Ebrahim Khodabandeh writes to Massoud Rajavi
Subject: some critical questions
Written by: Ebrahim Khodabandeh
Date: November 2004
To: Massoud Rajavi, Leader of Mojahedin Khalq Organisation, Head of National Council of Resistance, Commander-in-Chief of the National Liberation Army
I am writing this letter to you, as I recognize you as the highest decision maker for the past strategies, tactics, actions and policies and therefore as the highest person accountable for the three above mentioned titles.
This letter consists of questions directed to you. These questions have arisen during the past one and a half years in which I have had the opportunity to think and to read and to look at the past, as well as the opportunity to see the situation of the country from within.
It is necessary to mention that during the past twenty years, in which I have been a full time activist in the above mentioned organs, with everything I had, in the conditions and atmosphere created by the organization, that is, an overwhelming workload and very little time for the minimum of rest and in particular the exacting application of the internal ideological revolution, the introduction of the leadership phenomenon in an unforeseen fashion and outside the normal conventions, and the huge amount of justifications and mind control meetings, I never had the opportunity to think freely or to perhaps put some of the issues relating to the Organisation under question or indeed to direct questions to you. In that atmosphere, in which the relationship of every person with the leadership is based on the formulas of the Ideological Revolution and the cult like activities and creation of gods, and the creation of a relationship of total submission and the use of mind control tactics which eventually results in insane and unbelievable actions like self immolations, questioning in any shape or form is a taboo which one should never approach and one should only have total trust and obey and execute orders. Any step outside this path would immediately be labelled as a mercenary and treacherous act.
Therefore, with my current opportunities and in my new situation which has come about against my will, and at the point that I have found in myself the courage to think freely, I have been able for the first time to put before you the questions which have also passed through my mind in the past, and ask for serious answers.
I don’t know if this letter will reach you and if I will receive any answers or not? But in my opinion, it is necessary for you, once and for all, without political and organisational benefits in mind, but truthfully and from the heart, to answer these questions, whatever the answers, so that this would be registered in history and so that this generation and future generations of the Iranian people could gain from the good and bad of the experiences and could take lessons from this. In my view, this is the minimum that you can do at this point of time.
My first, most general and most fundamental question is: at this point of time and with a broad look at the past quarter of a century and the so called struggle which has been carried out against the Islamic Republic regime, what would you or could you present to the Iranian people as the achievements and the results of the work and effort of the Organisation, Council and the Army and what would be your statistics for a progress report? You know better than anybody else that during this long period of time, a very high strategic capital of blood and suffering and work and effort has been spent in this struggle and many people have sacrificed their lives, feelings and everything else they had for that, and specifically for yourself, and now there is this historical question that, overall what have you sown and what are you reaping? How much nearer have you got to the aim? Have you made progress or have you regressed? When the National Council of Resistance was founded, the objective was to launch the NCR as an alternative. But in the end the whole effort of the Council has been directed at preventing the Council from being placed on the list of terrorist organisations and on the other hand, every effort to bring the Organisation out of such lists has failed. After years of emphasis on toppling the regime by violent means and after entering into extraordinary issues like the Ideological Revolution and transferring to Iraq, are the Organisation, Council and the Army, strategically and politically, not behind others which did not enter such issues, and are the others not far more legitimate and advanced in comparison? Has the so called ‘Resistance’ the same fortune it had 20 years ago or, due to its co operation with the enemy of Iran, Saddam Hussein, betting on a fast and easy victory, has it not turned against its own fortune and lost completely whatever social support in had?
