Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Maryam Hosseini


Age: 49
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Shi'a)
Civil Status: Unknown


Date of Killing: September 1, 2013
Location of Killing: Ashraf Camp, Al Khalis, Iraq
Mode of Killing: Extrajudicial shooting

About this Case

Information regarding the extrajudicial killing of Ms. Maryam Hosseini was published on the website of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran (March 27, September 14, September 18, and 23, 2013, and September 7, 2017); Beh Guneh website (September 3, 2013); National Council of Resistance Women’s Commission (September 1, 2017); Women [are] a Force for Change (September 1, 2017), quoting the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ General Office of Public Relations in Mehr News Agency (September 1, and 5, 2013); and Radio Farda (September 21, 2013). Additional information about this case was obtained from the Washington Times English language News Agency (September 1, 2013); Khabar Network (September 4, 2013); Fars News Agency (September 7, 2013); Defa Moqaddass (“Sacred Defense”) News Agency (July 28, 2014); Jamaran website (October 5, 2021); Human Rights Watch (July 31, 2009, and April 15, 2011); Foreign Policy magazine (December 17, 2013); and Council to Human Rights Association for Migrants – Rights for Migrants (Perseus) report (October 30, 2013).

According to available information, Ms. Hosseini was 49 years old.  She was born in Tehran, and she had a high school diploma.  According to her comrades, “She became familiar with political ideas in her childhood.  She was very smart, and she was an honor student in Tehran schools.  She was kind and compassionate and she always tried to help people in need.”  They add, “One of Maryam’s outstanding qualities was that she accepted every responsibility whole heartedly and she carried it through.  This is how she was able to accept different responsibilities with high spirits and a can-do attitude.  She was able to accomplish her goals with the least amount of materials, around the clock effort, in record time, and to the best of her ability.”

Ms. Hosseini joined the Mojahedin Khalq Organization through her brother, in 1979, when she was 15.  Her activities in this organization included selling journals and books.  On June 13, 1981, she was arrested during a peaceful street demonstration.  She suffered 4 years in Qezel Hesar and Evin Prisons, and she was released in 1985.  She left Iran in 1988 and joined the Mojahedin in Ashraf Base in Iraq.


In 1986, the Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran’s leadership, members, and supporters went to Iraq after they were expelled from France, and settled in the Ashraf Base. The Ashraf Base was located in the north of Diala Province, 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Baghdad. In 1987, the Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran established the national liberation army at this base, and the Organization’s members were trained there. The Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran had several bases in Iraq in the years the Organization remained in that country, and from there, they were able to attack Iran four times in operations called Aftab (March 28, 1988), Chelcheragh (June 18, 1988), Forugh-e Javidan (July 25, 1988), and Morvarid (March 9, 1991).

In the three decades the Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran was in Iraq, the Ashraf Base was repeatedly the subject of missile, air, and ground attacks by the Iranian regime, which resulted in the killing and wounding of Mojahedin Khalq members.

The base was also bombed several times during the United States war with Iraq in 2003, inflicting casualties as well as property and financial damage. After the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) attack on Iraq, and the disarming of the Mojahedin members, the residents of the Ashraf Base came under the protection of U.S. forces.  A number of intelligence services, including the FBI, went to the Ashraf Base on behalf of the United States government and conducted one on one interviews with every single member of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran. All of the Mojahedin Khalq members’ backgrounds and records of activities were investigated in the course of these interviews. Once the investigations were over, it became clear that Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran members had not violated any laws, and had also remained impartial during the war. Therefore, in 2004, the multinational forces led by the United States, recognized all of ashraf’s residents as protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

With the gradual withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Iraqi cities in the summer of 2009, the United States relinquished protection of Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran members to Iraq. The settlement of Iraqi armed forces around the base was accompanied by clashes and bloodshed.

After Iraqi authorities announced several times their intention to take Ashraf Base and evict its residents, Iraqi forces attacked the base on July 28, and 29, 2009, using bulldozers, tear gas, water cannons, and clubs. According to available information, Mojahedin Khalq members formed a human chain in front of the attackers and tried to prevent them from entering the base. In the course of this attack, which resulted in the installation of a police post inside the base, at least seven Mojahedin members were killed, and a large number were wounded and arrested. (Amnesty International, September 2, 2013, and Human Rights Watch, July 31, 2009).

