A scurrilous MKO attack
Iran intelligence gaining foothold in US?
Wednesday 1 June 2005
By Nasser Taba
London, Jun. 1 – Controversy over a report by New York-based
Human Rights Watch is taking a new turn with speculation that Iranian
intelligence might have exerted influence on the group through surreptitious
Open Letter to Lord Avebury
By Ebrahim Khodabandeh
Wednesday 15 June 2005
In the article by Nasser Taba, titled 'Iran intelligence gaining foothold in US', appearing in the Mojahedin's Iran Focus website, dated Wednesday 1 June 2005, of which I received a copy in Evin prison today, there are some claims with reference to me that I thought I had to act upon in response to make just a few matters clear. Obviously, I am not in the conditions to give a detailed overall reply to that article and I do not intend to do so.
The article states that: "In a written statement to a British judicial board in 2002, Khodabandeh's brother, Ebrahim (me), testified that Masoud Khodabandeh had been recruited by Iran's notorious secret service, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS)."
I should point out a very obvious fact that in the year 2002, I was a full member of the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI). Therefore, I had no contact of any sort neither with my brother Massoud who had completely left the Organisation in 1996, or with the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence. Hence, I could not have been in a position to be aware of, and then testify to any kind of relationship between them. Further, I should also state that while I was in the Organisation no one claimed or mentioned to me that my brother had been recruited by Iran's secret service. Although the people in charge always complained that my brother's political activities in opposition to the Organisation would only serve the goals of the Iranian regime. This of course is a totally different claim from being recruited by them.
In recent years it has become a very common habit of the PMOI to accuse all those who defected from and who deplore the Organisation, of being tools and apparatus of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence. It is not difficult to believe that the Iranian Services would try to make sufficient use of any kind of activities against the Organisation (which is true visa-versa), but it would be very hard to accept that the 'Ministry' could manage to recruit so many ex-members around the world and influence a significant number of international bodies and direct them all regularly in their daily political activities toward the PMOI.
The article further claims that: "In the early 2003, Ebrahim Khodabandeh was abducted while on a visit to Syria by suspected MOIS agents acting on information provided by his brother, Masoud Khodabandeh, (Ebrahim) had been living in Britain for thirty years as a political refugee before being abducted to Iran together with another Iranian dissident."
Initially, I should clarify that we were arrested and jailed in Syria by the Syrian Police and Authorities on particular charges relating to our mission in that country and we were not abducted by anyone. Then again I should emphasize that in early 2003 neither I nor anyone within the Organisation had any communication with my brother whatsoever and I wonder how he might have known about our trip to Syria while very few people inside the Organisation knew about it.
In fact, I am totally convinced that if the Organisation, during the seven weeks that we were in custody in Syria before being transferred to Iran, had let my brother know about our case there, he would definitely have made every effort to try to return us back to Britain.
It is also stated in the article that: "On his return, Griffiths said he was shocked in his first visit to Evin Prison to see Anne Singleton, the British wife of Masoud Khodabandeh, wander freely in the high-security prison and socialize with prison officials and wardens."
I do not know when and where Mr Griffiths, then a member of Britain's House of Commons, might have separately visited my sister-in-law inside Evin prison and observed her "wander freely in the prison and socialize with prison officials and wardens". If he is referring to when he came to see my colleague and I the account is as follows:
On Monday 14 June 2004, I was called to a meeting room inside Evin Prison along with my colleague who was arrested with me in Syria. This was exactly the same room that we both had previously visited with my daughter Homa and my son-in-law Tahir and my three grandchildren who all live in Britain and had just come to Iran to visit me. In that room along with Mr Griffiths MP, I also found Sir Teddy Taylor MP and my sister-in-law Anne and my nephew Babak whom I particularly was delighted to see. Thereafter joined us six other prisoners, all former members of the PMOI who were sent from Iraq by the Organization to perform terrorist activities inside cities in Iran and who were captured and then were serving their prison sentences. There was of course no room for anyone else to enter, otherwise there were more prisoners of the same type to come in. After our meeting the visitors all left together and we all returned back to our compartments.
If the honourable gentleman is referring to that very day, I should remind him that none of the guests including Ms Anne Singleton went to any parts of the prison apart from where visitors can normally go. I should also emphasize that there were prison officials present in the meeting room socializing with everyone and offering hospitality to the guests. Perhaps Mr Griffiths recalls mentioning how out of his expectation he was granted a visa to come to Iran immediately and was well received by the Iranian authorities and then had the chance to pay a visit to Evin prison and meet us, and how his judgment towards Iran and especially Evin prison had completely changed.
The most unusual part of the claims of the article is: "'Please do what you can to prevent them from bringing Anne Singleton here', Ebrahim Khodabandeh told Griffiths unobtrusively. To Griffiths, the reason seemed clear. Singleton was working for the Iranian regime and was being used to break Khodabandeh."
As a matter of fact, it is very difficult to believe that the (former) British MP has made such a statement in any circumstances. I personally did not talk about my sister-in-law to Mr Griffiths on any subject at all, and I cannot think of anything that might be the cause for misunderstanding. Nevertheless, it may be necessary to declare that "Singleton" had the sharpest criticisms against the "Iranian regime" in that meeting and she could not be the best choice for "being used to break" me at all. And of course it is very naive to even imagine that the people in Evin prison might ever need the help of a foreign person like her for their tasks.
I must make this clear too that as soon as my brother and his wife learned about our case they tried everything in their capacity to help us including approaching Baroness Emma Nicholson, MEP. They actually had believed the Organisation's propaganda claims that we were both under severe torture and soon would be executed. Baroness Nicholson too visited both of us in the same meeting room in Evin prison six months earlier and let my relatives in Britain know to their relief that we are safe and well and there had been no trace of physical or mental pressure on us.
The PMOI's customary tactics of psychological warfare to counter the Organisation's defectors and opponents have been to try to disgrace them by using fake accusations against them (like those referred to in the above mentioned article against my brother and his wife). There exists a mere fact that there are a good number of people who used to be devoted members of the Organisation for a long time and even some in key positions, and since there was no atmosphere inside the Organisation to express their political ideas and their criticisms, they had to leave and do it in other ways. The leaders of the PMOI have always refused to recognize the demands of this vast group and directly answer their questions. Instead they have constantly accused them all of being the direct employees of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry. The Organisation, of course, unable to clearly answer their queries, has found the best way to oppose them is by just fabricating false accusations to discredit them. This certainly would not serve the best interests of the PMOI and this kind of escaping from charges will not work in the long run.
Even if considering every word said or every political move made around the world relating to or opposing the PMOI has been fully masterminded by one single ministry inside Iran, yet again the leaders and those responsible inside the Organisation ought to respond to the criticisms directly and logically instead of diverting them back to the dissidents or opponents themselves.
In the end I would like to express my own view that I believe the reason behind the Organisation's hysterical hostility towards my brother and his wife is that they stopped my daughter's feelings for me being misused for propaganda purposes and instead they adopted a wiser self-determining process to try to help our situation. [The PMOI had tried to persuade Ebrahim's daughter while she was in a very vulnerable state of mind to set fire to herself in front of the British parliament to protest her father's imprisonment in Evin. See Open Letter to Massoud Rajavi]
I would like to extend my personal invitation to your good self to visit me and my family in Iran, and for you to contact my daughter and her family as well as my brother and his wife in Britain to ascertain their views.
Ms Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State
Jack Straw, MP Foreign Minster, UK
Human Rights Watch
And : Small talk with Khodabandeh!