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Suicide, the ideal means to safeguard information

An interview with Batool Soltani on MKO self-immolations - Part five

Sahar Family Foundation: Mrs. Soltani, let’s talk a little about defensive suicide operation, that is to say, when someone commits suicide only because of carrying sensitive or secrete information. Particularly, of what kind are these information and what are the means through which the individuals have to annihilate themselves when the time comes?

Batool Soltani: information can be divided in two. The first are those we carried when going from a place to another which mostly happened in Iraq. There were times when we drove from a base like Camp Ashraf to a second destination to meet leadership. We had also trips to France and other European countries from Iraq or even moved about in the Europe. In all these missions, protection of information had the highest priority. The second are the concentrated ones as we are settled in a place and there is a threat from without. It might be a regular inspecting measure done by the US forces in Ashraf for instance or by the Iraqi police for whatever security objective; all these were considered a threat against our community from outsiders. Or it happened that we were strolling about and police would simply suspect us which could lead to further problems.

It had turned to be a big concern especially after the 9/11 terrorist attack when counter-terrorist police had a free hand to arrest and interrogate whoever they came to suspect. It was really a hinder for members travelling in Europe. All the information stated were of the nature a member of the organization had instructions to deface before engaging in self-destroying. I intend to explain more for it is a matter of obscurity for people out of the organization.

I give an example of the year 2001 when the members of the Leadership Council were called to have a meeting with leadership in Parsian (where Rajavi held the meetings). Although it may seem a simple drive from Ashraf to the place, it required really complicated security measures. The main focus was on how to destroy the documents we carried if any challenge hit us en route. There was a general process to follow for destruction of documents before departure.

There was a head-responsible in charge of the security-check of information who at the time was Mohsen Niknami. He had other assistants who were in charge of smaller groups of cadres. Mohsen was the one who questioned me to ensure about my plans of destroying personal information now that I was included in the group about to set off for Parsian. According to already received instructions, I had to use a can of ethanol that I carried in forewarned circumstances like hearing gun-shots, tracking downs, sensing a siege and any fake accident or any other form that could be regarded a challenge to destroy my own documents and that of other members of the Leadership Council. That how these members were transported to the meeting place is another story.

The members had to be divided into small groups and drove on different buses at non-fixed intervals that sometimes took two hours. When the first bus left, the next waited to make sure its safe arrival which was the given green light for its own leave. It was the case with other waiting buses and all had to follow the rules. There were also strict rules for the group on each bus.

There was one in charge of destroying the bus in the event of any portentous sign of danger. Besides, one in any group of three was charged with the task of destroying his/her comrades’ documents that he/she was well aware of their hidden places. In spite of all these measures, we were individually responsible to destroy our documents and information as well as that of the one next to us if anything happened to our rankings in charge. The means to destroy them, as I pointed out, was the can of ethanol we all carried. The emphasis was on the destruction of the information before self-destruction. Now a question may form in your mind that of what significance were these documents and information that required such high precautionary measures to safeguard or destroy them before anyone could have access to them?

First of all, I have to point out that these documents contained none of the contents of the highly valued book of the Leadership Council. Nobody had the permission to have a record of its details in his/her notebook and all members had to read and memorize the contents while at the meeting. They distributed it in the course of the sessions and then it would be collected and thus, all information was in our mind and nothing on the paper to fear others lay hands on it. Neither did we carry any classified information. There Then, you may ask what all these security measures were for? All was done because of the private notebooks the members had with them in which they had noted down their daily affaires, the noted dates merely to do a task, a recorded detail of a task done, some verses of the Holy Quran and other ordinary and personal notes.

It also happened that we had written some notes while in a session, although it was absolutely forbidden, and they, with a member called Gity in the charge, would carefully explore our notebooks and personal belongings when we were about to leave the hall. But sometimes it happened that we managed to stealthy take the notes out; however, none of these notes could be considered classified information in its real concept. What they called secrete and classified information was absolutely different with its own special means of convey that we hardly knew anything about. Whatever means of transfer they used, for sure it was not by bus or other regular vehicles as they used for our transfer.

SFF: In fact, all these security measures that at end may lead to the destruction of a cadre and his/her information are due to these personal notebooks?

BS: Yes, they are. The contents of these notebooks, as I said, were nothing more than a few notes, dates, necessary phone numbers, or the date of a given pledge. I remember once in the Leadership Council I signed a paper that started with a verse from the Holy Quran which I noted down to memorize. Or details of a meeting that were of importance. The documents to be destroyed were all theses trivial notebooks containing worthless information. It was the same case even in the European countries when we were moving about and we had some written information with us. The information could be some phone number we had to contact if necessary. In our meetings there and when we were being transferred to a certain destination, it was forbidden to carry any paper or notebook that would indicate our membership in the organization or any relation with the people in our company.

The only thing we had permission to carry was some money and a phone number for an urgent call which all other companions knew where it was to destroy it if necessary. A phone number in a member’s pocket meant giving the police the opportunity to hook the first clue that well identified the connecting bridges. To thwart any attempt by police to obtain the very single phone number, we were instructed to tear it into small pieces or swallow it. It is how we destroyed information when out of Iraq. I mean to say that we were much cautious out of Iraq since at least in Iraq we had support of Saddam’s Estekhbarat (Intelligent and Information System) while we had restrictions in European countries especially after al-Qaeda’s terrorist attacks that had made police to become more sensitized to terrorist threats and consequently they intensified security measures. As a result, we had to follow strict precautionary measures to protect information and relations. However, the last solution was suicide according to organizational instructions.

SFF: Undoubtedly, there should have been real reasons under these practical circumspect.

BS: Yes, to some extents they had reasons to be cautious. Once, for instance, a member called Parviz Yaqubi escaped and surrendered himself to French police and informed on inter-organizational relations. He had asked to be granted asylum reasoning that his life was in danger. Of course, he returned to the organization and later separated again and now lives in total isolation. But his act of going and reporting to police had really frustrated Masoud Rajavi. It was in 1993 or 1994 I think and it cost the organization and Rajavi a lot. Consequently, it was decided that nobody in his/her travels out of Iraq had to carry passports and fake IDs cards and on the members’ arrival in the airport all their documents were collected and kept by the organization. Well, we thought it was well decided and, from then on, any member regardless of his/her rank had to hand over his/her passport on arrival to Europe.

To be continued
Translated by Mojahedin.ws

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