The People's Mojahedin were struck a mortal blow when their European headquarters was dismantled by the French in June 2003. They had already been neutralised as a force in May 2003 when the Anglo-American Coalition took over Iraq and threw out Saddam Hussein's regime
CHAPTER 1-The end of tolerance
The People's Mojahedin were struck a mortal blow when their European headquarters was dismantled by the French in June 2003. They had already been neutralised as a force in May 2003 when the Anglo-American Coalition took over Iraq and threw out Saddam Hussein's regime. These events mark the end of an investigation that had gone on for several years and led to the end of any tolerance for the movement.
"French police questioned more than 160 members of the People's Mojahedin (the main Iranian opposition movement) last Tuesday near Paris. The police claim to have dismantled the group, which the French judicial system suspects of planning and funding terrorist operations. On 11 May, the People's Mojahedin, which numbers about 4 to 5,000 troops in Iraq (although there were once more than 15,000), agreed to turn over their heavy weapons and put their troops under the control of the American Army occupying Iraq...
While no one is certain as to the whereabouts of Mojahedin leader Massoud Rajavi, the police confirm that they questioned his wife, Maryam, aged 50. This symbolic figure of the Islamist-marxist move¬ment had been named "Future President of Iran" by the PMOI...
In the complex of houses in Auvers-sur-Oise, headquarters of the National Council of the Iranian Resistance (NCIR, the political name used by the Mojahedin) there were more than 100 satellite dishes and 'an enormous amount of computer equipment'.
According to an Interior Ministry source, Auvers-sur-Oise had been turned into the Mojahedin's "International HQ". Up until March-April , their command structure was in Iraq and only moved with the outbreak of war.
The same source, asked about the results of this police raid, announced that the operation had successfully dismantled the organization in France...".
According to the police, this raid was "one of the biggest under¬taken by the DST (French Counter-intelligence) in the last 30 years". International press agencies reported that it was the result of more than three years of investigation. (1)
France thus became the first Western country to take seriously the danger posed by the PMOI.
The Associated Press underlined the significant means deployed by the French police authorities. This shows that the French secu¬rity services did not take this raid lightly: even bringing in aerial surveillance helicopters.
The operation was aimed according to the Ministry, above all, "at the leaders of an organisation which threatens public order and is planning or preparing to finance terrorist acts".
During the raid, it was necessary to use explosive charges to break open "blocked doors", the police stated.
"The People's Mojahedin are the military wing of Massoud Rajavi's National Resistance Council, based in the Paris suburbs...
The raid, carried out under a search warrant issued by the Paris-based anti-terrorism investigative magistrate, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, mobilised more than 1200 officials, including 80 members of the elite GIGN: France's SWAT team.
It was carried out by the Directorate for National Internal Secu¬rity (DST or French counter-intelligence) with the support of the Central Command of the Judiciary Police and under the technical direction of the RAID (France's specialised unit for hostage and terrorist incidents).
Thirteen targets were surrounded in the Val d'Oise and Yvelines de¬partments, with a particular focus on the Auvers-sur-Oise camp which was suspected to be a refuge for many active PMOI members...
'Since May 2002, this organisation has been on the list of terrorist movements denounced by the European Union', according to an Interior Ministry press release. 'Its bases in the Paris region are considered to be used for questionable organisational, logistical and financial purposes', added the Ministry...". (2)
Right away, the PMOI mobilised its supporters throughout Europe. They set off a well rehearsed series of actions which deeply shocked a European public opinion with little exposure to such extreme methods.
"The protest actions against the arrest of the People's Mojahe¬din leadership continued Thursday. New demonstrations took place in Paris... In Rome, two men poured petrol over themselves and set themselves on fire this Thursday morning. They did this during a demonstration of several dozen people in front of the French Embassy. Firemen intervened quickly to put out the burning clothes. The lives of the two men do not seem to be at risk.
At the same moment, another Iranian did the same thing in front of the Berne Railway Station in Switzerland. Despite the rapid response of the police, he suffered extensive bums and, according to the Beme Police, remains in critical condition.
The day before, three Iranian women tried to bum themselves alive in Paris. Two are hospitalised, while the third died of her wounds Thursday afternoon at the Percy Military Hospital in suburban Clamart. She was nearly dead on arrival, but survived for one day.
Also on that Wednesday, two other Iranians tried to do the same in London and in Beme. The Beme police prevented him from setting himself on fire." (3)
French Government spokesperson, Jean-Francois Cope, consi¬dered these self immolations as "obviously, extremely dramatic". He added, "Alas! It also tells us a great deal about the mindset of their leadership". Following these demonstrations, the Paris Prefect of Police barred all Mojahedin gatherings "until further orders". Moreover, a police order banned the sale, transport and use of all inflammable products in certain parts of central Paris... In an interview published in Le Monde, on Thursday, Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin declared that the police operations were aimed, "at the central nervous system of a terrorist organisation". He made clear that "It is in our national interest to make sure that all structures sheltering terrorists on our soil be dismantled."
