As was explained in previous articles, one of the controlling techniques practiced within MKO is espionage. Despite the fact that in almost all political systems and groups it is attempted to conceal the identity of the spies, within MKO spying is respected and valued so all members are involved in it openly and consider it to be an ideological and organizational duty. It seems that Mojahedin have redefined some terms. According to a former member:
Many reactionary features such as blind obedience and submission are considered to be positive ones. In fact, terms have lost their original meaning and the most shameful actions are introduced as revolutionary and valued characteristics and vice versa (1).
It is a fact that Mojahedin’s leadership resorts to appropriate approaches in accordance with the existing situation and conditions so that utmost security and control is achieved. According to some MKO ex-members, the strategy of spreading mistrust among members was taken after the ideological failure of Rajavi in the operation Eternal Light (Forugh-e Javidan). In other words, faced with a strategic impasse concerning the issue of the overthrow of the Iranian regime, Rajavi decided to put more strict control over the internal relations and MKO members.
It has to be noted that Rajavi had clear justifications for his decisions. For example, this strategy would control individual members one by one and consequently all the MKO members would be under control. What was of utmost importance for Rajavi in this critical phase was the danger of emotional relations of the family. Therefore, he decided to create mistrust among family members in order to prevent the negative consequences of their family ties. The leadership was well aware that after the failure in the operation Eternal Light, the family relations might intensify the challenges the organization was facing. As a result, the leadership tried to make family members pessimistic against each other by means of different approaches one of which was spying against each other.
Inter-organizational marriages that aimed at making the mind of members engaged in other issues rather than thinking of organizational challenges turned itself into a problem that threatened the organizational potentialities in next phases. One of the former Mojahedin members, Hadi Shams Haeri, refers to the main reasons behind obligatory organizational marriages in the first phase of the ideological revolution and the obligatory divorces in the second phase and writes:
Another trick played by Rajavi was creating much pessimism and hostility in women against men to create a resultant deep gap. Also the organization announced repeatedly that ‘men coveted women to satisfying their own sexual desires. For them, women are like properties and dolls. They are very selfish and aim to exploit women. Men are wild creatures and the ideological revolution is to solve the existing disparity’. Such comments affected the family relations negatively and made it full of distrust and disfavor (2).
He further explained that this controlling strategy was taken after the initiation of the first phase of the ideological revolution in 1985-6. He himself can be referred to as one of the victims of this strategy. As he says:
After the ideological revolution in 1985, I never felt secure at home. I talked to my wife cautiously since I felt that she controlled me like a spy. In fact she reported my words to the officials many times and they interrogated me for that. She was very different from the early years of our marriage turning to an obedient spy who did whatever she was ordered. She told me many times: ‘why are you such a subordinate member? I expected you to help me win promotion’ (3).
There are many reported instances in MKO in which the couples are made to belittle each other by spitting at their spouses’ face, using ideological swears and expressing hate to each other in order to pave the way for the leadership to put more control and hegemony over the members.
Anne Singleton, an MKO former member, elaborates on this controlling procedure and believes that Rajavi has generalized the absolute distrust exercised in the external policy of the organization to that of internal relations of the members in that the members felt pessimistic toward the outside world as well as other members and even their family members to the extent that all members tried to act in a cautious way not to be subject to the suspicion of others.
In such an atmosphere, any event resulting in others’ misunderstanding and doubt may lead to a lack of trust on the part of the leadership toward the members. According to Eric Hoffer, any individual’s reaction in such a milieu is the result of his adaptation with circumstances came across and the sole inlet into a system of values is renouncing individual wills to be dissolved in a collective whole:
Only the individual who has come to terms with his self can have a dispassionate attitude toward the world. Once the harmony with the self is upset, and a man is impelled to reject, renounce, distrust or forget his self, he turns into a highly reactive entity (4).
This mechanism may be interpreted as the best instrument for controlling members by their own family members after losing trust in each other to become reactive entities. According to Anne Singleton:
There is total trust between all the members of the Mojahedin, as a group of people facing an outside enemy (the rest of the corrupting world) they must trust one another completely. But, there is also a total absence of trust between all the members because no-one can ever be sure what anyone else is really thinking, or even what oneself is thinking and therefore it is easy to lose trust in oneself as a rational being. The only certainty that remains is to listen to and obey Rajavi (5).
1. Shams Haeri, Hadi, The Swamp, vol 1.
3. ibid, p.131.
4. Hoffer, Eric, The true believer, p. 80.
5. Singleton, Anne; Saddam’s private army.