Al-Arabia news channel broadcast a detailed report titled "MKO, Struggle for Survival". The program was hosted by Ahmed Abdulla, a powerful presenter of Al-Arabia. Contacting Ali Safavi, Alireza Jafarzadeh (MKO members) as well as Massoud Khodabandeh and Anne Singleton (former members of the group) and also Professor Gary Sick, Raymond Tanter and Dokhi Fasihian via telephone, the program discussed the status of the MKO, criticism about this terrorist group, its popular base and also its involvement in massacring Kurds in Iraq. Parts of the report are as follows:
Al-Arabia: Khodabandeh worked for the group in Iraq as the bodyguard of MKO leaders until he felt disappointed and now he is a strong opponent of the group.
Khodabandeh: "For a long time, there were sessions in the MKO known as "current operations", which served the promotion of sectarianism. Each person was required to take part in these sessions on daily basis to report what he had thought about during the day or what he wished or what he hated. He had to express them all for others. After confessions, the person was told to deny so-and-so and the purpose was to put the person under the pressure of others in order to clarify issues to him and shape him as they wanted."
Al-Arabia: Did all women wear scarves? Were they required to wear scarves?
Anne (Khodabandeh’s wife): "Yes, wearing scarf was one of the conditions in the Camp".
Al-Arabia: Anne Singleton, the wife of Massoud Khodabandeh, was also MKO member for 7 years. One of his friends, an Iranian, was the reason for her interest in the group.
Anne: "In 1990, I officially became a member. I passed two weeks while being on hunger strike. I forced myself to accept that situation. I had prepared myself for that. In the early stages, I was told that I had to obey leader’s orders totally. By leader, they mean Maryam Rajavi".
Al-Arabia: Massoud and Anne stress that the organization of Mojahedin tries to weaken family relations in order to absorb and keep members.
Anne: "The MKO claims that they are struggling for the freedom of women but the fact is quite opposite because the only thing they do is to force women to leave their children. Besides, they force women to divorce their husbands. They press women to quit thinking about forming a family, having a normal life and family relationships. The organization even prevents them from meeting their relatives who are also members of the group. Women can meet their relatives in the organization but the meeting should not be held as a family one since family relationships can affect relationship with "Sister Maryam"! In this cult, all should think about her and love her."
Al-Arabia: MKO leaders deny these, claiming that Massoud Khodabandeh is in touch with Iranian Intelligence Ministry. However, there’s a more important accusation: MKO had special ties with Saddam Hussein’s regime during 15 years of being in Iraq. Pictures released recently show Massoud Rajavi and MKO’s number two man beside Saddam Hussein.
Ali Safavi (MKO member): "MKO had to change its position and settle in Iraq. Since 1986, when it was settled in Iraq, it has acted independent from the hosting government in issues like political, ideological, organizational and military issues."
Al-Arabia: You mean there has been no cooperation between the fighters of MKO and Saddam?!
Ali Safavi: "No."
Al-Arabia: Despite Mr. Safavi’s answer, several sources including US State Department believe that Saddam Hussein has equipped the MKO and that the group received financial aid from Saddam’s regime- apart from the financial aids from Iranian exiles. In this regard, Massoud Khodabandeh says: "After the first Gulf war in 1991, Taha Yassin Ramadhan, one of Saddam’s senior deputies, asked the MKO to help Saddam in crushing the Kurds".
A Kurdish village destroyed totally by the MKO.
Massoud Khodabandeh: "What I remember is that Taha Yassin Ramadhan held a meeting with MKO members and that the MKO members expressed preparedness and praised his positions. Since Ramadhan lacked sufficient forces after the war, so he divided the forces. His own forces were only enough to suppress the uprising in the South. Therefore, Rajavi’s forces were tasked with crushing the opponents in the North".
Al-Arabia: Since you eyewitnesses the destruction of a village by MKO forces, please tell us what happened.
Khodabandeh: "MKO forces leveled the village. Iraqi villages are small. Imaging what would happen to such village with 20 tanks. The village was intentionally devastated."
Al-Arabia: Was it done by MKO forces?
Khodabandeh: "Yes, it was done by MKO forces and their tanks and they were happy of this victory."
Al-Arabia: "According to some reports and news, during ideological and psychological sessions in Iraq, Massoud Rajavi taught anti-Imperialist and anti-American ideas to the members. Is the MKO capable of hiding its real face under a mask?
Khodabandeh: "Yes, particularly when they moved to Iraq they never thought that Saddam would fall someday. Therefore, they expressed their enmity towards west by relying on the regime of Saddam. This democratic face you see today is simply a fake."
Al-Arabia: MKO always denies this part of its history and those who talk about this are accused by the MKO of being involved with Iran’s Intelligence Ministry!
Ali Safavi (MKO member): "This is only a propagandistic issue on which the Iranian regime spends hundred millions of dollars.
Al-Arabia: while the MKO and its supporters claim that there’s no black or shameful point in the history of organization, experts believe that this claim is rejected by Iranians.
Professor Gary Sick: "There’s no doubt that the MKO is rejected and renounced in Iran. There’s no question on that. Iranians look at the group as traitor organization since it stood along with the enemy to overthrow the government."
Al-Arabia: Dokhi Fasihian was formerly the executive director of Iranian-American Council, a nonpartisan institution.
Al-Arabia: Ms. Fasihian, is it true that Iranians hate the MKO and reject it?
Dokhi Fasihian: "MKO claims that if elections were held in Iran, people would elect them but this is a sheer lie and an insult to Iranians."
Dokhi Fasihian: "Indeed, the MKO has no place among Iranians. They are rejected because of their cooperation with Iraqi forces during Iran-Iraq war. I believe that Iranians rather hate MKO than Americans. Iranian don’t understand why some foreign governments and officials support such undemocratic groups that are known for violence and terrorism!