Iran Interlink, December 18 2015:… Habilian published a thoroughly researched online book. This charts the suicide operations conducted by the Mojahedin Khalq after the revolution. The evidence mostly comes from claims in the MEK’s own newspaper and websites. The book covers the various kinds of suicide operation from bombing to self-immolation ….
Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – December 18, 2015
++ Habilian published a thoroughly researched online book. This charts the suicide operations conducted by the Mojahedin Khalq after the revolution. The evidence mostly comes from claims in the MEK’s own newspaper and websites. The book covers the various kinds of suicide operation from bombing to self-immolations. In addition to MEK produced documents the book refers to evidence from the US authorities, including the 2012 Department of State report which rejected efforts to have the MEK removed from the US terrorism list. Other documents like the 2009 RAND report explain the nature of the group. It is worth remembering that the MEK started its violent trajectory by assassinating six American personnel at the time of Shah. And the MEK’s first so-called martyr was Reza Rezai, the commander of these operations, who blew himself up with a grenade to evade capture.
++ Fereshteh Hedayati this week announced her separation from the MEK. In her Facebook page she writes with the title ‘Don’t be silent’. Her defection has been welcomed by other former members, many of whom knew her from the Iraqi camps. Hedayati was from the MEK’s Central Council, its current top level. Some commentators have explained that when Batoul Soltani and other members of the all-female Leadership Council left, Rajavi tried to dilute this by adding more members. When that didn’t work, he disbanded it and created the Central Council, little knowing that within months another of these top ranking women would escape. Several bloggers write about the effect this will have on the lower ranks. Rajavi claimed he is pro-women, so people will question why they left. MEK rank and file are forced to accept these women as saints, but saints don’t run away. These defections are bound to increase since the MEK are leaving Iraq and defections are reaching up to ten per week now.
++ Following the closure of Iran’s case at the Atomic Agency, some wrote about the negotiations that no party has lost from this whole process except Rajavi, who was banking on war and destruction. Suddenly, Rajavi has gone quiet on the nuclear issue – which used to be his bread and butter – and is now hysterically attacking Russia and Syria while madly supporting Saudi actions in Yemen and Turkey’s actions in Kurdistan. In a desperate effort to close ranks with Turkey, Rajavi’s propaganda said “the enemy’s plane was downed by Turkey” – he doesn’t name Russia but describes it as the enemy. Considering the active negotiations to end the war in Syria, Rajavi doesn’t really have much hope in this arena either.
++ Ghorban Ali Hossein Nejad wrote an open letter to several Arabic and Islamic scholars informing them that Rajavi is misusing their names. Using screen shots from MEK sites he says “they come to you and ask for support on a humanitarian issue, but on their site they show that you support terrorism”.
++ Farsi writers have picked up on the acceleration in UNHCR relocations of Camp Liberty residents to third countries and predict that more will be defecting as a result. Twenty-six more were moved on December 15 and their names published to help their families identify them.
++ Aawa Association published Reza Akbarinasab’s letter from Tabriz to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Akbarinasab asks for help to contact his long estranged brother in Camp Liberty. His nephew died under suspicious circumstances in the camp some years ago. The MEK refused to allow an autopsy of his body.
++ Iran Interlink wrote to The Daily Telegraph online to inform them about one of their bloggers. No other than the notorious Ali Safavi who is wanted in Iraq for crimes committed as a member of Saddam’s Private Army.
++ An article in Reuters by Isabel Coles and Ned Parker and titled ‘How Saddam’s Men Help ISIL Rule’ is an example of why Massoud Rajavi keeps the MEK in Iraq – to join with ISIL when they take over the country!
++ UNHCR gave an update on the accelerated transfer of Camp Liberty residents to the safety of third countries. Nejat published a list of names of recent transferees to Albania to help their families identify them and get in touch.
++ Another top ranking woman member, Fereshteh Hedayati, successfully escaped the MEK and announced her separation in an article she published on her Facebook page.
++ Translated by Nejat Association, Italian l’interferenza site published a long, interesting article by Stefano Zecchinelli exposing the MEK and its faux political activities. The MEK has a history of human rights abuses and violence, “Yet, despite this, the leaders of the Mujahedin continue to give instructions in the EU institutions on democratic rights, especially civil and political.” The article also asks “How does the MKO make a living?” and says “The MEK is an ‘organization of a dubious purpose with strong connections with the most militaristic right-wing American imperialist sectors. The Washington’s high-profiles enjoy the MEK’s donations whose men are allowed to move freely, organizing activities and events planned to delegitimize what they call ‘the anti-democratic governments in Iran’. The figures in these donations are large, the New York Times has a precious revelation: ‘Many of the American supporters, though not all, accepted fees of $ 15,000 to $ 30,000 to give speeches to the group, as well as travel expenses to attend MEK rallies in Paris. Edward G. Rendell, the former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, said in March he that had been paid a total of $ 150,000 to $ 160,000’”.
