Alain Chevalrias Interviews Massoud Khodabandeh

Alert anti terrorist, February 2005

He joined the organization (MKO) in late 70s: “my policy was religious rather than political, while other members were attracted to the Marxist policies of the organization”.

I interrupted him: “Before talking about what happened to you, I want to ask you something. A few days ago, I sent you first 200 pages of my writings. Did you find any mistakes in them?”

- “not that important, everyone expresses his/her own interpretation of the events.”

Most important of all are the evidences. Do you think they’re valid? Didn’t you think they may be exaggerating or that they may be presenting unreal image of MEK?

- Almost everything is similar to what I heard from my friends or I saw.

When, for the first time, did you have an influential role in the organization?

- A few months after Banisadr and Rajavi left Tehran. Our mission was to transfer a radio station from Europe to Iran.

How did you act?

- I went to Germany and, along with Saeed Shahsavandi, purchased a 380 kilogram transmitter and we pretended that it would be used by Afghans in their war against the Soviet.

Why did you lie?

- Otherwise they wouldn’t sell that to us. Then, we took the system to the city of Sardasht in Kurdistan province. We had the support of PDKI.

How did you take the transmitter from Germany to Iran?

- We used conventional methods. The destination we had registered in a transportation company was Afghanistan. Once we faced tariff taxes. Then, we asked for the help of a transportation company. I was technical deputy. We broadcast messages both for MEK and PDKI. Three years later, in 1985 I was summoned to France… later in 1985, I was in charge of protecting Firoozeh Banisadr (Rajavi’s second wife).

What do you mean by protecting? Providing security or spying on her behavior?

- Both. I reported everyday to Maryam.

So, you had close relations with Maryam and Massoud? Tell me about their personalities.

- Massoud is either dreaming of leading the world or requires himself to lead them.

Isn’t this an extremist analysis?

- No. Not at all. He believes he’s different from other human beings. I think all dictators think the same way.

What about Maryam? Was she the same?

- In order to become intellectually satisfied, something should be stirred in her mind. So, she is clever and vigilant. She is greedy for power, although she knows that replacing Massoud in the sectarian hierarchy of the organization is impossible. So, she is influencing him and convince him that she is the only one who realizes the glory of him.

Did you accept Massoud’s dreams?

- One has to understand the atmosphere in which MEK preserves the dependency of its forces. When I entered the organization, I lost whole my family. I thought that I would never leave the organization. I didn’t have money, job, and even ID card because my passport had been confiscated. I was fully in the hands of Mojahedin. I couldn’t believe that I don’t belong to the regulations and images imposed by Saddam. Questioning oneself and boggling is known at the cults. These conditions are present in all cults.

You are not the one who brings such a comparison. Give me an example.

- According to the laws of the organization, Maryam is the mirror of all members. We looked at her and found our own mistakes.

Well, what if you don’t find any mistakes in yourself?

- Impossible. From MEK’s point of view, you should always look for weaknesses, mistakes and sins. You should always consider yourself a sinner, wrongdoer, even if you don’t know the nature of your mistake.

But why?

- In order to keep the members under control. In order to force them to accept the answers of all issues and turning them to robots which work for the organization without thinking.

Why does Maryam have the role of a mirror?

- Since she is the only one who realizes Massoud. She is now at the final stage of fully understanding him.

This is an almost religious comment, isn’t it?

- Of course. The Rajavis try to show themselves as extraordinary people, holy people, and prophet-like ones. They don’t live among ordinary people. They live isolated and protected in their apartments and you can never see them except in ceremonies such as praying (only as imam). You never see them thirsty or sick or in home clothes. Maryam always wears carefully-selected dresses that show her superiority to others and her majesty to all human beings.

Is Massoud’s personality also this strong to influence all people?

- In a sense, yes. Since he is clever and has planned all his life for creating such an image. However, the existence of gaps in his personality is strange. For example he always wants to imitate the people he once praised, such as Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein. Arafat sat crisscross due to a problem he had in his back and Massoud sat the same way although he had no problems. Saddam appeared most of the times in military uniform, carrying a pistol. Massoud wanted to do the same. But he is 20 centimeters shorter than Saddam. So his gestures would become really ridiculous.

