analysis and background on the People’s Mojahedin organization of Iran.
CHAPTER 14/The DST Report
When they undertook a major police operation against the People’s Mojahedin, code named “Théo”, DST’s agents could act on the basis of a confidential report produced two weeks before 17 June 2003.
The Figaro was able to obtain this document and publish its main citations:
“The PMOI Has Moved Its Headquarters to France
The PMOI has carried out a number of activities on French soil that are clandestine, sectarian, delinquent, and even seriously criminal. In France, the organisation has two or three hundred militants and sympathisers. Its ‘hard nucleus’ is made up of a few dozen militants The organisation has been able to show its ability to mobilise people for multiple protest demonstrations (Iran- US football match in Lyon in 1998, the visits of Iranian leaders to France, notably that of [Iranian President] Khatami in 1999 and of Iranian members of parliament in February, 2001). Specialists in organising street demonstrations came from Iraq specifically for this purpose.
The PMOI has no legal representation in France. It exists de facto and its activity is organised through numerous associations, legally registered or not, which serve as a cover’ for its members. Fourteen associations have so far been uncovered. They are made up of PMOI members, some of whom appear in the organ isation’s financial support network. Some of these associations carry out no visible activities. On the other hand, one of them is particularly interesting: the Iran Aid Association.
The PMOI uses the National Resistance Council of Iran as its front and has a government-in-exile domiciled at the same address as the NRC: 17 rue des Gords in Auvers-sur-Oise. Its leader, Massoud Rajavi, is represented in France by Saleh Rajavi. The most active members of this government are Mohammad Mohassedine, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Commission, Abol Ghassen Rezai, aka Moshen, political officer, and Ibrahim Zakeri, Chainnan of the Counterespionage and Security Commission. The latter died recently.
Claims of Responsibility for Terrorist Acts Committed in Iran Issued from France
Since 1998, the PMOI, which had been the principal opposition party to the Teheran regime, has lost its political influence. It has radicalised its activity and increased the number of terrorist and military attacks on Iran. On 2 June 1998, the PMOI issued a press release, in French, claiming responsibility for a bombing of the Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office in Teheran. Ten people were killed or wounded. On 3 June 1998, in another press release, the movement claimed it was responsible for a mortar attack on the Pasdaran Headquarters. Two months later, a dispatch received in the Nicosia Bureau (Cyprus) of Agence France Presse claimed responsibility for the assassination of Assolah Ladjevardi on 23 August 1998. He had been the warden of Evin Prison in Iran.
In 2001, the PMOI claimed authorship of 195 attacks against Iran. The organisation makes many of these claims for actions in Iran from the PMOI’s French base. They are disseminated either by fax or by the organisation’s Website: http:/www.iran.mojahedin.org
After the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States, the PMOI stopped claiming responsibility for its actions inside Iran. This was to avoid being seen as a terrorist organisation.
Illegal Distribution of Periodicals
The PMOI puts out five journals or reviews in France which have never been registered with the legal services governing publications. They are: Iran Zamin, The Lion and the Sun, Les Nouvelles d’Iran and Mojahed. Basically they do the organisation’s propaganda work.
The best known, the Mojahed newspaper was denied publication rights by a decree of the Interior Ministry in February, 1999. Yet, it continues to circulate illegally in our country. It features particularly violent language against the regime. The distribution is done by members of the organisation.
We have put together some articles that are particularly violent in tone and call outright for the physical elimination of the main leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran: ‘Death to Khameini”, ‘Death to Khatami”, “Death to Rafsanjani”.
These titles show in a concrete and significant way how dangerous the organisation is and the incitement to violence contained in its leaders’ language, published in their newspaper. The tone of these articles shows how its circulation in France constitutes a risk for public order. It incites its readers to murder the Iran’s highest leaders who, in turn, are possible official visitors to France.
According to a source, Mojahed is printed and prepared in Great Britain. The address is, however, 17 rue des Gords in Auvers-sur-Oise. The publication’s post box is at 2 bis rue Dupontde-l’Eure in Paris’ 20111 arrondissement. This is also the address of the ABC Live Company which provides an address for newspapers whose subscribers have moved and serves as a return address.
The PMOI needs a big budget to support its activities. These include managing its real estate, its communications system, the travel of its militants and the maintenance of its Army in Iraq. According to our information, the organisation does not use illegally obtained funds. On the other hand, the PMOI and some of its members are under indictment or civil action for misallocation of funds. This is notably the case in Germany, where significant sums of German private donations and State subsidies were used, in fact, for the purchase of arms for PMOI terrorists and militants in Iraq.
