Street assassinations in Tehran, Forough-e Javidan in Bagdad
During the 1980s, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran attempted bombing attacks and assassinations in the streets of Tehran and other cities in Iran; however, they practically continued their activities in Paris after the death of their military leader, Moussa Khyabani, in June 1981. In 1986, after the French government’s pressure, and not being accepted by any other European country, the MKO’s headquarters was moved from Paris to Baghdad.
Saddam Hussein, involved in a war with Iran at that time, welcomed Masoud Rajavi and ordered all the members of the organization to be stationed in Diyalah province, 80 kilometers from the borders of Iran. The camp was named after Ashraf Rabiei, Masoud Rajavi’s ex-wife, who was killed along with Moussa Khyabani and twenty other members of the MKO in an attack on Monday, February 8, 1982.
There is not much information about the way in which the MKO was living or managing in Ashraf. Most of the current information is based on the memoirs of members separated from the organization, or limited videos released by the organization about Ashraf Camp’s living style. In the videos released by the organization, the camp is introduced as a modern city campus with residential complexes, clean streets, educational and sports facilities, a museum, mosque, university and a graveyard.
A number of former members of the MKO, who escaped from the Ashraf Camp, talked about the commanders’ pressure on the members. They also talked about the lack of communication with outside the camp and not having access to telephone, mobile, Internet and media. They announced that they were only allowed to watch the organization’s TV. Additionally, they also admitted that exiting the camp was something costly and difficult.
Numerous detention centers, individual cells, interrogation rooms, as well as quarantine sections, were revealed when the Mujahedin was forced to leave Ashraf and the camp was eventually evacuated. Revealing such places in Ashraf Camp confirmed the former members’ claim about psychological stresses and physical torture on dissatisfied members and critics of the organization. 1
The Members of the organization arrived in Iraq in the 80’s and were organized in the “Liberation Army of Iran”. The actual number of the organization’s headquarters and camps in Iraq was announced at about sixteen. A number of them, which the MKO identified as official and independent bases, were basically inside the Iraqi military barracks and army camps. Except for the buildings in Baghdad, the rest of the camps and bases were on lands and areas belonging to the army or the presidential guard of Iraq. These sixteen bases were as follows:
Ashraf Camp (the headquarters of the organization): About 100 kilometers from the western borders of Iran and 100 kilometers from the north of Baghdad in Diyalah province and 40 kilometers from Khalis city; the camp was handed over to the Mujahedin by the Presidential Guard of Saddam in 1986. Other camps were: Anzali Camp, Alavi Foundation Base, Habib Base, Homayoun Base, Faizah Camp, Border Base (Persian, Hanif, Saeed Mohsen) Badia Camp, Jalula Camp, Debes Camp, Zakeri Camp, Khyabani and Zabeti Camp, Khaneqin Camp, and Jordan border headquarters. More than 15 bases were also announced by the organization as the urban headquarters.
Thus, with the financial and military support of the Iraqi Ba’ath regime, the small military units of the MKO were quickly organized and equipped. The organization claimed that thousands of Iranian armies were killed in 1982 and 1988 after the establishment of the National Liberation Army. MKO’s exaggerated statistics claim the death of thousands of fighters of the Islamic Republic of Iran in three operations of “Aftab, Chelcheraq, and Forouq-e Javidan”. In this regard, however, the two sides have undoubtedly presented exaggerated statistics; the more reliable sources in Iran estimates 1500 to 2000 Iranians killed in the last years of the war. The number of Mujahedin loss was announced as 2000 to 3000 killed. (2)
During the last days of the Iran-Iraq war, after the frequent defeat of Iran’s military forces, MKO, supported by Iraq, carried out two operations in mid-1988, named Aftab and Chelcheraq, seizing Mehran. The operations were preceded by the adoption of Resolution 598 and the announcement of a ceasefire between the Iraqi and Iranian forces. Following the adoption of Resolution 598, and prior to implementing the ceasefire, the organization launched its most extensive operation called Forough-e Javidan. MKO’s members were able to seize the cities of Ghasr-e Shirin, Sar Pol-e Zahab, West Karand and West Islamabad, moving toward Kermanshah; however, before arriving in Kermanshah and at Charzebar Camp, they were defeated as they encountered the Iranian forces’ strike, Mersad Operation, alongside the Iranian air strikes. Chasing the survived forces continued for a few days later. According to the Iranian government resources, more than 2,500 Mujahedin members were killed during the Mersad Operation. Mujahedin announced the number of 1,300 killed. The failure of the Forough-e Javidan operation was the end of the military operations of the “Liberation Army of Iran”, affiliated with MKO. Implementation of the cease-fire between Iran and Iraq, under the United Nations’ supervision on Saturday, August 20, 1988, banned Mojahedin from using Iraq to invade Iran.
