The massive Texas A&M University System announced on Thursday that it will pull the plug on its controversial campus in the tiny oil-rich authoritarian state of Qatar because of Middle East volatility, prompting a furious reaction from the Qatar Foundation.
Texas A&M said in a statement that the university's "Board of Regents decided to reassess the university's physical presence in Qatar in fall 2023 due to the heightened instability in the Middle East."
Qatar's regime hosts the leaders of the US-designated terrorist movement Hamas, and the Sunni Islamist regime in Doha is currently in the crosshairs of congressional scrutiny due to its zealous political and financial support for Hamas.
Qatar funneled over $2 billion into the coffers of Hamas over the last decade. Critics argue that Qatar's funds played a significant role in the Hamas massacre of 1,200 people in southern Israel on October 7, including the murders of over 30 Americans.
Fox News Digital reported in January, and the AP reported in 2022 that Qatar's regime allegedly hired a former American CIA officer, Kevin Chalker, to spy on Senators, including Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, and members of the House of Representatives opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood and its Palestinian offshoot, Hamas.
Chalker's lawyer, Kevin Carroll, told Fox News Digital, "Mr. Chalker has a long-standing record of service to the United States, and any allegations of wrongdoing—much less defamatory allegations of criminal wrongdoing—by him or GRA are just false." GRA is the acronym for Chalker's company, Global Risk Advisors.
According to a post on X, the Qatar Foundation said the university's decision to shutter the campus "has been influenced by a disinformation campaign aimed at harming the interests of QF."
The Board of Regents of Texas A&M Chairman, Bill Mahomes, said it "decided that the core mission of Texas A&M should be advanced primarily within Texas and the United States. He added, "By the middle of the 21st century, the university will not necessarily need a campus infrastructure 8,000 miles away to support education and research collaborations."
The Regent vote to terminate the partnership with Qatar passed 7-1. The Qatar campus will cease to operate starting in 2028. The formal name for the campus in Qatar—Texas A&M at Qatar (TAMUQ)—was launched "in 2003 to advance education and research in chemical, electrical, mechanical, and petroleum engineering," according to the University statement.
The Jerusalem Post reported on January 5 that the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP) urged US officials to investigate the Texas A&M partnership with Qatar because of alleged threats to American security over Qatar's access to sensitive atomic and weapons information.
ISGAP wrote Jennifer M. Granholm, US Secretary of the Department of Energy, about "alarming research findings exposing Qatar's unreported and unregulated funding to Texas A&M University. Qatar's substantial ownership of nuclear research and sensitive weapon development rights at the university, warning of a serious potential threat to US national security."
According to ISGAP's research, "Qatar has acquired full ownership of more than 500 research projects at Texas A&M, some of which are in highly sensitive fields such as nuclear science, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, biotech robotics, and weapons development."
Qatar Has "Donated" Billions in Return for IP Rights of Research Projects
ISGAP's research "found that Qatar and Qatari state-owned proxies have given more than $1 billion to Texas A&M in return for the ownership of the intellectual property rights of over 500 research projects."
The Post's January report was widely cited in the local media in College Station, Texas, where the prominent university is situated.
According to a Thursday article in The Bryan-College Station Eagle, which reports on the university, "Last month, online reports questioned A&M's security measures and ties to nuclear engineering research in relation to the Qatar campus. The Jerusalem Post, Israel's top English newspaper, reported on a letter from The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP)."
The Texas television outlet KBTX3 reported on Thursday, "Concerns about the A&M campus in Qatar bubbled to the surface after reports from several outlets, including The Post, referenced a letter from the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP)."
Texas A&M President Mark Welsh flatly denied to KBTX's Rusty Surette that Qatar secured highly sensitive national security information, declaring the allegations to be "insanity" and "irresponsible."
Dr. Charles Asher Small, Director of ISGAP, said on Friday, "We commend the Board of Regents for their courageous and morally principled stance. By reevaluating Texas A&M's presence in Qatar, the Board has demonstrated a commitment to academic integrity, ethical principles, and national security concerns. This is an important statement affirming that there is no place in U.S. academia for billions of dollars coming from a state that supports and funds terror and promotes and spreads the extremist Islamist ideology from the Muslim Brotherhood."
