Massoud Rajavi

Massoud Rajavi (Persian: مسعود رجوی, born 18 August 1948 – disappeared 13 March 2003)[2] became the leader of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) in 1979. In 1985, he married Maryam Rajavi, who became the co-leader of the MEK.[3] After leaving Iran in 1981, he resided in France and Iraq.[4] He disappeared during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and it is not known whether he is still alive.[4][5][6] This has left Maryam Rajavi as the public face of the MEK.[3]

Massoud Rajavi
Masoud Rajavi 1970's.jpg
Rajavi in 1981
Born(1948-08-18)18 August 1948
Disappearedc. 13 March 2003(2003-03-13) (aged 54)
Ba'athist Iraq
OrganizationPeople's Mujahedin of Iran
(m. 1980; died 1982)
Firouzeh Banisadr
(m. 1982; div. 1984)
(m. 1985)
Children1 son
Leader of People's Mujahedin of Iran
Assumed office
January 1979
Serving with Maryam Rajavi (since 1985)
Rajavi, Massoud - Signature 30.05.1986.jpg


Rajavi joined the MEK when he was 20 and a law student at the University of Tehran. He graduated with a degree in political law. Rajavi and the MEK actively opposed the Shah of Iran and participated in the 1979 Iranian Revolution.[7]

During the Pahlavi regime, Rajavi was arrested by SAVAK and sentenced to death. Due to efforts by his brother, Kazem Rajavi, and various Swiss lawyers and professors, his sentence was reduced to life imprisonment. He was released from prison during the Iranian Revolution in 1979.[8] After the revolution, Rajavi assumed leadership of the People's Mujahedin of Iran.[9]

When Iran's first presidential election took place in 1980, Rajavi nominated himself and his own People's Mujahedin of Iran. He was endorsed by the People's Fedai, the National Democratic Front, the Democratic Party of Kurdistan, Komala and the League of Iranian Socialists. He was disqualified in the elections by Ayatollah Khomeini on the grounds that 'those who did not endorse the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran could not be trusted to abide by that constitution'.[10]

In 1981, when Ayatollah Khomeini dismissed President Abolhassan Banisadr and a new wave of arrests and executions started in the country, Rajavi and Banisadr fled to Paris from Tehran's airbase. Massoud Rajavi and Banisadr formed the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) "with the intent to replace the Khomeini regime with the 'Democratic Islamic Republic.'”[11] As a form of agreement with the Islamic republic, in 1986 France's Prime Minister Jacques Chirac evicted the MEK out of France. Rajavi and approximately five to ten thousand MEK members were received by the Iraqi government.[12] Rajavi moved to Iraq and set up a base on the Iranian border.[13]

Electoral historyEdit

Year Election Votes % Rank Notes
1979 Tehran elections for the Assembly of Experts (10 seats) 297,707 11.78 12th Lost[14]
1980 President Withdrew
Tehran elections for the Parliament 531,943 24.9 38th Went to run-off[14]
Parliament run-off   375,762   23 21st Lost[14]


Shortly after the Iraq War, Massoud Rajavi disappeared. His whereabouts remained unknown.[2][15][16] In his absence, Maryam Rajavi has assumed his responsibilities as leader of the MEK. According to members of the NCRI, Massoud Rajavi is still alive and in hiding due to being a "prime target" of the Islamic regime,[17][18][19] while other sources have said that he is presumed to be dead.[20][21]

Iraqi 2010 arrest warrantEdit

In July 2010, the Iraqi High Tribunal issued an arrest warrant for 39 MEK members, including Rajavi, "due to evidence that confirms they committed crimes against humanity" by "involvement with the former Iraqi security forces in suppressing the 1991 uprising against the former Iraqi regime and the killing of Iraqi citizens". The MEK have denied the charges, saying that they constitute a "politically motivated decision and it's the last gift presented from the government of Nuri al-Maliki to the Iranian government".[22] Back in 2005, a Patriotic Union of Kurdistan official asked for arrest and trial of Rajavi based on his organization's documentary evidence of the involvement.[23]

Personal lifeEdit

Rajavi came from a prominent family. He received a degree in political law from Tehran University. His brother was Kazem Rajavi, Iran's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva who held doctoral degrees from Universities in Paris and Geneva. They had three other brothers, Saleh (a cardiologist in France), Ahmad (a British-educated surgeon), and Hooshang (an engineer in Belgium).[24]

Rajavi married fellow MEK member Ashraf Rabiei in summer 1980. Rabiei was regarded as "the symbol of revolutionary womanhood". She was surrounded and killed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.[25][26] His second wife was Abolhassan Banisadr's daughter, Firouzeh. Their marriage took place in October 1982 and the couple divorced in 1984,[27] after Banisadr left the NCRI.[28] Rajavi married Maryam Qajar Azodanlu (later known as Maryam Rajavi) in 1985.[29] Rajavi has a son from his first wife, named Mostafa.[30]


