|At the time of operation Eternal Light, we were isolated in camp Ashraf in Iraq and didn't know anything about what was going on in Iran. We were under the illusion that if we attacked Iran, the people of Iran would help us and then we could topple the Islamic Republic. That was wrong and most Iranians we came across fought against us.|
Narrator: The group settled at camp Ashraf, a military base one hundred kilometres north of Baghdad. In this isolated setting, Rajavi could exert more control on his followers and delude them about his power. In 1988 he convinced them all to make an all out attack on the regime in Iran, an act of collective suicide. Rajavi told his followers that they could take over Tehran within a few days. The operation was called the Eternal Light. And the order to attack was give by Rajavi's wife Maryam.
Massoud Khodabandeh: At the time of operation Eternal Light, we were isolated in camp Ashraf in Iraq and didn't know anything about what was going on in Iran. We were under the illusion that if we attacked Iran, the people of Iran would help us and then we could topple Khomeini's government. That was wrong and most Iranians we came across fought against us.
Narrator: After the attack Ayatollah Khomeini ordered the massacre of MEK members inside Iranian prisons. Within a few weeks thousands of MEK prisoners were summarily executed. Rajavi in turn, used the legacy of the Eternal Light martyrs to reinvigorate the organisation.
Massoud Khodabandeh: Rajavi had his own reasons to fight the Iranian regime. He believed that more victims on either side of the conflict would help him consolidate his control over the MEK. After the operation he even exaggerated the number of the dead on both sides. Ironically Mr Rajavi was helped in his mission by the Iranian government. They killed about three to four thousand MEK prisoners after the operation and ensured that Rajavi could rule the MEK for years.
Rageh Omar: For individuals caught up in the strange world of a cult, the price is high. But on the world’s political stage the MEK, led by Massoud Rajavi still had a few more surprises. Join me after the break.
Welcome back. Life inside a cult is filled with disinformation and psychological manipulation. Massoud Rajavi is a master of mass hypnosis, harnessing the faith of his followers and convincing them to fight his battles. He switches allegiances at will to suit the current political climate. But some started to question their leader when he asked them to kill children.
Narrator: In 1991, at the height of the first Gulf War, Saddam found a new use for Rajavi. He ordered the MEK to help put down the uprising of the Iraqi Kurds with maximum force.
Majid Farahani: When we entered the town of Kifri in Iraqi Kurdistan, the MEK used heavy artillery against anyone who was in their way. It didn't matter if the person was an innocent civilian, a man, a woman or even a child. The MEK shot anyone who came in their way through the town.
Narrator: Majid's platoon killed most of the captives, but one was handed to the Iraqis to be executed.
Majid Farahani: They brought this little boy who was hit in the stomach and was suffering a lot. The MEK didn’t give him any medical help or even a glass of water. The next morning they handed the boy to the Iraqi authorities and the Iraqis killed him right there and then. I can never forget the screams of the boy who called Baba, Baba, asking for his father. Those words still echo in my head.
Narrator: Majid and many others left the organisation in protest after the genocide against the Kurds. Once again Rajavi needed new members for the MEK. He found them among vulnerable Iranian asylum seekers in Europe. In 1996, Marjan Malek was living as a refugee in Holland.
Marjan Malek (former MEK member): The MEK are masters of human psychology. When they meet someone they spot that person's weak points. They talked to me and they realised that I had many problems with my ex-husband who used to beat me. So they started talking about women's rights and the equality between men and women, in order to attract me for the organisation.