Family Revives the Experience of the Free Life, Rajavi Fears

One sure sign of someone being involved in a cult is that there is a clear separation from family, friends and society. Common point between all former members of the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (the Cult of Rajavi) is that they had lost their family contacts during their membership in the MKO.

Separation from family is the main factor that helps recruiters recruit people to join the cults. Dounia Bouzar, a 51-year-old Muslim anthropologist, who speaks to Reuters during an interview in Paris, France, believes that when a person is recruited by an extremist cult, he thinks that he is chosen. Ms. Bouzar who failed to convince young recruited Islamic militants to leave the cult by religious arguments believes in this idea: “Don’t try to reason with people”. [1]

Bouzar, a Muslim herself, instead uses memories, music and even smells to try to win young militants back. Recruiters have adopted techniques developed by cults, she says, so it takes different skills to break their hold. [2]

Bouzar’s effective technique to get cult victims back to family, has been testified by a large number of former members of the cult of Rajavi.  Dr. Massoud Banisadr is a defector of the group who has authored a book called “Memoirs of an Iranian Rebel” about his experience in the organization.  He now focuses much of his work on the research and understanding of cults, terrorism, and cult behavior within those structures.  Dr. Banisadr was interviewed on his account of living in the Cult of Rajavi by Richard Potter of the mondoweiss.net in, 2013. In the interview he describes how he was manipulated by the cult leaders to leave his wife and his children. He also tells the horrific story of a group of adolescents who were taken to Iraq by the MKO in order to take part in the so-called Eternal Light Operation –a blind operation commanded by massoud Rajavi to take over Tehran across Iraqi borders in three days! [3]

Dr. Masoud Banisadr recounts:

“It was very horrible. There were 15 students who were from the United States, they were supporters. They were brought to Iraq and in the same night they were moved to the battle field. Because of my political rank I was a commander even though I had no military background. I didn’t know anything about fighting. Only a few days before for the first time I saw a machine gun, and I only shot it once. So in the first battle I almost lost my life, I was shot and went unconscious and was taken back to the hospital. Unfortunately I learned all 15 died because they didn’t have any training, and because it was done so quickly no one asked them their names and nothing was recorded. I didn’t even know their names. It was horrible.” [4]

Dounya Bouzar has studied the recruitment process by examining phones and computers of hundreds of French adolescents, and heard it described by the young people and their families who have come to her for help. "Recruiters show differing utopias to young people," she said. "It’s by listening to how they get caught that we can undo the deception." [5]

What happened to Dr. Banisadr was the kind of technique that was presented by the anthropologist. That was family ties, her daughter and other belongings revived the sense of life in his heart.  To answer how he was dissociated with the MKO he tells Richard Potter:

“In 1996 Maryam Rajavi (Wife of Massoud Rajavi and current head of MEK) was speaking in London and they asked me to come and mobilize supporters, and talk to British politicians and arrange meetings for Mrs. Rajavi, including Margaret Thatcher. So in London after five or six years I met my daughter. Before that she was 13 and now she was 18. I was faced with a lady. Emotions and feelings are very important in destructive cults. They isolate you from your loved ones, so you don’t turn your emotions to your loved ones. In London I could see my daughter and my sister and my old friends. From early morning to midnight I had to see old friends, ex-supporters of MEK, and answering thousands of questions which internally I had no rational answer for any of them. So these things, my feelings between my friends and family helped me change. And also luck. I had an accident and back problems, and I was so active in London that I had to go to the hospital. My back gave out. Fortunately for me MEK was very busy then for Maryam Rajavi with different meetings, so they didn’t care about me. If it was another juncture they’d make sure someone was with me, because MEK never leaves a member without a chaperone, always at least two with each other they watch and look after each other. So in the hospital I was alone for the almost a month and I could see normal relationships of people with each other. HUMANITY There was a guy beside who had an accident and I was helping him to shave his beard, or to feed him and so on, and this revived my individuality and my humanity and self-confidence. All gradually it came back. When it came that I left the hospital I left MEK. I didn’t reject them fully yet, but I realized I couldn’t be with them anymore.” [6]

Bouzar has also borrowed an idea from French writer Marcel Proust, who wrote a masterpiece on memory which said how the flavor of a certain sponge cake – a Madeleine – revived an intense experience from his childhood. [7]

As she suggests families using emotional cues – music, pictures, places, scents, food – to "wake up" their loved ones caught in the cults, one may find out why the leaders of the MKO are so dreadfully scared of presence of families in front of the gates of their camps.

The propaganda of the MKO tries to demonize the families labeling them as “agents of the Iranian intelligence ministry”.  The group leaders even indoctrinated members to turn against their families. In several cases, children were shown on the MKO TV channel verbally abusing their parents accusing them of working for the “regime”.Ghorban Ali Hosseinnezhad and Mostafa Mohammadi fathers of two girls who are taken as hostages at Camp Liberty were even beaten by henchmen of the Cult after they took an action to denounce the group’s abusive attitude in front of Maryam Rajavi’s headquarters in Ouver sur Oise, Paris. [8]

“Touched by memories of his childhood," as Ms. Bouzar said or having heard the voice of their parents and siblings through loudspeakers at Camp Ashraf was so moving to stimulate a large group of the MKO members to escape the cult-like bars of the group. And, that’s the bitter experience Rajavi fears the recurrence.

By Mazda Parsi

References:

[1]MEVEL, PAULINE& LABBÉ, CHINE , ditch reason, Dounia Bouzar, a 51-year-old Muslim anthropologist, speaks to Reuters during an interview in Paris, France, REUTERS, October 22, 2015.

[2] ibid

[3] Potter, Richard, The Cult in the Shadow War: An Interview with a former member of Mojahedin-e-Khalq, mondoweiss.net, November 26, 2013

[4] ibid

[5] MEVEL, PAULINE& LABBÉ, CHINE , ditch reason, Dounia Bouzar, a 51-year-old Muslim anthropologist, speaks to Reuters during an interview in Paris, France, REUTERS, October 22, 2015.

[6]Potter, Richard, The Cult in the Shadow War: An Interview with a former member of Mojahedin-e-Khalq, mondoweiss.net, November 26, 2013

[7] MEVEL, PAULINE& LABBÉ, CHINE , ditch reason, Dounia Bouzar, a 51-year-old Muslim anthropologist, speaks to Reuters during an interview in Paris, France, REUTERS, October 22, 2015.

[8] https://www.nejatngo.org/en/post.aspx?id=8160

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