Former White House director of public liaison Linda Chavez says, “As I have for the past few years, I will be emceeing an event that brings together tens of thousands of opponents of the Iranian regime…”
But does Ms. Chavez know that the “convener of the Paris conference” she will emcee is a purported “cult” leader once officially recognized by the US as a terrorist?
The event convener is Maryam Rajavi, wife of notorious “cult” leader Massoud Rajavi (rumored to be dead). The couple is known for their authoritarian control of the so-called “People’s Mujahedeen” (MEK), which was once listed by the United States State Department as a “terrorist organization.” That is, until 2012 when it was decided that the MEK be dropped from the list.
However, Mila Johns of the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism told Wired, “The delisting of the MEK, following a well-funded political lobby campaign, creates the dangerous impression that it is possible for terrorist organizations to buy their way off the [terrorism] list.”
In a 2004 New York Times Magazine reported about the “cult-like behavior” of the MEK. Journalist Elizabeth Rubin wrote, “Every morning and night, the [MEK] kids, beginning as young as 1 and 2, had to stand before a poster of Massoud and Maryam, salute them and shout praises to them,” One former member told Rubin that the group was little more than a “husband-and-wife cult” that subjected its adherents to enforced celibacy and public confessions of sexual desires. Rubin reported that not unlike some of the most extreme cults MEK members were often extremely isolated within a compound where there was little if any access to “newspapers or radio or television” and that all devotees knew was whatever Mr. and Mrs.Rajavi “fed them.”
In a recent interview a former Rajavi follower Masoud Banisadr said that “In MEK, we were not even allowed to think of our children and their well-being.” He further explained, “You have to teach your children: instead of loving you, love the leader.” Banisadr is the author of the book Destructive and Terrorist Cults: A New Kind of Slavery.
Why would Linda Chavez want to align herself with such a notorious group? Is it possible she is clueless and doesn’t know the group’s history and how the MEK has hurt and/or horribly exploited people?
Or is Ms. Chavez simply picking up a paycheck?
Four years ago the BBC reported that “the going rate for a pro-MEK speech seems to be $20,000 (£12,500).”
How much might the purported “cult” be willing to pay for a prominent emcee to imbue its event with a patina of authority?
Is Linda Chavez cashing in on her past status as the highest-ranking woman in President Ronald Reagan’s White House? Or is she trying to look important after the embarrassment of not being confirmed as President George W. Bush pick for Secretary of Labor?
Why would someone like Ms. Chavez want to help a “husband-and-wife cult” once listed as a terrorist organization?