Frances Townsend, Homeland Security Advisor to the U.S. President (2004-2007), addressed at the 2nd Day of The Free Iran World Summit on July 12, 2021.
Hello, and thank you for the invitation to join you again today, this time virtually. I care deeply about supporting brave patriots just as you who continue to fight for a democratic Iran despite the threats that come from the thugs who control around today.
I remain committed to speaking out in support of a free and democratic Iran since leaving the White House. The current regime has no interest in meaningful reform, which would, by necessity, remove them from power. While the world engages with Iran on its nuclear weapons program, the many other malign activities of the regime must not be ignored.
Since the 2015, signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iranian regime took the millions of dollars released to them and stepped up its terror activities within the region and around the world, launching cyberattacks against Saudi Arabia, providing military funds and support to the Houthis in Yemen, and of course, targeting their opponents both inside and outside of Iran.
In 2018, the regime launched a well-planned, well-funded, but thankfully poorly executed attack just outside one of our rallies in Paris, which was led by Mrs. Rajavi. It was attended by a long list of international dignitaries, many of whom you will hear from today. This brazen attempt to intimidate and coerce the opposition has only made us stronger and more resolute.
Shortly after President Biden’s inauguration this year, those responsible were sentenced to heavy prison terms, the regime allowing the main terrorists responsible for the plot to travel to Europe on a diplomatic passport is only one important fact tying the Iranian regime to the attempted bombing of that rally, attended by 1000s. Even the JC even signing the JCP away seems to have had no impact on the regime’s terrorist activities.
The guilty verdict in this case was vehemently opposed by Ron’s leadership, yet Rouhani alluded to terrorist operations such as this one as having the prior approval of the regime. He said, and I quote, “All the complex issues of foreign policy and the field of defense are discussed in the supreme National Security Council, whether we want to carry out a defensive operation, and whether we have to carry out an offensive operation somewhere, or whether we want to undertake an important political task. They will definitely be discussed in the NSSC.”
The conviction of Asadollah Asadi along with his three accomplices will greatly influence the counterterrorism efforts across Europe in the future. Asadi was unable to maintain his diplomatic immunity as a defense strategy, and his cohorts were stripped of their dual Iranian Belgian citizenship. Bahram Ghassemi, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, continues to push the narrative that this was for the ‘stage conspiracy’ to sever relationships between Europe and Iran, and that these four men were victims of a larger political scheme.
There was a continued effort to hold the Islamic Republic of Iran accountable for these acts of terrorism. We should remain hopeful that for future legislation allowing EU states to stoop to sue a state for terrorism and financial compensation for its victims. Iran is still lobbying to reverse the sanctions put in place, and it could be closer than we think. As recently as Friday, the US Treasury removed three Iranian nationals from its list of individuals who are subject to certain US sanctions. An anonymous Treasury spokesman said, “These delistings do not reflect any change in US government sanctions policy towards Iran. They have nothing to do with the ongoing JCPOA negotiations in Vienna.”
The economic consequences of sanctions continue to be a motivating factor pushing the regime back to the negotiating table, and now there is no time to back off what has been an enormously effective sanctions program. The sham election of Ebrahim Raisi is a reminder to the governments in Europe and the United States that making concessions to this regime under any pretext would be counterproductive.
Raisi is a serial human rights violator of basic human rights, who should be put on trial and investigated for his horrendous crimes against humanity and not handpicked by the theocracy to lead Iran. He was a member of the death committee in 1988, which sent thousands of political prisoners, especially from the MEK to their execution. In his first press conference after the sham election, he defended his role in that mass killing, saying that he should be rewarded for it because it was in defense of the Iranian people and national security. Nothing could be further from the truth. He is also responsible for the illegal arrest and torture of thousands of protesters in Iran during the demonstrations of 2019. Raisi stands with his conviction that his actions are in protection of human rights of his people, and not crimes against the Iranian people.
The United States sanctioned Raisi in 2019 for his role in these human rights violations, but it remains difficult to hold him to any basic standard. Amnesty International Secretary General, Agnes Callamard remains committed to hold Raisi liable for his crimes, but also to expose this election for what it really was, yet another crime against the human rights and democracy of Iran. She said, Ebraham Raisi‘s rise to the presidency follows an electoral process that was conducted in a highly repressive environment, which barred women, members of religious minorities and candidates with opposing views from running for office.
The desire for democracy in Iran is not a fleeting dream among disconnected individuals across the Iranian nation. There is a deep-rooted network of resistance that remains organized and committed to change. We always have a choice when negotiating with foreign nations, and acceptance of the Iranian regimes is not a foregone conclusion. The United States along with the rest of the world does not have to yield to Iran becoming a nuclear state, and should not respond to the use of terrorism as a political tool.
Mrs. Rajavi’s 10-point plan for the future of Iran continues to be a solid framework for a future democratic republic. There is a viable alternative to the current situation, and we must not forget that. Mrs. Rajavi remained resolute in her defiance of the regime and her commitment to democratic principles, including, among others, the freedom of speech, the equality of women, and ensuring a non-nuclear Iran.
I will never walk away from a fight I know we can win, and I will stand with the MEK, the NCRI and the continued effort to uphold human rights in Iran and around the world. It is both imperative and our responsibility to speak up for those in Iran who cannot because they have been silenced by the regime.
We must remain committed, strong, persistent and tenacious to reach our ultimate goal of a free and democratic Iran, where a rally such as this can be held. I am proud to play a small part in this endeavor and will remain with you until we can see that day. Thank you.