Prior to the Forough-e Javidan operation, Mujahedin’s leaders gathered a large number of their supporters and beneficiaries from Europe to Iraq through a massive call without any prior notification about a military attack against Iran or any military training. They were sent to the Forough-e Javidan Operation with minor training in using Kalashnikovs.
The lack of military training, as well as the basic military equipment in a symmetric military warfare such as a tank, was the main reason for the operation’s failure. Most of the military equipment was wheeled Armored Personnel Carrier suitable for street battles and urban rebellion control.
Satisfied with the military equipment, air and ground support, and the endowed Iraqi forces, Masoud Rajavi presented delusional talks such as: “If you believe in strength, your power will increase metaphysically one and a half times”. On the night of the operation he said: (3) “based on the plans and the divisions, we will arrive in Tehran in 48 hours, and what we are going to do is something as powerful and unique as a superpower. Do not be afraid of the Nojheh Base. Iraqi fighter jets will be targeting Nojheh and Tabriz air bases every three hours. Iraqi Airline is our backbone. In addition to that, we have anti-aircraft and the Sam 7 missiles. The Iraqi airborne will be with our forces to Sar Pol-e Zahab, and all our combat vehicles will be arranged in columns.” (4)
He sent his troops all over to the abattoir within the next three days and, alongside Saddam in Persian Palace, he observed his mess. He named the failure the “organization’s insurance policy”, in order to escape from his dishonor. Concealing his accusations and mistakes, after a while, when his defeated troop returned from the operation, in a general meeting with the tired and defeated troops, Rajavi described the cause of the defeat as “the forces’ unwillingly fighting in the battle, thinking about women and life issues”; he considered these thoughts as the obstacles of effective combat and victory. In this scenario, those who had previously been brainwashed and forced to support Rajavi’s nonsense claims spoke out (5): “Yes, at the time of fighting in Chahar Zebar, and being involved in armed conflict, much of our minds were obsessed with women, life and our family issues; we did not think of leadership and victory, getting back alive for our desires was our preference.” Thus, Rajavi condemned the poor, captured soldiers for being ineffective and useless, establishing the belief of the founders’ mentally effeteness in an unbelievable act, so that the seat of the plaintiff and the accused was simply changed and the poured out blood was simply forgotten.
On the chart of the operation, the commander in chief was the lead and directed the operation through the authorities of the axis. Based on the importance of the mission, two or more brigades were assigned for each axis. The commanders and missions were as follows:
1-Mehdi Baraei, commander of the First Axis and responsible for conquering Islamabad.
2- Ibrahim Zakeri, commander of the Second Axis and responsible for the seizing of Bakhtaran.
3- Mahmoud Mahdavi, commander of the Third Axis and responsible for capturing Hamedan.
4- Mehdi Eftekhari, commander of the Fourth Axis and responsible for capturing Qazvin.
5-Mahmoud Ataee and his deputy, Hussein Abraisham Chi, commanders of the Fifth Axis and responsible for seizing Tehran.
In addition to the mentioned axis, Soraya Shahri was in charge of logistics; Mohammad Ali Jaberzadeh Ansari, Advertising Manager, Mohammad Seyed Al-Muhadethin, Chief Political Officer, and Shahrzad Haj Seyed Javadi, as the head of the office.
Mujahedin forces marched on 90 miles of Iran’s soil without any major obstacle. They had predicted that people would support them after seizing the area. Despite the prediction, the Kurds of the region, which had previously been repressed by Saddam Hussein, resisted them. The local resistance limited the speed of MKO’s military progress. Nevertheless, Rajavi forces were able to occupy and destroy the cities of Qasr-e Shirin, Sar Pol-e Zahab, West Karand, and West Islamabad, and marched quickly toward Kermanshah through the highway. (7)
On the other hand, the Islamic Republic launched the Mersad Operation and set off its troops against the Mujahedin forces. The operation lasted three days. On the first day, the goal was to block the invasion of the MKO; Air Force did not take part. At that time, the Nojheh Base was bombed, and the runway clearing operation took time; therefore, the Air Force commenced the operation with a one-day delay. On the second day, the Army’s movement was accompanied by the Air Force’s support. On the third day, Mujahedin’s units were completely destroyed. Forough-e Javidan’s failure broke the glory of Rajavi in a large number of the force’s mind and led to the collapse of the organization so that a large number of members and supporters left the organization.