Small added, "As Texas A&M's departure from Education City in Doha marks a significant and meaningful shift in US academia's ties to the Qatari Regime, we urge the remaining US universities there – Virginia Commonwealth, Weill Cornell Medicine, Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown, and Northwestern – to follow suit and relocate their educational endeavours elsewhere, refraining from accepting funding tainted by an anti-Western, anti-democratic, pro-Jihad regime."
Richard Goldberg, who graduated from Northwestern and worked for the National Security Council during the Trump administration, told the Post, "Northwestern plays a major role in Qatar's malign influence activities. Not only does Qatar endow a Middle East studies chair to stir up anti-Israel sentiment on campus, the university partners with Al Jazeera in Doha despite the outlet's material support for terrorism, anti-American incitement, and unadulterated antisemitism."
Other Universities Intend to Continue Collaboration with Qatar
The Post reached out to the American universities with satellite campuses in Qatar. The Post asked if the American universities plan to shut their campuses and about the reported role of Qatar in spreading antisemitism and financing Islamist terrorist movements and organizations.
Jon Yates, a spokesman for Northwestern University, told the Post, "Northwestern has partnerships with educational institutions in more than three dozen countries around the world, including two universities in Israel. We maintain a campus in Doha, Qatar, to educate future generations of journalists and those working in communications fields, representing more than 50 nationalities, to help positively impact the region. Northwestern looks forward to continuing to educate students from across the region and around the world."
When pressed about Qatar's role in stoking Jew hatred in its school curriculum, according to a Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) study, and Qatar's alleged role in funding the Islamist terrorist movement, Yates declined to comment.
Joel M. Malina, Vice President for University Relations at Cornell University, told The Post, "Cornell receives funding to operate a medical school in Qatar that has graduated over 500 students from the Middle East, Asia, and many other countries, including the U.S. We are proud of this collaboration that is helping to train much-needed doctors to support patient care, biomedical research and overall quality of life."
According to MEMRI's study, the Qatari Islamic Education textbooks for grades 1-12 "glorify jihad and self-sacrifice for the sake of Islam, presenting them as virtues and as divine commandments that earn Allah's favor and rewards, chief among them admittance into the highest level of Paradise. Moreover, starting in grade 8, the books stress the importance of death in Islam instead of the importance of life."
MEMRI added," The textbooks repeatedly emphasize the difference between Muslims and non-Muslims, describing the latter as 'unbelievers' who will suffer terrible tortures in Hell and whom the Muslims must renounce. The books stress the superiority of Islam over other religions, especially over Judaism and Christianity, which are presented as false and distorted religions, and also feature anti-Semitic motifs, presenting Jews as treacherous, dishonest and crafty, and at the same time as weak, wretched and cowardly."
When confronted about Qatar's reported antisemitism and enabling Islamist terrorism, Malina refused to comment.
Northwestern and Cornell have been rocked by outbreaks of antisemitism since Hamas invaded Israel in October.
Virginia Commonwealth University, Carnegie Mellon University, Arkansas State University, and Georgetown University did not immediately respond to The Post's press queries about their campuses and activities in Qatar.
Texas A&M's decision to close its campus in Qatar electrified the pro-Israel community and counter-terrorism experts in the US.
The founder and Chairman of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), Pastor John Hagee, said about his Alma mater, Texas A&M, "I am deeply grateful to Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp and the entire Board of Regents for making the right decision in ending the University's association with Qatar. Doha has decided to side with terrorists; as such, Aggies have no business associating with that regime."
CUFI is based in San Antonio, Texas. Hagee added, "Across the country, we've seen examples of leaders at (allegedly) elite institutions fail even to articulate the right decision, let alone act on it. Chancellor Sharp and the Board of Regents' actions should be an inspiration to others in academia across the country. We should have no business with supporters of terror and no tolerance for antisemitism, no matter the context."
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), told The Post that "SWC hopes Texas A&M decision will inspire other universities to cut ties with the anti-Semitic, Hamas supporter Qatar. Thank you, CUFI, for your unstinting support of the Jewish State."
The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) Chief Executive Officer, Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, said, "Qatar's global isolation is rightly increasing every day. Texas A&M should be roundly applauded for rejecting sponsorship from a global funder of terrorism. Remaining universities with ties to Qatar must follow suit or risk severe reputational damage."
He added, " Academic integrity, freedom of expression, and tolerance cannot exist alongside terror sponsorship. Texas A&M has taken the right step in rejecting this sponsorship and refusing to participate in Qatar's attempts to whitewash its bloody legacy."
Benjamin Weinthal, a 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.