Meet the actual nature of MKO

Mousa Khiabani


Mousa Khiabani

NameMousa Nasir Oghli Khiabani
Known asMousa Khiabani, Qorbanali, Jaafar
Father’s NameSaifullah
Mother’s NameTahereh
Date of Birth1947-12-2
EducationStudent of Physics, University of Tehran
BrothersMohammadhassan, Mohammadali
SistersAshraf, Farah, Mahin, Laya, Azra, Mohammadhassan, Mohammadali, Mina (wife of Mehdi Abrishamchi), Fatemeh
WifeAzar Rezaee (An important member of MKO)
ResponsibilitiesSecond person of MKO under the leadership of Masoud
Date of Death1982-1-8 (He was killed during an attack by Islamic Revolutionary Committee and Revolutionary Guards forces at his base in Tehran in Zafaraniyeh neighborhood)


Mousa Nasir Oghli known as Mousa Khiabani, famed as the “Great Commander” among the members of the MEK, was born in Tabriz in 1947. He passed his high school education in Mansour high school of Tabriz and was accepted in Physics at Tehran University’s Faculty of Science. During his education, joined the MKO through one of the organization’s major founders Mouhammad Hanif Nejad.

Mousa’s father was working in the Tabriz Bazaar and he was a devout man. Following his family, Mousa was also a strong believer. Due to his fluency in Arabic and regular studies, he soon became one of the major theoretical forces in the organization. In this period, Mousa recruited a number of organization forces, most notably Taghi Shahram. A few years later, after the September 1971 blow, and arrest and execution of the MKO’s primary founders, Taghi Shahram along with Bahram Ara took over the leadership of the organization and changed it from an Islamic organization to a Marxist one which itself is an important chapter in the history of the MKO.

A Trip to Palestine and a Hostage-Taking

In 1970, after meeting and negotiation with Palestine Fatah (Palestinian Liberation Organization), the leadership of organization decided to send a number of its cadres to receive military training inside one of the camps of this movement in Lebanon. Mousa Khiabani was one of the six persons who were sent to Palestine. First, this six-person team went to Dubai, and from there they went to Beirut. In Dubai they are suspected by police and are arrested on the charge of theft. The Dubai government decides to send them back to Iran. But the organization didn’t want them to be taken in the hand of Savak at any cost. Because on the one hand, they were the high-ranking organization members and their existence was essential, and on the other hand, the entire organization was in danger of being arrested. Ultimately, when the organization’s bargaining with the authorities in Dubai failed, the decision to hijack the airplane that would return these men to Iran was made. Three members of MKO are sent to Dubai to carry out this mission. Eventually, in an adventure known in the organization’s history, the plane is stolen and landed in Baghdad. Nine of the MKO’S (also Mousa), who were on this plane, are arrested and severely tortured by the Iraqi Intelligence Services. In his memories, Hussein Ahmadi Rouhani (known as Sheikh Hussein) said that Iraqi interrogators threatened Mousa Khiabani to death with firing bullets around his head. Finally, with mediation of Yasser Arafat’s representative, Iraqi Baathist government releases them. Mousa and eight other people go to the Fatah camp in Beirut to receive military training. According to some of the attending members of the organization, Mousa was the most proficient MKO’S member who completed this course.

Mousa’s Return to Iran

When Khiabani returned to Iran in September 1971, once again he worked closely with central agency which was not still recognized as the “MKO”. SAVAK in this period mentioned the organization with such titles as the “Liberation Movement Armed Group” or “the so-called Iran Liberation Movement”.

Formation of the Organizational Centrality in Prison

After the killing or execution of the primary founders of the organization, including Mohammad Hanif nejad, Nasser Sadegh, Asghar Badi-Zadegan, Saeed Mohsen, Ahmad Rezaei and the like, only Massoud Rajavi survived. Because of his extensive cooperation with SAVAK in revealing the organization members and its asset, his sentence was reduced to life imprisonment and he survived from execution. Accordingly, in 1971 and early 1972, he was highly unpopular among the prisoners of the organization.

