One of the former members of the World of Yaad cult who was terrorized by that organization's leader and 2 of his disciples tells of the violent attack they perpetrated on him and his colleague at the Blue Fire restaurant in Rickmansworth (UK) in late 2008. The details are horrifying indeed.
The article can be found below, and you can also click here for the Uxbridge Gazette's site.
25 NOVEMBER 2009, Uxbridge Gazette
"I Am Your God. You must die...":
Terror of Cult's Victim
A MAN who was attacked for leaving a cult after being a member for 20 years has spoken of his ordeal for the first time.
The Rickmansworth restaurant owner, who is afraid of retribution and does not wish to be named, says he fears for his life after learning that one of his attackers could be released from prison this week.
Mehdi Zand, leader of the World of Yaad, a cult which claims to hold the secret to everlasting life, was jailed along with members Francesco Zand and Mohammed 'Javad' Kashefi for a total of 11 years, after attacking the restaurant owner and his business partner.
The victim told the Gazette how the men smashed their way into his restaurant, formerly known as Blue Fire, in Uxbridge Road, before pushing him to the floor, biting his face and calling him a traitor.
He said: "Mehdi Zand said to me, 'you have betrayed your god of 20 years', then he ordered the others to kill me. The whole experience has been deeply traumatic and I am seriously considering leaving the country to escape."
Six weeks after his attackers were sentenced, police told the victim that Mehdi Zand and Kashefi, both 48 and from Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, could be released early and placed on a curfew.
He wrote an impassioned plea to home secretary Alan Johnson, begging him to ensure they serve their full sentence.
A hearing last week ruled that Zand would not be freed early, however Kashefi could be released this week.
The 37-year-old victim is now on anti-depressants as he struggles to come to terms with the aftermath of the attack. He said: "Mehdi Zand was my martial arts master from my teens.
"I was a dedicated student but he became increasingly religious and I left after discovering abuses of his power over his religious devotees.
"He claimed partial ownership of my restaurant and used his influence over two of his hard line devotees to exact violent revenge on me. He had also been secretly brainwashing female followers and systematically sleeping with them.
"He was very charismatic and also took advantage of members financially. Some even re-mortgaged their homes to give him up to £100,000 each. He is a real crook, extremely devious and dangerous, but he paints himself as pious and holy.
"Most of the members have now chose to leave. We were naïve, easily influenced and impressionable, but we soon learned the truth."
Several former members have also contacted Inform, a charity which provides information about alternative religious movements, with their concerns about the World of Yaad and Zand's behaviour.
Have you experienced any problems with a religious cult? Email reporter Siba Matti at firstname.lastname@example.org