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Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – 145

++ The fifth series of families this year arrived in Iraq on Saturday and today was their third visit to Camp Liberty. On each day they have taken sweets to offer the residents as a friendly gesture. They have tried to talk with the residents to explain why they are there. Inside the camp, the MEK have positioned around fifteen freshly radicalised members – most with their faces hidden – primed to throw stones and viciously swear at the families outside. The families don’t understand cult mentality and can’t fathom the strange and unproductive behaviour of the small band in front of them. These families have been able to penetrate past the concrete crash barriers in their attempt to make contact with their loved ones. In response, the MEK have now erected fabric barriers, with banners proclaiming what translates as Death to ‘that bit of the Iranian constitution which mentions the Velayat-e Faghi’! One mother said, “I passed one of them a picture of myself and my family and asked him to take it to my son. He tore it up! But then immediately started taking pictures of me with his own camera. Why? What was that for?” Others are bewildered why the MEK place fabric barriers in front of themselves even though their faces are hidden, but they then bring ladders to stand above the barrier to film the families. Again, why? Even the soldiers and police who are posted at the camp don’t get it. In films taken at the scene, we can see a look of amusement mingled with contempt for the MEK on their faces. These are people who are supposedly going to ‘topple the Iranian regime’ but who can’t even deal with the families.

++ The families at Camp Liberty say they are concerned because they know there are around two thousand people living in the camp, but they are all hidden and it is not clear whether they are hiding themselves, or are forced to keep away. They have written to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi asking him to help them get visits with their loved ones. Around 80 former MEK members have also contacted the Iraqi PM to make the same request. The families are very worried about the welfare of the residents, particularly about their security – only kilometres to the north lies Falujah where Iraqi security forces are fighting to take back the city from ISIS mercenaries.

++ This week, eighty more Camp Liberty residents have been transferred, in four groups of twenty, to Albania. Their names have been published by Nejat Society to inform their estranged families.

++ There has been much Farsi commentary about the case of Behzad Alishahi. He was acquitted of false charges and Rajavi has been left out in the cold again, unable to achieve the petty criminal activities he tried for. Alishahi published a note thanking everyone for their support over all this time. He said that ‘Although I will pursue Rajavi and the lobbyists who created falsifications for money, that is not the main issue. It’s not about me but about criminality in the Iranian community which should be stopped. As the MEK have no place among Iranians in Iran, and as the Iraqis are also trying to expel them from Iraq, we now have to put an end to Rajavi’s criminal activities in the West, and to expose those lobbyists who misuse their names and positions for his dirty money.’

++ A few letters and articles appeared talking about counter-terrorism in Europe and Maryam Rajavi’s apparent freedom to glorify MEK violence in her annual rally at Villepinte in Paris. Rajavi’s impunity to invite paid speakers from Washington to celebrate MEK terrorism and self-immolation drew criticism about how the West is handling the roots of terrorism.

++ This week marks the anniversary of the execution of the founders of the MEK. Among those writing about it is internal critic Iraj Mesdaghi. He draws on interviews with former SAVAK officers who admit that Massoud Rajavi worked with them against the founding members. Documentary evidence from that time which has been re-published includes handwritten notes and sketches by Massoud Rajavi about other MEK members, in particular identifying the whereabouts of Mohammad Hanif Nejad which led to his arrest.

In English:

++ Mazda Parsi in Nejat Bloggers writes about the strange case in Britain in which several young women have been psychologically manipulated by a self-styled “spiritual healer”, Anne Craige to turn their backs on their families. Parsi compares this with Rajavi’s treatment of children: “Children in destructive cults belong to the leader, with all members of the group considered their ‘family’, and the leader, their father or mother. The Mujahedin Khalq Organization is a notoriously known example of such destructive cults that indoctrinate children to leave their parents behind and to yield themselves to the leaders’ ambitions.” Parsi concludes: “As a matter of fact, cult indoctrination and psychological manipulation and its perils are not restricted to British boundaries and British families. Definitely, the UN and other international human rights bodies should also be considerate enough to listen to many families who have been suffering grievously since their children were abducted by the Cult of Rajavi.”

++ Sahar Family Foundation in Iraq has written a report on the families currently visiting Iraq in the hopes of getting contact with their loved ones in Camp Liberty.

++ Former MEK member Anne Khodabandeh has written a blog piece for Huffington Post titled ‘From Attraction to Action – How Young People are Radicalized’. Drawing on forty years of experience and knowledge, Khodabandeh explains the methodology of radicalisation, including the use of deceptive recruitment and psychological manipulation. She concludes: “To our eyes, the overt horror of terrorism and extremist violence appears a crude instrument. But recruiters are involved in a highly sophisticated game of mind control which we ignore at our peril. If we don’t take seriously the methodology behind the bloodied images, then we will continue to allow our young people and even whole families to be deceptively stolen away from their normal lives and put on a conveyor belt toward death and destruction.”

May 27, 2016

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