Massoud believed that the MEK represented the principles and ideas that he believed in and that it was the best chance to bring freedom and democracy in Iran, so he joined the MEK in 1967.
Once in the MEK, Massoud had direct contact with the MEK’s founder and leader Mohammad Hanifnejad, who appointed Massoud to the MEK’s ideological group, where he was responsible for studying and documenting the MEK’s ideological principles. Massoud later became a member of the MEK’s Central Committee.
In 1971, Savak, the secret police of the Shah regime, conducted a series of raids in order to round up the entire leadership and Central Committee of the MEK. During their imprisonment, every member of the MEK who had been arrested was brutally tortured and sentenced to death.
Eventually, the Shah’s Regime was forced to commute Rajavi’s sentence to life in prison because of the efforts of Rajavi’s older brother Kazem, a world-renowned legal expert based in Geneva, who launched an international campaign that received support from many parliamentarians and political leaders, including Francois Mitterrand, the future President of France.
In 1972, all of the MEK’s leadership, bar Massoud, had been executed, so he assumed leadership from behind bars and helped to steer the MEK over the next seven years. A coup by Marxist separatists in 1975 nearly destroyed the MEK, but Massoud was able to restore the organization and set out the MEK’s guidelines.
The 1979 revolution
He even helped to direct the growing people’s protest to topple the Shah in the late seventies, with the MEK as one of the largest groups calling for regime change and the release of all political prisoners from Shah’s prisons.
The Shah grew significantly weaker as the protests continued and eventually in January 1979, the Shah fled the country and his prison authorities released the last of the political prisoners, including Massoud. Less, than a month later the Shah’ Regime fell.
Sadly, this was not the start of a glorious new chapter in Iran, as the revolution was hijacked by powerful cleric Ruhollah Khomeini, who established a brutal theocracy in place of the brutal monarchy.
Massoud spent much of 1979 focusing the MEK on protecting the freedoms and rights of the Iranian people, with the goal being to prevent the mullahs from imposing their outdated beliefs and spent most of the early eighties raising awareness on the threats of extremism.
We’ll look more about how Massoud and the MEK tried to stop the mullahs in our second article later this week.