Thus, the remaining members of the organization namely Reza Bakeri, Mehdi Khosroshahi, Abbas Davari and…formed a kind of centrality in the prison and didn’t admit Rajavi initially in their group, what caused that he commit a pretended suicide.

But gradually, due to the special ties that Massoud had established with SAVAK, with the aim of Mousa Khiabani and Mouhammad Reza Sa’adati, he was able to dominate the prisoners of the organization. On the second floor of section 2 of Evin Prison, they formed a circle, with centrality of Massoud and membership of Mousa Khiabani, sa’adati, Mehdi Taghvaei, Mohammad Hayati, Mehdi Eftekhari, Ahmad Hanifnejad, and Sadat Darbandi, Which served to strengthen the leadership of Massoud. Meanwhile, the role of Mousa Khiabani to make Rajavi’s leadership acceptable was the most important one. Actually, any of the organization members who would confront a problem with the organization or Rajavi’s leadership, this was Mousa who undertook his/her justification. Although in practice, until the death of Massoud, the Rajavi-Khiabani team managed the organization and they were equal to each other, Massoud was the first and Mousa the second by name.

Change of the Ideology

While Rajavi and Khiabani and a number of other key cadres were in jail, Taghi Shahram who had escaped from Sari prison in a highly suspected event came to Tehran and along with Bahram Aram created a new centrality with the remaining members, and officially announced Marxism as the ideology of the organization. In the meanwhile, a number of Muslim members who refused to become Marxist, in particular Majid Sharif Vaghefi, were purged by the Marxist centrality (murdered). The news of the organization transforming to Marxist outside the prison, offered this chance to Massoud Rajavi and Mousa Khiabani to draw attentions to themselves as the Muslim members centrality of the organization (who refused to become Marxist). With condemnation of the Marxist centrality under the name of “pseudo-leftist opportunists”, Rajavi and Khiabani together, began to reorganize the MKO from prison. It was while, neither Massoud nor Mousa had a problem with Marxism fundamentally, and they only took the advantage of this opportunity to boost themselves. “Mouhammad Mouhammadi Gorgani”, an early member of the organization who separated from the centrality in the years before the Revolution described the atmosphere of the organization prisoners in Evin:

From 1977 that my arguments started in prison, I had discussions with Massoud and Mousa for almost 18 months. These were the axes: 1- the theory of the organization was a sort of Islam and Marxism adjustment that is operated hastily and there should be fundamental revisions in this regard. God in this theory is like a “hat” and has no role. Therefore, it is possible to remove this hat without changing in the theoretical structure of the organization. 3- The organization has transformed to a “heresy” and has become “God” itself, and we have situated the organization in place of the God actually. 4- The existing leadership (Massoud) is not qualified for this position and it should be re-considered.”


Islamic Revolution and Freedom from Prison

On January 20, 1979 Massoud Rajavi, Mousa Khiabani, and Ashraf Rabi’i were among the last political prisoners released from the prison of the Shah. The very next day, Massoud and Mousa who did not think Shah would soon be overthrown and led by Imam Khomeini, the Revolution would reach fruition, in order not to retrogress and present themselves as the mainstream revolutionary leaders, they started issuing messages and communiques to various personalities and groups.

On January 21, 1979 they released a message with signature of “released Mujahidin from prison, Massoud Rajavi-Mousa Khiabani” addressed to “auspicious presence of the Great Mujahid Ayatollah Khomeini”, which reads as follows:

“We owe our freedom to the Jihad and self-sacrifices of the suppressed and defender people of Iran, in the light of inspirations of that uncompromising and firm One.”


