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Inside view: You have to be totally dedicated

Arash Sametipour, spokesman for a Tehran-funded organisation called Nejat (rescue), which helps the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) defectors, left the MEK in 2001 after being arrested in Tehran when an attempt to kill the city’s police chief went wrong. Sametipour lost his hand while trying to kill himself by exploding a grenade. He spent nearly four years in prison.

"I was recruited by MEK as a student of computer engineering in northern Virginia in 1999," he told the Guardian. "They convinced me that if I wanted to be a fighter for jihad I had to abandon my parents and give up my education."

After months of training he was sent to Jordan and crossed into Iraq to Camp Ashraf.

"I had to watch videos of [MEK leader Massoud] Rajavi and write reports on my feelings. There were also meetings for self-criticism. They said you have to put away any love for belongings and for family.

"At first I resisted but you have no way out. You have no other news. I started to change in the way they wanted me to change.

"Finally in 2001 they gave me a mission. I was taken to Basra and, with the support of the Iraqi security service, was brought across the border."

He argues that closing Camp Ashraf will give MEK people the chance to escape from cult pressures and have a free choice of where to live.

Mahmoud Tabrizi, a UK-trained engineer who left Iran during the Shah’s time and joined the MEK, spent three years at Camp Ashraf in the 1990s. "You have to be totally dedicated. If you have the smallest doubt, you have to leave. I decided to go, even though I still support their activities. It’s the only army which treats deserters in the same way as its members. They paid my ticket to return to Britain," he said.


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