  1. ^ Stephen Sloan; Sean K. Anderson (2009). Historical Dictionary of Terrorism. Historical Dictionaries of War, Revolution, and Civil Unrest (3rd ed.). Scarecrow Press. p. 454. ISBN 978-0810863118.
  2. ^ a b Jonathan Border (27 August 2019). "Iran's Opposition Groups are Preparing for the Regime's Collapse. Is Anyone Ready?". Newsweek.
  3. ^ a b Steven O'Hern (2012). Iran's Revolutionary Guard: The Threat That Grows While America Sleeps. Potomac Books, Inc. p. 208. ISBN 978-1597977012.
  4. ^ a b Peter Chalk (2012). "Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK)". Encyclopedia of Terrorism. ABC-CLIO. p. 509. ISBN 9780313308956.
  5. ^ Lovelace Jr., Douglas; Boon, Kristen; Huq, Aziz (2012). Assessing President Obama's National Security Strategy. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-975824-1.
  6. ^ Sean K. Anderson (Author), Stephen Sloan (Author) (2009). Historical Dictionary of Terrorism (Volume 38). Scarecrow Press. p. 454. ISBN 978-0810857643. {{cite book}}: |author1= has generic name (help)
  7. ^ Hersh, Seymour M. (5 April 2012). "Our Men in Iran?". The New Yorker. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  8. ^ See Abrahamian, supranote 291
  9. ^ Abrahamian, page 90.
  10. ^ Ervand Abrahamian (1989), Radical Islam: the Iranian Mojahedin, Society and culture in the modern Middle East, vol. 3, I.B.Tauris, p. 198, ISBN 9781850430773
  11. ^ Steven O'Hern (2012). Iran's Revolutionary Guard: The Threat That Grows While America Sleeps. Potomac Books, Inc. p. 206. ISBN 978-1-59797-701-2.
  12. ^ Peter J. Chelkowski, Robert J. Pranger (1988). Ideology and Power in the Middle East: Studies in Honor of George Lenczowski. Duke University Press. pp. 255–256. ISBN 978-0-8223-8150-1.
  13. ^ Smith, Craig S. (24 September 2005). "An implacable opponent to the mullahs of Iran". The New York Times.
  14. ^ a b c Ervand Abrahamian (1989), Radical Islam: the Iranian Mojahedin, Society and culture in the modern Middle East, vol. 3, I.B.Tauris, p. 195, Table 6; pp. 203–205, Table 8, ISBN 9781850430773
  15. ^ Ahmed Rasheed (28 December 2009). "FACTBOX: Who are the People's Mujahideen of Iran?". Reuters.
  16. ^ Chalk, Peter (2012). Encyclopedia of Terrorism. ABC-CLIO. p. 509. ISBN 978-0313308956.
  17. ^ "The People's Mujahidin: The Iranian dissidents seeking regime change in Tehran". The Times.
  18. ^ "Iran Rebels See Hardliner Ebrahim Raisi as Chance to Bring Down Regime". Newsweek.
  19. ^ "With deadline looming to close MEK's Camp Ashraf in Iraq, what next?". The Christian Science Monitor.
  20. ^ Jonathan K. Zartman, ed. (2020). Conflict in the Modern Middle East: An Encyclopedia of Civil War, Revolutions, and Regime Change. ABC-CLIO. p. 209. ISBN 978-1440865022. Massoud disappeared in 2003, believed dead.
  21. ^ "Iranian Diplomat Accused of Plotting to Bomb Dissidents Goes on Trial in Belgium". new York Times. 27 November 2020.
  22. ^ Muhanad Mohammed (11 July 2010). Rania El Gamal; David Stamp (eds.). "Iraqi court seeks arrest of Iranian exiles". Reuters. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
  23. ^ Bill Samii (26 October 2005), Iran Report, vol. 8, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, retrieved 28 December 2016, Mohammad Tofiq Rahim, an official with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, said in an interview with Radio Farda that his organization has documentary evidence of Rajavi's role. He said that when the Kurds seized control of northern parts of Iraq with U.S. assistance at the end of the Gulf War in 1991, the MEK cooperated with the Iraqi Army in retaking control of the city of Kirkuk. In the process, he charged, hundreds of the city's residents were killed by the MEK. "Everyone in Iraqi Kurdistan knows that Masud Rajavi cooperated with the Mukhaberat [intelligence] and security forces of Saddam Hussein not only in the suppression of the Kurds, but all the opponents of the regime of Saddam," Rahim added.
  24. ^ Lincoln Bloomfield Jr. (2019). The Ayatollahs and the MEK Iran's Crumbling Influence Operation (PDF). University of Baltimore. ISBN 978-0578536095.
  25. ^ Ervand Abrahamian (1989), Radical Islam: the Iranian Mojahedin, Society and culture in the modern Middle East, vol. 3, I.B.Tauris, p. 181 - 222, ISBN 9781850430773
  26. ^ "Opinion | Who Is Responsible for the MKO Massacre at Camp Ashraf?". FRONTLINE - Tehran Bureau.
  27. ^ Ervand Abrahamian (1989), Radical Islam: the Iranian Mojahedin, Society and culture in the modern Middle East, vol. 3, I.B.Tauris, p. 247, ISBN 9781850430773
  28. ^ Steven O'Hern (2012). Iran's Revolutionary Guard: The Threat That Grows While America Sleeps. Potomac Books, Inc. p. 206. ISBN 978-1597977012.
  29. ^ Connie Bruck (2006). "Exiles: How Iran's expatriates are gaming the nuclear threat". The New Yorker. Vol. 82, no. 1–11. F-R Publishing Corporation. pp. 54–55.
  30. ^ Cohen, Ronen (2009), The Rise and Fall of the Mojahedin Khalq, 1987-1997: Their Survival After the Islamic Revolution and Resistance to the Islamic Republic of Iran, Sussex Academic Press, pp. 15, 39, ISBN 978-1-84519-270-9

External linksEdit

Party political offices
Title last held by
Central Cadre
Leader of People's Mujahedin of Iran
January 1979 — Present (?)
Served alongside: Maryam Rajavi (Since 1985)