They also issued messages to Ayatollah Taleghani, Yasser Arafat, students of Mashhad, factory workers in Tehran, and….with the aim of foisting themselves among the legitimate authorities and leaders of the Revolution more than ever. Then Mousa traveled to his hometown Tabriz to form the MKO’s headquarter along with Ahmad Hanifnejad (member of centrality and brother of the founder of organization). After returning to Tehran, the day after the Revolution, 23 February, Mousa and Massoud together, in an announcement announced the existence of the Mujahidin National Movement as a political organ of the MKO. From this date until the late summer of 1979, Mousa and Massoud in the mosque and lawn of Tehran University and Mehdi Abrishamchi (member of centrality and Maryam Rajavi’s first husband) at Tarbiat Moallem University, in numerous lectures under the name of religious lectures, philosophy of Sha’ar, government of Ali, The Ashura movement, clarified and justified the Marxist and eclectic concepts of the organization. In fact, Mousa and Mehdi Abrishamchi, as the theoretical members of the organization through selecting parts of the Qur’an and Nahj al-Balagha, with ideological interpretations and adaptations in favor of the organization, and suggesting some words such as Waiting, Absence, Ashura, Id al Adha,…. were in charge of providing the intellectual body of the advocates.

Meeting with Imam Khomeini

In April 27, 1979 Rajavi and khiabani through the late Haj Ahmad Khomeini (the second son of Imam Khomeini) met with Imam Khomeini. Mousa describes this meeting as follows:

“… (Imam) Khomeini said I have not spoken against you so far, but whenever I found out that you are out of Islam, I will say….the summary and essence of our conversation with Imam Khomeini was freedom, and in return, besides urging us to, to so-called Islam, he wanted to put fighting against the Marxists on our shoulders by implication. Anyway, this was the first and the last official meeting of the organization with (Imam) Khomeini. Before that, some of our brothers, on one occasion, as far as I can remember, our brother Massoud himself had an unofficial, brief visit with him during the days of the uprising.”

In addition to Massoud and Mousa, Abbas Davari and Mahmoud Ahmadi attended this visit too. There is no official released tape or text, but the organization secretly made a tape, however the sound is very low. A security officer quoted from Haj Ahmad Khomeini that the security officers of Imam’s residence were going to inspect them, but they refused and made noise. Then, Imam allowed them to enter without inspection. Later on, it was revealed that they were carrying a small camera as well as a tape recorder secretly.

Election Candidacy

After the announcement of Rajavi’s candidacy for the 1st presidential elections on January 25, 1980 Mousa Khiabani personally took charge of the propaganda for him by delivering a speech at the MKO’s rallies.
Mohammad Reza Azizi, one of the arrested cadres of the MKO in his confession after his arrest, wrote:
Our way in Rajavi’s candidacy propaganda was to disclosure the restitution in street-explaining. One was arguing as opposed and the other as in favor in the street. And we were arranging the work with normalization well. People were gathering gradually and condemning the opposition. Then, by uttering insults and abuses the opposing person was trying to portray the opposition as illiterate, hooligan and lumpen. “

Immediately after presidential election and disqualification of Rajavi (due to not voting for the constitution), Mousa nominated for the 1st Parliamentary Elections in his hometown Tabriz on March 14, 1980. In order to propagate Mousa, Rajavi went into this city and in a speech among the supporters of the organization praised him. In a speech about Mousa he said:
“For you and for Tabriz, because of its importance, because I said it is our ideological, political, and organizational birthplace, we have chosen our best brother, mujahid Mousa, and we recommend him to you, today I recommend the organization axis and anchor to you. Several times I heard from our founder and martyr brother Mouhammad (Hanifnejad, cofounder of MKO) when we were in prison while he was still out, among those he believed will remain to the end, he used to recall Moussa on top”. In this election, Khiabani did not win enough votes to enter parliament.

The Role of the Organization in Nojeh Coup Plot, Organization Relation with Bani Sadr

On September 13, 1980 following a televised interview with a member of the Nojeh coup squad about the coup agent’s contact with the organization and the agreement on the coup, Rajavi and Khiabani appeared in a joint news interview and presented evidences of the organization role in informing the president, Abol Hassan Banisadr, from the coup. Actually, it was at this point that the MKO’s closeness to the President (Who previously had dark relations with MKO) was initiated. This closeness developed gradually until it peaked at Bani Sadr’s speech on the lawn of the University of Tehran on March 5, 1981 (on the occasion of Dr. Mossadegh’s death). On this day, the supporters of the organization, called “militia” equipped with a variety of cold weapons and even firearms, attacked Hezbollah people in support of the president and caused controversy.