The next question which comes out of this is why you have chosen to maintain total silence at such a turning point and no longer give brief assessments about what has passed? Is it not necessary after such great changes which took place after the occupation of Iraq, to at least give an interview or a message to the supporters who have given everything they had to the Organisation, and to explain what happened and what is the future line of action? Or do you again think that the forces must continue their submission and continue carrying out orders which have never been explained to them and, as before, follow you with closed eyes and wait to see where will be the next quicksand or tornado? And generally, do you give me the right to question you without hesitation and without the limits of formality and to ask for answers, or do you still think that I have committed a sin and have ‘stretched my leg further than my own rug’? Do you even feel the necessity to account for and explain your long term emphasis on armed struggle and your then changing the Organisation into a side issue of the Iran Iraq war and your close cooperation with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the invader, and also the issue of the development of the new leadership in the ideology of the Organisation to such an extreme level? In your opinion, does the end justify the means and is the achievement of victory at whatever cost and by whatever means, legitimate? The propaganda overdrive and the false hopes created by the false claims that the regime would be toppled any day now, was it anything except dragging the forces into a mirage? And overall, which method and strategy was more correct? The way whose flag you have been carrying, or the more sensible ways that others in different parts of the spectrum had chosen? And who has advanced and as far as the Iranian people are concerned, the implication of which one is more visible?
The Organisation’s strategy has always been the violent overthrow of the regime in its entirety which in the latter stage was based on the National Liberation Army. During the 15 years, from the time of the Army’s border operation Forough-e Javidan in 1367 up to the time of the occupation of Iraq and the downfall of Saddam, the Liberation Army enjoyed its stay and its logistics as provided by Iraq. And due to the cease fire between Iran and Iraq, did not engage in any operation and would only engage itself in training, logistics and recruitment. And was preparing itself for the last operation for toppling the regime. The question is, when the situation was favourable for the Army to move for its last operation, no action was registered even though it had been announced over and over that the army is ready and everything organised and waiting for an opportunity. It was evident that if the Americans rule over Baghdad and Iraq in general, the Army has lost its chance to move forever. If the Army was not yet ready, then after 15 year when would it become ready and why had it been advertised falsely? And if one was hoping that this operation would be carried out with the support of the Americans, this also could not be anything except some mind game and cannot be taken as logical. Did the National Liberation Army, according to what was being advertised, have the dimensions and capacity to win in a classic war against the Islamic Republic’s Army and advance to Tehran? Is it not true that the whole of this strategy was based on soft ground? Of course I myself am very happy that such an operation did not take place and that the order for it never came. The only result of such an action would have been even more wasted blood and, at least in this particular point, I have to grant you a positive point and thank you.
The clear question of all the Iranian and non Iranian supporters and political observers in the past two years up to the American’s attack on Iraq has always been that in the event of an American attack, what would be the fate of the Organisation and the Army which are all resident in Iraq? And of course, the answer has always been that this is not our war and we only have one fight and that is with the regime. From the other side it was being announced that the Army is maintaining its highest readiness and is waiting for any kind of change in the region to take advantage from that. Has it not become clear by now that there has been no plan or organisation and there has been no readiness for such a situation and everything, in complete desperation, had been left to chance? Is the condition of the Army in Iraq the same as what had been programmed for and expected and what it was preparing for?
Specifically, on Khordad 1377, with placing the bomb in Tehran’s Prosecution Services building and the death and injury of innocent people, and then after a 15 year break in guerrilla operations the start of a new wave of armed operations in the cities which continued up to Khordad 1380, coinciding with the missile attacks on the military camps in Iraq and the Iraqi regime’s halting the operational teams from operating from that country. The operations stopped then. But from the other side, with the formation of the Liberation Army in 1366 as the fundamental of and the basis for the Organisation’s strategy of Armed struggle, with clear emphasis by yourself any guerrilla operation in the cities was announced as opportunistic and right wing therefore rejected and eliminated from the Organisation’s agenda. What was the reason then for the start of these operations after a 15 year break, i.e. from the year 1362? What was the reasoning, analysis, and policy behind it? Was there any pressure from the host country or was it due to the long lasting period of inaction in the scene of violent struggle and the dead end of the strategy of a Liberation Army which made you choose such a tactic? Or could it be that the morale of the forces and the supporters was so cold that it made such operations in the cities necessary? One of the executives of the Organisation and the Council emphasized in those days that such operations would never lead to the downfall of the regime and the original still lies in the last move of the Army to surrender Tehran.