During an interministerial meeting at the Prime Minister's office, Nicolas Sarkozy, Minister of the Interior, emphasised that the materials seized at Auvers-sur-Oise justified the operation, M. Cope reported.
More than eight million dollars in cash and 150,000 Euros were taken, as well as computer equipment and dozens of satellite dishes. Neither weapons nor false papers were found.
The Quai d'Orsay (the French Foreign Ministry) let it be known on Thursday that "there was no question" of extraditing these opposition figures to Iran, despite the request of Iranian President Mohammed Khatami.
The protests showed that the outright fanaticism of the PMOI was true: that the denunciations of former Mojahedin who had escaped the Organisation's clutches were reliable. These men and women had been speaking out for years about the internal practises of the PMOI, yet they had been stigmatised by the leadership and their sympathisers as Teheran's agent
Yet, reality shows that they were right all along. The accusation of terrorism is now accepted at the most authoritative international levels.
"The People's Mojahedin planned to attack Iranian diplomatic missions in Europe, except in France", stated the Director of French Counter-Terrorism during a press conference.
According to information gathered by this service (the DST), the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) 'was prepa¬ring for murder attacks outside Iran, including in Europe', stated the Director, Pierre de Bousquet de Florian...
During the police search at Auvers-sur-Seine, 'eight to nine million dollars in cash' was found, added the DST Director, before going on to state that the full accounting was still under way.
M. Bousquet de Florian confirmed that many OMPI leaders had returned to France since the American intervention in Iraq, inclu¬ding Maryam Rajavi. 'They had turned Auvers-sur-Oise into an operational headquarters for terrorism', he stated. The US interven¬tion had 'taken away the PMOI's Baghdad Headquarters' as well as the financial support of Saddam's regime.
The DST chief underscored how dangerous the PMOI was. It was more like a sect, a cult of personality for Massoud Rajavi and his wife. In 2001, the PMOI had claimed responsibility for more than 195 terrorist attacks on Iran from its base in Anvers-sur-Oise.
Police sources stated that since 1999, the PMOI's periodical, Mojahedin, was banned in France by Ministerial order." (4)
An Uncertain Future
While the French are tracking down the People's Mojahedin, m, despite its ups and downs, continues a policy of change. Will Tehran, with its powerful position in the region, become a priority forr American diplomatic initiatives? After all, on 7 May 2003, 153 the 290 members of the Majlis, the Iranian parliament, voted for normalisation of international relations and more internal reform. an open letter, cited by Agence France Presse (AFP) they were Iking for greater support at home and abroad. Contacts have actually taken place to find common ground. "These meetings could lead the way to a rapprochement between the two countries, whose diplomatic ties have been broken since 1980...A new meeting seems to have been held in early May to discuss the transfer of Al Qaida members to the United States in exchange for the neutralization of the People's Mojahedin, an armed organization based in Iraq which opposes the Islamic regime in Tehran. The US forces began disarming this group last week", sited the Geneva newspaper, Le Temps. (5)
In Washington, the possibility of a closer cooperation with the Islamic Republic no longer seems so crazy. It could come about, even if the process will be long and if threats are sometimes brandished in the midst of an initial dialogue.
In this context the PMOI could become an indirect form of blackmail, one that is extremely dangerous. After all, the United tes is playing a very acrobatic game which could become unblanced and destabilize the region even further.
But, the White House, in its security extremism could also set off a scenario approaching chaos. This would be using the People's Mojahedin with the end in view of destabilising today's Iran.
Would the Bush Administration go so far as to commit the irreversible? The French press agency, AFP, cites in this context an article in the Washington Post. If things remain only in the realm of conjecture, the fact remains that nothing prevents us from imagining that the United States could take the fatal step. "The Pentagon suggests fomenting a popular uprising to bring down the Iranian Government," the Washington Post continues. State Department could adopt this approach if Iran does not take measures against the Al-Qaida terrorist network by Tuesday," adds the daily.
Iran has denied giving shelter to terrorists. But a responsible American official, quoted by the Post, states that around ten Al-Qaida agents are hiding in Northeastern Iran, an isolated region which he admits is controlled very tenuously by Teheran. (6)
Rumours are circulating and accusations are becoming pointed. The whole world already understands that the will of President George W. Bush is the law of the land. He can decide whatever he wants in the absence of any opposition from international opinion. In the West, reactions have remained strictly verbal and indicate a deep apathy.
And this is without taking into consideration the American do¬mestic scene. The most extremist elements are pushing the White House to intervene.
"The Iranian Government, accused by Washington of har¬bouring Al-Qaida members and of developing arms of mass des¬truction, is a major problem for the United States. It should be replaced, in the view of American Congressmen... Jane Harman, Representative of California and member of the House Intelligence Committee, thus stated that she considered Iran as 'a more clear and present danger than was Iraq last year'". However she hopes for a peaceful solution.
The Senator and candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomi¬nation, Joseph Liebermann, believed, from his perspective, that "regime change" in Iran was the solution to the threat posed by Teheran to Washington.
He, nonetheless, excluded a military operation in order to avoid provoking an anti-American reaction by those Iranians who sup¬port the United States.
Jay Rockefeller, vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Commit¬tee seemed to be equally prudent. He told CNN that he thought good news would be heard from Iran. He went on to state that it would be "extremely reckless to try to destabilise the regime in Teheran based on any prediction of popular support for such a move", reported the Associated Press at the end of May 2003. (7)
From his side, Mr. Kamal Kharazi, the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran gave an interview at the same time to reporters from the French daily Le Figaro, setting the stage for the raids in France in June, 2003.
"...Does the Iraqi issue justify the development of Iranian-American contacts?
-We have had contacts with the Americans concerning Afgha¬nistan and, today, we continue them on the subject of Iraq.
They cannot reach any conclusions if they do not take place in a climate of equality and a spirit of cooperation.
However the Americans make promises but do not keep them...
- Since the Americans have disarmed the People's Mojahedin in Iraq, this opposition movement's leaders have exiled themselves in France. What is your reaction to this?
- In fact, this represents a complex problem for France. The Mojahedin are included on the list of terrorist organisations created by the European Union. France, therefore, cannot give them poli¬tical asylum....". (8)
Which way out?
Why did France choose the tough line to neutralise the PMOI? Paris fears, quite logically, that Rajavi's supporters will use its territory to mount terrorist operations against Iran, claiming author¬ship from Europe. After all, since America took control of Iraq, the Mojahedin have lost their support bases, close to their targets.
In any case, in tomorrow's Iraq, there is no place for the People's Mojahedin of Iran. Massoud Rajavi and his followers must find new geographic strong points and new strategies. Their paramilitary arm, the "National Liberation Army of Iran" has lost direct access to the Iranian border. This brings a dramatic halt to their incursions on the ground: a genuine catastrophe for these forces who believe:
"The military arm of the resistance is the best guarantee of the fall of the clerical dictatorship ". (9)
From now on, the leadership of the PMOI knows that Turkey (their ideal base) will provide them with no help at all.
"The resistance has repeatedly requested that the Turkish Government provide bases and support for its fighters in Turkey's frontier provinces to facilitate their comings and goings toward Iran. But Ankara has refused this request". (10)
This is a stance which will not change. Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan's Government fears, above all, that the Kurds in northern Iraq would not be tempted to take their fate in their own hands and establish their own State as an outcome of the Second Gulf War. This would spread the contagion to Turkey's Kurdish minority. Ankara has, therefore, locked its eastern flank. The People's Mojahedin of Iran have hardly any choice but to begin moving their activities to Europe. To do this, they can count on active support from a certain "Progressive International" which has hoped for years to weaken the West. This ultra-Left has no roots in the traditional political currents of thought, even using the idea of "democracy" as bait to lead the unsuspecting into the maze of a kind of instinctive socialism.
Understanding the different forces which are allying to impose on humanity a future which will be no better for us, but very much so for its handful of elites requires a strange journey indeed. In the image of Dante's circles of Inferno, we must advance through the different prophets of these "nomenklaturas" who, from the tears and suffering of their base, grab all the profits of violence. This includes artificially creating a counterfeit setting to provide vio¬lence with a comfortable context.
1.- "Coup de filet centre les Moudjahidin du peuple iranien" - dispatches of Agence France Presse (AFP) and Reuters, 17 June 2003
2.- "Operation de grande envergure centre les Moudjahidin du peuple en region parisienne" - Associated Press (AP) -17 June 2003
3.- "Coup de filet des Moudjahidin du peuple - Nouvelles tentatives d'immolations a Rome et Berne" -AFP and Reuters, 20 June 2003
4.- "Les Moudjahidin du peuple s'appretaient a commettre des attentats, selon la DST" -Associated Press (AP) -10 June 2003
5.- "Ennemis irreductibles, I'lran et les Etats-Unis esquissent leur rapprochement a Geneve" - by Sylvain Besson - Le Temps, 13 May 2003
6.- "Washington envisage des actions pour destabiliser I'lran" AFP, 25 May 2003
7.- "Les parlementaires americains souhaitent un changement de regime en Iran" - Associated Press, 26 May 2003
8.- "Kharazi: "L'Amerique ne tient pas ses promesses" - interview by Claude Lorieux and Pierre Rousselin -Le Figaro, 26 May 2003
9.- "Democracy Betrayed - une reponse au Rapport du Depar-tement d'Etat americain" - published by the Foreign Affairs Commission of the NCIR, 1993
10.-Ibid, note 51.
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