How Qatar is molding Americans’ opinion in favor of extremism

Most of Qatar’s funds are channeled through the Qatar Foundation, criticized for its ties to extremist Islamic ideologies and activists, and for giving hate speech a platform in Doha’s Education City Mosque. (Shutterstock)
Updated 16 July 2019
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How Qatar is molding Americans’ opinion in favor of extremism

  • Universities, media outlets, activist groups and think tanks are key instruments of Qatar's insidious foreign influence
  • Investments in US elite institutions are helping Qatar deflect media attention away from its extremist agenda

CHICAGO: Qatar is investing billions of dollars in American universities, cash-hungry lobbyists in Washington, DC, journalists, mainstream activist groups and policy think tanks in an apparent drive to soften criticism of its activities that researchers focused on terrorism say fuels violent extremism.

The researchers argue that these concerns should have led the discussion that President Donald Trump held with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on July 9 at the White House. Though in the past Trump has criticized Qatar over its support for terrorism, this meeting focused only on economic issues.

Journalist and activist Mike Cernovich, who was involved in exposing the sexual harassment allegations that forced Congressman John Conyers to resign and opened the seat to Palestinian activist Rashida Tlaib in Michigan’s 13th District, released a documentary in March titled “Blood Money: How Qatar Bought off the D.C. Media Establishment” to argue the case for greater scrutiny of Qatar’s activities.

Cernovich has come under attack from liberal writers, including some secretly funded by Qatar’s foreign allies. But Cernovich’s documentary raises serious concerns about how Doha has spread its influence deep into critical US establishments to shape Americans' perception of Qatar, playing down its dubious associations and extremist agenda.

Most of Qatar’s funds are being channeled through Qatar Foundation, which has been criticized for its ties to extremist Islamic ideologies and activists, and for giving hate speech a platform in Doha’s Education City Mosque.

David Reaboi, a national-security consultant based in Washington, DC, has ridiculed Qatar’s attempts to claim a neutral stance when it comes to the Muslim Brotherhood.

CAMPUS CONNECTION

  • Qatar Foundation International, NYC
  • Brookings Doha Center, Doha
  • Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Doha
  • Carnegie Mellon University, Doha
  • Northwestern University, Doha
  • Texas A&M University, Doha
  • Virginia Commonwealth University, Doha
  • Weill Cornell Medical College, Doha

“The Brotherhood has found a home in Qatar and, today, they are supporting (and also counting on the support of) every Islamist group and activist in the world.” Reaboi said.

“For them to distance themselves from the Brotherhood in public might be good public relations, but it’s like asking Egypt to distance itself from the pyramids in Giza.”

Among those demanding accountability and transparency in Qatar’s lobbying activities in America is the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a US think tank. Varsha Koduvayur, an FDD senior researcher, has called on Trump to act, arguing that Qatar’s emir must “come clean” about its funding of American universities.

“President Trump should tell the emir that America welcomes genuine investments in our education system, but not influence peddling. Trump should explicitly note to the emir that his administration will not tolerate Qatar Foundation’s bad-faith efforts to circumvent federal disclosure rules,” Koduvayur said.

According to Koduvayur, Qatar is not only “meddling” in major universities but also targeting teachers at elementary and high schools (K12), impacting young people and teenagers under the age of 18.

Reaboi, who is interviewed extensively in Cernovich’s “Blood Money,” argued that Qatar’s actions are “detrimental to America’s national interests.”

“When our friends in the Muslim world realized that they were seditious, and had the goal of overthrowing their governments as well, I think that a kind of breakthrough became possible,” Reaboi said.

“Western criticisms of the Brotherhood suddenly made a lot more sense to many Arab citizens, especially in places like Egypt, which had to claw itself out of a Brotherhood takeover. I think there's a broad coalition now of anti-Islamists across the globe, and it's confounding a lot of the pro-Islamist mainstream media and befuddling a lot of so-called Middle East experts.”




Qatar seeks to mold opinion via US universities. (Shutterstock)

Data shows that Qatar is using its funds to mold American public opinion through such universities as Georgetown, Texas A&M, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Cornell, Michigan and Northwestern. Georgetown, VCU, Cornell and Texas A&M have even established branch campuses in Qatar. And Qatar is funding the Brookings Institution, Cernovich says.

These investments have helped Qatar deflect news media attention away from its extremist agenda plus its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, and towards Saudi Arabia, which is leading the criticism of Qatar’s extremist ties.

Qatari investments mainly in real estate and investments in the US exceed $45 billion, according to a January 2019 report from Reuters news agency.

Reaboi said Qatar leads the world in pushing a political agenda through lobbying and media funding.

