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She insisted that "we are not in contact with the IRGC nor have we ever been funded by them."
Negative scrutiny of the New Horizon Conference began in 2014 with a series of reports by the pro-Israel pressure group, the Anti-Defamation League [ADL]. The ADL openly coordinates with local and federal US law enforcement, and escorts law enforcement officials on annual training and lobbying tours of Israel.
According to the ADL, New Horizon was an "anti-Semitic gathering" that "included U.S. and international anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers and anti-war activists."
The event has also featured well-known anti-war activists and former US national security professionals seeking to forge relations with a country that has been under sustained Western economic and military attack for decades.
Peter Van Buren, an author and former diplomat who served in the State Department for 24 years, attended New Horizon this May in the city of Mashhad. He returned with a colorful account for Reuters of life in Iran under escalating US sanctions.
"Outside, in Mashhad city, there were no demonstrations, no flag burnings, and when I visited the central mosque here after Friday prayers more people were interested in a selfie with a foreigner than anything else," Van Buren reported.
Maloof, too, said his attendance of the conference was motivated by a desire to build diplomatic bridges. "We felt that it was important for dialogue to go [to New Horizon]. And I don't agree with the US position on Iran," he explained. "All we did was went there, talked and met with people, and this is the only way you're going to have better relations."
Maloof emphasized, "We're all still US patriots, but we believe there's another way to go about things than looking at everything in Iran through the prism of Israel."
Asked if there was any interaction with IRGC officials or assets at the event, Maloof insisted, "We were not approached by anyone. And those of us who are national security veterans, we're very attuned to that stuff."
Under Mandelker's guidance, the Trump administration designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization this April, provoking Iran to counter by branding all US military personnel in the Middle East as terrorists.
Since then, Mandelker has expanded her target list in Iran and across the region, even sanctioning institutions that collaborate with the US government.Sanctioning a USAID partner
On August 30, the Treasury Department's OFAC sanctioned an Iranian oil tanker and its captain after it was freed from detention in Gilbraltar. Mandelker claimed that the vessel was used to "transfer large volumes of oil, which attempt to mask and sell illicitly to fund the regime's malign activities and propagate terrorism."
That same day, Treasury sanctioned Jammal Trust Bank in Lebanon, claiming that it and its subsidiaries had been "brazenly enabling Hizballah's financial activities."
"Jammal Trust provides support and services to Hizballah's Executive Council and the Martyrs Foundation, which funnels money to the families of suicide bombers," Mandelker declared.
But Hezbollah has not employed suicide bombing as a tactic since the 1980's. And as Asia Times noted, Jammal Trust partnered with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) as recently as last year on public initiatives intended to help impoverished communities in Lebanon.