The recently published testimony of Ms. Batoul Soltani, a former member of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) revealed new measures of the group’s manipulation and brainwashing. Because of this, and because of previous reported bizarre practices and abuses, the MKO can be accurately labeled by psychologists as a Closed High Demand Group (CHDG) . Formerly, Ms. Soltani had testified against the MKO in front of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, revealing some of the group’s military operations during the Iran-Iraq War.  What she failed to report at that time was the sexual abuse that was imposed on her and many of the other women. Prior to Ms. Batoul Soltani’s escape from the MKO, she was a member of the group’s elite so-called “leadership council” and her new testimony is consistent with reports that Massoud and Maryam Rajavi are the self-appointed leaders of the cult, and that they frequently engaged in abusive practices in order to keep control of the members, especially the females. While abuse by the MKO has previously been documented, Soltani’s recent reports of maltreatment, due to shame and sensitivity, had not been made public. Now, Soltani describes Massoud Rajavi as a deceitful leader who practices a bizarre form of ideological polygamy and frequently engages in “obligatory” sexual activity with many of the women in the cult’s leadership council. In one of her many interviews that have been translated into English and fully documented into over 100 pages on the Sahar Family Foundation Website  Soltani describes a scene she witnessed during her time as a member of the cult’s leadership council—these particular excerpts are obtained directly from the Nejat Society’s website:
I was shocked to see some high-ranking women of leadership Council took off their clothes and went to Massoud. Massoud was saying”yes take off your clothes of heresy and ignorance and dive in the pool to unite yourself with me in order to be resistant enough in every moment of your struggle.”[…]
Maryam also said,”Get close to Massoud and unite with him.”I noticed that Maryam and some other high ranking members were monitoring us and trying to convince those of us who hesitated to remove their underwear.[…] Maryam said that we were no more jealous to each other so we could fight together.[…]she tried to persuade us to look at the others having sex with Massoud Rajavi. 
Peculiar coercive sexual practices and polygamy in cults is not unusual. Cult leaders tend to claim they are more spiritually evolved than the rest of the population and therefore they aggressively press cult members to worship them. For some cult leaders, especially male leaders, requiring female members to have sex with them is basically part of that worship, which in turn is meant to create complete devotion—and often it does. But the repercussions are steep; Soltani outlines that there is a total loss of self. Steven Hassan who authored the bestselling book *Combating Cult Mind Control* writes on his website that”unselfishness, kindness, gentleness and compassion should be a basic living principle, not just an ideal. When individuals claim to be spiritually more developed, and put themselves in the role of guru, swami, master, prophet these virtues must be consistently demonstrated. We must not allow our desire to know the ‘Absolute Truth’ to blind us from observing obvious discrepancies in our teachers’ behaviors.”
As a victim, Soltani has a unique perspective. She revealed that under this pretext of “unification with the leader,” the women are told to revere him—and that he is the only source of truth in their lives—then they are exploited sexually. Arnold Markowitz who is a cult expert asserts that members or disciples are often vulnerable and sexual abuse in cults by leaders is rampant. According to him,”a group constitutes a destructive cult when it has a self-appointed, charismatic leader who controls the daily lives of members.” For the females of the MKO, Massoud Rajavi is that charismatic leader, and they are actually able to undergo total submission, even sexual submission, because according to Soltani, their daily lives are tightly controlled, both physically and psychologically. In essence Rajavi’s victims are comprehensively brainwashed. Besides Soltani’s testimony, many sources confirm that Massoud Rajavi became the captivating leader of MKO after he launched his ideological revolution in the mid 1980’s. At that time, he forced couples to divorce under the pretense of freeing themselves so that they could focus all their love, energy, and emotions on Rajavi the Ideological Leader. 
Soltani reports that nobody in the isolated, dominated and filtered atmosphere of the group is allowed to or even dares to question or show concern about Rajavi’s illicit behavior—the women are simply too vulnerable, and Rajavi wants to keep them that way.
The MKO is just one of many cults to use techniques which include the sexual exploitation of women. There are hundreds of documented cults which include polygamy or require deviant sexual acts—all in order to maintain their system of mind control.  Many of these cults’ leaders have been convicted. In 2005, William Kamm, was found guilty on five charges in a New South Wales District Court. Kamm was also known to his followers as “Little Pebble” and he led the Order of St. Charbel, an Australian Christian cult.
His offences include aggravated indecent assault and aggravated sexual intercourse with a 14 year old girl. His practices are similar to the “marriages” Rajavi imposed on the women of the MKO’s leadership council. And while Kamm chose twelve queens and seventy-two princess to become his mystical wives,  Rajavi used verses from the Quran to make his followers believe that his compulsory marriages were justifiable. Until recently, the MKO however, has not been illustriously known for systematic sexual coercion because media coverage of its military activity and its politically charged thunderous tirade against the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran has overshadowed its rather secretive internal core.
For now, three thousand people reside behind the fences of the isolated MKO compound—Camp Ashraf—in Iraq, and many of them are women. According to Batoul Soltani, there are some hundreds women with the leadership council rank—many or all of whom in some way or another are being subject to form a diabolical union with the leader, Massoud Rajavi.
