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The Cult of Mojahedin; Falling Short of International Legitimacy

One of the conditions of an alternative selected by the US or other European countries in order to substitute opposing governments or those that do not satisfy the demands of such powers is that the alternative has to weigh an international legitimacy and support besides the internal support. In spite of being a banned terrorist group whose offices are closed in the US, there is a question that what legitimate connection there could be found between MKO’s status in the US and its ability to liberate Iranians. After all, the group claims at every available opportunity that it relies entirely on its boundless popularity in Iran and therefore needs no foreign sponsor.

Unfortunately, some groups and organizations wish to believe that MKO’s actions have legitimacy since they are under a heavy propaganda bombardment of hollow claims that it is a legitimate resistance movement. However, beguiled by these propagandas, they sometimes forget that, by its own previously released accounts, the group has used and ideologically believes in terrorism and violence to achieve organizational ambitions rather than fulfilling the national wills and demands. How can possibly such a group be given support and legitimacy when it uses the same methodology and reasoning of similar notorious groups such as Al-Qaeda?

Despite its violent history, MKO would like to gain international legitimacy as Iran’s "government in exile." Its immediate goal is to get its name off the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations; to that end, it now purports to support a host of democratic ideals, from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to freedom of religion and the free market. Furthermore, its political representatives in the US have worked hard to repackage the group as a legitimate dissident organization fighting for democracy in Iran through whitewashing its past terrorist records.

The widespread belief is that the mission of MKO and its alias the National Council of Resistance is to overthrow the Iranian regime, an aim increasingly in line with the Bush administration, yet the administration has stopped direct supporting of the group as a US ally since it is known to be an act of illogic to unleash a horde of insane cultists whose first step to settle any dispute, if assumed the power, would be a genocidal act. As explicitly stated in the State Department’s report presented to Congress on the People’s Mojahedin of Iran in 1994 concerning the structure of MKO we read:

“The internal organizational structure of the Mojahedin has varied little throughout the group’s history. Importantly, the autocratic decision-making style of the leadership and the cult-like behavior of its members–two defining patterns of the organization’s operations–have combined to deny the Mojahedin the support of most Iranians, who fear that a "Mojahedin" alternative would be as or worse than the current clerical regime.”

Even the group’s own insiders were well aware of its fabrications when it boasted to be the suitable alternative to end the dominant despotism in Iran. The ex-members’ criticism is best reserved for observers who might question the organization’s sincerity in its claims. Victor Charbonnier’s attempt to give a clear picture of MKO’s undemocratic nature reaches ultimate by presenting quotes made by ex-members:

Quassim Salhi quickly understood that the organization was based on lies and double-talk. He recalls: "They repeated over and over again that the power structure in Iran was religious and despotic. It barred all opposing opinions, even points of view that were somewhat different from the regime’s. But inside the organization, we were no better off. We were forced to give up any personal ideas, to melt completely into the group and to stop asking any questions. Is there any dictatorship worse than that?” 1

The group’s transfer to Iraq got it into a worse international status. Saddam tensions in international community on the one hand and the close accomplice of Mojahedin with him on the other hand made Mojahedin suffer an increasingly lack of international legitimacy and support. Surprisingly, in a time period when Saddam was under political and diplomatic boycott as a sponsor of terrorism, Mojahedin insisted on his internal and international legitimacy and supported him fully. As such, Saddam recognized Mojahedin as the legitimate opposition of the Iranian government and his best allies.

Being deprived of a powerful sponsor following the fall of Saddam, it became even worse when the group was disarmed and came under the surveillance of the US forces that turned it into a displaced object of pity demanding support on the part of human right institutes. In an attempt to mislead the public opinion and open a new gate onto the political scene to start a novel phase of pro-democratic activities, the group’s guru gave way to his wife as the symbol of freedom and went into the hideout himself. It does not necessarily mean that the West was unaware of the cunningly made plots by the terrorists. Reported by Figaro soon after Maryam Rajavi’s return to France, French Counter-intelligence (DST) had already warned about her arrival to embark on a new scenario:

Her return to France in the beginning of 2003 alerted the DST. Flanked by senior officials, Maryam Rajavi had mysteriously left Iraq to return to Auvers-sur-Oise. This was a worrying decision for those who for almost thirty years were watching this woman, sometimes a seductive Ambassadress, sometimes an implacable fighter. She was armed all too often with false papers and borrowed names to pursue ‘the armed struggle’. Between the democratic facade and tile life and death struggle against the Iranian regime, Maryam Rajavi’s history is bonded to that of her organization. 2

A Part of westerners’ fear is due to the cultist structure and conducts of Mojahedin and their hypocrisy. Western governments are well aware of false claims of Mojahedin in the media and the fact that they have two contradictory approaches in dealing with outsiders and insiders. Marianne describes such a dual strategy as follows:

"This woman, with her emerald eyes and so sweet a smile, is a pathological ‘case’. Withdrawn, secretive, unburdened by too low an opinion of herself, Maryam Rajavi, the Mistress and Muse of I the People’s Mojahedin, is a surprise for the rare visitors she deigns to receive in Auvers-sur-Seine. With her hair always hidden under her Islamic scarf, the person whom the militants call the ‘Sun of the Revolution’ is a consummate user of political slogans and jargon. Denouncing the obscurantism of the mullahs in power in Teheran, she presents her organisation as a democratic model along Western lines preaching moderate Islam, which includes women’s rights. Of course, this position is at the opposite extreme from the Islamist-Marxism, in Red and Green, which never wavered throughout their years of struggle. 3

Gessler, a researcher of cold war period, well aware of the effects of propaganda blitz of Mojahedin expounds on the group’s demand of gaining political legitimacy on the part of the West:

In addition, the Mojahedin are superb lobbyists, "tracking" down political officials, deputies, senators, etc., to get a signature which is supposed to support the PMOI’s fight and provide .recognition to it as the only legitimate opposition: "The Mojahedin conducted a public relations campaign among the Western press and among political personalities, looking for political support and financial reinforcement. Exploiting the West’s dislike for the behaviour of the Iranian regime, the Mojahedin put themselves forward as the alternative. To achieve their goals, they claimed the support of the majority of Iranians". 4

All these evidences imply the fact that Mojahedin suffer the lack of international legitimacy and support. An important point is that the US has developed a much deeper understanding of Mojahedin than European countries. It was the US that in its report on April 2003 called Mojahedin a cult. Although France had accused Mojahedin as a sect before, but it was the first time that the cultist relations of Mojahedin were publically and officially announced. Surprisingly, Mojahedin have not yet protested against the announced cult accusation. The reason may be their fear of the probable consequences of such an action. On the whole, it is evident that no government uses such a cultist group for the settlement of political disputes with Iran or against it. The outcome will be so much the worse for the sponsors facing them with the worst to deal with.



Victor Charbonnier; The People’s Mojahedin of Iran: A struggle for what?,Translated by Dr Thomas R. Forstenzer, RSA, Part Two: Former Members.

Gessler, A.; The autopsy of an ideological drift, p. 015.

Ibid, 148.

Ibid, 164.


Research Bureau- Mojahedin.ws – May 10, 2008

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