Part of their finances comes from fund raising among individuals and groups of Iranian expatriates. This is done by the PMOI representatives in Europe, North America and the Middle East. Another part comes from its own members dues. They are required to pay regular “tithes” to the organisation. Finally, there was Saddam Hussein. He was the main funder, providing sums estimated at several hundred million dollars.
The identification of the financial networks of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran is anything but easy. The organisation has set up international financial circuits that are very complex. Their opaqueness is such that they are very difficult to ‘read’. The source and destination of the funds are often unknown. There is a clear policy of hiding the organisation’s financial operations, a source of pride to a membership tempered in clandestine operations.
The financial assets of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran travel through a complicated web of bank accounts in France, throughout Europe, in North America and in the Middle East. The legal holders of these accounts are either real people or private groups, many domiciled in France.
As to the private groups, the Iran Aid Association has as its official humanitarian and social aim the collection of funds in French territory from private donors. They place the vast majority of these monies in foreign personal bank accounts, largely in Turkey and the Arab Emirates. These are countries in which all trace of the funds is lost, especially their final destination. Strongly suspected of financing the PMOI’s terrorist war against Iran, as well as its terrorist operations inside the country, the Association succeeds in violating its private, non-governmental status in France, by flouting its statutes and humanitarian basis in law...
Information from many sources about the flow of these funds between a network of bank accounts shows a closed circle, difficult to penetrate and evaluate. For example, an account receives deposits from Jordan, Belgium, Germany, etc. and is then debited for new redeposits in France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Great Britain, Switzerland, Luxemburg, the United States and so on.
The study of the accounts of certain members of the organisation shows this complexity. The large sums involved and managed by these individuals far exceeds their own professional income. They are, in fact, usually without any real profession, or business activity, at least as far as the tax authorities and social institutions are concerned. The account holders are, thus, very difficult, almost impossible to find. They are all housed at ‘convenience’ addresses of “convenience”, where they most certainly do not reside.
We have been able to identify numerous PMOI members, recruited and housed in France, making regular trips to Iraq. This is, of course, where the National Liberation Army of Iran (NLAI) camps were: the armed wing of the PMOI. We have also established that these members have been able to use false documents or false identities. They also follow several different routes to Iraq:
passing through Jordan, Egypt, or Turkey. They make their connections through different European countries, such as Belgium and the Netherlands. The clandestine protocols are, of course, designed to avoid any tracing of their travels. Once in Iraq, the militants undergo various levels of political and military training.
The NLAI fighters coming from Iraq regularly visit PMOI HQ in Auvers-sur-Oise, while veteran soldiers are installed in France and remain continuously active in promoting the organisation.
The PMOI Declared a Terrorist Movement
After the 9/Il attacks, Washington kept the PMOI on its list Of terrorist organisations and ordered that its assets be frozen. It should be recalled that the PMOI is also on the British list of terrorist organisations. Since May 2002, it is on the European list, as well.
Since then, the PMOI uses the ‘brand name’ of the National Resistance Council of Iran (NCRI), political wing of the PMOI, with Maryam Rajavi as its Secretary General.
In the past, the Baghdad authorities used the NLAI as a support militia for defending Iraq, as in the case of the Iran War or in the repression of minorities after the first Gulf War. During the last war in Iraq, the NLAI did not join in fighting against American forces.
Activities in France
In France, the Mojahedin have been prudent, distrusting the environment. Nonetheless, they assaulted an Iranian Parliamentary Delegation visiting the country in 2001. Lately they have increased their meetings and planned spectacular actions to draw media attention to the plight of the Iranian people.
According to recent information, the PMOI planned to carry out a major campaign of demonstrations, including operations against Iranian objectives in Europe (embassies, consulates, etc.). They even considered the physical elimination of former members of movements working with Iranian intelligence (Vevak).
Along the same lines, during recent meetings, they raised the possibility of using suicide operations (immolations).
Following the intervention in Iraq and fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, the leadership and militants of the PMOI and the NLAI fled Iraq and many came to Europe, including France.
Maryam Rajavi, Secretary General of the PMOI and Chairman of the NCR! returned to France. She has a residency visa with “refugee” status in vigour until 2006. It is under the name of X.X., and Mrs XX... She uses many aliases...
Currently, 90 people visit or reside in the Auvers-sur-Oise HQ. Others are expected. In order to house them, reservations have been made in inexpensive vacation facilities around Auvers-surOise, in the Val d’Oise.
The construction company, Algeco, was called in by the Mojahedin to add bungalows in their camp on rue Gordes. Several hundreds of square metres of housing space have been rented by the organisation in the Val d’Oise in its reorganisation on French soil”. (130)
130. “Une note confidentielle du contre-espionnage alertait sur les activities et les derives des refugies iraniens installes en banlieue parisienne- A l’origine de l’operation un rapport secret de la DST- le Figaro, 24 June 2003
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