PHILADELPHIA – September 16, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Justice has ordered AJ+, a US-based subsidiary of Al Jazeera Media Network, to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), because it is "engaged in political activities within the United States ... on behalf of the Government of Qatar."
This culminates a multi-year effort by the Middle East Forum to counter Qatar's toxic influence campaign in the U.S. through its media arm. For example, Al Jazeera had 175 staffers in the U.S. Capitol in 2016, according to the Congressional Directory; in contrast, the New York Times had only 43.
Qatar is a malign Islamist influence across the globe. In the Middle East, it is at odds with moderate Sunni states and finances Palestinian rejectionism. In the United States, the Qatar Foundation invests millions in schools and universities, using curricula that encourag anti-Americanism and hatred of Jews. In response, MEF's Counter-Qatar Team launched a Counter-Qatar Campaign.
In 2018, President Trump signed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that includes Forum-supported language requiring foreign-owned media outlets to report on their funding by "foreign principals."
In 2019, we hosted a first-of-its-kind conference in Washington, D.C. to examine whether Qatar is a "U.S. ally or global menace." (Click here for conference videos.) Al-Jazeera snickered about "a largely empty conference room," but photos of the event show otherwise.
Later in 2019, the Forum filed a Freedom of Information Act request to determine why Al Jazeera failed to meet the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing deadlines, as mandated by the NDAA. The FCC's lack of enforcement piqued the interest of members of Congress.
MEF worked closely with congressional offices on this issue. Just last month, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), and eight others sent a congressional letter to Attorney General William Barr requesting the Justice Department require Al Jazeera to register under FARA. The letter cites many facts unearthed by Forum researchers, subsequently published in the Washington Examiner.
"AJ+ has been un-masked," said Forum Director Gregg Roman. "Americans now know: These are not journalists but foreign agents doing the bidding of a hostile regime."
"We worked hard to hold Al Jazeera accountable for violating the law," noted Counter-Qatar Team member Benjamin Baird. "This is a great day for those who believe in transparency."
"With this Justice Department action, the game changed," said Counter-Qatar Team member Cliff Smith. "Now, the rest of Al Jazeera needs to be exposed as the media mouthpiece of Iran's and Turkey's close ally."
The Middle East Forum promotes American interests in the region and protects Western civilization from Islamism. It does so through a combination of original ideas, focused activism, and the funding of allies.
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