At 3 pm, on 20th October 2004, a press conference was held at the Foreign Press Centre in CAPE, Maison de la Radio, in Paris.
Mr. Alain Chevalerias, a well known journalist and expert on the Middle East, announced his new book ‘Burned alive’. The book is an account of over a year of research and investigative journalism on the Mojahedin Khalq Organisation in European countries, Iraq and Iran. The Mojahedin Khalq Organisation (MKO), also known as National Liberation Army (NLA), based in Iraq during Saddam’s rule, and National Council of Resistance (NCR), based in Paris, have been run by Massoud and Maryam Rajavi for the past quarter of a century. The book has been published by the Centre de Recherches sur le Terrorisme in Paris. Mr.Chevalerias, a journalist since 1974, has contributed to and written for many well known French and foreign papers including The Guardian, Figaro, Paris-Match, Le Point, etc. His latest article ‘Seven Mistakes of Mr Bush in Iraq’ was published this week in the new issue of Jeune Afrique, (17-23 October 2004). This week he also contributed to the Metro paper in Paris (20th October 2004) in a short article about the threat of terrorism and the Mojahedin Khalq in France.
In the panel were also present Mr Massoud Khodabandeh. Mr Khodabandeh who had been an executive member of the MKO, a commander of the NLA and a member of NCR when he left the organisation in 1996 in rejection of the MKO’s involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity ordered by Saddam Hussein and committed by the group. He was also the head of security and telecommunications of these organisations at that time. Mr. Khodabandeh currently based in the UK is working as a Telecommunication and Security Consultant. He has close co-operation with the Centre de Recherches sur le Terrorisme and Iran-Interlink organisation. Mr. Antoine Clonna, a French journalist, also attended for the presentation of the book.
The Press Conference was attended by tens of French and foreign reporters, including radio France, French channel 3, Voice of America, Iran Press Service, Los Angles Times, Belgian Television, Al Ahram from Egypt, and various independent journalists and personalities, including lawyers and officials from various countries. The Conference was also attended by representatives of some of the opposition organisations to the current ruling regime of Iran.
The Conference started with a brief introduction of the book by Mr. Chevalerias and Mr. Khodabandeh, followed by a Q&A session which went on for a further 4 hours after which the meeting was finished.
Mr. Chevalerias and Mr. Khodabandeh explained in depth the nature of the threat posed by terrorism, emphasising that terrorism is a technique which does not have any particular party or ideology but it can be used by anyone, anywhere, as a tool to wage war at a time of peace and is an attempt to gain political advantage by violating the basic human rights of ordinary people. The use of this tactic is inhuman and damaging. It violates the limits of morality and affects the most vulnerable people. It is a nasty way of inflicting war in a time and in places of peace. Any attempt to accept the use of these actions for what ever short term benefits in any part of the world by ‘good terrorists’, would clearly result in the acceptance of the other forms of action which would eventually and directly affect all of the people all over the world.
Mr Chevalerias also explained about his unsuccessful efforts to interview Mojahedin Khalq representatives in Paris and Iraq. A phenomenon often seen in cults and terrorist organisations, which prefer to run away from any sort of discussion and dialogue and try to answer any criticism by more violence and attacks.
The book, about 250 pages, is an account of documented evidences which have been researched by Mr Chevalerias during his trips in the Middle East and Europe over the past year. He explains many aspects of the political, military and internal relations of the organisation including the self burnings of the members in protest at the arrest of their leader in Paris on terrorism charges, terrorist activities inside and outside Iran, including the killing of American servicemen and civilians, their deliberate indiscriminate use of explosives and mortar launchers in densely populated areas of Iranian cities, the maltreatment and torture and execution of their own members in Iraq during the rule of Saddam, participation in crushing the Iraqi Kurds and Shiites on the direct order of Saddam, close cooperation with the intelligence services of Iraq during the Iraqi war against Iran in which WMD were used against Iranian soldiers, the propaganda machine of the MKO, the financers and the backers of the group in the political and financial circles of the west and the misuse of the democratic institutions all over the western world.
The book ‘Burned Alive, in the name of Marx and Mohammed’ is also a brief history of the organisation from when it was created to its transformation into a dangerous cult ending at the point of burning themselves alive in the streets of the capitals of major European countries.
Various media made reports and interviews during the conference. VOA interviewed Mr Khodabandeh on the subject of secretly filmed video documents showing Mr Rajavi and his henchmen bargaining with General Haboush (Head of Iraq’s former Intelligence Services) about the price of targets chosen for them for assassination. Mr Khodabandeh also talked about the current crisis involving the growing number of disaffected members in Camp Ashraf in Iraq.
Answering a question from Mr Safa Haeri, Mr Khodabandeh emphasised that the MKO has no information concerning Iranian nuclear sites or for that matter any other credible information. After over 25 years’ absence from Iran, the cult has no real contact with or concept of the social, political or economic situation in Iran.
The report by Safa Haeri can be found at the following link.
‘Burned Alive’ – ISBN 2 9522978 0 0 (in French language) can be obtained from www.recherches-sur-le-terrorisme.com