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Torture Redefined: The Horrific Engineering Operation

Torture and destroying bodies, known as ‘the Engineering Project’

On June 26th, the world comes together to observe the International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture, a day dedicated to recognizing the suffering endured by victims of torture and reaffirming our commitment to eradicating such heinous acts. This day is particularly poignant as we delve into the harrowing events surrounding the “Engineering Operation,” a brutal and calculated act orchestrated by the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) terrorist group. The MEK is an Iranian terrorist cult which, according to valid international documents, has resorted to torture both against its own members and ordinary people opposing it. The atrocities committed during this operation serve as a stark reminder of the enduring need to support victims and bring perpetrators to justice.

On August 13, 1982, no one could have imagined that the arrest of a car thief would unveil a horrific crime, later known as the “Engineering Operation”. Since then, it has been regarded as one of the most barbaric crimes in contemporary Iranian history, perpetrated by members of the MEK. Decades before the birth of ISIS, the MEK perpetrated acts far more savage.

The story began when an individual named Khosrow Zandi, a member of the MEK, was caught by the public while stealing a car intended for use in a terrorist operation. He was handed over to law enforcement. At first, it seemed like a typical car theft, but during interrogation, Zandi revealed one of the most brutal operations by the MEK. He led the officers to an area in northwest Tehran, known as Bagh Feiz, where they had buried alive three bodies.

This operation, which started on final days of July and lasted till mid-August, resulted in the deaths of three members of the Committee, a shoemaker, a teacher, and an engineer who supported the organization. The fundamental question remains: Why did the MEK commit such atrocities?

Ali Akbar Rastgoo, a former member of the MEK, wrote about the “Engineering Operation” in his memoir Mujahedin-e Khalq in the Mirror of History. He explained: “Following severe blows in early 1982 and the exposure of many of their safe houses, the organization ordered the abduction and torture of any suspicious individuals seen around these safe houses to extract information. This new initiative was named the ‘Engineering Operation’ by the organization.”

Khosrow Zandi, the car thief who was arrested, provided crucial information to the prosecution, leading to the discovery of those involved in the crime. His information revealed a house on Bahar Street in Tehran, which was the main site of the operation and the primary torture chamber. Among those arrested in this house was Mehran Asdaghi (alias Bahram), who for several months tried to downplay his role by providing false information to interrogators. However, with the confessions of other detainees, it became clear that Asdaghi was, in fact, the chief military commander of the MEK in Tehran and one of the main torturers.

Asdaghi, who was arrested in August 1982, only fully confessed in 1984 after tens of hours of interrogation and the accumulation of undeniable evidence. His statements became the primary documentation of the MEK’s incredible and horrific crimes during the “Engineering Operation.”

The bodies discovered in the Bagh Feiz area belonged to Mohsen Mirjalili and Taleb Taheri (Committee members), and Abbas Effatravesh (shoemaker). The bodies of Shahrokh Tahmasbi (Committee member), Habib Rousta (a supporter of the organization), and Khosrow Riahi Nazari (a teacher) were found in places like Sohrevardi Street and Abbasabad Hills.

The main safe house used for the “Engineering Operation” belonged to a high-ranking MEK official named Hossein Abrishamchi and was allocated to the special operations unit (terror and torture operations). This house, located in a quiet alley on Bahar Street in Tehran, had two floors, three rooms, a hall, a kitchen, a bathroom, a yard, and a basement.

The relatively large bathroom was soundproofed with several layers of thick plastic sheets to prevent the screams and cries of the tortured individuals from being heard outside. The tools found in this house included ropes of various sizes and materials, cables of different sizes for whipping, masks, handcuffs, short lead pipes, chains, locks, portable gas stoves and skewers, and cyanide.

Mustafa Madanpisheh and another MEK member, known by the alias Jafar, were assigned by the organization to abduct Abbas Effatravesh from his shop. The organization falsely identified him and his wife as informants for the security forces, a complete fabrication. On August 8, 1982, MEK members, disguised as the Committee officers, went to his shop, handcuffed and blindfolded him in their car, and transported him to the torture chamber on Bahar Street.

