Thursday, June 12, 1986

Rajavi Prays for Iran, Calls for the Overthrow of Khomeini

The Associated Press
Thursday, June 12, 1986

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The leader of Iran's main opposition group visited the graves of holy martyrs of the Shiite Moslem sect and urged Iranians to overthrow the Khomeini regime, the state-run Iraqi News Agency reported Thursday.

The report was the first in Iraq on the activities of Massoud Rajavi, leader of the Mujahedeen, since he arrived in Baghdad from France on Saturday.

The Mujahedeen claim the move to Iraq was voluntary, a "new stage" in the fight to topple the Islamic fundamentalist regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeinei.

French observers in Paris, however, have said they believe Rajavi's departure was engineered by France in a bid to normalize relations with Iran and help win freedom for nine French hostages abducted by Moslem extremists in Lebanon.

Iran, which has been at war with Iraq since September 1980, is predominantly Shiite. Rajavi and his wife, Maryam, co-leader of the Mujahedeen, visited Shiite holy shrines in Najaf and Karbala, south of Baghdad, the agency said.

Iraqi television, which can reach parts of Iran, reported on the visits in a broadcast in Farsi, the Iranian language.

Khomeini lived 14 years in exile in Najaf. He lived briefly in Paris before the Shah fled into exile in January 1979.

Rajavi and his wife prayed at the grave of Imam Ali, cousin of Islam's Prophet Mohammed and revered by the Shiites as a holy martyr.

Rajavi also visited the tomb of Imam Ali's son, Hussein, in Karbala, and handed out a list of 12,000 names of Iranians allegedly killed by the authorities in Tehran, the agency said. He was quoted by the news agency as calling on Iranians to "bring down Khomeini and bring about peace and freedom.

"Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz told a news conference Tuesday in Paris that his country would provide facilities for Rajavi and his guerrillas to step up military operations inside Iran "to overthrow the government that wants to overthrow us."

Sunday, June 08, 1986

Rajavi's Move to Iraq Part of New Phase in War Against Iran

The Associated Press
Sunday, June 8, 1986

By SAMIR F. GHATTAS, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Massoud Rajavi, the leader of Iran's main opposition group, left France and came to Iraq to lead an armed struggle against Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's regime, the group announced Sunday.

Rajavi and his wife, Maryam, head the leftist Iranian People's Mujahedeen Resistance. They arrived here Saturday from Paris where they had been living in exile since fleeing Iran in 1981.

A delegation of high-ranking Iraqi officials including Cabinet ministers were at the airport to greet them after their hasty departure from France.

Rajavi's arrival was reported in state-run newspapers, but nothing was said about his whereabouts and activities.

It is not known if he has been granted asylum, and officials were not available for comment Sunday.

Rajavi left Paris came amid stepped-up French efforts to win freedom for nine Frenchmen kidnapped in Lebanon. Iran is thought to have connections with the Islamic Jihad _ or Islamic Holy War _ group that claims to hold four of the hostages. Islamic Jihad pledges loyalty to Khomeini, Iran's spiritual and political leader.

Vice Premier Ali Reza Moayeri of Iran said May 22 that his country demanded the extradition of exiles "with blood on their hands," which was believed to be a clear reference to Rajavi. On the same day, French Premier Jacques Chirac said his government would crack down on activities incompatible with political asylum in France.

But a Mujahedeen statement distributed in London said Rajavi left France by choice as the first step in moving an armed struggle into Iran.

The statement claimed that over 1,000 Mujahedeen fighters had gradually left France for Iraq “with the aim of joining the resistance based on Iranian borders.” Iraq and Iran have been locked in a border war since September 1980.

The Mujahedeen statement said Rajavi went from Baghdad's airport to Najaf and Karbala, two Shiite Moslem holy cities in southern Iraq.

Imam Ali, founder of the Shiite sect and a cousin of Islam's prophet Mohammed is buried in Najaf, 93 miles south of Baghdad. Karbala, 64 miles south of Baghdad, is the site where Imam Hussein, a son of Imam Ali, is buried.

Rajavi's visit to the cities was seen as a further gesture against Iran, which sought in a recent offensive to capture the two holy shrines.

Khomeini led his resistence movement from Najaf between 1965 and 1978, when he was kicked out of Iraq and moved to France. His power base in France was judged more effective because the advanced communication system made it easier for him to transmit his taped messages against the regime of Shah Reza Pahlavi, who was overthrown in January 1979 and died in exile in Egypt in July 1980.

A Western diplomat here, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the difficult nature of the Iran-Iraq border would help Rajavi's men establish close contact with Mujahedeen guerrillas operating inside Iran.

Rajavi already has a radio station, believed to be operating from Iraq, that broadcasts anti-Khomeini propaganda.