An Oklahoma mom who bragged about rescuing 10 Afghan girls from the beleaguered country has ‘dramatically compromised’ the children’s safety, a lawyer representing the group says.
Allyson Reneau, a Harvard graduate with a master’s degree in international relations, shared with Today a harrowing tale of flying to Qatar, and spending a sleepless night at the U.S. embassy preparing the paperwork necessary to help plot the girls’ escape.
Reneau – who was on the board of Explore Mars when the organization flew the Afghan Girls Robotic Team to its annual Humans to Mars Conference in 2019 – said she spent two weeks working with the U.S. embassy in Kabul.
Ultimately, she said, she helped the girls cross through ‘the US military side’ of the Kabul airport, where they were protected from the Taliban.
The seemingly feel-good tale is not a reflection of the way the rescue actually played out, an attorney for the Afghan Girls Robotics Team said Wednesday in a cease-and-desist letter sent to Reneau.
Allyson Reneau shared her account of rescuing 10 girls from Taliban-controled Afghanistan with media outlets such as Today and CNN.
Her claims are helping the Afghan Girls Robotics Team are false, said a lawyer representing the group.
The cease-and-desist letter said Reneau’s ‘false statements have dramatically compromised the safety of the Afghan Girls Robotics Team’
The letter ordered Reneau to stop claiming to be affiliated with the Afghan Girls Robotic Team, or suggesting she had any role in the reported escape.
‘It is highly unfortunate that you would use such a tragically horrible situation while Afghanistan is literally imploding from within for what appears to be your own personal gain,’ the team’s attorney Kimberly Motley wrote in the letter.
‘Furthermore, the Qatar government has confirmed that they have no idea who you are and that you were not involved in any material way with the girls leaving Afghanistan. It is unlawful for an individual to make deliberate statements that intend to harm a person’s safety without factual evidence or based on hearsay. Your false statements have dramatically compromised the safety of the Afghan Girls Robotics team in and out of Afghanistan.’
Motley said Reneau used recycled, old pictures to imply she had ‘anything to do with their immensely stressful and dangerous’ escape.
An Oklahoma woman helped evacuate 10 girls on the Afghanistan all-girls robotics team.
“I knew … it would require some pretty powerful people, which is a little above my pay grade and my network. But I just couldn’t sit on my hands and do nothing,” Allyson Reneau said. pic.twitter.com/pLjz8PioHp
— New Day (@NewDay) August 20, 2021
Reneau, who worked with the robotics team in 2019, used old and recycled pictures to imply she continued to be associated with the group, says a cease-and-desist lawsuit
Reneau shared her claims of rescuing the girls from the Taliban takeover during a recent media blitz
Doing so, she said, impacted the safety of the girls who escaped as well as the robotics team members who remain in Afghanistan.
‘We have repeatedly communicated to you to stop spreading false information and yet you continue,’ Motley said.
Reneau shared her own account of the experience during a media circuit, and said she and a team in the Middle East were still working to help 25 additional robotics team members.
‘It’s [a] very narrow window of opportunity,’ she said of rescuing the first group of girls. ‘I knew that if I didn’t run through that door now – it’s now or never. Sometimes you only get one chance.’
The rescue claim came after the Taliban took over Afghanistan following the US’s exit from the war-torn country. Its chaotic departure led to fear, violence, and chaos, with some Afghans clinging to the outside of departing military plane in a desperate bid to escape.
Motley told Dailymail.com that it wasn’t clear which girls Reneau was claiming to rescue.
‘One group in Mexico weren’t even in Afghanistan when everything imploded they were in Pakistan,’ she said. ‘And another group is in Qatar. And still others are in Afghanistan.’
Reneau who was on the board of Explore Mars when the organization flew the Afghan Girls Robotic Team to its annual Humans to Mars Conference in 2019
This is not the Reneau’s first time in the spotlight.
She first made headlines in 2011 when she returned to college 30 years after she dropped out to raise her 11 children.
She enrolled in Harvard University at 50 years old and commuted over 3,000 miles per week for three years to get her master’s degree in international business relations.
Before graduating in May 2016, she studied piano performance at Julliard, the famous private performing arts conservatory in New York City.
Reneau’s Harvard thesis on the United States Space Policy has won awards and has been repeatedly published. She was nominated as the 2019 Harvard Emerging Leader of the Year.
Kimberly Motley, an international human rights lawyer who represents the Afghan Girls Robotics team, sent a letter a cease-and-desist letter to Reneau, ordering her to stop taking credit for the rescue
The Afghan Girls Robotics Team was started by the Digital Citizens Fund, which strives to provide education and technology to girls around the world who would otherwise not have access to quality schooling.
Elizabeth Schaffer Brown, a Digital Citizens Fund board member, released a statement to Dailymail.com in response to Reneau’s Afghanistan claims.
‘At this time, the attention and the focus should be on the girls,’ she said. ‘It is their accomplishments and bravery that have won the hearts of so many. They are the heroes. They have lived with risk for years.’