 Furnari, Leona LCSW.”Born or Raised in High-Demand Groups:
International Cultic Studies Association 4.3
(2005): Web. 6 Sep 2010. <
Furnari states that According to Tobias and Lalich
(1994, p.13) the
following characteristics are often present in these environments:
Members are expected to be excessively zealous and
unquestioning in their commitment to the identity and
leadership of the group. Personal beliefs and
values must be replaced with those of the group.
Members are manipulated and exploited and
may give up their education,careers,
and families to work excessively long hours
at group-directed tasks such as selling a quota
of candy or books, fund-raising, recruiting, and proselytizing.
Harm or threat of harm may come to members,
their families and/or society due to inadequate medical care,
poor nutrition, psychological, physical, or
sexual abuse, sleep deprivation, criminal activities, etc.
Furthermore, Margaret Singer and Janja Lalich (1995),
who have done vast amounts of work in the cult field,
state that such groups have the following
Authoritarian power structure
Totalitarian control of members’ behavior
Double sets of ethics (one for leader and
another for members; one for
those inside the group, another for outsiders)
Leaders that are self-appointed and
claim to have a special mission in life
Leaders who tend to be charismatic,
determined and domineering
Leaders who center the veneration
of members upon themselves
Finally, Robert Jay Lifton (1961),
a psychiatrist and pioneering researcher
in the thought reform, or mind control, field,
has proposed that the following eight
features create environments of “ideological totalism”:
1. Milieu control—the control of communication
within an environment;this creates unhealthy boundaries
2. Mystical manipulation or
“planned spontaneity”—experiences which
appear to be spontaneous are actually
orchestrated in order to demonstrate
“divine authority,” which enables the leader(s)
to use any means toward a “higher end” or goal
3. The demand for purity—absolute separation
of good and evil within self and environment
4. The cult of confession—one-on-one
or group confession of past and present “sins”
or behaviors, which are often used to humiliate
the confessor and create dependency upon the leader
5. Sacred science—the group’s teaching is
portrayed as Ultimate Truth that cannot be questioned.
6. Loading of the language—use of terms
or jargon that have group-specific meaning,
phrases that will keep one in or bring one back into
the cult mindset.
7. Doctrine over person—denial of self and self-perception.
8. Dispensing of existence—anyone not in the group or
not embracing the “truth” is insignificant,
not “saved” or “unconscious”; the outside world
and members who leave the group are rejected.
 CORI Research Analysis, United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees.
“Information on the People’s
Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI) including on the three
main military operations
of National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA), the PMOI
military wing, in 1987-1988 during the Iraq-Iran war.”
operations are called:”the Sun”,
“40 Lanterns/Stars”and”Eternal Light”.
Information about the military confrontation
in 1991 between the Iranian
forces and NLA at the Iraq-Iran borders
in Khaniqin and Jalawla (Ex-PMOI
members call it Marwarid (Pearl) operation).
Query ID: HCR00008E (21
September 2009): Web. 6 Sep 2010. <
 Soltani, Batul [or Batoul]
.”Interviews of Ms Batul Soltani with Sahar
Family Foundation in Baghdad.”
Sahar Family Foundation. 1 May 2009. Web. 9 Sep 2010.
 Nejat Bloggers.
“PMOI Leadership Council’s Women SALVATION DANCE.”
Nejat Society (19 August 2010): Web. 9 Sep 2010. <
 Hassan, Steven.”Introductions.”
Steven Alan Hassan’s Freedom of Mind Center.
Freedom of Mind Resource Center, 2010. Web. 9 Sep 2010. <
Wikipedia. Arnold Markowitz
For print-interview reference to Markowitz, also
see: Read, Richard.”In the Grip of the Guru:
Small ‘cottage cults’ drawing more converts in United
States.”Oregonian 16 July 2001: Web. 9 Sep 2010. <
 Isikoff, Michael and Mark Hosenball.
“Consider the Source: The State
Department says MEK is a terror group.
Human Rights Watch says it’s a cult.
For the White House, MEK is a source of intelligence on Iran.”
msnbc.com Newsweek 20 May 2005:Web. 9 Sep 2010. <
Newsweek’s Isikoff and Hosenball report that
“Human Rights Watch alleges that the Iranian exile
group known as [Mujahedin-eh] Khalq (MEK) has a
history of cultlike practices that include forcing
members to divorce their
spouses and to engage in extended self-criticism sessions.
More dramatically, the report states,
former MEK members told Human Rights
Watch that when they protested
MEK policies or tried to leave the
organization, they were arrested,
in some cases violently abused and in
other instances imprisoned.
Two former recruits told the human-rights group
that they were held in solitary
confinement for years in a camp operated by
MEK in Iraq under the protection of Saddam Hussein.”
 Many of the recent cults are documented by the following:
Ross, Rick, Executive Director.
“The Ross Institute Internet Archives.”
The Study of Destructive Cults,
Controversial Groups and Movements.
2010. Web. 12 Sep 2010.
”MAKO – Movement Against Kindred Offenders.”
mako.org.au. MAKO, 16 June
2005 from The Australian. Web. 9 Sep 2010. <
By Mazda Parsi