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Al Jazeera Is A Foreign Agent For Qatar, So Why Isn’t Biden Making It Register As One?

The DOJ’s unwillingness to enforce FARA when it comes to Qatar-backed Al Jazeera appears to be symptomatic of a far bigger problem.

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Is Washington genuinely concerned about foreign influence threats to America, or is it more concerned about politics — either selectively pursuing claims of such threats or more perversely weaponizing those claims to target domestic foes?

The Biden Justice Department’s seeming refusal to enforce the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) and stonewalling of those who would dare ask why — at least when it comes to its deference to one Middle Eastern media outlet — suggests the prevalence of politics in its work.

In September 2020, the Trump DOJ informed AJ+, Al Jazeera’s left-wing, millennial-targeting, social-media-focused news platform, that it was required to register as a foreign agent. That’s because by money, management, and messaging, AJ+ is backed by Qatar.

As the Justice Department detailed, the Gulf emirate controls Al Jazeera and its affiliates through funding the behemoth network; holding ultimate approval authority over all significant “organizational, budget, and managerial decisions”; and influencing its content. Affiliates toe the Wahhabist al-Thani ruling family’s party line in whitewashing jihadism, running cover for Islamic supremacist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, and promoting Iran and the Palestinian Arabs while savaging Israel. America’s top law enforcement agency argued, citing its leaders’ own comments, that Al Jazeera helps Qatar project soft power by influencing Americans.

Having established that AJ+ engaged in “political activities” on behalf of and acted as a “publicity agent” for the emirate, the DOJ directed the affiliate to register as a foreign agent within 30 days.

This letter followed multiple bipartisan missives from Congress soliciting such action. Those letters further detailed Al Jazeera’s shilling for the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah, antisemitism, and anti-Americanism. 

Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Mich., has noted that Al Jazeera “sp[ied] on young pro-Israel activists in Washington, D.C. … to push the dangerous — and repulsive — anti-Semitic trope that Jews somehow secretly control U.S. foreign policy.” He has also warned that the 136 Al Jazeera employees with U.S. House Press Gallery credentials — far more than the number allotted New York Times employees — could pose an intelligence threat.

This is all in keeping with Al Jazeera’s virulently pro-Islamist and anti-Western orientation, which is even more overt in its Arabic language broadcasts, related platforming of the late leading Muslim Brotherhood figure Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, and its present employment of alleged Hamas terrorists posing as journalists.

Al Jazeera, which reaches 430 million people in 150 countries and whose AJ+ boasts 11 million followers on Facebook alone, self-evidently exists to advance the interests of our adversaries. Yet nearly four years after the DOJ instructed AJ+ to register as a foreign agent, the Justice Department has refused to enforce the law. Neither AJ+ nor any other Al Jazeera entity has registered accordingly. The DOJ has apparently never compelled the entities to do so, and when questioned about its non-enforcement by congressional overseers, the agency has refused to respond.

Attempting Oversight

In 2023, nonprofit government watchdog Empower Oversight sued the DOJ over its stonewalling. After months of litigation, the DOJ finally turned over a set of documents, but they were “incomplete, heavily redacted and woefully out-of-date,” according to the group. Undeterred, on Feb. 26, Empower Oversight issued a new FOIA request soliciting all communications between the DOJ’s National Security Division and representatives of Al Jazeera, its affiliiates, or the Qatari government discussing FARA and the media company since 2018 — the year the Justice Department first contacted AJ+ explaining why it might be required to register as a foreign agent.

Now they are joined in their pursuit of transparency by the the Republican-controlled House Oversight Committee. On Feb. 6, Chairman James Comer of Kentucky opened a probe into the matter calling for the DOJ to release documents and communications associated with FARA enforcement, or lack thereof, pertaining to Al Jazeera.

The Feb. 22 due date for DOJ to respond to the request came and went without the agency turning over the records, a House Oversight Committee aide told me. The aide indicated, however, that the DOJ had confirmed receipt of the request and was “working on a response.”

That response will tell us a lot about the priorities of the administration, including whether it is shielding Al Jazeera as part of an effort to protect Qatar.

Qatar’s Aims

As I recently reported at RealClearInvestigations, the emirate has been executing a multibillion-dollar influence campaign aimed at capturing the commanding heights of American society, from the Pentagon and K Street to Wall Street and the Ivy League, for years — while allegedly surreptitiously targeting its critics.

This effort has seemed to buy the regime absolution for its terror-supporting sins. The Biden administration designated Qatar as a major non-NATO ally, putting it on par with Israel. It has relied upon Qatar as a mediator with adversaries with whom America does not maintain official contacts, including the Taliban and Iran. It recently further cemented the strategic relationship with the emirate by reportedly reaching a deal to extend the U.S. presence at Al-Udeid Air Base — America’s largest such facility — for another 10 years.

This is despite the fact that, as Rep. Bergman has noted, “Our brave men and women in uniform who have served out of Al Udeid … have gone on missions to combat terrorist groups funded by Qatar.”

Indeed, the emirate has financed, hosted, and promoted — via Al Jazeera — jihadist and broadly Islamic supremacist groups. It has purportedly worked to destabilize its anti-Islamist Sunni Arab neighbors including through its support for such groups during the Arab Spring, leading them to impose a blockade on it during the Trump years. And it has fostered close ties with the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, Iran — which not only threatens Qatar’s Gulf rivals and Israel’s existence, but has the blood of hundreds of Americans on its hands.

Among the terrorist groups Qatar has supported is Hamas, having pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into its coffers in Gaza and sheltered its leaders in luxury in Doha. 

Biden’s Posture

Since Hamas’ massacre of Jews on Oct. 7, the Biden administration has repeatedly bent over backward to praise Qatar for facilitating negotiations between the jihadist group and Israel. Rather than use America’s leverage over Qatar to entice it to use its own leverage over Hamas to free the hostages and surrender in the Israel-Hamas War — like threatening to move our key Al-Udeid Air Base out of Qatar, revoke Qatar’s major non-NATO ally status, declare Qatar as a state sponsor of terror, etc. — the Biden White House has showered Qatar with plaudits.

Is the Biden DOJ’s unwillingness to require an Al Jazeera affiliate to register as a foreign agent — simply to provide basic disclosures about Qatar’s control over it — part of this appeasement?

The DOJ playing politics with FARA would fit with its aggressive use of the law to target former President Trump and those around him, while refusing to pursue Hunter Biden and others in President Biden’s orbit accordingly.

More broadly, the national security and foreign policy apparatuses and pliant media have, at least from Russiagate onward, fraudulently sought to frame conservatives — or anyone else who dares dissent from prevailing uniparty orthodoxy — as corrupted by foreign powers. This is especially true of those pursuing information about the Bidens’ multimillion-dollar international influence-peddling scheme.

We are seeing this in real-time with our ruling regime’s effort to exploit the Biden DOJ’s indictment of Alexander Smirnov — a single, once highly-touted and well-paid FBI informant behind one allegedly false claim that had merely served as a capper on the well-established case of the Biden family’s dubious dealings — as supposedly tied to Russian intelligence to discredit the entire impeachment inquiry into the president.

The U.S. government likewise used purported foreign interference in our political system as a pretext to compel Big Tech to censor Americans’ disfavored domestic political speech. This has been key to the creation and evolution of the Censorship-Industrial Complex, the most pervasive such regime in the history of mankind.

This is all to say that the DOJ’s unwillingness to enforce FARA when it comes to Qatar-backed Al Jazeera would appear to be symptomatic of a far broader, deeper, more dangerous malady infecting our body politic.


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