analysis and background on the people’s mujahideen Organization of Iran
Having lost the game forever in Iraq and neighbouring countries, it is in Europe that the PMOI ‘s leaders will try to reorganise their troops.
In total breakdown, with its base in shock from the collapse of the movement’s structures along the Iranian border, the organisation seems cornered. Yet, its experience in clandestinity should help in the pursuit of certain goals. It will be key to construct a weapon, as the author of the Little Red Book teaches.
“A disciplined Party, armed with Marxist-Leninist theory, practicing self-criticism and linked with the popular masses; an Army directed by such a Party; a united front of all the revolutionary groups placed under the direction of that Party: these are the three main weapons with which we defeated the enemy”. (122)
But Chairman Mao Tse Tung knew that above all, the intensive use of subversion prepares the ground.
Deprived of its military means, the PMOI has to stand up again. The war led by the Rajavis is not over. Since the continuation of terrorist attacks, publicised as military operations, is now impossible, it is essential to reorient the strategy of the struggle. The key will be the recourse to subversion.
Rotting the State
What are the means of action that come out of the decision to use subversion? Professor Robert Mucchielli has carefully described the phases involved:
“Instead of engaging troops along the borders of a nation to conquer, one will provoke inside that State, through the activities of trained subversive agents, a process of rot among the authorities. At the same time, small groups of partisan fighters, presented as ‘coming from the people themselves’ and created ‘spontaneously’ will undertake a new form of combat right there. Their advertised goal will be to start a ‘revolutionary war of liberation’. In fact, their intent will be to accelerate the process of rot in the State within the targeted country and then take power”.
The objectives to attain are all aimed at the same goal:
“The objectives of subversion are triple. Their differentiation can only be didactic in nature since they are mutually supporting and reinforcing. They are:
demoralise the target nation and disintegrate the groups who make it up;
discredit authority, its defenders, its functionaries, its distinguished citizens;
neutralise the masses to prevent any spontaneous and general intervention in favour of the established order at the time chosen for the non-violent taking of power by a small minority.”
These steps go on until circumstances permit the final act:
“The seizure of power will be done by a small group, an infinitesimal minority, those precisely who know exactly what they want and what they are doing (moreover the group is the only one ‘in the know’). What is important is therefore that at the moment of seizing power there is no contrary intervention. Subversive action implies, consequently, imposing silence on the silent majority which expresses apathy and not opposition to the troublemakers”. (123)
For that to happen, the use of the media is a crucial means to create major disinformation concerning subversion itself. It is essential to create events that make the headlines.
On scouted ground
It was, among other reasons, through fear of serving as a sanctuary for the PMOI’s subversive activities that France decided to strike the group so strongly.
As M. Pierre de Bousquet de Florian, Director of Territorial Surveillance (DST), made clear, his agents were not acting on ground they did not know.
“Just for 2001, there were 195 attacks and terrorist actions against Iran claimed in statements from Auvers-sur-Oise,” he medicated. He added: “We have learned that they were planning actions outside Iran, aimed notably at Iranian diplomatic missions in Europe. This is a future danger, but a clear one”.
The war against Iraq and the fall of Saddam Hussein, the Mojahedin’s protector were the direct causes for the operation, the head of the DST agreed: “Even before the war, we saw people arriving from Iraq. At the start of 2003, Maryam Rajavi returned to Auvers-sur-Oise with the senior leadership. Then the real soldiers cane.” According to the French intelligence services, the Mojahedin’s aim was to move their “world operational centre” — previously based in Baghdad — to the Val d’Oise. If the searches of about 20 sites in the Val d’Oise did not turn up arms or explosives, the Rajavi’s villa was, nonetheless, ‘a real Fort Apache’. “We were surprised by the security systems,” stated Pierre de Bousquet de Florian. “We found between 8 and 9 million US dollars in cash, as well as systems for coded communications”.
Fully tempered for subversive methods, the PMOI can easily mobilise its militants throughout Europe. This is a perfectly efficient machine, as the measures taken by the French Ministry of the Interior show during Operation “Théo”:
“Six persons resident in European countries (four in Germany, one in Sweden, one in Italy) received Ministerial decisions for their urgent expulsion back to these countries.
Nine persons who showed an intent to commit suicide are under medical surveillance.
Nine persons were held for questioning for having participated in a forbidden demonstration, Among them, two are being handed over to the police for having been filmed while buying petrol at a service station in rue Nelaton and then giving it to one of The persons who immolated themselves and died; one of them had also Interfered with the rescue squad. Furthermore, another person admitted carrying bottles of turpentine in her vehicle. She intended to immolate herself with them. Other demonstrators were allowed to go free last night after routine verification of their papers”. (124)
The DST has been investigating the PMOI for years and this instruction to the National Police was agreed by the prosecuting magistrates in April 2001. “This is a long term job which has only recently come to fruition,” the Director explained. (125)
In its tracking down of terrorism, the Government has spared few means. This shows that the threat was taken very seriously indeed.