According to confessions by Mehran Asdaghi, it became clear within the first hours of torture that Abbas knew nothing and had been abducted without reason. Despite this, since the organization’s leadership had ordered his torture and extraction of a confession, the unfortunate shoemaker was subjected to severe torture for several days. Masoud Ghorbani (alias Taghi), the chief torturer of the organization, reportedly told Asdaghi about Effatravesh, “We couldn’t get any information, but we took revenge.”

As part of the “Engineering Operation”, the MEK ensured that no trace of their actions would be exposed. Hence, anyone captured, whether they provided information or not, was killed. Asdaghi recounted the torture of Abbas Effatravesh: “We tied the shoemaker to a chair along with two Committee members, blindfolded them, and knocked them unconscious with lead pipes. Then, we injected them with cyanide, which caused them to make gurgling sounds from their throats. While they were still alive and dying, we bound their bodies with ropes to fit them into the car’s trunk. We placed them in the trunk and at 9 PM, handed the car with the bodies over to Khosrow Zandi, who, along with Jafar Hadian, took them for burial.”

Taleb Taheri (16 years old) and Mohsen Mirjalili (25 years old) were two Committee members who became victims of the MEK’s “Engineering Operation”. They were subjected to the most brutal forms of torture and were ultimately killed.

In August 1982, Taleb and Mohsen were identified by the MEK near the house of the special operations unit (responsible for terror and torture operations) located on Karun Street in Tehran. Hossein Abrishamchi and Mohammad Mehdi Katiraei were present in this house. When Taleb and Mohsen were spotted around the same area for two or three consecutive days, the MEK decided to track and identify them. Disguised as Committee members, the MEK abducted them and took them to the torture house on Bahar Street, which had been prepared in advance.

The torturers in this house were Javad Mohammadi, Mustafa Madanpisheh, and Shahram Roshan Tabar. The primary objective of torturing Taleb and Mohsen was to determine whether the security forces had discovered or infiltrated the special operations house on Karun Street. They were immediately tied to chairs, which were then laid on the ground, and then, the beating with thick, multi-layered cables began.

Asdaghi recounts this story: “That same day, Masoud Ghorbani informed me that Rahmat (Hossein Abrishamchi) had ordered their abduction and that the responsibility for their interrogation lay with him (Masoud). He instructed me to help prepare the interrogation questions to understand how the safe houses were being compromised. Thus, I took a leading role in this process, acting as someone who carried out the central leadership’s directives. To instill fear, we wore masks. I did the same and entered the bathroom. I saw a 16- or 17-year-old boy in the corner of the bathroom, his hands and feet chained. His name was Taleb Taheri. His legs were bruised and swollen. His body and the soles of his feet were blistered. Then I went to another room to see another person named Mohsen Mirjalili. He was around 24 or 25 years old, sitting in the corner of the room with his hands and feet chained. His body, like Taleb’s, had been severely tortured with cables”.

Taleb and Mohsen were whipped so severely that their feet blistered. The MEK would then whip the blisters until they burst. The torturers would dress their feet to prepare them for the next round of torture. Ghorbani and Asdaghi repeatedly asked them the same questions, and they continuously denied any knowledge. Since the organization’s leadership insisted that the two must have information, their torture continued relentlessly. In his interrogation notes, Asdaghi quoted Madanpisheh: “We tortured them a lot yesterday to find out if they were monitoring the house, but they denied it. Apparently, they were not monitoring the house”.

The MEK poured boiling water over the blisters on the bodies of these Committee members, causing their skin to crack and the blisters to burst. Throughout the torture, Taleb and Mohsen repeatedly lost and regained consciousness. Mehran Asdaghi recounts the brutality: “I poured hot water over their heads and faces, causing blisters. Blood was flowing from every part of their bodies. Taher (Javad Mohammadi) would drag a knife tip across their bodies, leaving no part unscathed.”

When these horrific tortures failed to yield results, Masoud Ghorbani (Taghi) instructed Asdaghi to bring an iron. Ghorbani heated the iron and pressed it against Mohsen Mirjalili’s back. Asdaghi describes the scene: “Mohsen’s mouth opened in a bizarre way from the pain, and he lost consciousness. The smell of burning flesh filled the air. I was terrified. Masoud was also scared, but he tried to appear composed”.