++ Gareth Porter’s article ‘The IAEA’s “Final Assessment”’, published in Counter Punch contains the “unsavoury truth” about the provenance of dodgy intelligence documents: “in 2013, former senior German foreign office official Karsten Voigt revealed to me in an interview that German intelligence had obtained the documents in 2004 from a sometime source whom they knew to be a member of the Mujahideen E-Khalq (MEK). A cult-like Iranian exile terrorist group, MEK had once carried out terror operations for the Saddam Hussein regime but later developed a patron-client relationship with Israeli intelligence.”
Brainwashing? There should be a law against it
Anne Khodabandeh (Singleton), Iranian.com, December 09 2015:… Prime Minister David Cameron has already uttered the word brainwashing in speeches about Radicalisation. There was no public outcry or panic. Ordinary people know what he means. What a law would do is to give a precise definition which would allow us to ‘join the dots’ between seemingly …
Brainwashing? There should be a law against it
Shocking revelations about Maoist cult leader Aravindan Balakrishnan and his female victims in a suburb of London shone a light on the normally hidden phenomenon of cultic abuse which pervades society. The danger now will be that this is treated as just another sensational story before being placed on a journalistic ‘bizarre incident’ list along with Jonestown, Wako and Heaven’s Gate, as a freak occurrence.
Sadly, practitioners in the field of cult awareness know of thousands of lonely families suffering the loss of loved ones to cultic abuse with little recourse to help or even acknowledgement.
As a former member of the political cult Mojahedin Khalq, I am intimately familiar with the methods which Balakrishnan used to control and exploit his victims. As this case has highlighted, for a person caught up in cultic abuse there is no exit, they are in fact modern slaves. Indeed, the 2005 report on the MEK by Human Rights Watch was named ‘No Exit’.
If the experience of the daughter and the other victims in the Balakrishnan case are to teach us anything, it is that this is more common than we’d like to believe and that such ghastly behaviour – much like child abuse – thrives on secrecy and collusion; that is, the unwillingness of successive governments to acknowledge this as a widespread problem. More than anything we need to explode the myth that cults are about religion. They are not. The illusion that ‘new religious movements’ are relatively harmless belongs thirty years in the past. But for years, families and former cult members have been dismissed, even denigrated, as hysterical, malicious or delusional or have been exploited for entertainment by the media. No wonder they are reluctant to speak out.
Even when families do bravely confront the cults which have enslaved their loved ones, they find themselves battling litigation, intimidation and disbelief.
Government failure to engage with this phenomenon has left the public unprotected. While civil law protects a designated group of vulnerable people from undue influence, cult experts argue that anyone can be susceptible to deceptive cult recruitment at some point in their lives; people are usually in a state of transitioning when they get involved in cults. This emphasis on susceptibility not vulnerability is an important distinction because it places culpability directly on the intention and activities of the perpetrator rather than looking for deficiencies in the victims. The Balakrishnan cult case is unusual because the leader was prosecuted, not just because the victims were rescued.
Interestingly, techniques for deceptive psychological manipulation are already acknowledged and understood in various modern contexts where coercive persuasion is used for cynical exploitation and enslavement. These include partner abuse, grooming for sex, spiritual abuse, abusive therapy, extremist violence and terrorism. All these are regarded as morally repugnant. But as yet we lack a law which covers the activity which underlies them all.
In the modern vernacular, the term brainwashing is used by ordinary people exactly to describe an unaccountable change of mind and/or personality in an otherwise normal person. Bewildered families of young people travelling to Syria say their children have been brainwashed. The government needs to catch up with scientific and social understanding of this phenomenon if we are to be protected. Are MPs aware, for example, not whether, but how many fully brainwashed cult members are working in sensitive national security roles? We know they exist because as cult counsellors we talk with their families. Yet the phenomenon is glossed over as almost immaterial.
Cultic abuse – known in the vernacular as brainwashing – has a very precise definition. It is not about ‘using advertising to brainwash us into buying things’ or ‘brainwashing us into becoming docile citizens under government dictates’. These are false and unhelpful myths. Neuropsychology explains that ‘changing your mind’ is a physical experience which can be scientifically identified. Brainwashing is not about doctrine, it is about the psychologically manipulative techniques used to literally ‘change’ our minds.
In more legalistic terms it is ‘the deliberate and systematic application of an array of recognised techniques for psychological manipulation without the knowledge or informed consent of the victim in order to effect a breach of a person’s mental, emotional, intellectual and social integrity for the purposes of abuse, exploitation, slavery and/or pecuniary gain, and to so inhibit their critical faculties that they do not recognise their own predicament so that they may act in ways harmful to their best interests and the interests of society on instruction or by command or by neglect.
The advantage of criminalising cultic abuse in this way is that it is ideologically neutral and does not reflect any particular belief system but straightforwardly describes harmful behaviour. This would protect all our citizens and an obvious place would be an amendment to the new Modern Slavery Bill passed in March.
Prime Minister David Cameron has already uttered the word brainwashing in speeches about Radicalisation. There was no public outcry or panic. Ordinary people know what he means. What a law would do is to give a precise definition which would allow us to ‘join the dots’ between seemingly disparate events like the Balakrishnan cult, the Rotherham grooming for sex scandal and terrorist recruitment.
