PARIS, 19 Oct. (IPS) On the eve of the trial of the toppled Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, some former members of the Mojahedeen Khalq Organsation (MKO) demanded that the leader of the outlawed Organisation and some of his close associates be also tried for “crimes against both the Iraqi and Iranian peoples”.
“The toppled regime of Saddam Hussein actively supported international terrorism and committed crimes against Iraqi and Iranian peoples and the Mojaheedin Khalq Organisation, led by Mas’oud Rajavi, were at the top of the list of these terrorist organizations”, Behzad Alishahi, a former member of the group said in a press conference held in Paris on Tuesday 18 October 2005.
Created in the sixties, the MKO, a mix of radical Islam and Stalinism, took an active part in operations against the regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and is suspected to have assassinated at least six American military advisors.
Mr. Rajavi sided with Grand Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini in the Islamic Revolution of 1979, but was declared outlaw after he attempted a coup against the leader of the Revolution and along with Mr. Abolhasan Banisadr, the first president of the Islamic Republic, fled to Paris.
In 1886 and at the height of Iran-Iraq War, Mr. Rajavi and his Organisation left France for Baghdad, where he started an active cooperation with the Iraqi army and intelligence not only against Iran, but also the Kurds and the Sh’ias.
“The Mojahedeen, as part of Saddam’s military establishment, played a decisive role in the suppression of the internal uprisings in Iraq in 1991, and are responsible for the massacre of many Iraqi Shi’ites and Kurds who opposed Saddam. The best documented of these being the massacre of the Kurds in their uprising in March 1991”, the dissident claimed.
Mr. Alishahi said he is in possession of some of the “crimes” the MKO committed against both the Kurds and the Shi’ites, adding that he had sent the documents to Mr. Jalal Talabani, the former leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) who is now the President of Iraq.
“Acting as Saddam’s Private Army, the Mojahedeen have actively participated in the war which Saddam Hussein waged against Iran between 1980 and 1988, engaging themselves in intelligence gathering for the Iraqi army as well as participating in joint operations with them”, the former MKO members said.
“On direct orders from Hasan al-Majid, better known as Ali the Chemical, (then Governor of the province of Basra and latter Saddam’s Representative in Kuwait after the occupation of the oil-rich country by Iraqi forces), we organised military maneuvers in Basra and paraded with tanks for days just to frighten the Shi’a population of the town, known for their hate of Saddam”, Mr. Alishahi recalled.
“Each and every military and terrorist operation carried out by the Mojahedeen in Iran has been ordered directly by Saddam Hussein and his intelligence and secret services in Iraq”, he went on, adding that on occasions, the Organisation would carry espionage operations in Iran, mostly from Ahvaz, the capital city of the oil-rich Iranian province of Khouzestan.
“On orders from the Iraqis and against receiving a monthly sum of 27 million US Dollars, not only we would fight, kill and arrest the Kurds and the Shi’a insurgents, but any ordinary Iraqi suspected of opposing Saddam and hand them to Iraqi intelligence, of which the MKO was a special unit. We would even arrest Iraqi soldiers who would desert the army”, another dissident told reporters.
Accusing Mr. Rajavi of “murdering” several members of the group suspected of “not sharing his views”, Mr. Alishahi said of the 3.000 to 4.000 mojahedeens now living in the Shraf Camp near Baghdad, “all except a very few would leave in a plane from the International Red Cross would land there”.
An anchorman of the MKO’s television that would broadcast from both Baghdad and Basra, Mr. Alishahi said had been jailed for five months and tortured on orders from Mr. Rajavi some eleven years ago, but was latter pardoned and stayed with the group until the Americans toppled the Iraqi regime.
As the MKO dissidents were talking to correspondents and showing films about Mr. and Mrs Rajavi, the so-called “co-leaders” of the MKO, Afshin Molavi, a spokesman for the Organisation sent e-mails, describing Mr. Alishahi as “a member of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry”. ENDS MKO TRIAL 191005
By Safa Haeri