Analysis and background on the People’s Mojahedin of Iran
CHAPTER 24/Low Profile
Little remains of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran after the difficult Summer of 2003. They have been hit by a criminal judicial proceeding in France, where they have been officially designated a “terrorist group that is dangerous to public order’. An official ban stops all NCIR activities in the United States and the European Union has no intention of lifting its condemnation of Saddam Hussein’s former servants.
Deprived of its rear bases by the fall of the Baghdad tyrant, its militants are rotting away in camps under guard by the US Army.
The National Liberation Army is no more.
But, even more important, the European media are looking closely at them, underlining their contradictions and its sect-like nature. All the French newspapers are unanimous in describing the cult of personality, iron discipline, internal oppression that characterize the PMOI. It is impossible in these conditions to have easy entry, as in the past, to editorial offices and to solicit support statements from elected officials. Moreover, most of those who allowed their names to be used by the Mojahedin have kept carefully away from any statements or any petition supporting them now. These are friends who have “Gone With the Wind” when the wolf blows outside their doors: to combine Margaret Mitchell with the children’s story about the wolf and the 3 little pigs:
“Today, Saddam Hussein’s former guests have never kept a lower profile.. .The glory days of the People’s Mojahedin seem gone forever. The organisation, supervised by the National Council of the Iranian Resistance in Auvers-sur-Oise recruited most of its fighters in days following the 1979 Revolution. From the outset, they based their support on an intense communications campaign, targeting Western media, and systematically denouncing the mullah’s policies. “We are for democracy”, insists Massoud Rajavi. But the nice words of the Mojahedin have disenchanted many of their supporters”. (239)
The big danger for the PMOI is inside. The organisation is risking implosion which would be their death warrant. Its militants, cut off from their source, could start questioning the leadership. We can see that their powerful role is still there in the immolations. But criticism is increasing. What damage will it do?
Their Iranian political adversaries in the West are sharp tongued and they are leaning hard on the Mojahedin’s contradictions:
“The Massoud and Maryam sect calls for creating another Islamic Republic. Their Islamic Republic is accompanied by the word ‘democratic’. They want to give Khomeini’s office and now Khameni’s post to Massoud Rajavi. Apart from the name, there is no difference between Khomeini’s Islamic Republic and dernocratic’ Islamic Republic of Massoud Rajavi. If, at least in words, the Islamic Republic’s regime calls itself anti-imperialist, Rajavi’s organisation feels no shame in now making public its dependence on imperialism and reaction. For this organisation, photos taken after thousands of intrigues with no matter what American Senator are claims to glory!” (240)
Contrary to their flat claims, the People’s Mojahedin do not have the support of Iranians. They report a 65 per cent, solid support. This has no basis in fact. They now find themselves isolated without any hope of setting off a popular uprising inside Iran:
“Iranians, including opponents to the regime, are hostile to the movement which carries the memory of a ‘terrorist organisation’ which, in addition, was assisted, financed and armed by Iran’s worst enemy: Saddam Hussein’s Iraq”. (241)
The day after the election of President Khatami in 1997, the Fedayin Organisation (Minority) stated the irony: they declared baldly that the Mojahedin were finished as a representative force:
“The Islamic Republic has not been embarrassed to publicise exaggerated figures from the ballot boxes. It mobilised all its efforts to misrepresent the relatively massive turnout, concluding that the people’s vote was one of confidence in the system, in the velayat e-faghih (the leadership of the Supreme Religious Guide for Life) and the Islamic Republic. Other Islamists who dream of an Islamic democracy’ (!) have taken initiatives in the opposite direction! These other islamists cannot bear any reality that runs against their desires, which themselves are completely contradicted by the facts. The Mojahedin Organisation refutes the relatively massive participation of the people in these elections. According to this group and the National Resistance Council they completely invented, if the State apparatus gave out such figures, it was to compete with the Mojahedin and their President of the Republic. According to a survey made by the Mojahedin, two thirds of the people support the President of the Mojahedin’s Republic, Mrs Maryam Rajavi.
Mojahedin analysts saw things simply that way! The Islamic Republic inflated the vote for its own President in order to compete with those voting for the Mojahedin! Obviously this kind of analysis, if this is an example of their work, is worthless and does not deserve our attention. They are so infantile that they are only for the Mojahedin and their worshipers.
In the thinking of the Mojahedin, any time Massoud or Maryam Rajavi get on an airplane or land somewhere, a new phase and a new step forward are beginning. The last trip of Mrs Maryam Rajavi ‘near home soil’ was thus translated into a new phase for the Mojahedin’s paralysed armed forces.
