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Camp Ashraf, a Cult Behavior Gauge

In spite of the widespread network of many aliases under which MKO runs its propaganda and fundraising activities, the Camp Ashraf in Iraq can be considered the cultic and ideological base of the organization that generalizes the cultic principles to other wings active even in the Western countries. The organization is actually facing a problem in this respect; there exists a great difference in the life-style of the members living in Camp Ashraf, living a harsh, military life of severe restrictions and regular cult practices, and those residing in the West who are benefiting the freedom of a democratic world.

Although heavily influenced by cult instillations, there was the danger for the members leaving Camp Ashraf for the West on some organizational missions to be dissolved in the despised world of bourgeoisie. To counteract the defection, MKO has devised a variety of levers already tested in Camp Ashraf known, in this respect, as Rajavi’s laboratory to test members’ degree of devotion and submission:

Camp Ashraf has been turned into a laboratory of testing Ralavi’s theories wherein the members are used as guinea pigs. 1

Naturally, the members distanced from the influence of the laboratory could cause problems for the organization and they had to be controlled according to the same controlling measures imposed on them in Camp Ashraf despite living in Auvers-Sur-Oise or anywhere else in the Europe. Oddly enough, these cultic, controlling measures proceeds in the heart of the modern, democratic world under the hottest pro-democratic mottos that has even beguiled the Western advocates. These measures and levers are designed for:

– Channelizing the source of information

– Destabilizing the power of thought and analysis

– Making use of spying measures

– Spreading a pathological sense of mistrust among the ranks

– Encouraging collective life

– Discouraging members from study and using modern communication utilities

– Instilling a sense of despite among the members

– Enforcing members to write daily reports and confessions

– Ostracizing the disobedient to enforce submission

– Exertion of organizational control

A point to be noted, soon after MKO’s relocation to Iraq and members’ settlement in Camp Ashraf, the base, regardless of being turned into the organization’s ideological symbol, became Mojahedin’s laboratory of ideological testing and rehabilitation. There were many cases when the organization sent the European insiders back to Camp Ashraf because they had been discovered to have inclinations toward liberalism or some attachment to the world outside that was equal to breaking taboo. There, they had to undergo a process of ideological regeneration. Some were blocked to return to their previous activity status in the West since they failed to acquire the organizational trust.

As a result, even those activists in the Western countries had to run a life similar to those in Camp Ashraf. That is to say, they ran a dual life of living a cultist inside but played the role of a liberal and freedom activist for the outside. As Massoud Banisadr relates in his memorials:

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. 2

Not only in political life but even in personal life members had to follow the organization’s standards. To stay an insider and enjoy the appeal of a freedom-fighter, or if they really cared about their joining as campaigning for freedom, members had to observe organizational regulations notwithstanding they lost dearest attachments:

One man had to leave his much-loved black girl friend to become a full time supporter. He put his head on my shoulder and cried for a few minutes, telling me how much he loved her, but with her attitude toward the organisation he could not marry her and work with the Mojahedin at the same time. Another had to leave his brother who was working in the Iranian embassy, and show his readiness to kill him if it became necessary. A third was addicted to alcohol and had to swear never to drink again. Yet another had been in prison opium addiction. By joining the Mojahedin as full committed supporters or members all were leaving something behind, something dear to them…. 3


1. Shams-e Haeri, Hadi; The swamp, vol. II

2. Masoud Banisadr; Memoirs of an Iranian Rebel.

3. Ibid.

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