The recent events in camp Ashraf shows that the Iraqi government has to use parallel levers beside the legal ones in order to control Mojahedin and set its members free from the cultic relations of a closed group.
The reason maybe the cultic nature of this group and its unpredictable aspects like unconventional suicide operations carried out by the members who have been persuaded through convincing procedures and brainwashing techniques that entirely neutralize external influences.
The interviews with MKO former members and their eyewitnesses have convinced Iraqi officials that MKO like other cultic groups welcomes any violent reaction as a strategic issue. The question of violence is a broad one to be elaborated on from different aspects. There are numerous articles and studies in this regard but it has to be investigated more extensively.
Almost all cult experts are unanimous that coming to a clear understanding of cults, their motivations and nature is inevitable for averting their potential dangers. There are some levers for achieving this objective like covering communicative activities, studying historical models, and continuous interaction with former cult members to arrive at a realistic relation with them. In this regard, Singer writes:
My warmest thanks and deepest appreciation go to the more than three thousand cult victims who shared their stories, their pain, and their healing with me, helping me to learn about cults and the harm they have brought upon so many. 1
She also refers to the necessity of using clinical consultants beside cult ex-members and writes:
Exit counselors typically charge between $500 and $1,000 a day, plus expenses-a fee schedule similar to that of many other consultants. Exit counselors have to study and keep abreast of the ever, changing cult scene and collect data, films, and documents from and about the various groups. Many exit counselors do not charge for the extensive phone time that is involved. Most offer free clinics for ex-members and donate hundreds of free hours lecturing to schools, churches, and other organizations. 2
Although making use of consultants seems impossible regarding Mojahedin, it seems that MKO’s quitters, many of whom are active in different organs and NGOs, can achieve this objective. They may offer some information on camp Ashraf, classification of members, and their mental inclinations. Even these limited pieces of information may pave the way for minimizing the costs imposed on Iraq.
The Iraqi officials have to notice that MKO quitters are from different organizational layers based on which they can offer solutions for the current challenges from different aspects. For instance, those quitters from the Leadership Council have valuable information on the aspects of human tragedy focused on by Masoud Rajavi.
The information provided by these separated members helps Iraqi officials to recognize the objectives pursued by MKO leaders at the time being. The fact is that they are not aware of the true nature of MKO and its potential dangers for Iraq in this phase.
Despite camp Ashraf is a part of Iraqi soil, Iraqi officials are unaware of the transitions and changes made there and also its facilities. Even some MKO members are unfamiliar with the structure of this camp where they have lived for years. Undoubtedly, the lack of information may present Iraqi officials with serious problems. It seems that the only option before Iraqi officials is turning to MKO’s separated members for advice to get acquainted with camp Ashraf and its structure. In this regard, Iraqi officials can interact with MKO former members on following issues:
1. General information on the headquarters, buildings, media and telecommunication facilities, possible hideouts and prisons in camp Ashraf.
2. Advice on developing relation with Ashraf residents.
If Iraqi officials manage to take full control of MKO relations, they can use information of separated members and classify Ashraf residents accordingly. Undoubtedly, there are many MKO members in camp Ashraf that are willing to leave the organization and MKO former members can help Iraqi officials in identifying these individuals. It may lead to the interaction of Iraq with MKO members according to their characteristics and organizational order.
3. The possibility of giving information to Ashraf residents by separated members.
The relation of separated members with Ashraf residents at least leads to the weakening of mental and political bounds imposed on Ashraf residents. The quitters can draw a clear and real picture of the present and future conditions for the remnant Ashraf residents. The role of face to face dialogue is of utmost importance in this regard.
4. The possibility of identifying leaders and key members of organization for separating them from rank and files. Although Iraqi officials have managed so far to identify some MKO leaders, but due to the organizational complexity of MKO it is believed that there are many more unknown leaders and no one but MKO members can identify them. The separated members can help Iraqi officials in revealing the identity of MKO’s leaders to be isolated from the rank and files.
5. Receiving primary information on the degree of human tragedy and violent reactions of Mojahedin.
The issue of human tragedy is now the most serious threat posed by Masoud Rajavi and the presence of some key members like Mrs. Batool Soltani of the Leadership Council may help Iraqi officials to get information on the quality and quality of this threat. There are also some other aspects in which MKO former members can help Iraqi official to attain a better understanding of the true nature of Mojahedin.
1. Singer, M. Thaler, Cults in Our Midst, JOSSEY-BASS ,A Wiley Imprint, 2003, XV.
2. ibid, 289