Former members of the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) say the notorious anti-Iran terrorist group employs charm offensive to recruit members and later brainwash them.
Anne Khodabandeh, an expert in cult abuse and radicalization, told Press TV Sunday that the MKO is in no way an ordinary group, but rather operates as a cult. She noted that the terror group exercises cultic abuse in order to assert control over its members.
The former MKO member said Western countries, particularly EU member states and the US, have delisted the anti-Iran terrorists and mainstream media outlets have turned a blind eye to the abysmal record of their crimes and human rights abuses.
“The MKO is essentially deceptive. They present themselves in a very, very different way to what they really are. They develop what you might call a radicalized personality, persona or in other words magnetic personality… Radicalized people do develop a superficial personality, which is actually very attractive to others.
“When they (MKO officials) go into meetings with politicians and the like, they can switch on this very charming and convincing persona,” she pointed out.
Khodabandeh said anti-Iran figures, groups, politicians and administrations exploit the MKO as a tool to harm the Islamic Republic at any possible opportunity, disseminate misleading information and propagate against Tehran.
The Leeds-based expert went on to say that Western countries and politicians do not actually support the MKO, but rather view it as an instrument.
“Neither does the United States, the United Kingdom, nor do European governments see the MKO as a viable alternative” to Iran’s Islamic establishment, she said.
“Having lost the support of [slain Iraqi dictator] Saddam Hussein, the only country that actually offered them support was the Albanian government, and they get direct support. They have actually been literally pushed out of North America, Europe and Britain,” Khodabandeh said.
The first thing that the MKO did after arriving in Albania was to recruit some new members from the local population because they obviously had no familiarity with the language spoken there, she said.
The expert said Albanian authorities had initially been misled into believing that MKO members had been relocated to the southeastern European country on humanitarian grounds, but were shocked later to find out they were recruiting people for subversive activities against the Iranian government.
“The MKO is highly sophisticated in its methods of corruption and deception. Albania is a country, which is more or less ruled by America. So the Americans gave the nod to the government to continue supporting the MKO and not to stand in their way,” Khodabandeh said.
Ebrahim Khodabandeh, an activist and another former senior MKO member, told Press TV that the MKO basically tends to deceive people and brainwash them later.
“I joined the group because I thought it is Islamic, anti-imperialist and socialist. Afterwards, I realized that they were simply false allegations. I decided then to try to tell anyone they were responsible for taking lots of lives… And the majority of people whom they killed inside Iran were ordinary people. They had nothing to do with the government or politics. The group even abuses the very rights of its own members,” he said.
Khodabandeh said the MKO looks for any excuse to recruit people, and after that manipulates their thoughts to do things against their will.
He said the MKO receives huge sums of financial assistance from Saudi Arabia and the US, and uses a wide network of so-called charity organizations whose main purpose is money laundering.
“Washington lost a great deal of interests following the  Islamic Revolution. They (US officials) have always been trying to regain these interests. Unfortunately, US officials don't have the understanding that time has changed. The way they support MKO shows how they are against Iran; because it is the organization very much hated by Iranians,” Khodabandeh said.
The activist said Western governments do not really mind using terrorists as tools in pursuit of their own interests.
“That is the case with the MKO. They (American authorities) very well know how much they (MKO members) are hated by Iranians. That is why they don't get too close to them. I mean, they never support them at state level. But on the other hand, they try to use them as much as they can against Iran,” he said.
Khodabandeh noted that the MKO can no longer pose security, social or political threats to Iran, but still can cause headache for Tehran in some cases.
“They have trapped some 2,000 members in Albania, and brainwashed them. They are living in modern slavery. Their families are suffering very much because they have no contact with them… I think that Western countries should revise their policy as it has not taken them anywhere over the past 40 years,” he said.
The MKO has carried out numerous terrorist attacks against Iranian civilians and government officials since victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979. Out of the nearly 17,000 Iranians killed in terrorist attacks over the past four decades, about 12,000 have fallen victim to the MKO's acts of terror.
During former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s war on Iran, which lasted eight years, MKO members were armed and equipped by Iraq to fight against Iran.
Washington and the European Union have removed the MKO from their lists of terrorist organizations. The anti-Iran terrorists enjoy freedom of activity in the US and Europe, and even hold meetings with American and EU officials.
A few years ago, MKO members were relocated from their Camp Ashraf in Iraq’s Diyala Province and later sent to Albania, where they now reside and continue their anti-Iran activities.