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.
“Mehdi Zand said to me, ‘you have betrayed your god of 20 years’, then he ordered the others to kill me.”
“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.”
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.