Michael G. Masters is CEO of the Secure Community Network (SCN), the organization tasked with protecting American Jewish institutions. How did he respond to being exposed for receiving payments from a business with deep financial ties to Qatar, the state that financially most supports Hamas?
He did not deny the allegation. He did not resign in shame. No, he blustered. He attacked those who accused him. He attacked those associated with his accusers. He mustered those on his payroll to do the same.
Jews [like Roman] and their allies [like Myers] are profoundly concerned that Masters – the man charged with securing the safety of Jewish communities in the U.S – jeopardizes Jews' safety by moonlighting for a government – Qatar – that seemingly sponsors attacks on Jews.
This is no run-of-the-mill conflict of interest that can be dismissed easily because it has major implications for the security and safety of millions of people across America. We are well within our rights to object to a conflict of this magnitude; our concerns should be answered without evasion, distraction, whataboutery, or threats.
Yet, in response to our post, regional security directors from across the U.S. – many of whom are funded directly by and operate under the auspices of SCN – confirmed their full knowledge of Masters' previous professional relationship with Qatar.
They make no attempt to deny it, but try instead to justify it in extraordinary ways by comparing Masters' ties to Qatar with that nation's relations to the U.S. and Israel. They write:
- "Mr. Masters' work in Qatar, with the highly respectable Soufan Group, has been above reproach and has served to help bring Qatar and other middle eastern [sic] countries closer to the United States and the western world on many different issues, especially on issues related to law, order, and security."
- "To question Mr. Masters' work in Qatar, one likewise would have to question and ridicule the work of the U.S. government and its past Presidents."
- "One would also have to denounce the Israeli government itself . . . [which is] working with Qatar. . . ."
This analogy fails on two levels.
First, a private individual's business deals with a nation's leadership are in no way comparable to ties forged between nations. Such a person represents his professional and personal ties (including, in Masters' case, SCN), but not those of his country.
Second, the U.S., as a sovereign state, maintains a degree of relationship with many unsavory nations around the globe, including North Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran. All governments have relationships with all manner of regimes; this is commonly called diplomacy.
If Masters had never received a cent from Qatar's contractors, we could perhaps describe his work differently. Yet, he has been enriched via regular payments from the Qataris.
That which fails as analogy also fails morally: the directors' comparison of Masters' enrichment from Qatar to Israel's diplomatic efforts to secure the release of Hamas' hostages via Doha is especially revolting. It cheapens the suffering of the hostages' families and the efforts of the Israeli government, which is working desperately to free its own citizens and those of other countries. It also cynically ignores that Israel must engage Qatar precisely because of the latter's involvement with and ties to Hamas.
The authors do not mention that Masters' Qatari paycheck is funded partly by the same country whose suitcases of cash to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip – deemed "protection money" by senior Israeli leaders – allowed Hamas to launch the biggest pogrom since the Holocaust. Even the Palestinian Authority's thugs called the Qatari envoys "gangsters."
Qatar's perfidy isn't new: for decades it bullied and bribed the world – not least by attaining the rights to host the World Cup – into ignoring its dire human rights record and its cozy relationship with mass-murdering terrorist organizations. We now know from multiple credible sources how the Qataris gained that right to "sportswash" in a highly unsavory and illegitimate manner.
We would hope that Masters and those who work with him have not learned these tactics from his former company's paymasters.
The Qatari regime's increasingly radioactive reputation is gaining the attention of others.
A recent press release from Counter Extremism Project (CEP) CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace and CEP president Frances F. Townsend calls on "all lobbying and public relations firms to cease working with or representing the Government of Qatar until it detains the Hamas leadership responsible for the October 7 massacre in Israel and remands them into U.S., Israeli, or appropriate third party-custody." They add that "Qatar is complicit in the harboring of Hamas leadership, the promotion of their terrorism activities, and the proliferation of their vile antisemitism."
Adding its voice, on November 5, 2023, Tablet Magazine published an article highlighting Masters' troubling relationship:
The person responsible for the Jewish community's security interests appears to have connections to two different groups of law enforcement and intelligence elites. . . . One, in the U.S., insists that "white supremacists," rather than Islamist terror groups, mobs chanting in favor of Hamas, or governments like the one in Doha are the main threat to Jews and communities in America. Another, namely the one in Doha itself, actively supports Hamas, sheltering its leadership and negotiating on the Islamist group's behalf.
On Friday, November 17, Congressmen Andy Ogles (R-TN) and Andy Biggs (R-AZ) introduced legislation that would suspend Qatar's Major Non-NATO Ally status until the president certifies that it no longer directly supports terrorists (including Hamas):
Relationships are built on trust. The United States' relationship with the State of Qatar is no different, and right now, unfortunately, there is reason to fear a breach of trust. As Hamas terrorists continue to wreak havoc on the lives of innocent Israeli civilians, the United States must ensure there is no ally supporting them. Sadly, the State of Qatar is still funding and supporting Hamas as its leadership enjoys political refuge in Doha.
Yet, despite their best efforts to obscure the undeniable, SCN's directors admit that Masters was a beneficiary of Qatar. As many of them owe their continued employment directly to Masters and SCN, however, we are dismayed that their inherent interest in defending him places them in the uncomfortable position of trying to defend the indefensible.
Perhaps it is this discomfort that explains the weakness of their letter's arguments.
Gregg Roman is director of the Middle East Forum. Winfield Myers is MEF's managing editor and director of its Campus Watch Project.