Without this kind of analysis, how can the Mojahedin make their troops hope that the ‘Planetary Hope’ and ‘the President of Iran’ will lead them to Teheran? The Mojahedin and all the forces that want to take decisions for the people without consulting them and without giving any importance to their opinions will only fall into the shameful state in which they now find themselves. The Mojahedin boycotted the election and have activities designed only to overthrow the regime. Their analyses are not based on any knowledge of the existing situation and how to change it, but on their own situation and needs”. (242)
The Beginning of the End
The long decline which seems irreversible can now be seen to be irrefutable as well. But, in the course of future months, of future years, the Mojahedin will keep a fragment of their ability to annoy. They can still break lives and mislead a youth which will suffer the damnation of believing in their promises. This will be so, even if very many Iranians now know what they are dealing with:
‘This attachment to the home country and the absence of resentment toward a regime which pushed them into exile (giving them the opportunity to find success) also explains the scant success of the opposition in exile.
Only the People’s Modjahedin mobilise a part of the youth in exile, especially in Europe. Yet, their sectarianism and their use of terrorism and armed action frighten the large majority of the diaspora’. (243)
The PMOI, naturally, protests, swears on its good faith and insists on the free will of its militants:
“It is impossible to imagine that the mass f Mojahedin or their supporters who live in the different cities of’ Europe, the United States or Asia could be forced to do anything.. .At the very least, the authors of the report suggest that the Mojahedin carry out... propaganda of such breadth that they hypnotise tens of thousands of their compatriots and lends, body and soul, and force them to come out for large scale demonstrations throughout the world.”. (244)
Hollow words indeed when held up to rigorous analysis:
“The Mojahedin are strange. They speak to no one. They don’t mix”, says Hamed Kadam, a shepherd in the Arab village of Beyukhara near Camp Ashraf. The armed opposition group to the Iranian regime also suffers from an extraordinary lack of credibility within the Iranian population, even if its leaders claim 65 per cent support in Iran.
Teheran’s youth (most supporters of a change in regime there) see the Mojahedin as a form of extremism that promotes sexual segregation, and make references to Communist values with a tinge of fundamentalism (their female fighters. without exception, wear the scarf).
In order to clean tip its image in foreign countries, the organisation bought half pages of advertising in the American press last January, even getting 150 signatures of Congressmen. This media operation did not work in preventing the American military intervention in Iraq”. (245)
Without some dramatic intervening event, Maryam Rajavi has to face French justice. But where is her husband, Massoud? According to the Interlink Website, run by former members of the PMOI who broke with the movement and try to assist those who would do the same, Rajavi planned the worst possible fate for his people.
A Ray of Hope
“Iran-Interlink revealed last year a plan laid out by Massoud Rajavi if American forces attacked Iraq. This resulted in the arrival of ‘useful’ members of the Mojahedin in Europe: three hundred, according to estimates, and growing...
Rajavi anticipated perfectly the fact that the Mojahedin could not survive in Iraq without Saddam Hussein’s support. Thus, he smuggled his most useful members to Europe to reconstruct the organisation in the West.
The other part of the plan was to abandon the other members in Iraq and use them as propaganda tools, carrying out suicide attacks against Iran. But the American bombing raids forced the Mojahedin to surrender and accept their own detention and disarmament.” (246)
Supposing that the People’s Mojahedin of Iran stop recruiting? Would those hundreds of militants who gave their existence to a lost cause continue despite this disaster?
Nadere Afshari knows quite well how Maryam and Massoud keep their followers in line:
“By the power of repeating the legends of Abraham and Ismena, as well as mystical poetry, the organisation’s members, men and women, end up killing their own instincts and repressing their feelings. This is the way they establish a disciple-teacher relationship with Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. . . Massoud pretends to have a relationship with God and the Saints of Islam. He considers himself a Saint. He wants the members to believe that all who remain at his side will go to Paradise”. (247)
How can we not complete this thesis without citing Chairman Mao Tse Tung one last time. He was an expert in manipulation, and in the science of alienating a whole nation:
“In what concerns us, whether it involves an individual, a party. an army or a school, I consider the lack of an enemy against us to be a bad thing. It means we are in league with the enemy. If we are attacked by the enemy it is a good thing because it proves that we have drawn a line of demarcation between ourselves and the enemy. If they attack us violently, in portraying us in the darkest colours and in denigrating what we do, that is even better. It proves not only that we have made a clear demarcation between the enemy and us, but have also won important successes in our work”. (248)
Where will other members come from? From among those abandoned in the sands of Iraq without any place to turn to. They number less than 4,000 and could easily return to their home country. Figaro reports:
“From its own side, Iran has just officially announced the amnesty of the Mojahedin. ‘The Iranian Government is ready to welcome them on its territory and pardon them’, announced Abdollah Ramezanzedeh, spokesman for the Iranian Government”. (249)
Meanwhile, children, the mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, even sometimes abandoned spouses and children have taken the road home, moved by the hope to finally be reunited:
“Some three hundred families of Mojahedin members, recently arrived in Iraq, assembled in front of the Mojahedin’s offices in Baghdad to demand the liberation of their children from Rajavi’s organisation”. (250)
For the luckiest, perhaps the nightmare is ending.