That was to the extent that in May, 1981 Mousa and Rajavi met with Bani Sadr up to 3 times a week. Ibrahim Yazdi, a member of the Freedom Movement and the Foreign Minister of the interim Government, in an interview mentioned that at this point, Massoud and Mousa send him a message through his nephew, who was a member of the organization and close to the centrality, to accompany the MKO and president for overthrowing the “restitution” (Islamic Republic was meant). Yazdi said, he sent a message to them through his nephew that they have been hallucinating and the organization is not powerful enough to mobilize a large social body to overthrow the system.

Armed phase

Following dismissal of Bani Sadr from being commander in chief on June 10, 1981 and beginning the review of Bani Sadr’s political incompetence by parliament in a statement dubbed “Political-Military Declaration No. 25” on June 18, the organization declared war on the Islamic Republic under the pretext of defending President Bani Sadr. It is said that this declaration have been written in Mousa Khiabani’s handwriting.

Simultaneous with voting double urgency plan of Bani Sadr’s political incompetence in parliament on June 20, the armed advocates of the MKO rushed into the central streets of Tehran to overthrown the system by forming a “mass mobilization”. This bubble of illusion and mirage, burst much earlier than the leadership of the organization had thought, and the armed camp of MKO was abolished via uniting people and Revolutionary forces.

Mousa Khiabani Analysis of Defeat in the Armed Phase

In an analysis he wrote on June 30 for the organization centrality, he tried to fix the deadly mistakes of the organization leadership in their calculations.

“… But regarding the organization, the restitution’s goal of the ultimate suppression of the MKO was clear from other points, including Prosecutor’s Office 10-article announcement of the restitution…..this announcement in essence was nothing but invitation of political groups and revolutionary organizations to succumb to the restitution or  to be ready for suppression or elimination,”


Just a few weeks after the defeat, Massoud Rajavi, sponsor of causes, on July 29, 1981 along with the dismissed president, fled the country to seek asylum in France and practically left Mousa Khiabani, as well as his wife Ashraf Rabi’ei, his son, and several thousand members and supporters of the organization behind, in a fire he himself set up. Ali Akbar Rastgou, one of the separated members of the organization wrote about Rajavi’s escape:

“After saber rattling of the militia on June 20, 1981 and the regime did not overthrow, Rajavi fled from Tehran and went to France. If he knew power had been usurped and had faith in his beliefs, he would surely have stayed in Iran and fought with the regime like the militia…but he left all the supporters without concern under the blade of the Islamic Republic that could have caused trouble for his leadership later, One was Mousa Khiabani and the other was his wife, Ashraf Rabi’ei… If mousa was alive, Rajavi would never become the undisputed leader of the organization. On the other hand, he had fallen in love with Firouzeh, Bani Sadr’s daughter, and decided to marry him in Paris and besides, to strengthen his personal relationship with Bani Sadr in this way.”

Terrorist operations

After Rajavi’s escape, he was practically responsible for the MKO’s affairs inside the country. In this period, until killing Mousa in February of this year, two phases of “blow to the head of the system” (leaders and senior officials) and “blow to the fingers of the system” (Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah forces and even ordinary people) were on the agenda.

Under Khiabani’s command, in the first phase, the most important terrorist crime was explosion in the Prime Minister’s headquarters on August 30, 1981 by Massoud keshmiri, MKO’s penetrated spy, which led to martyrdom of Mohammad Ali Rajaei, the president, and Mohammad Javad Bahonar, the Prime minister and a number of military and security officials of the country. Another crime was martyrdom of Attorney-General of the Revolution, Ayatollah Ghodousi that took place through bombing in the basement of his workplace by a MKO’S penetrated spy, Mahmoud Fakharzadeh Kermani. The three martyrs of the altar (Ayatollah Madani, Ashrafi Esfahani, and Dastgheib) were martyred as well in these few months through MKO’s criminals at Mousa’s command.

