Qatar likes to sponsor and own professional sports enterprises. It also likes to sponsor and harbor terrorists. Why would any sports league allow the Qataris to become part of their franchise ownership? That is a great question to ask the NHL and NBA, who recently approved a deal to let Qatar's state-controlled investment firm buy into the Washington Wizards and Capitals.
The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is a huge fund containing half a trillion dollars that is controlled by the royal family and its associates. This same royal family is also a major supporter of terror groups including Hamas. They currently harbor Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh in Doha where he recently met with his other paymasters from Iran. After that meeting, Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said the October 7th slaughter in Israel was a "historic victory".
None of this is a secret, but Qatar has been allowed to continue these evil pursuits. They get a pass because they act as a faux ally building a military base for the U.S. to use and occasionally providing intelligence against terror groups they are not quite so fond of. This needs to stop.
One would think the Hamas Massacre would immediately reverse the coveted status of Major Non-NATO Ally that the Biden Administration gave the Qataris just last year. This hasn't happened yet and even worse they are relying on Qatar to negotiate for the release of hostages. As disappointing as that is, it makes a twisted kind of sense as Qatar is in a position to tell their Hamas minions what to do.
Professional sports leagues are just as guilty if they allow the Qataris to sportswash their image. That's the term for dropping piles of cash onto beloved sports teams to try and ride along with the positive sentiments they generate. The Qataris have plenty of bad acts from slave labor practices to racism and of course its widespread terror support. They paid massive bribes to win the chance to host 2022 FIFA World Cup and one of their royals even tried to purchase the storied Manchester United Football club.
Thankfully that bid failed and shouldn't any team allowing terror enablers to join their ownership pay a negative price for that association?
The Washington Capitals and Wizards should pay a reputation price as well as the NBA and NHL for placing a love of money over a responsibility to shun terrorists and their supporters. Monumental Sports and Entertainment owns the two teams and was bragging about a reason for their new partner's interest as the teams in question are "Located in the nation's capital and one of the most powerful cities in the world".
What better place for the Qataris to make friends with influential people and ensure those friends continue to turn a blind eye to their other teams of terrorists. President Joe Biden even referred to Hamas as "The other team" as if their heinous slaughter of women and children was just a novel game plan in a football match against Israel.
The team's owners also own and operate the Capitol One Arena where they play and are currently trying to strong arm another pile of money out of the DC government for that venue. This may be where Congress can exercise common sense and common decency. The District of Columbia is subject to control by the House of Representatives, and this recently was used when DC tried to enact more criminal-coddling policies. It may be time for The House to look at any potential deal for Capital One Arena to any person or entity with ties to terrorists as supporting terrorism.
It is actually a national security concern to allow Qatar to move its influence operations mere miles from our country's Capitol building. They have long used the presence of senior U.S. military leaders at Al Udeid Air Base, the forward home to the headquarters of United States Central Command, as a way to win friends and influence people. There is a high life provided there by the Qataris. Defense contractors and our military leadership have taken full and sometimes improper advantage. This is just what the Qataris wanted.
They have spent untold millions on other influence operations including buying tacit control of the Brookings Institute via the provisioning of a Brookings Doha Center. Unsurprisingly, this involved another retired U.S. General and corruption paired with plenty of favorable coverage of the Qatari tyranny as the result. The outrage over the killing of Jamaal Khashoggi was legitimate. What was ignored was his status as a propaganda purveyor for Qatar who the Washington Post gave a byline and credibility that he used to attack Qatar's Gulf rival Saudi Arabia.
There is no excuse to associate in any way with terrorists and those who fund and operate them. To help them gain a foothold in the world's most important capital city by letting them spend blood money on a U.S. sports team called the Capitals is a disgrace.
Jim Hanson is MEF's chief editor. He previously served in US Army Special Forces and deployed to more than two dozen countries conducting counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations.