Qatar, which has provided safe haven to Hamas leaders since 2012, is engaged in a desperate campaign of damage control in the aftermath of the terror group's October 7 massacre which horrified the vast majority of Americans — and even a majority of French and British citizens. The damage to Qatar's reputation by the October 7 massacre was apparently substantial enough to prompt a member of the Qatari royal family to abandon his attempt to purchase Manchester United, a popular football team in the United Kingdom.
Qatar's efforts to restore its reputation to what it was before Hamas's massacre were evident in a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. The piece, written by Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar's ambassador to the U.S., portrays Qatar as an "honest broker" in the Middle East. The message is a tough sell in the face of reports that Qatar is a state-sponsor of terrorism that pumped $1.5 billion dollars into the coffers of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip over the past decade.
Qatar's support for Hamas likely played a role in the collapse of the $6.31 billion deal which would have transferred ownership of English Premier League powerhouse Manchester United Football Club from the American Glazer family to Qatar's Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad al Thani, the son of Hamad bin Jassim (HBJ) the former prime minister of Qatar. Sheikh Jassim withdrew his bid just days after the massacre, which resulted in the deaths of 14 British nationals.
The Manchester Evening News reported October 16 on this author's article on about the role of HBJ in stoking antisemitism. FWI highlighted Jassim's antisemitism in a September 29 article that cited a translation by the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). HBJ told Kuwaiti media outlet Al Qabas that if oil was sold by Jews, "It would be the most expensive thing in the world." HBJ worked with his son to raise funds for their now-defunct bid to buy Manchester United.
In its coverage, the Manchester Evening News noted "It would be remiss to overlook the fact the Glazers are Jewish" in light of HBJ's antisemitic statements and the implosion of the deal.
Marc Eichinger, a former French intelligence agent, told FWI that "It was important that they did not buy Manchester United because it is a tool of influence" for Doha. He said Qatar has no genuine interest in football as a sport and that the country's ownership of the Paris Saint-Germain Football Club "is used to corrupt and attract people" that can prove useful to the regime.
"An example is journalists who are invited to the VIP room at Paris Saint-Germain Football Club and have contact with people of notoriety—politicians. This has value and they reward Qatar with positive exposure," Eichinger told FWI.
Eichinger's assessment seems legitimate in light of HBJ's 2022 admission to a Kuwaiti news outlet that Qatar has journalists on its payroll, some of whom have allegedly become members of parliament. HBJ did not name the journalists who became MPs, nor did he name the countries where this happened.
Qatar's role in bribing journalists, which was first translated and published in English by MEMRI, is part of its alleged efforts to destabilize the policies and laws of European countries, with a view toward spreading political Islamism.
Eichinger, who has written extensively about Qatar's influence peddling operations, said Qatar's media "helps to influence the French people of Arab origin in the suburbs." Citing a report from MEMRI, Eichinger asserts "They push them to riot."
Qatar suffered another hit on its reputation in July when news reports revealed that Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, a Qatari national, is under investigation by the French authorities for the alleged torture and detention Tayeb Benabderrahmane, a Franco-Algerian who allegedly had compromising video of the team owner. Benabderrahmane was allegedly tortured in Qatar.
This hasn't stopped Sheik Jassim from attempting to purchase Tottenham Hotspur, a soccer team located in London. The team has not responded to FWI inquiries. The deal however, might be torpedoed by intensified scrutiny of Qatar's role in funding Hamas' military and terrorist superstructure. Targeted boycotts of the Qatari-owned hotel the Ritz in London are unfolding, as well as newly started international campaign to put Qatar's luxury hotels in an economic vice due to their support of Hamas.
Rabbi Pini Dunner, from the Beverly Hills Synagogue, and Beverly Hills City Councilmember John A. Mirisch, a former mayor of the city, are urging a boycott of the Qatari-owned Maybourne hotel in Beverly Hills. Along these lines, the Middle East Forum launched a "Divest from Qatar" campaign on October 27. Dunner has announced a demonstration will take place in front of the Maybourne Hotel on November 19 due to Qatar's enabling of terrorism.
The public relation hits that Qatar is taking have also spilled out over into the diplomatic realm. HBJ, an accredited diplomat in London, was recently ousted from the Board of Trustees of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) which hosts an annual gathering of politicians, military and security officials who meet to talk about the threats to international peace and security.
MSC officials informed FWI of Al Thani's departure from the conference, dubbed the "Davos of Security," but would not provide details about his ouster, nor are they providing details about how much money Qatar gave to the conference to get him on the board in the first place. HBJ's ouster might have taken place sometime after Politico reported on this writer's efforts to highlight HBJ's antisemitism in an October 13 article in Iran International.
Eichinger, the former French intelligence agent and expert on Qatar's alleged global terror finance operations, told FWI that if policy makers want to prevent future massacres against Israel, they "have to stop Qatar's funding of all terrorist groups."
"Qatar is probably more on the defensive" after October 7 but the supremely wealthy nation of less than 300,000 people "can buy their reputation," he said, adding that three Qatari officials should be swiftly "sanctioned for funding terrorism all over the world." He named targets for Western countries to sanction: The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani; his mother, Moza bint Nasser Al-Missned; and the country's intelligence head, Mohammed bin Ahmed Al-Masnad.
Qatar's embassies in Washington D.C., London, and its consulate in Beverly Hills, did not respond to FWI press queries.
Benjamin Weinthal, a Ginsburg/Milstein Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum, reports on Israel, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Europe for Fox News Digital. Follow him on Twitter at @BenWeinthal.