Why don’t his members rebel against him while his orders are abnormal? I mean forced marriages after the operation of Eternal Light and then forced divorces and banning sexual relationships.

- Because, in the view of his supporters, he is above good and evil. His superhuman conditions eliminate the proving stage for his extremist acts. There are several similar examples in the history of Shia.

It’s strange because each time we find many similarities between the ideology of MEK and the history of Shia.

- This is our Iranian culture. We live in such situation in Iran. It’s not different for Massoud.

Regarding your past, which event in the MEK was the most astonishing for you?

- It was more than an event. I remember the way Massoud separated children from their parents. The first separations were the “forced divorces”. Children were set into groups. Relations with parents were actually stopped. In 1991, during first gulf war, Massoud Rajavi took advantage of the situation and sent all children out of Iraq.

You said “took advantage”. Didn’t he “use” it?

- Not at all. Massoud had ordered the members to place the flags of Iran and the organization around all MEK camps so that the camps stay unharmed during the war.

You mean he had reached some agreements with Americans?

- Yes, under the order of Massoud I sent the messages to the military command of the camps so that US pilots could see the flags….

Let’s go back to children

- By two other reasons I had found that it was not a security process. On one hand, Massoud had not ordered the transfer of old people and on the other hand we had to drive a road from Baghdad to Amman t get to Jordan which was really dangerous regarding the US invasion.

So, why did they separate the children from their parents?

- First, to bolster the readiness of fathers and mothers and second, to take advantage of the children.


- You will see. I was in charge of several automobiles carrying the children. When we got to the border of Jordan we had to wait for more than 24 hours in the region between the two countries. All Iraqi exits were closed. Jordanian king interfered and even accepted tens of children in his own palace and ordered to keep them in Jordan. But since we didn’t accept he facilitated the traverse of children to Europe without passport.

Did mothers accompany their children?

- No, we didn’t allow them. When we were leaving camps in Iraq, there were horrible scenes. Mothers cried and some of them had become mad.

How the children could enter Europe without parents and without passports? Isn’t this against international laws?

(Khodabandeh laughs)

- As usual, we played with the regulations. We grouped the children and sent them to a number of European airports. I myself and a young woman were responsible for 5 children, 5-6 year old all. In Frankfurt, when we got off the plane, we tore our tickets to be assured that we wouldn’t be returned to Jordan. Then we went to the police and claimed that we have escaped from Iran and that we want political asylum.

Did you introduce yourselves as the parents of children?

- No, we introduced ourselves as friend or relative. In this way, officials of European countries accepted the responsibility of children.

So, they were lost for the MEK or their parents?

No, we had thought about that. German officials, insisted on their regulations that they should settle the children in the families to satisfy their needs. According to our orders, Mojahedin introduced themselves to the officials as caretakers. Since they were Iranians and spoke Farsie, the government paid them for the children they adopted. This method was used in most of European countries.

It’s a bit complex but legal.

- Yes, but the money which was paid by the German government was not spent for children. Mojahedin sent the money to Paris, the center of MEK’s financial activities.

But children affairs have expenses.

- That’s why they’re grouped in 5 or 6 and are sent to the streets under the cover of “Iranaid” to collect money. After a while, Germans and the Dutch learnt that the money given to families is being misused. So, Mojahedin spread the children among the families again.

What happened to the children?

- They grew in the families. But they have a hatred feeling toward their real parents and toward the organization. After some years, the organization tried to employ the children in its combat units but the number of those who accepted this was low, less than 20 out of hundreds.

How did you feel when you were planning the exit of the children from Iraq?

- Nothing at that time. I and my partners had been brainwashed by Mojahedin. we thought it was something ordinary. For me, it was a result of the war. But today, when I look back at the events I feel of hatred. Imagining the suffer of mothers, under the pressure of such extremism and mothers who are far from their children…

What’s strange for me in the structures of Mojahedin is the place of “women”. How do you explain the large number of them at the top of the organization?

- The effect of Marxism on Massoud justifies part of this. According to Communism, the class of workers should advance the revolution. Since this class was not present, Massoud looked at women. He said that they have been mistreated as a social class. Other reason is that recruiting members is difficult. There are not enough men. This method of him forces men to go to edges and be insulted so that they don’t think of getting to power.

What has remained today of NCRI?

- This structure was established in 1981. he had to unite opposition against Iranian regime. Banisadr and PDKI were the main pillars of this structure. But in March 24, 1983, Banisadr left Rajavi and NCRI. In April 14, Kurdish party did the same. Today, NCRI is only a corrupted structure of MEK which should give a democratic image to the organization and provide a cover for it. It’s not independent.

Is MEK a terrorist movement?

- There’s no doubt that they are.


- I refer to the laws of the UN to answer this. An organization is called terrorist when it targets civilians on one hand and employs violence to get to its political, individual purposes on the other. These measures match activities and ideologies of MEK.

So, why do they claim that they’re not terrorists, but resistance?

- Resistance against what? As far as I know they have not external armed struggle against Iran.

According to what they say, they’re resisting the Islamism of Tehran regime.

- First of all, to oppose the regime in Tehran I don’t think armed struggle is a good thing for changing the regime because it stops advancement. It only worsens the situation. I think to bring change to Iranian society, minds should change. Violence is not good. During 20 yeas, Mojahedin has done nothing by armed struggle except strengthening the regime. They have been the best supporters of the regime.

Elsewhere, I heard that MEK and Al-Qaeda are in a same place. Don’t you think this interpretation is extremist?

- Not at all. Both organizations use mental manipulation to use their members and send them to death. This is both their weakness and their strength. Strength because they have people who are ready to fight for them to their death. Weakness, because they have to keep their members in isolation for a long time. So, they need a land. For AlQaeda this land is Afghanistan, and for MEK it was Iraq. None of them could train their members in a free country with moral restrictions.

But we see that cults grow also in free countries. For example, in Europe, they manipulate their members and supporters.

- That’s right. But without taking them to the point of committing terrorist suicide attacks. It’s simple because in these cults absolute isolation of the members is impossible.

What other similarities do you see between these two organizations?

- None of them has principles. They consider themselves above the law.

But Al-Qaeda says that it is acting according to Koran and its members, like those of MEK, don’t drink alcohol and don’t eat the foods banned by Islam.

- They say what they want. Al-Qaeda, like the MEK, uses Islam as a tool to serve its own goals. Bin Laden and Rajavi pretend to be Muslims but they don’t follow Islam most of the time. When they send people to death, it’s not for religion but for power. You think all Muslims are convinced with the comments of Massoud Rajavi and Osama Bin Laden?

About Rajavi I don’t know. But about Bin Laden, it seems that in Muslim societies most of the people have sympathy with him?

- Not for a long time. Today, terrorist acts of Al-Qaeda have targeted Muslim countries. This proves the lack of principles in this organization. Rajavi kills Iranians; Al-Qaeda kills Arab Muslims. When the Soviet was in Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda was at the American side. Now, it’s fighting against Americans. Mojahedin were the friends of Mr. Khomeini and performed terrorist operations against Americans. Then they served Saddam Hussein against Iran. Now, they’re trying to get under the flag of the US. Now you say these people have principles?

Another similarity between Al-Qaeda and Mojahedin is the culture of “committing suicide”. They take advantage of Islam to justify themselves. In Islam, martyr is the one who has been killed in the way of defending his faith, not a person who kills himself willingly. Mojahedin, like Al-Qaeda, considers a high value for committing suicide. Meanwhile, there are ordinary and holy martyrs. On the tombs of those who set themselves ablaze in June 2003 the word “Holy Martyr” has been written.

You want to say that they acted according to the motivations of the organization?

- No, they acted according to the orders. Maryam had asked her supporters to victimize themselves if she or Rajavi are arrested. It was done as a real religious ceremony.