US orders Al Jazeera’s AJ+ to register as foreign agent

The US Justice Department has ordered Al Jazeera’s affiliate youth channel AJ+ to register as a foreign agent. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 17 September 2020

US orders Al Jazeera’s AJ+ to register as foreign agent

  • AJ+, a network only found on social media channels, produces short videos
  • Al Jazeera has been called a useful tool for Qatar’s ruling elite

LONDON: The US Justice Department has ordered Al Jazeera’s affiliate youth channel AJ+ to register as a foreign agent for engaging in “political activities” on behalf of the Qatari government, according to reports. 

The move comes a few months after US Congress members demanded that Al Jazeera itself be registered and subject to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

AJ+, a youth network only found on social media channels, produces short videos in English Arabic, French and Spanish.

The Justice Department stated in a letter dated Monday that Qatar provides the channel with funding and appoints its board of directors.

“Journalism designed to influence American perceptions of a domestic policy issue or a foreign nation’s activities or its leadership qualifies as ‘political activities’ under the statutory definition, even if it views itself as ‘balanced’,” stated the letter, which was signed by Jay I. Bratt, head of the department’s counterintelligence division, and first obtained by American magazine Mother Jones.

Al Jazeera has been called a useful tool for Qatar’s ruling elite, which sympathizes with the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist and extremist groups.

In 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties with Qatar in order to pressure it to halt its alleged terrorism financing and shut down the network.

FARA calls on certain agents of foreign entities operating in the US and engaged in political or other activities to disclose their relationship with foreign nations.

AJ+ has consistently found itself mired in controversy. Its Arabic channel was slammed following the release of a video about the Holocaust, and for tweeting an anti-Semitic meme.

The video suggested that Jews had skewed facts about the Holocaust, and that Israel was the “biggest winner” from it.


Biden slams Trump friendship with ‘thug’ Kim

Updated 23 October 2020

Biden slams Trump friendship with ‘thug’ Kim

  • Trump insists that he has avoided war through his summits with Kim Jong Un
  • Trump calls India, China air ‘filthy’ as he hits Biden’s stance on climate change

NASHVILLE, USA: Democratic candidate Joe Biden on Thursday denounced President Donald Trump for befriending North Korea’s “thug” leader, likening his diplomacy to working with Hitler.
In a sharp clash in their final presidential debate, Biden attacked Trump’s insistence that he has avoided war through his summits with Kim Jong Un.
“He’s talked about his good buddy, who’s a thug,” Biden said of the young North Korean leader.
“That’s like saying we had a good relationship with Hitler before he invaded Europe — the rest of Europe. Come on.”
But Biden indicated he was also willing to meet with Kim, saying his condition would be that Pyongyang works to make the Korean peninsula “a nuclear-free zone.”
Trump said that former president Barack Obama had left him “a mess” on North Korea and had warned him of the risk of “nuclear war.”
After the summits, “we have a very good relationship. And there’s no war,” said Trump, who also played down North Korea’s recent unveiling of a massive new long-range missile at a military parade.
“He didn’t like Obama,” Trump said of Kim not meeting the former president. “He didn’t like him. He wouldn’t do it.”
Biden, who was vice president under Obama, hit back that Obama would not meet Kim because he was pushing stronger sanctions.
“President Obama said we’re going to talk about denuclearization. We’re not going to legitimize you.”
Trump first met in June 2018 with Kim in Singapore, the first-ever summit between the countries still technically at war, and later said that the two leaders “fell in love.”
The two leaders have met two more times and North Korea has since held off on nuclear and missile tests but analysts say Pyongyang has kept advancing its weapons programs.

Climate change
On climate change, Trump described the air in India and China as “filthy” as he denounced Biden’s plans to tackle the controversial issue.
“Look at China, how filthy it is. Look at Russia, look at India — it’s filthy. The air is filthy,” Trump said.
Trump charged that Biden’s climate plan was an “economic disaster” for oil states such as Texas and Oklahoma.
Biden said that climate change is “an existential threat to humanity. We have a moral obligation to deal with it.”
“We’re going to pass the point of no return within the next eight to 10 years,” he said.
The planet has already warmed by around one degree Celsius (34 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels, enough to boost the intensity of deadly heat waves, droughts and tropical storms.
Trump has pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, which aims to cap global warming “well below” two degrees Celsius.
Trump’s remarks come days before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper visit New Delhi for talks on building the growing US-India partnership.
At the first presidential debate, Trump also spoke critically of India, questioning its coronavirus data amid criticism of Trump’s handling of the pandemic.