Europe’s biggest tech conference, Web Summit, has appointed a veteran U.S. regime-change operative named Katherine Maher as its new CEO, just days after founder Paddy Cosgrave stepped down from the position following an industry-wide backlash to his suggestion that Israel forces have carried out “war crimes” in their ongoing assault of Gaza.
Cosgrave’s future at Web Summit had been in doubt since October 13, when he sparked pro-Israel outrage after tweeting that “war crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies.” Industrial and tech behemoths including Siemens, Intel, Amazon, Meta and Google subsequently declared that they wouldn’t be attending this year’s conference, which is slated to take place in Lisbon, Portugal from November 13 to 16.
I’m shocked at the rhetoric and actions of so many Western leaders & governments, with the exception in particular of Ireland’s government, who for once are doing the right thing. War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies, and should be called out for what they are.
— Paddy Cosgrave (@paddycosgrave) October 13, 2023
In a statement published October 30, Web Summit’s new CEO, Katherine Maher, said that in recent weeks, the company’s “purpose was overshadowed by the personal comments of the event’s founder and former CEO, Paddy Cosgrave.” But she insisted that “today Web Summit is entering its next phase.”
If Maher’s recent corporate experience is any indication, that “next phase” will be decidedly less adversarial in its relationship with Western governments and tech juggernauts. A telegenic 40-year-old internet activist, Maher has occupied positions at the Council on Foreign Relations, the Atlantic Council, and the National Democratic Institute, a U.S. intelligence cutout.
As The Grayzone reported, she eventually rose to CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation and helped preside over the transformation of Wikipedia–once branded a “people’s encyclopedia”–into an information weapon wielded by the national security establishment.
She currently serves on the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board, and is the chair of the board of directors at the Signal Foundation, the U.S. government-funded outfit behind the encrypted messaging app Signal. Millions of dollars of the initial funding used to create the application were delivered via the Open Technology Fund, an offshoot of CIA-founded propaganda mill Radio Free Asia. According to her LinkedIn profile, Maher served on the board of Open Technology Fund until 2019 as well.
Maher is also a Young Global Leader at the Davos-based World Economic Forum, and a security fellow at the Truman National Security Project, which grooms Democratic Party political upstarts as pro-war hawks. The Truman project currently features Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and former CIA Director Leon Edward Panetta as Emeritus Members.
A prominent Tunisian activist named Slim Amamou, who briefly served as Secretary of State for Sport and Youth in the transitional Tunisian government, wrote in 2016 that “Katherine Maher is probably a CIA agent,” citing her numerous visits to Tunisia “under multiple affiliations” since 2011.
Katherine Maher is probably a CIA agent. She’s been in Tunisia multiple times since 2011 under multiple affiliations https://t.co/HMwevSCngF
— Slim Amamou (@slim404) March 13, 2016
When Maher complained, “seriously, Slim? You’ve welcomed me in your home,” Amamou shot back:
you gave me the impression that you were not who you claimed to be back then.
A look at Maher’s Twitter history reveals that she also spent time in Libya in the immediate aftermath of NATO’s disastrous regime change war. While the U.S. government imported planeloads full of regime change activists like Maher to conduct “democracy training” and other frivolous activities, ISIS and Al Qaeda were busy taking over entire regions of the country.
I’m on the plane to Libya. Holy wow, batman. pic.twitter.com/hvYFrbO0
— Katherine Maher (@krmaher) December 9, 2012
The stage for Maher’s rise to CEO of WebSummit was set a year before the controversy of Cosgrave’s comments on Israel.
Back in November 2022, the conference scrapped planned addresses by the Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal and Aaron Mate following direct pressure from Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and his wife, Olena Zelenska, who threatened to pull the plug on her own keynote address and publicly drag the conference if the offending speakers were not immediately disinvited.
Organizers quickly folded, but it seems the perceived slight was never forgotten. One of Maher’s first acts after assuming leadership over Web Summit was to ‘like’ a LinkedIn post by a company called Ukrainian Tech Ecosystem announcing that a “Ukrainian delegation” is now preparing “to visit Web Summit after its CEO announces resignation.”