Massoud Rajavi

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Massoud Rajavi
Masoud Rajavi 1970's.jpg
Rajavi in 1981
Leader of People's Mujahedin of Iran
Assumed office
January 1979
Serving with Maryam Rajavi (Since 1985)
Personal details
Born (1948-08-18) 18 August 1948 (age 70)
Tabas, Iran
Political partyPeople's Mujahedin of Iran
  • Ashraf Rabiei
    (m. 1980; died 1982)
  • Firouzeh Banisadr
    (m. 1982; div. 1984)
  • Maryam Rajavi (m. 1985)
Disappearedc. March 2003 (aged 54–55)[1]

Massoud Rajavi (Persian: مسعود رجوی‎, born August 18, 1948 – disappeared March 13, 2003)[2] is one of the two leaders of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), alongside his wife Maryam Rajavi.[3] After leaving Iran in 1981, he resided in France and Iraq. He disappeared in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and it is not known whether he is still alive.[4]


Iraqi President Saddam Hussein welcomes Massoud Rajavi in Baghdad

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.[5]

During the Pahlavi dynasty, 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.[6] Upon his release, Rajavi assumed leadership of the People's Mujahedin of Iran.[7]

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'.[8]

In 1981, when Ayatollah Khomeini dismissed President Bani Sadr and a new wave of arrests and executions started in the country, Rajavi and Bani Sadr fled to Paris from Tehran's airbase. In 1986 Rajavi moved to Iraq and set up a base on the Iranian border.[9][10] Rajavi was welcomed in Baghdad by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.[2]

Electoral history[edit]

Year Election Votes % Rank Notes
1979 Assembly of Experts 297,707 11.78 12th Lost[11]
1980 President Withdrew
Parliament 531,943 24.9 38th Went to run-off[11]
Parliament run-off Decrease 375,762 Lost[11]

Iraqi 2010 arrest warrant[edit]

In 2010, an Iraqi court ordered the arrest of 39 MEK members, including Massoud Rajavi. The court accused the group of helping Saddam Hussein counter a revolt by Shi’ites and ethnic Kurds. 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”.[12]


Following the American invasion of Iraq, Massoud Rajavi disappeared.[2][13] In his absence, Maryam Rajavi has assumed his responsibilities as leader of the MEK.[9] In 2011 NCRI posted an article which described Rajavi as being "in hiding"[14] but that has not been independently verified. On July 6, 2016, at a large gathering of MEK members in Paris, the former head of Saudi Arabia's intelligence agency, Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, referred to Rajavi as the "late Massoud Rajavi" twice in a speech.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Rajavi married fellow MEK member Ashraf Rabiei in summer 1980. Rabiei was widow of another MEK member killed in 1976, Ali-Akbar Nabavi-Nuri, whom she married in 1975.[16] His second wife was Abolhassan Banisadr's daughter Firouzeh. Their marriage of state took place in October 1982 and the couple divorced in 1984.[17] Rajavi married Maryam Qajar Azodanlu (later known as Maryam Rajavi) in 1985, who was already married to one of his close associates Mehdi Abrishamchi and divorced her husband in order to marry Rajavi.[18]


  1. ^ Stephen Sloan; Sean K. Anderson (2009). Historical Dictionary of Terrorism. Historical Dictionaries of War, Revolution, and Civil Unrest (3 ed.). Scarecrow Press. p. 454. ISBN 0810863111.
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^ Steven O'Hern (2012). Iran's Revolutionary Guard: The Threat That Grows While America Sleeps. Potomac Books, Inc. p. 208. ISBN 1597977012.
  4. ^ Peter Chalk (2012). "Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK)". Encyclopedia of Terrorism. ABC-CLIO. p. 509. ISBN 9780313308956.
  5. ^ Hersh, Seymour M. "Our Men In Iran?". The New Yorker. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  6. ^ See Abrahamian, supranote 291
  7. ^ SeeAbrahamian, supranote 363 at 146¬147, 183.
  8. ^ Ervand Abrahamian (1989), Radical Islam: the Iranian Mojahedin, Society and culture in the modern Middle East, 3, I.B.Tauris, p. 198, ISBN 9781850430773
  9. ^ a b Council on Foreign Relations, "Backgrounder: Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (Iranian Rebels)." Archived 27 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Smith, Craig S. (24 September 2005). "An implacable opponent to the mullahs of Iran". The New York Times.
  11. ^ a b c Ervand Abrahamian (1989), Radical Islam: the Iranian Mojahedin, Society and culture in the modern Middle East, 3, I.B.Tauris, p. 195, Table 6; pp. 203–205, Table 8, ISBN 9781850430773
  12. ^ Ahmed Rasheed (12 March 2007). "Iraq tribunal sets sights on Iran opposition group". Reuters. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Matt Cresswell, Camp Ashraf protest moves to Paris, 24 June 2011, source unclear; article posted on NCRI website, 2 July 2011
  15. ^ farshid007 (9 July 2016). "The death of Masoud Rajavi. خبر درگذشت مسعود رجوی توسط ترکی بن فیصل" – via YouTube.
  16. ^ Ervand Abrahamian (1989), Radical Islam: the Iranian Mojahedin, Society and culture in the modern Middle East, 3, I.B.Tauris, p. 181, ISBN 9781850430773
  17. ^ Ervand Abrahamian (1989), Radical Islam: the Iranian Mojahedin, Society and culture in the modern Middle East, 3, I.B.Tauris, p. 247, ISBN 9781850430773
  18. ^ Connie Bruck (2006). "Exiles: How Iran's expatriates are gaming the nuclear threat". The New Yorker. F-R Publishing Corporation. 82 (1–11): 54–55.

External links[edit]

Media related to Massoud Rajavi at Wikimedia Commons

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)