The Cult of Mojahedin: compliance with ethical obligations
Many believe that the US will use Machiavelli MKO until it is usable and until tensions exist between the two countries, otherwise Americans consider the organization as a mob of war criminals and terrorists that have to be tried for different charges such as killing thousands of Iranian civilians. Of course, MKO has nothing to lose as an opposition group that hardly respects political ethics in its struggle. It is much a new challenge for the US for having put any trust in a proscribed terrorist group that is heavily built on the structure of a cult of personality.
MKO’s inherent tendency toward Machiavellianism frustrates having any trust in its promises and Americans are well aware of the fact that even the group’s surrendering of weapons following the invasion of the coalition forces to Iraq was a tactic to prevent its complete demise. Completely disregarding to respect any codes of ethics in its political conducts with the world outside, MKO is among the rare political and the so-called revolutionary organizations that from its very formation preferably adopted a stealthy policy so as not to bring its strategic and ideological rudiments into view.
As a terrorist group, MKO considered violence and aggressive actions as ethical and legitimate for the accomplishment of the cause since the Machiavellian motto of “the end justifies the means” permitted it to take advantage of any unconventional and violent means in the power struggle. As Walter Reich explains; “A terrorist if considers something ethical, according to his understanding of ideology, it turns to be accepted ethics by all members. Thus, according to that same ideology, the killing of anybody as enemy would be justifiable and necessary”. 1
The group’s duality of conducts took a turn for the worse when it transformed into a cult of personality and mingled terrorism with cultism. Explaining on the inherent double set of ethics in the cults Thaler Singer sates:
Cults tend to have a double set of ethics. Members are urged to be open and honest within the group and to confess all to the leader. At the same time, members are encouraged to deceive and manipulate nonmembers. In contrast, established religions and ethical groups teach members to be honest and truthful to all and to abide by one set of ethics. The overriding philosophy in cults, however, is that the ends justify the means, a view that allows cults to establish their own brand of morality, outside normal social bounds. 2
The most unequivocal reason behind the cults’ duality seems to be the created rift that splits the members from the world outside. In fact, under the influence of the cult’s dogmatism, a member, even if he wills, can hardly swing to any other transcendental belief than what the cult has convinced him to have belief in. Thus, a cult fanatic sees no need to undergo any conversion but to assume a false identity for some time. Eric Hoffer states that:
The fanatic cannot be weaned away from his cause by an appeal to his reason or moral sense. He fears Compromise and cannot be persuaded to qualify the certitude and righteousness of his holy cause. But he lings no difficulty in swinging suddenly and wildly from one holy cause to another. He cannot be convinced but only converted. His passionate attachment is more vital than the I quality of the cause to which he is attached. 3
In the same way, what forces MKO to get closer to the US in spite of its totally ideological contradiction with the imperialism is the need. MKO respects no political principles unless they could be of any instrumental use:
The fanatic is not really a stickler to principle. He embraces a cause not primarily because of its justness and holiness but because of his desperate need of something to hold on to. 4
Regardless of all these views, the main focus is on the supposition that Mojahedin’s dual character and contradictory conducts in its political dealings with the West and the US in particular endorse its untruthful cult feature. Developing cult methodology, MKO gave especial trainings to selected members working in foreign affairs offices of the organization. Massoud Bani-sadr, an ex-member, in his memorial well expounds on the duality of his chosen cult and the instructions he received to perform on the political scene:
Soon I learned we have to act in meetings as Liberal and as Bourgeois as possible. Those were my own characters that for past seven years I was running from them, for changing myself into a Mojahed. In this type of work, I had to have double character, double life and double behaviour, a character, which I hated most. Within the organisation we had to be, straight, simple, honest, humble, and very modest in dressing ourselves. While in work we had to be very careful in what we were going to say. Honesty didn’t have any meaning, nobody was advising us to lie, but we had to be very careful in not saying the whole truth in any subject, which we were talking about it. Only that part of truth had to be said and magnified which were beneficial for us. At this point, we had to give a lot of useless information, as much as making the listener tired of asking any question, especially questions related to those things, which we were not keen in talking about them. Our wording had to be as complex as possible to make it more sophisticated, and difficult to find the existed holes among our arguments. 5
The remarks made by a Western born and raised ex-member can also well explain MKO’s double face when attempting to craft viaduct to pass over the crisis and challenges:
A further look at the controversy of Rajavi’s political history shows an unprincipled avoidance of risk. The Mojahedin is an anti-imperialist group with a history of killing Americans, now happily having petitions signed by American Senators in 1991 while they stayed in Iraq. These Senators quickly withdrew their signatures when they discovered what they had been hoodwinked into supporting. The Mojahedin is a Muslim group with historical ties with the PLO, seeking the support of the Jewish lobby in the United States against the Iranian regime, and at the same time holding meetings with Yassir Arafat. The Mojahedin fought for Saddam in the Gulf War and at the same time took money from Saudi Arabia. Both the Jewish lobby and Saudi Arabia have now stopped any support. The Mojahedin have their main base in Paris, but at the same time threatened the French during the Gabon crisis with suicide bombings. 6
Well acquainted with MKO’s double set of ethics in political conducts, the US is reluctant to risk singling out MKO as a reliable alternative. MKO’s present claim of being the sole democratic alternative is nothing beyond pointless advertisements following the cultivated hope in it by some Western advocates and which is listened to only by a trivial number of misled sympathizers.
Reich Walter; Origins of Terrorism: Psychologies, Ideologies, Theologies, States of Mind (Woodrow Wilson Center Press).
2. Thaler Singer, Margaret; Cults in Our Midst: The Continuing Fight Against Their Hidden Menace, p. 9.
3. Eric Hoffer; The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, New York: First Perennial Classics 2002, p. 62.
4. Ibid. 61.
5. Massoud Bani-sadr’s memories of an Iranian rebel.
6. Iran-Interlink; Anne Singleton’s Saddam Private Army.
Mojahedin.ws, Research Bureau,