizing the Iraqi Kurds, the Rajavis desperately wanted to prove themselves useful to the Iraqi dictator, without whose support they would have been without the only base available at the time.
Iran’s experiences with extradition from West
Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution until today, Iran has had multiple negative experiences with Western countries regarding the extradition of those accused of serious crimes against the Iranian nation.
The most famous case is a request to Washington to extradite deposed dictator Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and return billions that he and his family stole from Iran and stacked in Western banks.
Although there is consensus among all Western historians that he ordered numerous atrocities against ordinary Iranians, the US government stubbornly refused to extradite him, as well as other regime officials, which only added to tensions between the two sides.
Another notable case is the request to Canada to extradite Mahmoud Reza Khavari, the former Melli Bank chairman who was accused of large-scale corruption and embezzlement of at least three billion dollars.
Since 2010, Khavari has been living as a Canadian citizen and his family runs a wealthy business empire in the country. Ottawa has always dismissed Tehran’s extradition requests.
In 2017, an Iranian court sentenced him to 20 years in prison and an international Interpol warrant was issued against him, but Canada refused to cooperate for political reasons.
The Western self-righteousness and flawed belief in the correctness of their judiciary, as well as the distorted understanding of the Iranian legal system, have often threatened the lives of their own citizens.
An example of this is Man Haron Monis, who received refugee status in Australia in 1996, then a political asylum, because Canberra accepted his fake story that he was persecuted in Iran because of his liberal interpretation of Islam.
Iran sought his extradition for years and warned Australian authorities that Monis was a criminal with a long history of fraud and violence, but they refused to pay heed.
Eighteen years later, Monis besieged the Lindt Cafe in Sydney, took ten customers and eight employees hostage, killed two, and was eventually killed in a police raid. The “liberal asylum seeker” was then dubbed a “Takfiri terrorist.”
Furthermore, Iranian diplomatic missions in Western countries have often experienced unsavory incidents involving violence, and the perpetrators most often have been individuals who were granted political asylum based on false stories.
How has Iran treated MKO penitents
Contrary to the unfounded claims that Iran imposes collective guilt on all MKO terror cult members for crimes and that they are therefore threatened with death or other severe punishments, actual case stories present a completely different picture.
Iran’s judiciary recognizes that many MKO members were misled, deceived or lured into the terrorist cult with threats, intimidation and coercion.
In tens of recorded cases, MKO penitents renounced cult membership, agreed to return to Iran, voluntarily participated in police and court sessions, and were eventually released, reunited with their families, and today live freely.
This defection process has been underway for years and has intensified in recent years as most of the members are aging and approaching death. They have finally woken up to the failed ideology of the terror cult and its false promises, and are desperate to reunite with their families.
According to the testimonies of former MKO members, they were not allowed private communication with their families and any contact would be attempted under strict control, to recruit relatives or ask for donations.
Due to these conditions, which befit a concentration camp, many MKO members did not see or hear from their closest family members, relatives or friends for decades.
The latest offer by the Iranian judiciary to more than a hundred MKO members to present their defense, even in absentia through a lawyer, allows them to embrace the truth.
By Ivan Kesic