Tens of members defect MKO upon arrival in Albania

Tens of the members of the terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO, also known as MEK, NCRI or PMOI) defected the group upon arrival in Tirana, the capital city of Albania, a senior MKO ringleader said Saturday.

"At least 70 more members of the MKO have defected the grouplet after arriving in Albania's capital," an MKO ringleader who has also defected the group himself told FNA in Baghdad on Saturday.

"The names of a number of high-ranking MKO officials are seen among those defected members of the grouplet," the source who called for anonymity for fea of his life added.

The source said the defected members are kept in a separate building away from those who are still an MKO member and they have access to different means of communication to contact their families.

The ringleaders of the group, including Farzaneh Meidan Shahi and Esmayeel Mortezayee also known as Javad Khorassan, do not allow other members to leave their residence and contact their families.

A relevant report in June also said that members of the MKO who have been sent from Iraq to Albania in recent months were disobeying the orders of their ringleaders and seeking to defect the group.

Didehban Center said that most of the MKO members who had been transferred to Albania from their transit camp in Iraq no more obey their masters and cannot be controlled by their ringleaders.

Didehabn Center referred to a recent ceremony in France to celebrate the anniversary of the terrorist group's armed attack against Iran in 1981, which was broadcast for the MKO members in Albania through video conferencing at a luxurious hotel in Tirana, and said merely 10 people from the 71 MKO members in Albania participated in the ceremony, while others did not show up in a bid to display their opposition to the group's ringleader Massoud Rajavi and the terrorist group.

Many of the MKO members have abandoned the terrorist organization while most of those still remaining in the grouplet are said to be willing to quit but are under pressure and torture not to do so.

A recent Human Rights Watch report accused the MKO of running prison camps in Iraq and committing human rights violations.

According to the Human Rights Watch report, the outlawed group puts defectors under torture and jail terms.

The group, founded in the 1960s, blended elements of Islamism and Stalinism and participated in the overthrow of the US-backed Shah of Iran in 1979. Ahead of the revolution, the MKO conducted attacks and assassinations against both Iranian and Western targets.

The group started assassination of the citizens and officials after the revolution in a bid to take control of the newly-established Islamic Republic. It killed several of Iran's new leaders in the early years after the revolution, including the then President, Mohammad Ali Rajayee, Prime Minister, Mohammad Javad Bahonar and the Judiciary Chief, Mohammad Hossein Beheshti who were killed in bomb attacks by MKO members in 1981.

The group fled to Iraq in 1986, where it was protected by Saddam Hussein and where it helped the Iraqi dictator suppress Shiite and Kurd uprisings in the country.

The terrorist group joined Saddam's army during the Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-1988) and helped Saddam and killed thousands of Iranian civilians and soldiers during the US-backed Iraqi imposed war on Iran.

Since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the group, which now adheres to a pro-free-market philosophy, has been strongly backed by neo-conservatives in the United States, who eventually took the MKO off the US terror list.

The US formally removed the MKO from its list of terror organizations in early September 2012, one week after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent the US Congress a classified communication about the move. The decision made by Clinton enabled the group to have its assets under US jurisdiction unfrozen and do business with American entities, the State Department said in a statement at the time.

In September 2012, the last groups of the MKO terrorists left Camp Ashraf, their main training center in Iraq's Diyala province. They have been transferred to Camp Liberty which lies Northeast of the Baghdad International Airport.

Camp Liberty is a transient settlement facility and a last station for the MKO in Iraq.