The Mojahedin Expelled
During 2003, which, without doubt, would be the People’s Mojahedin’s year leading to the end of the road, the wheel of destiny did turn against Rajavi. The man saw the net tighten around him.
And his final destiny will probably be like that of this old ally:
Saddam Hussein. The latter was finally arrested on Saturday, 13 December 2003, hidden in a two square metre dug out: a rat hole in a modest house in Ad-Dour.
The Rais will now have to stand trial for his crimes. His accomplices are trembling.
This is all the more so for Rajavi. Press agencies reported in November-December 2003 that: “The Governing Council for the Iraqi Transition has decided to expel the remaining 4,000 members of the Iranian People’s Mojahedin in Iraq by the end of 2003. It considers it a ‘terrorist organisation’. The announcement reads:
“The Governing Council voted unanimously to expel by the end of the year the People’s Mojahedin present in Iraq because of their black history as a terrorist organisation”.
The Governing Council indicated that it had decided to ‘close down the movement’s offices and prevent its members from undertaking any activity prior to leaving’. It also decided to confiscate the arms and money of this organisation and create an indemnity account for the victims of the former fascist regime’, according to a press release. ‘The Iraqi individuals and institutions have the right to bring charges against this organisation for its crimes and demand damages from the funds which the organisation holds inside and outside the country”. (AFP, 9 November 2003)
For his part, Iraqi acting Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi explained the decision as one based on the role of the Mojahedin in the repression of Shi’ias and Kurds under Saddam Hussein”. (AFP, 11 November2003)
The question is one of international law and is difficult to resolve. Labeled terrorists by Iraq and the Americans who control
the country, the PMOI has few options.
A terrorism specialist thinks that: “The leaders of the PMOI have decreed what they call a phase of patience’ and ‘judicial mobilisation’. This is to add the help of lawyers in assisting the PMOI members obtaining political refugee status so that they can enter Europe legally.
By small groups of five or six, they move into host countries under the cover of charitable organisations. The PMOI is reorganising to turn itself into a machine for political combat. It would like to appear to have given up armed struggle, but it is truly incapable of thinking in any other way. For now, they want people to forget the shadow of Saddam Hussein”.
In any case, there is no sanctuary for the PMOI and governments who do open their borders to them will have to exert a constant vigilance. If not, their national territory could become bases for action in violation of host countries:
“The members of the Iranian opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin, will not be expelled to Iran, according to Paul Bremer, the American Civil Administrator of Iraq. Three host countries have been chosen by the UN High Commission for Refugees and the Iraqi Governing Council.
‘We wanted HCR to participate in the resettlement of [the Mojahedini in three countries’, declared Paul Bremer on Coalition- controlled Iraqi television. We are working in cooperation with the Governing Council to determine how their departure will be organised and where they will go’, he added”. (AFP, 20 December 2003)
On 23 December sixty members of the PMOI demonstrated in Geneva against the expulsion order:
“The demonstrators, as they had on Friday, protested in front of the UN High Commission for Refugees (I-ICR) to demand its intervention. HCR’ s spokesman, Kris Janowski, nonetheless indicated that it was not in the UN agency’s mandate because these people had no refugee status in Iraq...
When questioned, the International Committee of the Red Cross’ spokesman, Juan Martinez argued that the Mojahedin were protected under the IVth Geneva Convention. This stipulates that an occupying power cannot deport people against their will, unless they are a threat to State security”. (AFP, Ibid.)
Soldiers of Saddam Hussein’s dirty war against their own country, the soldiers of the Massoud Rajavi’s “Liberation Army” used their arms against the Iraqi people, too. The Iraqi Governing Council has brought very detailed charges against the PMOI. These are accusations that bring together many of the analyses and references presented in this work. Terrorists and sectarians, the People’s Mojahedin will end by history’s forgetting them, just as so many movements of their kind before them. Iran’s future will inevitably be decided without them.
239.- Delphine Minoui, op. cit.
240.- Kar, op. cit.
241.- MounaNaIm, op. cit.
242.- “L’opposition, les elections et Ia perspective des evolutions futures”, Contre-courant, organ of the Foreign Section of the Fedayin Organisation (Minority), 16 october 1997
243.- Farhad Khosrokhavar and Olivier Roy, op. cit.
244.- <>, www.iran-interlink.org, september 2003
Spokesman for the Iranian Parliament’s National Security Council said that Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) that has received asylum from France is today supported by the upholders of human rights though...
Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli called for tougher measures against the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO, also known as the MEK, PMOI and NCRI) terrorist group by the European Union...