Book Review

Thunder in the Cloudless Sky

Mina Kamaie
Translated by: Zahra Hosseinian


Thunder in the Cloudless Sky: Oral History of the Security Fight with the MKO During 1978-1988, is a collection of interviews, which were conducted by the author Mohammad Hassan Rozitalab and his colleague Mohammad Mahboubi with the country's senior security officials for two years. This book was published, in 350 pages and trim size, with a price of 20,000 Tomans by Ya-zahra Publications at 2018.

On the back cover of the book it can be read: "Even before the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the political-security confrontation with the MKO was one of the main issues of the revolutionary forces. Soon after, on June 20, 1981, a wave of assassinations by the MKO, also known as the Hypocrites Organization, swept through Iranian cities. On the other hand, there were young people who sacrificed themselves for protecting the country and they restrained this terrible wave..."

The book was compiled in ten chapters of interviews and one chapter of notes with yesterday youth, all of whom were security officials in previous years.

Mohammad Hassan Rozitalab has written in the introduction of the book: "In recognition of the silent and anonymously endeavors of these people only whose nickname was mentioned in the content.

After the introduction, in the first chapter, the interview with deputy of Eclecticism Unit in the IRGC's Intelligence Unit was compiled. He was one of the first members of the Revolutionary Prosecutor's Office and in addition to the MKO, he was also involved in several security cases such as, Forqan, Peikar and the Nojeh coup. He also talked to several detainees from different groups, including Bahman Naderipour (Tehrani), Taghi Shahram, Alireza Sepasi Ashtiani, Ahmad Reza Karimi, Hossein Ahmadi Rouhani, Akbar Goudarzi, etc., and had an ideological debate with them. His lots of experience in dealing with various counter-revolutionary groups has led to a more realistic description and analysis of the security environment of the 1980s and the role of the MKO.

The Deputy’s responses to the questions, in turn, have very important revelations of the sabotage activities of the MKO during 1978 to 1988; and the readers of the book, especially the dear youth, can get acquainted with the nature of the MKO. "The explosion of the 7th of Tir had just taken place," said the IRGC deputy, "when the Mojahedin attacked the IRGC headquarters with an RPG, and these attacks were from outside the country. The tremors were so great that the building shook and the shrapnel hit all around violently, but it was unbelievable how no one was martyred. It was one of the miracles we saw." In the following, the deputy of the IRGC explained about one of the key figures in the MKO who pretended to be insane and wanted to evade interrogation: "I do remember that we brought him to the dining hall. I told him I’m Oriana Fallaci. I want to interview with you and it’s very serious. I started talking nonsense and he talked nonsense too. Then he burst into laugh out of blue, and said, ‘you’re crazier than me!’ I said, 'now that I'm madder than you, sit down and give us the correct information!"

In the second chapter, there is an interview with a person in charge of investigating the eclecticism department of the IRGC intelligence unit, focusing on the military phase of the Mojahedin. The person who, according to the author, knew all analyzes and lines of the MKO in the 1980s due to the nature of his responsibility. In a part of the interview, the head of the Eclecticism department answered to this question that ‘why the MKO accelerated the military phase?’ he said, "From the beginning of the victory of the revolution, the MKO intended armed conflict with the Islamic Republic. For knowing its logical reason, you can look at the book, The Carter's Ruling; and in the MKO, the first person was always in charge of the military unit. Rajavi played a leading role, Khiabani became in charge of the organization and Abrishamchi became the most influential person. In the military sector, they had an intelligence unit whose job was to appoint the infiltrators. From the beginning, they wanted to lead the government themselves."

In the second chapter, the escape of Rajavi and Bani Sadr, Ashraf garrison and the role of infiltrators, the 5th of Mehr uprising, the 19th of Bahman coup by the revolutionary forces, the assassination of innocent people to create terror, Operation Mersad, etc. are also mentioned.

In the following chapters of Thunder in the Cloudless Sky, interviews with officials of various IRGC intelligence departments on various topics, including the story of Bani Sadr, the arrest and killing of many hypocrites in pursuit-evasion operations, the endeavors of Shahid Lajevardi, the killing of Musa Khiabani And taking his body to the Evin prison, the story of "Kashmiri’s" infiltration among the revolutionaries and the unsuccessful assassination to Imam Khomeini by him, and breathtaking controversies in the northern forests were compiled.

In the final chapter, notes of a senior official in the field of fighting against eclecticism who refused to be interviewed, was compiled by Mohammad Hassan Rozitaleb. In a part of the notes, he tells the story of his joining the prosecutor's office: "After Rajaei's martyrdom, since I was very interested in him, and also based on my knowledge of these groups, I decided to confront them directly. I believed that the absence of people who had worked hard for many years to create conditions for non-imperial government and went to prison would give way to others whose nature was at least unknown, and it was not clear that what would happen if their true nature was revealed; and thank God it was revealed."

The notes reveal numerous operations in various fields, from the repentant who were recruited to the organization at a very young age. When they were arrested, their way of thinking was corrected, so they began assisting in the pursuit-evasion operations, infiltration, cover-up, and follow-up. Furthermore, the notes reveal the manner of Shahid Lajevardi, who treated the accused fatherly, provided them with food, water, tea, and other necessities, and worked hard for amnesty of the repentant.

Thunder in the Cloudless Sky is a readable account of the oral history of the intelligence fighting against the Mojahedin Khalq Organization, which provides very detailed information about how the organization operated, as well as the struggles of the IRGC forces in those years.


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