In the second phase, MKO’S assassinations of the Revolutionary Committee forces, the Revolutionary Guards and the Prosecutor’s Office shifted to assassination of the ordinary people of the streets.  This means that many of the Hezbollah’s nation, merely for the sake of having beard or installing a photo of the Imam at home or at work were martyred.

Terrorist Attacks Called "Blind Assassination"

The worst kind of the MKO’S crime was the so-called “blind assassination”. This means that the operational units of the organization in daylight without any earlier plan or plot were suddenly opened fire at the people of the street in order to create an atmosphere of terror in the community. In the second half of the 1981, according to the statistics of the Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office and the security forces of the Islamic Republic, three-quarters of the assassination cases were among the self-employment classes, like restaurants, bakers, barbers, and real estate agencies. And less than a quarter of the victims of the assassination were official forces of the military and law enforcement agencies.

In addition, within the framework of the local armed demonstration program, the so-called “insurgent demonstration”, many of the operational forces and supporters of the organization were killed in struggles with the revolutionary forces in this phase. The significant point was that this style of demonstration, which usually included blocking crossroads, burning public property with Molotov cocktails and grenades, and opening fire at people, would not last 15 minutes at best and were ended up by revolutionary forces. The culmination of such operations was on September 27, 1981 when students marched in support of the revolution at the request of the late Ayatollah Montazeri, the organization agents shot at them and martyred a number of teenagers.

All these terrorist operations and crimes were led under the leadership of Massoud Rajavi from France, and commanded by Mousa Khiabani in the country.

The death of Mousa Khiabani

In the early hours of February 8, 1982, the task force of the Prosecutor’s Office and the Islamic Revolutionary Committee of the Center together, accompanied by forces from the IRGC intelligence unit after months of complicated and difficult intelligence work, besieged the main centrality of the MKO in Tehran’s Zafaraniyah neighborhood. This house was the residency of the organization’s top leadership inside the country, Mousa Khiabani, with almost 20 of the main cadres of the MKO. Besides Mousa, Ashraf Rabi’ei (Massoud’s first wife), Azar Rezaie (Mousa’s wife) and other important MKO agents including Shahrokh Shamim, Soraya Sanmari, Abbas Ali Jabarzadeh, Mohammad Moini, Kazem Mortazavi and …were present as well. After a few hours of heavy fighting and incessant exchange of fire, all the residents of this house except one child were killed. The only casualties of the Revolutionary Guards in this heavy operation took place for the sake of saving this child, and the honorable martyr Seyyed Abolqasim Dehnavi was martyred by MKO just days after his wedding ceremony while rescuing this child. Mousa Khiabani was shot dead by a bullet to his neck when he was trying to escape via a 504 anti-bullet Peugeot donated by Bani Sadr to headquarter.

Paving the Way for Massoud Rajavi's Undisputed Leadership

Unofficial documents reveal the being exposed of the team home where Mousa was stationed. Massoud, on the other hand, had a background of working with SAVAK and provided SAVAK with a great deal of confidential information before the Revolution. Existence of Mousa Khiabani as a person with much work experience in the organization and background of communicating with the organization early centrality could endanger Massoud’s status as a serious alternative for the organization. Ali Akbar Rastgou writes:

“After the killing of Mousa Khiabani’s In February 1982… Massoud Rajavi’s leadership over the organization became uncontested. From this date on, Massoud Rajavi got to work quickly, and within three years reduced organization from a political / religious establishment to a quasi-religious / mafia sect. Massoud Rajavi sat in the position of God and all members of the organization were obliged to officially and publicly declare their loyalty and strain towards this new God.”

Other sources

  • The book “The MKO Organization: From Advent to the End”. Institute for Political Studies and Research. The three-volume course
  • Terror descent. Mohammad Sadegh Koushki. Islamic Revolution Documentation Center
  • Engineering operations. Mohammad Mahboobi and Mohammad Hassan Rozi Talab. Islamic Revolution Documentation Center
  • ensani.ir
  • iran-archive.com

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