Javad Mohammadi repeatedly slashed Taleb’s arm with a knife until blood spurted out on the third cut. Taleb’s body convulsed in pain. When Taleb attempted to speak, Javad punched him in the mouth, then struck his jaw and mouth with a lead rod, breaking his teeth. Javad continued to beat other parts of Taleb’s body with the rod. Asdaghi continues: “Mohsen regained consciousness, and Masoud instructed me to bring boiling water. I brought it, and Masoud said, ‘Pour it on his legs.’ I wanted to pour it all at once, but Masoud gestured to pour it slowly for more pain. I did as he said, causing all the blisters on Mohsen’s legs to burst in a gruesome way, with the skin peeling off. Mohsen fainted, and when he woke up, he scratched at his trousers. Masoud poured boiling water on Mohsen’s hands, causing them to swell, wrinkle, and look cooked.”

In another corner of the room, Javad Mohammadi sliced Taleb’s scalp with a knife, causing him to pass out. When Taleb regained consciousness and tried to speak, the malicious torturer cut off his ear, then sliced off his nose. Asdaghi recalls: “A lot of blood gushed from Taleb’s head and face, covering him in blood, and he fainted again. While Taleb was unconscious, Javad pressed the knife against his eye, causing blood to spurt from it.”

In the meantime, the beating of Mohsen Mirjalili with cables continued. Mohsen’s body was so weakened that when Asdaghi was whipping him, Masoud Ghorbani held his head, tearing out a handful of Mohsen’s hair.

In another corner of the room, Javad Mohammadi continued torturing the frail and broken body of young Taleb. Taleb, unconscious and with blood dried on various parts of his face, was still being tortured on the chair, while Javad used pliers to pull out his teeth. Blood poured from Taleb’s mouth, which had a foul odor.

Javad Mohammadi (Taher), despite the semi-conscious state of Taleb, demanded information from him. Naturally, even if Taleb had wanted to speak, he was in no condition to do so. Taher, seemingly intoxicated with violence and sadism, resorted to a horrific act. He brought a portable stove and a metal skewer, heating the skewer until it was red-hot, and pressed it against Taleb’s thigh. The third time, he pressed it against Taleb’s sensitive areas through his trousers, causing the young boy’s body to go into shock. According to the Revolutionary Court documents, the torturers were not satisfied with this and committed further unspeakable acts that are too shameful to describe.

Asdaghi recounts the rest of the events: “They regained consciousness a few more times by the afternoon… In the afternoon, due to panic, Mustafa Madanpisheh accidentally fired a shot when Mohsen Mirjalili moved, forcing us to evacuate the house.”

The torturers then used lead rods to knock Taleb and Mohsen unconscious and injected them with cyanide. With their bodies half-burned, skin torn, and flesh shredded, they were still breathing and dying. They were wrapped in blankets, tied with ropes, and placed in the trunk of a car.

At 9 PM, we handed over the car to Khosrow Zandi and Mohammad Jafar Hadian in Nezamabad Street to take the bodies for burial in the surrounding deserts. When the torture incident was revealed, the MEK did not anticipate the severe backlash it would face. The massive turnout for the funeral processions and the discontent among the organization’s members were unexpected. The leaders instructed us to say nothing about the incident to the members, and if anyone asked, we were to claim it was the regime’s doing.

In addition to those previously mentioned, another victim of the MEK’s “Engineering Operation” was Habib Rousta, a 28-year-old engineer and board member of Persi-Gas Company. Rousta was a supporter of the organization, providing financial aid and using his home to hide members. Despite his loyalty, the MEK became suspicious of him after the numerous blows they suffered in late 1981 and early 1982. Habib Rousta was abducted by the organization despite the baseless nature of their suspicions. He was brutally tortured for several days in the Bahar Street torture house by Javad Mohammadi, Mehran Asdaghi, and Masoud Ghorbani, ultimately dying from the severe injuries.

by Habilian (Iranian Families of Terror Victims)
Written by Tehran Times – Created: Jun 26, 2024

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