On April 8, 2011, Iraqi forces attacked the Ashraf Base one more time, for unknown reasons. According to the United Nations Human Rights Commission spokesperson, 28 members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran forces were shot and killed, 6 disappeared, and dozens more were wounded. The Iraqi Prime Minister’s Office spokesman attributed the killing of Mojahedin forces on April 8, to the Mojahedin guards. (Human Rights Watch, April 15, 2011). According to available information, although Amnesty International had asked Iraqi authorities to conduct through and impartial investigations of the attacks against the Ashraf Base, that did not happen, and no one was arrested or punished in connection with said attacks. On April 11, 2011, the Iraqi government’s then-spokesman announced the Iraqi Cabinet Ministers Council’s decision for the Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran to leave the Iraqi territory by December 31, 2011.

Ultimately, a trilateral agreement was reached with the United Nations and the government of Iraq whereby Ashraf Base residents were transferred to Camp Liberty near Baghdad between January and August, 2012.  In accordance with said trilateral agreement, 100 Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran members (101, based on several reports) were allowed to remain on the base in order to resolve issues related to the base residents’ property.

Ms. Maryam Hosseini’s Death

According to available information, in the morning of September 1, 2013, Ms. Maryam Hosseini and 51 of her brothers and sisters in arm and one other person****, were shot and killed by armed commandoes in a flurry of bullets while some of them were blindfolded and handcuffed from behind. The attack took place when many of the base residents were either asleep or on their way to the cafeteria.

According to available information, on September 1, 2013, the Mojahedin members remaining at Ashraf Base were attacked by between 100 to 120 individuals whose faces were covered and were armed with special weapons, and had been trained for that operation. They were divided into teams, each containing several people wearing uniforms that consisted of a green shirt, vest, black pants, white hat, and a black mask, and were carrying AK 47’s equipped with silencers; they attacked the base from several positions. These people were wearing the Iraqi government’s Golden Army Special Forces uniform. (Perseus).

The attack on the base took place at a time when the Ashraf Base was under 24-hour surveillance by more than a thousand Iraqi Army and Police officers. The attackers were on the base for two hours, during which they killed 52 Mojahedin Khalq members. They went from room to room, killing anyone they saw. They even shot and killed patients and wounded members lying down on beds at the base hospital. Most of the dead had been shot at close range in the head or neck. Furthermore, millions of dollars of the residents’ assets were destroyed through more than 200 explosions in the course of the attack, and 7 Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran members were either missing or kidnapped. 42 members were able to save themselves by running away and hiding. (Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran and Perseus).

According to available information, the attackers were made up of Iranian commandoes from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, as well as members of two groups in Iraq affiliated with Iran, namely, Kata’eb-e Hezbollah and Asa’eb-e  Ahl-e Haq, who had planned and carried out the attack on the Ashraf Base. An American official said this about Iraqi soldiers: “Iraqi soldiers did not prevent what happened at Ashraf, although they themselves had not fired [their weapons].” (Foreign Policy).

Iranian Officials’ Reaction

According to statements made by General Salami, then- Deputy Commander of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting’s Channel 2, “one of the events that occurred in the past week, and will have a considerable strategic importance in the developments in the region, was the attack carried out by Iraqi youth to the Ashraf Base and the killing of a large number of the Monafeqin’s (derogatory term used by the Islamic Republic to refer to the Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran, meaning “hypocrites”) main personnel and members of the leadership council”. He continued: “It was the youth and the [family and relatives of the] martyrs of the Monafeqin’s terrorist acts and mass killings that carried out this great endeavor in which 52 of Monafeqin’s principal and most effective personnel were killed. That means that 50 percent of Monafeqin’s principal leadership personnel has been destroyed, which is not going to be bearable by this insignificant group.” He labelled this operation as “self-starting” and attributed it to the “Sha’banieh Movement” (similar to Iran’s Bassij). Salami continued: “All those killed at ashraf had played the main role in all the crimes perpetrated in Iran and Iraq in the last 35 years. These were the people who spied on our nuclear [activities] and presented the world with a portion of our real information, and mixed it with imaginary and made up information so that the world could adopt a negative stance against us. These were the same people who played a role in the assassination of our nuclear scientists and were transferring our scientists’ knowledge and information to Israel.” (Fars News Agency, September 7, 2013).

