TEHRAN – Iran on Sunday condemned the appearance of senior European and U.S. politicians at a rally in support of a violent cult which was once considered a terror organization by the West.
Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported that the country’s foreign ministry summoned Slovenia’s envoy in Tehran over a video message by the EU nation’s prime minister at the event hosted by the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO).
The MKO was once designated as such by the United States until it was delisted in 2012 as part of Washington’s enmity with Iran. The EU removed the group from its terrorism list in 2009.
Several members of the terrorist cult rallied Saturday in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, while speakers including former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and numerous serving U.S. senators from across the aisle lauded the group and its terrorist programs.
Pompeo, who defended the Trump administration’s hostile stance against Iran, claimed in his video address that the Iranian government was “at its most precarious state” since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and called for sustained pressure on Tehran.
Pompeo praised the MKO, whose funding is unclear and which has in the past paid foreign politicians to appear at its rallies, urging the terrorist group to “keep up the fight.”
Pompeo’s support for the group was echoed by Brazile, who praised the “remarkable courage and leadership” of the group’s chief terrorist Maryam Rajavi.
Also speaking during the event were Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, and Republican Sens. Roy Blunt and Ted Cruz, the former UK House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, former Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and others.
Iran slammed Western politicians taking part in the event, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh saying that “bought Western politicians (incl #LyingCheatingStealing Pompeo) sell themselves cheap for a Europe-hosted circus arranged by a once Saddam-backed terrorist cult with Iranian blood on its hands.”
“Insatiable thirst for $$ & anti-Iran obsession is driving shameful Western hypocrisy,” he added.
The ministry also condemned the speech by Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, calling it “unacceptable, against diplomatic norms and spirit” of bilateral relations, the IRNA news agency reported.
Two former MKO members told Press TV that the MKO is in no way an ordinary group.
Anne Khodabandeh, an expert in cult abuse and radicalization, detailed how the notorious group exercises cultic abuse in order to assert control over its members.
She said Western countries, particularly EU member states and the U.S., 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 different way than 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 said.
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 the United States and the United Kingdom nor European governments see the MKO as a viable alternative” to Iran’s Islamic establishment, she said.
“Having lost the support of 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 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 U.S., 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 (Americans) have always been trying to regain these interests. Unfortunately, U.S. 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.