More than 1,200 police personnel from the RAID [one of France’s elite SWAT teams], the DST, the Central Office for the Repression of Major Financial Crime, as well as 80 gendarmes from the Intervention Group of the National Gendarmerie [another elite SWAT team, the ‘GIGN’] broke into the headquarters of the PMOI at dawn on Tuesday, 17 June. It is a large complex situated in Auvers-sur-Oise. They also broke into twelve other sites in the Val d’Oise and in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (Yvelines)...
It should be added that almost 200 parabolic antennas and a hundred computers were seized. Their examination should allow the investigators to sharpen their knowledge of the financial circuits financing the PMOI, which run through several countries and many bank accounts.
During their searches, investigators also found radio scanners tuned to police frequencies”. (126)
This is an extraordinary haul. Beyond the very sophisticated equipment they found, there was also a fortune in dollars discovered by the investigators.
For years now, the Rajavis have been living in luxury, benefiting from the odd absence of reaction from European governments.
A means of pressure
Ali Akbar Rastgou knows the People’s Mojahedin very well. He joined in 1976 and ended by quitting the movement, disgusted by the methods that reigned within it. Responsible for relations of the PMOI in Germany with other leftwing groups supporting the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua, this individual has his own views on their impunity:
“How can I explain the tolerance of Europe toward the PMOI’? That’s a good question... States use the PMOI against Iran. I was able to verify this when I was a ‘diplomat’. During official discussions with Iran, when negotiations take too long or don’t move in the direction wanted by the Westerners, the PMOI is set loose to organise demonstrations in the streets. This was an effecttive means of putting pressure on Iran. We know very well how to use the telephone to mobilise people... Everyone profited: the Mojahedin because they had a blank cheque to reach public opinion and the Foreign Ministries who could use them against Iran”. (127)
This is confirmed by Libération:
“At a time when the French services were treating them with kid gloves, the People’s Mojahedin were a precious source for them on Iranian plans against French interests... But, this opposition movement did not only serve as auxiliaries to the French services. As their attorney confirms, Massoud Rajavi’s supporters also worked for the German, Dutch and British services... They were an ideological mercenary force”. (128)
Since then, the French secret services have been able to compile an extremely persuasive file for the prosecution.
A Big Risk
The boss of France’s Direction for the Surveillance of the Territory (DST), Prefect Pierre de Bousquet confirms the danger posed by Massoud Rajavi’s People’s Mojahedin of Iran:
“The People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) has, for a long time, been going over to a terrorist logic. Despite the organisation’s rhetoric, which claims only to be fighting against a regime, it should be noted that their attacks have usually struck many civilian victims. As to the claims of the PMOI that it wants to bring democracy to Iran, this must be understood within the paradigm of the movement’s extraordinary autocracy, where a radical cult of personality is enforced. Its members must be blindly devoted to Massoud Rajavi and his wife. The slightest criticism is severely punished. The PMOI can be considered as having followed a sectarian detour which is obvious in the fanatical behaviour of it militants: the dramatic immolations of recent days show the sad truth about them.
The DST has been working for a long time on the PMOI and, having alerted the administrative and judicial authorities on the growing danger it posed, we have been acting since April 2001 under a warrant for searches and surveillance. These last two years have been used to dissect and understand the movement’s structures and function, especially its French ‘plants’. This was a tough job, given the PMOI’s complexity and its dissembling, sectarian and hermetically sealed internal culture.
But it was the indirect consequences of the American intervention in Iraq that pushed us to accelerate our actions. The concomitant factors of the retreat to Auvers-sur-Oise of its leaders, veteran soldiers and intelligence officers coming to us from many sources were convincing. We could see that the PMOI aimed to establish its new world I—IQ in France, now that it had lost its Iraqi bases. For reasons of principle, as well as the presence of risks to our fellow citizens, we could not accept these developments”. (129)
122. Popular Democratic Democracy, 30 June 1949, Mao Tse Tung, op. cit
123. La Subversion- by Roger Mucchielli, Paris, 1972
124.- “A propos des interpellations de moudjahidin du peuple d’Iran” — Press Release of the Paris Prefecture of Police, 24 June 2003
125.- “Moudjahidin: Pour Ia DST, tine “organisation terroriste” proche de Ia “secte” — Le patron du contre-espionnage justifie Ia rafle” — by Jean-Dominique Merchet — Liberation, 19 June 2003
126.- “Plus de 6 millions de dollars, une centaine d’ordinateurs et200 paraboles saisis dans l’opération Théo” — by Piotr Smolar — Le Monde, 19 June 2003
127.- Interview by Antoine Gessler: “Au Akbar Rastgou: “Les Etats jouent du MKO pour faire pression sur l’Iran” — Le Nouvelliste, 14 april 1999.
128.- “Un mouvement fragilisé par Ia chute de Saddam Hussein — Les Occidentaux n’ont plus besoin d’eux” by Jean-Pierre Perrin — Liberation, 18 June 2003
129.- “Pierre de Bousquet: les Moudjahidin ont basculé dans une derive sectaire” — interview ed by Le Figaro, 20 June 2003
For decades, Western empires have waged a silent war against Iran, using tactics ranging from supporting known terrorist groups to deposing the country’s leaders and leveraging regional rivalries. The war...