Syrian Emergency Task Force

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Syrian Emergency Task Force
Founded 2012
Headquarters Washington, D.C., U.S.
Key people
Mouaz Moustafa, Executive-Director

The Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF) is a United States-based organization that advocates for the armed overthrow of the government of Syria. It first gained widespread public attention in the wake of the Elizabeth O'Bagy resume padding scandal; O'Bagy had served as a paid lobbyist for the group. The group's primary activity is advocating for U.S. military involvement in the Syrian Civil War through congressional office visits, media awareness campaigns, and organizing junkets for key U.S. foreign policy decisionmakers.[1] According to SETF, it is also committed to supporting the overthrow of the government of Cuba;[2] a statement co-signed by it and the Florida based Cuban exile organization "Assembly of the Resistance" declared it would work for "the overthrow of the dictatorial regimes of Assad and Castro."[3]

SETF is indirectly funded by the U.S. State Department through contracting firms including Chemonics and Creative Associates International.[4]


SETF's executive-director, Mouaz Moustafa, is a former field organizer for the U.S. Democratic National Committee and previously served as executive-director of the Libyan Council of North America.[5]

Elizabeth O'Bagy - formerly of the defense-industry funded Institute for the Study of War - served as political director of SETF until her 2013 dismissal as part of a resume padding scandal.

The organization's communications director is Cassie Chesley[6] Chesley concurrently serves as chair of the public relations committee of the Coalition for a Democratic Syria.[7]


SETF officials - including Moustafa and Chesley - have been widely cited in media reports on the Syrian Civil War and have been influential in advising United States policymakers on issues related to Syria. According to the group, SETF staff have held meetings with more than two-thirds of the membership of the U.S. Congress and have organized junkets for members of congress to visit selected regions in northern Syria.[2]

In 2013, an op-ed by political director Elizabeth O'Bagy was cited by Senator John McCain and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during congressional hearings on possible U.S. military involvement in the Syrian Civil War.[8] O'Bagy was subsequently hired by McCain as a legislative assistant in the Arizona senator's Washington, D.C. office.

See also


  1. "Syria conflict: US Senator John McCain visits rebels". BBC. 27 May 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2013. 
  2. 2.0 2.1
  3. "Syrian and Cuban resistance create a united front for freedom and democracy". Directorio Democrático Cubano. 
  4. "Who funds Syrian rebel advocate O’Bagy and her 'Task Force?'". The Daily Caller. 
  5. "As Predicted, Syrian Emergency Task Force Dumps Elizabeth O'Bagy". Frontpage Magazine. 
  6. "The Grassroots Democracy Movement in Syria: A Case for Intervention". Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. December 14, 2012. 
  7. "Obama’s Red Line in Syria: A Case for Intervention". Foreign Policy Blogs. 
  8. "WSJ op-ed writer fired for resume lie". Politico.