Indeed, public apprehension over the war on terrorism in Syria and the perceived threat of blowback, is the perfect opportunity for the government to introduce and explain the phenomenon of brainwashing in this narrowly defined sense as an element of the Prevent Strategy. The introduction of a criminal offence which allows the detection, prosecution and punishment of this abhorrent behaviour will aid public understanding and allay fears.
Anne Khodabandeh @AnneKhodabandeh
Anne Khodabandeh, a leading authority on cultic abuse and terrorism, works as a consultant within the remit of the UK Prevent Duty. After twenty years in the MEK, a dangerous, destructive mind control cult, she helps families through Iran-Interlink.
‘Who could hang a saint?’ – Maryam Rajavi’s crocodile tears over human rights
Anne Khodabandeh (Singleton), Middle East Strategy Consultants, October 09 2015:… The MEK are no longer needed or wanted beyond backing up the efforts of a few regime change pundits clinging to the past. And of course, Maryam Rajavi is acutely aware of the fate of her benefactor Saddam Hussein. When he was no longer needed, his former allies handed him over …
Middle East Strategy Consultants,
Author of “Saddam’s Private Army” and “The life of Camp Ashraf”
‘Who could hang a saint?’ – Maryam Rajavi’s crocodile tears over human rights
Human Rights advocacy is a laudable activity. Advocates automatically occupy the high moral ground in pursuit of their goals – and this of course reflects on their status. But as with everything we must examine their underlying motives before we accept at face value the posturing of every Tom, Dick and Harry who jumps on the bandwagon of human rights. Above all, we must examine the person before we listen to their inviolable message.
In reaction to the ‘World Day Against the Death Penalty (October 10), notorious cult leader Maryam Rajavi will use the occasion to announce to a specially assembled audience that she is against the death penalty.
That will be news indeed to the thousands of former members and indeed the current members of the notorious terrorist Mojahedin Khalq cult which she leads. Maryam Rajavi’s MEK has not only killed over 12,000 Iranians and 25,000 Iraqis as part of its violent regime change agenda, but inside the group, Rajavi has been personally responsible for the extra-judicial murder and torture of countless members behind the closed doors of the cult.
So, what could be behind this dramatic volte-face? Has Rajavi really undergone a unique transformation of belief and if so, is she sincerely contrite for all the deaths she is personally responsible for within the Mojahedin Khalq? Does she regret her past? Will she now apologise to the thousands of former members of her organisation who are victims of heinous human rights abuses for which she and her husband are culpable?
For various reasons this is impossible. Not least because as the leader of a mind control cult such an admission of guilt would undermine the whole foundation of her organisation and throw the remaining vulnerable brainwashed members onto the path of a mental breakdown.
Or is this, as we have every reason to believe, a politically motivated fake stance brought about by panic and despair, just as once the MEK’s manufactured nuclear intelligence bought them artificial status brought about by opportunism. Since July, the negotiated Iran nuclear agreement has irrevocably changed the political landscape. The MEK are no longer needed or wanted beyond backing up the efforts of a few regime change pundits clinging to the past.
And of course, Maryam Rajavi is acutely aware of the fate of her benefactor Saddam Hussein. When he was no longer needed, his former allies handed him over to the Iraqi people for judgement and punishment. He was, as we all know, hanged.
So, Maryam’s Rajavi’s sudden and specific and uncharacteristic condemnation of the death penalty should be judged in this context. Her underlying message to her sponsors is, ‘who could hang a saint?’
A number of survivors of Rajavi cult, August 31 2015:… This summer, your charity floated an engaging invitation on its Facebook page for women to nominate their ‘women’s rights idol’. Sadly, perhaps inevitably, Womankind was then inundated with nominations and praise for Maryam Rajavi. The effect has been to hijack the page and spoil its intent. The Mojahedin are …
Family Survival Trust, May 24 2015:…Anne Khodabandeh, representative of The Family Survival Trust, was in a unique position to brief M. Blisko and the audience about this issue. She explained that it is possible to construct a model for describing and analysing the use of cultic abuse by terrorist entities without mentioning religion. Anne then went on to describe …
Anne Khodabandeh (Singleton), Iran Interlink, April 14 2015:… It will come as some surprise to you therefore, that a group of Iranian war-mongering regime change proponents, the terrorist Mojahedin Khalq (MEK), claim to have your support. In an astounding act of hubris, the MEK has not only appropriated your good name and …
Iran Interlink, February 04 2015:… A review authored by Massoud and Anne Khodabandeh has been published in Asian Politics and Policy, Media Reviews. The article titled ‘The Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and Its Media Strategy: Methods of Information Manufacture’ looks at the MEK’s historical manipulation of various media over thirty years …
Anne Khodabandeh (Singleton) , Iran Interlink, January 24 2015:… Albania’s efforts to improve its human rights and bring them into line with European and international standards could be seriously undermined if it does not take action to curtail the activities of the terrorist Mojahedin Khalq cult organisation in that country. There is strong evidence that …
Anne Khodabandeh (Singleton), Iran Interlink, January 14 2015:… Whether delusional or corrupt, this gang – listed below and now posing as the International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ) – says the residents of Camp Liberty should have their “personal protection weapons returned to