Concerning the operations in the cities, with the use of mortars and missile launchers and the bombing tactics it has always been emphasized that there have been no civilian casualties and it has only been the centres of repression and armed personnel of the regime who have been targeted. The evidence and circumstances inside the country proves exactly the opposite of this, with the addition that the use of arms such as mortar launchers or firing missiles from the back seat of a moving motorcycle or placing bombs in a public place like the Prosecution Services building are actions that, accepting the high risk of error of these weapons compared with weapons such as small personal arms, accepts a certain amount of civilian casualties. The specific question concerning that is that if these operations did not have a decisive role, which according to the Organisation they did not, then why was there such emphasis on tolerating such death, injuries and damages, and creating such terror and horror among our countrymen?
And lastly and at this moment of time, what is your opinion on and what is your answer concerning the cases of handing over disaffected people, the ones who had served for years beside you and obeyed you, to Ramardi camp or Abu Ghraib prison, and participation in the war against the Iraqi Kurds in support of the Ba’athists. What is your answer and what do you say about your synchronization and orchestrated action alongside America and Israeli on the international scene? Are all these also the same as the Ideological Revolution and raising the leadership into the sky and then the divorces and making the innocent children homeless in the world, another necessary part of your imaginary so called overthrow of the regime which has got to be achieved no matter what the cost? Is it not the time yet for you to explain about your behind curtain deals during these years and all the things that happened in Iraq and elsewhere and accept this reality that the current dead end which you find yourself in is not due to the power of the regime or international deals, but a situation which you have created yourself for which there is no solution at this moment?
It would be very interesting for me to know at this moment what you think about the processes like the Ideological Revolution and the so called transfer to Iraq and the foundation of the Liberation Army and engaging in the Iran Iraq war and the clandestine relations with the secret services of Iraq, concerning which, documents showing taking orders and receiving money from them have been exposed recently? Now that we are distanced from them, what is your analyses and how do you assess them? Did you gain from them or did you lose? Have you advanced or have you gone backward? And why? Do you not accept that the mind boggling strategies of the Organisation and the opportunistic and Machiavellian attitude dominating the Organisation together with the way any criticism or question was dealt with and the way the ex members were treated are the main reasons for this dead end and uncertain situation? Wouldn’t people say that with the same attitude that cannot tolerate its own disaffected colleagues who want to leave, and calls them mercenaries and traitors, what would they do if they come to power? Wouldn’t they establish a new regime of suppression and dictatorship?
As to the operation Forough-e Javidan which took place straight after the acceptance of the cease fire by Iran. With complete inequality of the forces and with no glimpse of victory in sight, and having resulted in many victims, how do you see it now and how do you analyse it now? Were there really no other ways to struggle except to invest all you had in the invading country which was at war with Iran? What happened to your Forough-e Javidan operation insurance certificate? (Rajavi used to say that Forough insured us.) Has it not expired yet? How have you extended that nowadays? And in these days which are short of blood and martyrs, how do you survive? In these days that luck is not on your side, how do you pass the days?
At this point I stop. It is enough for now. If you answer these questions truthfully, which I believe are fundamental questions in the minds of many like me who dare to think independently, then many issues would be clear and an invaluable experience would be left for future generations. As the conclusive question if I can put them together, after all these events do you still emphasise your old theories of ‘the justification of power and force and violence’ and ‘ we are all right and all the others are all wrong’ and ‘whoever is not with us, is against us’ and the creation of a fundamentalist atmosphere to the extent that any question or criticism would be interpreted as a mercenary and treacherous act and people’s getting out of line? Or have you come to your senses and will try to find new ways and tactics?
Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne
Note: Ebrahim Khodabandeh, a member of the MEK for over twenty five years was arrested in Syria while smuggling documents and two million USD out of Iraq for the MEK. Syrian authorities handed Khodabandeh and a colleague over to the Iranians and they were taken to Evin prison. The MEK invented claims of the torture and imminent execution of the men. Instead when Khodabandeh was visited by concerned politicians and others, they found both men treated well and thankful to have escaped the clutches of the cult.