Open letter to the State Department
Bahar Iranin, June 25, 2007
The State Department Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism on April 30 released the list of designated terrorist organizations. What is the focus of attention concerning the list is not that Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK, MKO) continues to occupy the status it has held since 1997, but the report has a more critical tone on the MKO than previous reports when it comes to describe the organization.
Noted in the released report, “In addition to its terrorist credentials, the MEK has also displayed cult-like characteristics”. It also adds that “MEK leader Maryam Rajavi has established a ‘cult of personality’". Such remarks are promising in that the emergence of another al-Qaeda are anticipated and thus prevented. The very identical structural, ideological, and cult-like characteristics of MKO with that of al-Qaeda denote that, regardless of quantitative differences between the two, both maintain potential threat against global peace and security.
But it has to be acknowledged that terrorist phenomena like that of MKO and al-Qaeda before anything are products of political miscalculations and dereliction of the contemporary history, as al-Qaeda was supposed to be an instrument to confront what was presumed to frustrate accomplishment of democracy. But the fact was disregarded that such instruments initially diverge from the route of democracy. The paramount challenge of the latter years of the past decade proved to be injection of wrong policies, in an attempt to apply low-cost but useful strategies, in confrontation of unproven threats. Many political analysers, for instance, have come to unanimous agreement that al-Qaeda was an outcome of a rush by the US that was obsessed with the imagined threat of rising Communism in the region and resolved on an alternative to combat the threat. Recurrence of another similar phenomenon depends on your earnest endeavour to develop a deep and non-instrumental recognition of MKO.
Although bitter, the experience of al-Qaeda proved that curbed passionate drives and rationality can possibly frustrate repetition of tragic disasters. Your insistence to keep MKO on the list of designated terrorist organizations well indicates that how logically and deeply you have perceived unfathomed threat of the group regardless of a number of “members of Congress from opposite sides” who seemingly have come to recognition that the group can be effectively used as an instrumental client to accomplish certain political goals. The “displayed cult-like characteristics” you have referred to in the report are definitely the result of a complicated phenomenon within Mojahedin called Ideological revolution, an incident that, in spite of its significance for MKO, the group shuns revealing its contents for the world outside. No doubt, Mojahedin will be greatly perturbed to be under scrutiny when it is discovered that their opportunistic political mottos are in total contradiction with unrevealed principles of their ideological revolution.
To develop a good understanding of MKO’s ideological revolution and how the group managed to conceal the contents depend on the will of the parties that advocate utilization of MKO against Iran even though they are well aware of the fact that the group maintains no political weight and legitimacy. But it should be noted that the same very small protection the group receives, compared with the high price the public opinion and the world in general have to pay, can help embolden it indulge in further belligerently terrorist and cultic activities.
However, your latest position accusing MKO of cult-like practices, which ex-members avow to have been under its predominant influence, might compel the group, regardless of its propaganda blitz and bombastic claims, to present justifiable reasons, if there are any, to defend allegations. Of course, the ex-member activists in the recent years have published documentaries and memoirs unfolding facts about the group’s medieval cultist features. Besides, there are also evidences corroborated by MKO itself that not only appreciate the ideological revolution within the group, but also impart its significant impacts on the insiders. A look at Bijan Niyabati’s “A Different Look at Mojahedins’ Ideological Revolution”, originally in Persian, is one of the best instances drafted by an enthusiastically devoted member. No doubt, you would be amazed to discover how the contents of this book contradict the group’s media rhetoric denying cult allegations. Furthermore, it is depleted with heaps of evidences that contributes to undeceive the deluded Western advocates.
To have MKO under control in Camp Ashraf is a serious responsibility on your shoulders. Of course, in the near future the group has to face its destiny and be expelled from Iraq. But it would not be the tragic end awaiting MKO. Camp Ashraf demonstrates the crystallization of MKO’s adopted cult-like strategy and ideology; the members within the camp have to be regarded as victims of a cult who need to be rehabilitated.
The transfer of these members to any other place out of Iraq is nothing more than an impetuous political move to diminish the group’s threat in Iraq. But it should be noted that relocation of the group, now discredited as pariah, with those same retained cultist features, in no way reduces the cult potentialities that perforce threatens the psychological health of the citizen wherein they are to reside as well as aggravating the psychological affliction of the forcibly held members. Another point, MKO’s prime moves to start its internal revolution and to transform into a cult was instigated when the group was in France. That is a good circumstantial evidence that Mojahedin are capable of accomplishing their objectives and stabilizing their position regardless of the domicile.
With respect to the complexity of MKO now regarded as a cult, let’s look at it from a different angle. That is, regardless of any political consideration, consider it an abnormally diseased body that needs circumspect attention to recover. Cults are an ever-growing social problem in the Western countries and the emphasis is today on helping the victims of cults to recover and treat the effects of emotional, physical, and sexual trauma. MKO is not an exception. Its members need counsel and therapy before they are physically freed from the cult's holding and released into a free world. Otherwise they will be turned into a much greater problem and threat hard to deal with. Tragic precedents, as you have pointed out, were the self-immolations in Paris and a number of other European cities that led to the death of two female members. There are much more horrible potentialities that Mojahedin maintain.
Your report states that “Despite U.S. efforts, MEK members have never been brought to justice for the group's role in these illegal acts”. Your delinquency in the past has imposed high prices on the world to pay. To keep MKO on the terrorist list fails to be the sole solution to confront the threat of the group as a cult and the remiss in efforts has to be redressed.
What seems to be urgent at the present, before dealing with the MKO’s terrorist crimes and before the members are dispersed, is to avail assistance of the professionals with expertise in dealing with the dangers of the cults and helping the therapy and recovery of the members. Your domination over the Camp Ashraf entrust you the duty of taking measures to ensure that the world will be safe against the cultic harms and threats of the Mojahedin cult in case the group is unleashed from the bounds of Ashraf.
Employee True Face. Background of a Fox News Analyst (Iran-Interlink, February 2004)