There isn’t another book that so brilliantly and passionately explains the inner workings of an extremist organization. What could be more relevant in these times of terror? Banisadr knows from personal experience and years of research how such groups manipulate and exploit their members. Now is the time to read this book!
Janja Lalich, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology
California State University
Specialist in Extremism, Cults, and Situations of Undue Influence
Author of Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults
Professor Stephen A. Kent:
Masoud Banisadr has produced one of the first major studies to apply Western scholarship on cults, charisma, and brainwashing to a Mid-Eastern group whose fanaticism and callousness bears all the characteristics of a terrorist organization. This anti-Iranian, Marxist-influenced, Para-military, Islamic-coloured sect, the Mojahedin e Khalegh (MeK), consumed his life for seventeen years, until his escape in 1996. Eventually emerging from hiding (out of fear of retaliation as a traitor), Banisadr turned to the social sciences in an attempt to unravel what he had witnessed and experienced in MeK’s high-demand, violent, and closed subculture. The resulting study weaves the history of MeK into an autobiography that now makes sense of the constraints, constrictions, and abuse that the group imposed upon him and thousands of others. His extensive sources help show that the techniques of manipulation and control to which he succumbed are universal among destructive sects. This book is a substantial piece of scholarship and an important contribution to a number of timely topics involving terrorism, cults, and brainwashing.
Stephen A. Kent PhD.
Professor of Sociology and Adjunct Professor of Religious StudiesUniversity of Alberta; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Dr Peter Daley
Dr Masoud Banisadr, a former member of an Iranian political group that devolved into a terrorist organisation/cult of personality, has written one of the most, if not the most, insightful books on cults I've ever read, and I've read more than my fair share.
My Kindle is full of highlighted passages that left me thinking: "He so nailed that aspect".
I haven't read much on Muslim-based cults though, so it was interesting (and a little disturbing) to notice so many similarities between the Muslim-based terrorist group (MEK) he described and the current crop of modern Bible-based Korean cults that I keep tabs on like Shinchonji led by Lee Man-hee, JMS led by jailed serial rapist Jeong Myeong-seok, the Moonies, etc.And it's a timely book too as it was finished soon after the rise of ISIS.
like Mao's China or Hitler's Europe. I have long been aware of the parallels between the apocalyptic fantasies espoused by some of the People of the Book and the pseudo scientific notions of Marxism and Nazism. This book enlightened me as to how both seemingly secular and religious creeds can, under certain conditions, be as ghastly as slavery in its traditional sense.
Masoud Banisadr is well placed to describe this phenomenon. He explains how sane, well adjusted and educated people, from supportive families, with seemingly 'good prospects' in the accepted sense, can surrender their lives to the perverse whims of a vain and capricious dictator. For many years the author was himself ensnared in, and all but extinguished by, MEK, an Iranian group which espoused an ever changing mishmash of notions which derived, if only nominally, from Islam, Marx and Iranian nationalism.
As well as his personal experience, this book also explains, in terms accessible to this 'general reader', the neural mechanisms which enable a leader of a patently corrupt and self serving organisation, to convince its followers that they are contributing to a noble cause by sacrificing everything to it; i.e.being enslaved to and humiliated by it. There are global and historical parallels drawn throughout the book. The methods of cult bosses, whether in charge of a minor fringe sect of a few hunded, or of a vast terrestrial empire, like Mao's China or Hitler's Europe, are shown to be eerily similar.
Masoud your book Destructive and Terrorist Cults: A New Kind of Slavery is an outstanding book. I have been recommending it to everyone I know.
It truly has come at a time when the world needs to recognise the dynamics that inculcate good people through mind manipulation. I am president of 'Cult Information and Family Support' in Australia. The tragedy of knowing how many lives are effected by becoming a slave to authoritarian destructive groups or relationships using the methods you explain and espouse so brilliantly in you book is not recognised sadly by our society. Education and awareness of the influences of mind manipulation is the only way to combat the tragedy of this phenomena and thankfully we can learn from history and the academic work that has been done and personal stories of people who have experienced mind manipulation that enslaves and takes away a persons freedom. Thanks for a great book.
Mrs. Ingrid. Cranfield
This is a most incisive and deeply disturbing insight into a global problem that afflicts every nation on earth, whether in the form of gangs that gather up innocent young people and then suck the lifeblood out of them or the vicious and brutal terror organisations whose aim is world domination. Banisadr's book does not have all the answers but it certainly points in the right direction and, as such, is a must-read for policy-makers and social analysts, as well as for families and individuals who value and desire kindness, harmony and humanity.
When I returned from the ICSA meeting in Montreal in 2012, I recall telling Cindy Foster about how moving Masoud Banisadr's presentation was concerning how his involvement with an Iranian cult had adversely affected his children. I saw the same kind of regret, love, and compassion in both Masoud's transparency that I saw in Cindy's writings about her experience in a rather intolerant Christian Baptist denomination which she then named the "Baptist Taliban." How I long to see a glimmer of the same heart in my own parents, but I feel such joy to see others express what adult children who are raised in high demand groups so desperately hope for and need.
ICSA meetings are always busy, and I saw Masoud for just a moment. I felt confident enough to ask him about what his religious views are now. His response is his story to tell, but I could think only of the Apostle Paul's writing to the church at Corinth, noting that Christians are the sweet fragrance of Christ to those who are being saved. Almost moved to tears (and while looking away so I would tear up), I told Masoud that, at least to me, his fragrance of who he is and his very obvious kindness could not smell sweeter.
I know many people who I could describe this way -- people of depth and honesty who carry a loving presence. Many I know well, and many I have only met in passing as I have with Masoud. I am so
grateful for their presence and their fragrance in my life.
I can't wait to read his new book -- and I hope that there are more to come. Perhaps the next one will talk about what we can all do to work to repair the rifts between generations that cultic groups have made so painful and difficult for both parent and child.