Interview of Massoud Khodabandeh by Alain Chevalerais

Centre deRecherche sur lo Terrorisme, August 2004

 

Excerpt from 'Brule Vif'

Published by Centre de Recherche sur le Terrorisme, ISBN2 9522978 0 0

 

Massoud Khodabandeh joined the organization (MKO) in the late 70s: ďmy policy was religious rather than political, while other members were attracted to the Marxist policies of the organizationĒ.

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

- A few months after Banisadr and Rajavi left Tehran [1981]. 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 the Afghans in their war against the Soviets.


Why did you lie?
 
- Otherwise they wouldnít sell it to us. Then, we took the system to the city of Sardasht in Kurdistan province. We had the support of the 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. First we paid export tariffs and taxes. Then, we asked for the help of a transportation company. I was technical deputy. We broadcast messages both for the MEK and the PDKI. Three years later, in 1985 I was summoned to FranceÖ later in 1985, I was in charge of protecting Firoozeh Banisadr (Rajaviís second wife).

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

 

- Both. I reported every day to Maryam.

 

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

- Massoud is dreaming of leading the world and saving humanity from itself.

Isnít this an extremist analysis?

- No. Not at all. He believes heís 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 convincing him that she is the only one who realizes his glory.

Did you accept Massoudís dreams?

- One has to understand the atmosphere in which the MEK maintains the dependency of its forces. When I entered the organization, I estranged my whole family. I believed I would never leave the organization. I didnít have money, a job, or even an ID card because my passport had been confiscated. I was fully in the hands of the Mojahedin. I couldnít imagine believing that I donít belong to the regulations and schemes imposed by Massoud. I felt that questioning oneself and allowing doubts is very disturbing and futile. These methods and conditions are known and that is what is meant by a cult. They are present in all cults.

You are not the only one who has brought up such a comparison. Give me an example.

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

Well, what if you donít find any mistakes in yourself?

- Impossible. From the MEKís point of view, you should always look for weaknesses, mistakes and sins. You should always consider yourself a sinner, a wrongdoer, even if you donít know the nature of your mistake.

But why?

- In order to keep the members under control. In order to force them to accept the leaders' answers on all issues, and to turn 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, isnít it?

- Of course. The Rajavis try to show themselves as extraordinary people, holy people, and prophet-like ones. They donít 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 in the role of 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 Massoudís personality also this strong to influence all people?

- In a sense, yes. Since he is clever and has planned all his life around 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 back problem and Massoud sat the same way although he had no back problem. Saddam appeared most of the time in military uniform, carrying a pistol. Massoud wanted to do the same. But he is 20 centimeters shorter than Saddam. So his gestures became really ridiculous.

Why donít his members rebel against him while his orders are so 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 condition eliminates the need of proof for his extremist acts. There are several similar examples in the history of Shias.

Itís strange because each time we find many similarities between the MEK ideology and the history of Shias.

- This is our Iranian culture. We live with such a situation in Iran. Itís not different for Massoud.

 

Ö Whatís strange for me in the structures of the 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 this in part. According to Communism, the class of 'workers' should advance the revolution. Since this class was not present in his organisation, Massoud looked to women. He said that they have been mistreated as a social class. Another reason is that recruiting members is difficult. There are not enough men. This method of his forces men to the edges and to suffer insult so that they donít think of getting to power.

 

Is the MEK a terrorist movement?

- Thereís no doubt that it is.

Why?

- 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 achieve its political, individual aims on the other. These measures match the activities and ideologies of the MEK.

So, why do they claim that theyíre not terrorists, but a resistance group?

- Resistance against what? As far as I know they have no external armed struggle against Iran.

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

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

Elsewhere, I heard that the MEK and Al-Qaeda are the same. Donít you think this interpretation is extremist?

- Not at all. Both organizations use mental manipulation to use their members and send them to their deaths. 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 land. For Al-Qaeda this land is Afghanistan, and for the 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.

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

What other similarities do you see between these two organizations?

- Neither of them has principles. They consider themselves above the law.

But Al-Qaeda says that it is acting according to the Koran and its members, like those of the MEK, donít drink alcohol and donít 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 donít follow Islam most of the time. When they send people to death, itís not for religion but for power. You think all Muslims are convinced by the comments of Massoud Rajavi and Osama Bin Laden?

About Rajavi I donít 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, the terrorist acts of Al-Qaeda have also targeted Muslim countries. This proves the lack of principles in this organization. Rajavi kills Iranians; Al-Qaeda kills Arab Muslims. When the Soviet Union was in Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda was at the Americans' side. Now, itís fighting against Americans. The Mojahedin were the friends of Mr Khomeini and performed terrorist operations against Americans. Then they served Saddam Hussein against Iran. Now, theyíre trying to get under the flag of the USA. 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, a martyr is the one who has been killed while defending his faith, not a person who kills himself willingly. The Mojahedin, like Al-Qaeda, awards a high value to committing suicide. Meanwhile, there are ordinary and holy martyrs. On the tombs of those who set themselves ablaze in June 2003 the word ďHoly MartyrĒ has been written.

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

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