One of the consequences of the operation was questioning the organization’s strategy, as well as Rajavi’s leadership. The organization had tested various strategies and programs since its establishment, especially after the Islamic Revolution’s victory. Starting the new phase, and the formation of the Liberation Army, all the various strategies were considered to be dismissed and the only way to fight and overthrow the regime was assumed through the armed battle and the modern warfare by the Liberation Army. The organization launched the operation and was defeated based on the idea of “Peace is Iran’s executing halter and they never go for it”. The Forough-e Javidan Operation was the end of the Liberation Army’s military movements at the borders of Iran. But more importantly, something happened on the members’ spirits in Ashraf to continue the psychological operations and brainwashing of MKO’s members.
As mentioned above, after the Forough-e Javidan Operation, a dispute on Rajavi’s competency started; however, Rajavi considered the dispute the main cause of the organization’s failure.
Returning from the operation, anyone who looked for their spouse was immediately marked as the “accuser” and was reminded that his spouse “belonged to the leadership” and they, therefore, had no right to enquire. Instead of questioning the leadership, the members of the organization ought to respond to the question why they were stuck behind the “mental trap of family” and could not take Maryam Mehr-e Taban of Freedom ( a title of Maryam Qajar Azdanlou, the wife of Masoud Rajavi) to Tehran.
another consequence of the operation was the condemnation of the organization and the Forough-e Javian operation by opposition groups. The majority of the opposition groups of the Islamic Republic, such as the Democratic Party of Kurdistan, the Left, and the Monarchists, considered the Forough Operation as a result of Rajavi’s illusions and fantasies; even the MKO was declared as the cause of unity in the Islamic Republic.
The other consequence of the Forough-e Javidan Operation was the massive loss of the operation. MKO officially confirmed 1304 killed and even published their photos and biographies. From a total of 51 executive boards of the organization (headquarters), at least 33 of them were involved in the operation, and 16 of them were killed. The total damage to the organization was 50 to 60 percent, and the total damage to the headquarters was approximately 30 percent. The number was in addition to the wounded and victims who were transported back.
Aims of attacking Iran
Establishing a “transitional Islamic Democratic Republic government” in Kermanshah after seizing the citybreakthrough the repression in Iran, signing a peace treaty with Iraq, seizing of Tehran and the abolition of the Islamic Republic of Iranwere the Mujahedin’s major goals of attacking Iran. On the other hand, Iranian military commanders gained comprehensive information about the axis and objectives of the operation and the number of involved forces. MKO reacted quickly by moving the units which had light and fast moving features. The forces controlled a number of mountains and intersections between Islamabad and Kermanshah and confronted the front lines of the Mujahedin. They were able to defeat the MKO’s forces and cut off their commuting routes in several roads when they were gearing up for the operation.
“The current strategy of the MKO and Iraq seems to be creating a free zone for Mujahedin so that the opposition organization of the Iranian regime will play a role in the final peace deal,” said Independent newspaper analyst Harvey Maurice, analyzing the goals and strategy of the MKO.
About one month prior to the joint operation of Iraq and Mujahedin, the Le Monde newspaper had stated that the “National Liberation Army of Iran” was an integral part of the military arrangement of the Iraqi army, and its military activity, without the permission of the Supreme Command of Iraq, could be impossible. In this regard, the Reuters news agency also quoted diplomats saying: “Given the peace talks at UN Headquarters in New York, diplomats suspect Baghdad using the National Liberation Army to maintain the military pressure on Tehran.”
The prompt destruction of the organization with such dimensions would be impossible except under the leadership of Masoud Rajavi.
The great lesson of history to the MKO and its leadership was that the outcome of implementing a misguided strategy by a leader, and his conspiring with a potential enemy of a nation, would bring nothing but disaster and extinction of the strategy.
 Ashraf Base Photographs by Bashgahe Khabarnegaran
2 Mujahedin Khalq Organization, Appearance to the End (1965-2005) Summary of the Three-volume Period, pp. 278 and 236-307
GIDSS.com,By Amirfarshad Ebrahimi ,Photojournalist & Documentary producer