On September 1, 2013, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps issued a communique in which it expressed happiness about the death of Mojahedin forces in Ashraf Base, stating: “This operation, which resulted in the death of close to 70 of the Monafeqin’s corrupt personnel, including seven people on their leadership council and in charge of Monafeqin Organization’s intelligence and operations with over 30 years of experience in committing crimes, will certainly bring solace to the Islamic Ummah (“Moslem people”) and the great and honorable martyrs’ families, especially the dear families of the victims of assassination and terrorism.” The communique continued: “The Revolutionary Guards considers this Divine Retribution to be among the Great Almighty God’s promises that was fulfilled on the anniversary of the martyrdom of this Ummah’s competent people, the martyrs Rajai and Bahonar.” (Mehr News Agency, September 1, 2013)

In a speech given at the Assembly of Experts on September 3, 2103, General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the [Revolutionary Guards’] Quds Force, stated this regarding the attack on the Ashraf Base: “More than 50 of them were killed, many of whom were the leaders of the Monafeqin, and 10 went missing. This operation was more important than the Mersad attack, and what happened, in fact, was that God’s promise was fulfilled.” (Khabar News Network).

General Naqadi, the head of the Bassij Mostaz’afin Organization stated this regarding the attack: “The attack by Iraqi Mojahedin against the Ashraf Base was more important than the Mersad Operation , since a great number of Monafeqin’s corrupt and filthy leaders were killed in a single day.” (Mehr News Agency, September 5, 2013).

In an interview regarding the Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran and the transfer of its members from the Ashraf Base to Camp Liberty, Mohsen Rafighdoost, the first Revolutionary Guards Corps minister in the Islamic Republic, stated: “As far as I know, our regime’s stance regarding this Organization has not changed ever since we learned of its nature and of the nature of the organization resembling it, that is, the Fadaiyan Khalq Guerrillas. Our intelligence system has thorough knowledge and command of their nature and activities. We had complete informational knowledge and command of the events that took place at ashraf [base] and [Camp] Liberty.” (Jamaran).

Iraqi Officials’ Reaction

According to available information, Ali al-Mussawi, then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maleki’s spokesman, confirmed the killing of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran members residing at Ashraf Base, but considered their killing the result of internal conflict between the base residents and denied any intervention by Iraqi forces. (Washington Post). They considered the explosion of oil and gas barrels at the base to have been the cause of the explosions.

In an announcement issued on September 20, 2013, Nuri al-Maleki claimed that Iraqi forces had protected the Ashraf Base and that the Iraqi government did not have the seven Mojahedin Khalq members who had disappeared and accused the Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran of lying. (Radio Farda).

Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran’s Reaction

The Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran believes that this armed attack was planned by the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, and the killing of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran members at the Ashraf Base was carried out with the full knowledge, coordination, and cooperation of the Iraqi government (al-Maleki) forces, who were in charge of protecting the base, because the Ashraf Base was being protected by a fence, stop and search locations, and more than 1,200 Iraqi soldiers. Additionally, according to the survivors of the attack, the masked armed men were speaking in Arabic. The Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran further stated: “This attack was carried out by al-Maleki’s elite forces known as the Golden Army, also known as the Dirty Army. They began to simultaneously shoot, destroy, and kidnap [the residents] at 5:15 in the morning of September 1. The criminals were also carrying plastic explosives and all kinds of hand grenades for the purpose of destroying cars, containers, water tankers, etc.” (The Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran, September 7, 2017).

The Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran believes: “Therefore, given the statements made by Iraqi security officials, [Iran’s] Revolutionary Guards Corps, and the Mullahs’ Minister of Information following this bloody killing, there remains no doubt about Iraq’s highest ranking officials’ role and their coordination with the Quds terrorist force. In preparation for this criminal attack, the Iraqi government had cut off water and electricity to ashraf. Their intention was to force the 100 Mojaheds residing in ashraf to gather in a small space in order to save water and electricity, and thereby facilitate the [implementation of the] murder plan.” They also believe that Qassem Soleimani, then-commander of the Quds Force’s trip to Iraq and his meeting with Nuri al-Maleki five days before the attack on the Ashraf Base, was proof of coordination [among their respective forces to carry out] this attack. (The Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran, September 7, 2017).

The Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran also wrote: “The 52 defenseless Mojahed who were handcuffed and killed in a mass execution at dawn on September 1, 2013, along with the 7 Mojaheds who were taken hostage, were among the 100 Mojaheds who were protected persons in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention, and had remained at Ashraf based on a quadrilateral agreement between the government of the United States, the Iraqi government, the United Nations, and ashraf’s Mojaheds entered into on August 17, 2012, for the purpose of safeguarding the property of ashraf’s residents, without any time limitation. Iraq had taken on the responsibility for their protection based on this quadrilateral agreement.”  (The Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran).

Family’s Reaction

There is no information available on Ms. Hosseini’s family’s reaction.

Impact on the Family

There is no information regarding the impact of Ms. Maryam Hosseini’s death on her family.


*The Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) was founded in 1965. This organization adapted the principles of Islam as its ideological guideline. However, its members’ interpretation of Islam was revolutionary and they believed in armed struggle against the Shah’s regime. They valued Marxism as a progressive method for economic and social analysis but considered Islam as their source of inspiration, culture, and ideology. In the 1970s, the MKO was weakened when many of its members were imprisoned and executed. In 1975, following a deep ideological crisis, the organization refuted Islam as its ideology and, after a few of its members were killed and other Muslim members purged, the organization proclaimed Marxism as its ideology. This move led to split of the Marxist-Leninist Section of the MKO in 1977. In January of 1979, the imprisoned Muslim leaders of the MKO were released along with other political prisoners. They began to re-organize the MKO and recruit new members based on Islamic ideology. After the 1979 Revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Republic, the MKO accepted the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini and supported the Revolution. Active participation in the political scene and infiltration of governmental institutions were foremost on the organization’s agenda.  During the first two years after the Revolution, the MKO succeeded in recruiting numerous sympathizers, especially in high schools and universities; but its efforts to gain political power, either by appointment or election, were strongly opposed by the Islamic Republic leaders.
The exclusion of MKO members from government offices and the closure of their centers and publishing houses, in conjunction with to the Islamic Republic authorities’ different interpretation of Islam, widened the gap between the two. Authorities of the new regime referred to the Mojahedin as “Hypocrites” and the Hezbollahi supporters of the regime attacked the Mojahedin sympathizers regularly during demonstrations and while distributing publications, leading to the death of several MKO supporters. On June 20, 1981, the MKO called for a demonstration protesting their treatment by governmental officials and the government officials’  efforts to impeach their ally, President Abolhassan Banisadr. Despite the fact that the authorities called this demonstration illegal, thousands came to the streets, some of whom confronted the Revolutionary Guardsmen and Hezbollahis. The number of casualties that resulted from this demonstration is unknown but a large number of demonstrators were arrested and executed in the following days and weeks. The day after the demonstration, the Islamic Republic regime started a repressive campaign – unprecedented in modern Iranian history. Thousands of MKO members and sympathizers were arrested or executed. On June 21, 1981, the MKO announced an armed struggle against the Islamic Republic and assassinated a number of high-ranking officials and supporters of the Islamic regime.
In the summer of 1981, the leader of the MKO and the impeached President (Banisadr) fled Iran to reside in France, where they founded the National Council of Resistance. After the MKO leaders and many of its members were expelled from France, they went to Iraq and founded the National Liberation Army of Iran in 1987, which entered Iranian territory a few times during the Iran-Iraq war. They were defeated in July 1988 during their last operation, the Forugh Javidan Operation. A few days after this operation, thousands of imprisoned Mojahedin supporters were killed during the mass executions of political prisoners in 1988. Ever since the summer of 1981, the MKO has continued its activities outside of Iran. No information is available regarding members and activities of the MKO inside the country.
In spite of the “armed struggle” announcement by the MKO on June 20, 1981, many sympathizers of the organization had no military training, were not armed, and did not participate in armed conflict.
**Camp Liberty is a military base belonging to the Unites States Armed Forces, located near Baghdad Airport. In 2012, a small portion of the Camp was put at the disposal of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran, and the Mojahedin’s members were transferred there from Ashraf Base. They faced numerous problems in this Camp, and the Iraqi government’s pressure did not subside [after the move]. This Camp was the target of several rocket attacks in which dozens of Mojahedin members were killed and wounded.
***The Ashraf Base in Iraq is made up of a series of streets and buildings and contains all types of educational, social, and sports facilities, consisting of four Olympic size swimming pools, a shopping center, a zoo, a park, a university, a standard size soccer field, a “terrorism” museum containing the details of the Iranian regime’s attacks against the Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran and its personnel, a “Martyrs’ Museum”, a mosque, and even a cemetery. Because of its size, and in order to be able to function effectively, the Ashraf Base also provides services such as stores, bakery, gas station, and even traffic police.
****On the day 52 members of the Mojahedin Khalq were killed, the body of Mr. Massud Dalili Dakhel was also found at the Ashraf Base.

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