An Obama-era Pentagon official who was at one level under consideration to be President Joe Biden’s secretary of defense referred to as for “inner regime change” in Iran at an occasion held by a shadowy group designated a overseas terrorist group by the U.S. authorities till 2012. However she claims she didn’t know something concerning the group’s infamous previous when she agreed to seem.
Former Undersecretary of Protection for Coverage Michèle Flournoy, who heads up a consulting agency upon which the Biden administration has drawn heavily to fill prime White Home positions, appeared virtually on Sunday at the “Free Iran World Summit 2021.” The confab was placed on by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the diplomatic wing of the Folks’s Mojahedin of Iran, or Mojahedin-e Khalq. Identified generally by its Farsi acronym, MEK, the dissident group was placed on the U.S. terror record in 1997—solely to be faraway from the record 15 years later with support from disgraced former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
“When she agreed to the engagement, Ms. Flournoy was unaware of the affiliation,” a Flournoy spokesperson advised The Each day Beast. “She wouldn’t have participated had she recognized of it, and she or he refused cost for the engagement as soon as she discovered of it. She has no affiliation with the MEK and can by no means seem at their convention once more.”
Flournoy is the uncommon Democratic A-lister who’s publicly linked themselves to the MEK, which has traditionally loved assist from right-wing neoconservative allies reminiscent of Giuliani, former Trump Nationwide Safety Adviser John Bolton, former GOP Home Speaker Newt Gingrich, retired Gen. Jack Keane, who’s an everyday on Fox Information, and others. On the opposite aspect of the aisle, former Vermont governor, Democratic Nationwide Committee chairman, and also-ran presidential candidate Howard Dean has made paid and unpaid speeches for the MEK.
“[W]hen there’s an inner regime change, and a authorities involves energy that renounces its revolutionary goals and terrorism, the USA would be the first in line to interact it,” Flournoy advised the summit viewers. “Within the meantime, we should proceed to applaud and assist the essential work of diaspora teams like yours that maintain alive the imaginative and prescient of a secular, free, and democratic Iran.”
Matt Duss, overseas coverage adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), tweeted, “I’m tempted to say that that is horrible workers work from Flournoy’s group in letting her do that, these invites can typically be misleading, however at this level no former nat sec official actually has any excuse for not realizing what the MEK is.”
“Social media has been abuzz with phrases of condemnation from journalists and different customers who stated it was each ‘surprising’ and ‘embarrassing’ for Michele Flournoy, former U.S. undersecretary of protection for coverage, to handle the annual summit of the infamous anti-Iran [MEK] terrorist group,” Iranian state media crowed.
The speaker’s record at this 12 months’s summit included a blended bag of names, from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) to Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) to Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).
Whereas the MEK started in 1963 as a revolutionary motion agitating for human rights and democracy in Iran, it has more recently been described as “a secretive, cult-like group that resembles a militant, Islamist model of the Church of Scientology.”
Within the Nineteen Seventies, the MEK “staged terrorist assaults inside Iran and killed a number of U.S. army personnel and civilians engaged on protection initiatives in Tehran,” according to the State Department, and supported the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy within the capital metropolis. Within the early Nineties, State says the MEK “performed assaults on Iranian embassies in 13 totally different nations, demonstrating the group’s capacity to mount large-scale operations abroad.” In June 1998, MEK planted bombs in Tehran that killed three folks.
The group additionally fought in opposition to the U.S. within the early phases of the Iraq Warfare. Based on the U.S. Military’s official history of the battle, “by 2003 the MEK has grow to be an elite aspect within the Iraqi Military and had fought in opposition to Coalition forces in March and April of that 12 months.” MEK forces later surrendered to American particular operations forces and the U.S.-led coalition supplied safety for the group members detained in Camp Ashraf going through assaults by Iranian-backed militias. MEK members had been subsequently evacuated from Iraq to Albania.
Interviews with MEK dissidents conducted by Human Rights Watch in 2005 included testimony from ex-members about “abuses starting from detention and persecution of bizarre members wishing to depart the group, to prolonged solitary confinements, extreme beatings, and torture of dissident members.” A 2009 research by the RAND Company alleged that MEK displayed varied “cult traits,” reminiscent of “intense ideological exploitation and isolation,” “sexual management,” “emotional isolation,” and different such techniques.
In April, Fb exposed a troll farm run by the MEK. Nonetheless, the illicit initiative “achieved little to no viewers visibility,” largely failing to realize important numbers of recent followers, in keeping with Fb.