“Arguably, there’s no other country that’s even half as aggressive in the foreign-influence game as Qatar. Americans should be aware of its dangerous information and influence efforts,” he said.

What makes Qatar’s investments even more suspicious is that Qatar has turned to legal means to prevent state governments from forcing detailed disclosures of how their funds are being used.

Qatar Foundation filed a lawsuit against the Texas attorney general’s office to prevent the state from forcing Texas A&M University to disclose the details of its contract with Qatar.

Doha claimed that the terms of the contract are a “trade secret” and thus exposure could hurt Qatar Foundation’s interests. In the US, private institutions are not required to disclose their contract terms but Texas A&M is a public institution.

 

Watch the full documentary, Blood Money: How Qatar Bought off the D.C. Media Establishment, on Youtube.

 


Homemade bomb kills Israeli teen, wounds two others in West Bank

Updated 23 August 2019
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Homemade bomb kills Israeli teen, wounds two others in West Bank

  • Israeli security forces deployed throughout the area where the attack took place near the settlement of Dolev, northwest of Ramallah, to search for suspects
  • Palestinians sporadically clash with Israeli settlers and security forces in the West Bank, occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967, but bomb blasts have been rare in recent years

JERUSALEM: A rare homemade bomb attack in the occupied West Bank killed an Israeli teen and seriously wounded her father and brother Friday as they visited a spring near a Jewish settlement, officials said.
Israeli security forces deployed throughout the area where the attack took place near the settlement of Dolev, northwest of Ramallah, to search for suspects.
Israeli medics had earlier reported that a 17-year-old had been critically wounded in the attack and officials later announced her death, naming her as Rina Shnerb from the central Israeli city of Lod.
Medics from the Magen David Adom rescue service initially gave the ages of the two wounded as 46 and 20, before amending to 21 in the latter case.
The army said the three victims were a father and his two children.
The two wounded were taken by helicopter to hospital, the army said.
“Three civilians who were in a nearby spring were injured in an IED (improvised explosive device) blast,” it said in a statement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “harsh terrorist attack” and sent condolences to the family, while pledging to continue building settlements.
“The security arms are in pursuit after the abhorrent terrorists,” he said in a statement.
“We will apprehend them. The long arm of Israel reaches all those who seek our lives and will settle accounts with them.”
United Nations envoy Nickolay Mladenov condemned the “shocking, heinous” attack, saying there was nothing heroic in Shnerb’s “murder,” calling it a “despicable, cowardly act.”
“Terror must be unequivocally condemned by ALL,” Mladenov wrote on Twitter.
Israeli forces meanwhile entered the Palestinian village of Beitunia, south of the spring, to take footage from surveillance cameras.
An AFP reporter said Palestinians clashed there with Israeli soldiers, but no casualties were reported.
Chief of the army, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi visited the site of the attack to understand the incident and oversee the efforts to locate the perpetrators, which he was “confident” would happen quickly, the military said.
Later in the day, Shnerb was buried in her hometown Lod, with thousands participating in the funeral.
Shnerb’s father Eitan, who was wounded and couldn’t attend the funeral, relayed through an uncle his request that people focus on “our strength and love and the wonderful nation and our good land” and avoid sinking into “weakness and anger and strife.”
“We should be worthy of the great sacrifice we offered today,” Eitan Shnerb was cited by the uncle as saying.
In a speech on Friday, Ismail Haniya, the leader of the Islamist Hamas movement which rules Gaza, praised the attack but did not claim responsibility for it.
He referred to a recent clash between Israeli police and Palestinian worshippers at the highly sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem and sought to draw a link between the two incidents.
AFP reporters said thousands of Gazans participated in weekly Friday protests at the Israeli border fence, with some youths using slingshots to launch stones at the barrier and a few approaching it.
The health ministry in the enclave said over 122 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli forces, dozens of them hit by live fire.
Palestinians sporadically clash with Israeli settlers and security forces in the West Bank, occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967, but bomb blasts have been rare in recent years.
Palestinian attacks have mostly involved guns, knives and car ramming.
There have been concerns about a possible increase in violence in the run up to Israel’s September 17 general election.
A week ago, a Palestinian carried out a car-ramming attack in the West Bank, wounding two Israelis before being shot dead.
On August 8, an off-duty Israeli soldier’s body was found with multiple stab wounds. Two Palestinian suspects were later arrested.
Late Thursday, a Palestinian threw grenades at Israeli soldiers while attempting to cross the Gaza border and was shot by Israeli forces, leaving him wounded, the army and the Gaza health ministry said.
Gaza militants have also launched six missiles at Israel in the past week; the most recent were on Wednesday.
In retaliation, the Israeli army said it struck “a number of military targets in a Hamas naval facility in the northern Gaza Strip.”