When Saddam Hussein invaded his small, oil-rich neighbor in the summer of 1990, the Country Department faced its first full-scale post-Cold War international crisis. Bush’s foreign policy team forged an unprecedented international coalition consisting of the NATO allies and the Middle Eastern countries including of Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Egypt to oppose Iraqi aggression. The US-led coalition’s effective air campaign in January 1991, which was followed by “Operation Desert Storm,” a 100-hour land war, expelled Iraqi forces from Kuwait. However, this short-term operation offered Massoud Rajavi the opportunity to run his cult-like regulations over the members of the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (the MKO, MEK, PMOI, the Cult of Rajavi).
At the time, the MKO forces were located in Camp Ashraf, 62 kilometers from Baghdad. Members of the group and their families including children used to live in the camp too. Children got involved in the cult of Rajavi because their parents belonged to the cult. Defectors of the MKO such as Nadereh Afshari and Hadi Shams Haeri described the horrible situation of the children who were kept in the Cult of Rajavi, in isolated separated units located far from their parents, under a very abusive control that made them undergo severe sufferings. Ali Akbar Rastgou, former member of the MKO describes the conditions of Camp Ashraf after the US-led invasion of to Iraq in his book in Persian about the history of the group that was published in Germany.
According to Rastgou, Camp Ashraf was not targeted by the coalition forces while Baghdad was bombarded all the time. However, Massoud Rajavi had ordered to permanently relocate children in the bases of the group and hotels in Baghdad in order to allegedly move them out of Iraq. Baghdad was bombarded several times of the day. Practically, the children were in more danger than the time they were at Camp Ashraf.
Purposely orphaned children of the MKO
In February 1991, finally, about 900 children from 2-months-old to 18-year-old were smuggled to Jordan with fake IDs. They were then sent to European countries including Germany, Netherlands and Sweden where they were made adopted by European families and Iranian families who were sympathizers of the MKO.
In fact, absence of emotional balances makes cult children more vulnerable than children within the larger society that enjoy normal family relationships. The stories of the bitter fate of a number of these intentionally orphaned children are accessible in the worldwide media.
Now that kids were wiped off Camp Ashraf, Rajavi was prepared to launch the next phase in the process of turning his group in to a destructive cult. The next step was “forced divorce”. The parents whose children were detached from them had to detach from their last family link, their spouse. Eventually, almost all married members of the MKO divorced their spouses in order to give their exclusive love to their cult leader, Massoud Rajavi.
By Mazda Parsi