May 21, 2019

USA: Islamic Nation Of Qatar Has Given $1 Billion To American Universities Since 2011, With More Than $830 Million Directed To Three U.S. Universities—Georgetown, Northwestern, And Texas A&M.

Judicial Watch
written by Staff
Monday May 20, 2019

A tiny and vulnerable country that punches well above its weight, Qatar takes a traditional route to security: it spreads money around and cultivates alliances far and wide. Contradictions abound. The Persian Gulf monarchy has strong business ties to Iran, angering its Saudi neighbors and the U.S. But it hosts the Americans at the critical Al Udeid Air Base—the forward operations post for the entire U.S. military effort in the Middle East. Qatar supports terror-aligned groups such Hamas, but sponsors the freewheeling Al Jazeera television network. A Sunni nation, its Shia minority worships freely. But its media is filled with anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda. It’s an inconsistent partner in the American-led war on terror and terror financing. Regional players, led by Saudi Arabia and angered over Qatar’s ties with Iran and support for the Muslim Brotherhood, slapped an economic blockade on it in 2017. But Qatar’s dynamic economy, powered by vast oil and natural gas reserves, shook it off.

Qatar’s influence operations extend into the U.S. In 2017, it quadrupled American lobbying efforts to $16 million spread across 23 firms, including targeting friends of the president, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Qatar also pours money into American universities. Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller put the numbers together. Qatar has given $1 billion to American universities since 2011, with more than $830 million directed to three U.S. universities—Georgetown, Northwestern, and Texas A&M. Not coincidentally, all three now operate satellite campuses in Qatar.

Does Qatar’s money come with strings attached? Is it supporting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activities at American universities? Inquiries have hit stone walls. Universities have “refused to discuss where strings are attached,” Rosiak noted. Qatar hired the powerhouse law firm Squire Patton Boggs to crush a freedom of information request to Texas A&M. At Georgetown, Rosiak wrote, requests for basic information about Qatari funding were “repeatedly ignored.”

In April, Judicial Watch took up the Texas A&M case. We filed a petition to intervene on behalf of our client, the Zachor Legal Institute, which is seeking information about Qatari funding of the university. Qatar and Texas A&M want to prevent the release of that information.

“Judicial Watch and the Zachor Legal Institute are battling in court for the truth about how the foreign government of Qatar lassoed Texas A&M into setting up a campus in a country run by a government known for its promotion of terrorism and extreme anti-Israel and anti-Semitic policies” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

The case began when Zachor—a think tank and advocacy group investigating anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activities—started asking questions about how state-funded Texas A&M was able to establish a campus in Qatar without the approval of the Texas state legislature. Zachor filed a request to Texas A&M under the Texas Public Information Act seeking summaries of all monies directed to the university. In a later request, Zachor sought all Qatar-connected communications related to the funding.

That’s apparently when Qatari officials grew alarmed. Squire Patton Boggs stepped into the case on behalf of Texas A&M and the Qatar Foundation. The foundation is an arm of the Qatari royal family that directs funding worldwide. In a letter to the Texas attorney general, the law firm argued that Texas law prohibits release of the information because it would give commercial advantage to competitors, disclose trade secrets, and reveal the identity of donors.

Judicial Watch is fighting back. In our court filing, we point out that the Qatari government and its agencies are not protected under Texas public information law.

In addition, the law is specific: it protects only the identity of private donors, not government entities such as the Qatar Foundation. There’s no doubt the Qatar Foundation is a government entity. The Judicial Watch filing notes: “the Qatar Foundation was created by the emir of Qatar, is chaired by his consort, and is sponsored and supported by the government of Qatar, a monarchy.”

Why does any of this matter? Go back to that $1 billion Qatar has been spreading around American universities. “We suspect that Qatar may be using university grants to surreptitiously fund radical individuals and groups on campuses and if this is happening, we expect to find evidence through the financial records,” Zachor president Marc Greendorfer told the Jewish News Service.

If you’re the government of Qatar or Texas A&M, that’s a secret worth hiding.

We’ll keep you updated on the case. For more, read Judicial Watch’s filing and related documents here.
Counter Extremism Project


Qatar—a longtime U.S. ally and member of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS—has supported and harbored international terrorist organizations and individuals. The hydrocarbon-rich Gulf country sends direct financial and material support to internationally-designated terrorist groups such as Hamas and the Nusra Front,* and knowingly permits internationally-designated or wanted terrorist leaders and financiers to operate within its borders.* On June 5, 2017, seven countries—Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, the Maldives, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen—announced that they were severing diplomatic ties with Qatar as a result of the country’s support for terrorist and extremist groups in the region.* In severing ties with Qatar, Saudi Arabia announced that it was working to “protect national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism.” Bahrain and others similarly cited national security concerns and Qatar’s destabilizing activities in the region as reasons for the split.*

The Qatari government has lent support to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)*, Hamas*, the Muslim Brotherhood*, the Nusra Front*, and the Taliban*—including through direct money loans, ransom payments, and supplies transfers. Qatar is also currently harboring at least 12 sanction-designated or wanted individuals, including former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Yusuf al-Qaradawi, three U.N.-sanctioned Taliban operatives, and at least seven al-Qaeda financiers.* Although these individuals have been publically sanctioned by the United States or United Nations, or are the subject of INTERPOL arrest warrants, they are able to live with impunity—and in some cases, in luxury—within Qatar.

Direct Government Funding and Support

The Qatari government has paid ransom demands, shipped supplies, and funneled billions of dollars of funding—to internationally-designated extremist groups throughout the Middle East and North Africa.* These groups include al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Nusra Front, and the Taliban.*

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Pensinula (AQAP)

Based in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, AQAP is known for its English-language magazine Inspire, as well as its involvement in both the 2009 Christmas Day bomb plot and the 2010 Times Square bomb plot. The group claimed responsibility for the massacre at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo in 2015. It has seized and controls territory across Yemen’s southern provinces, where it seeks to implement sharia (Islamic law).

Designated by:

Australia, Canada, Israel, United Kingdom, United Nations, United States

Qatari Support:
  • In 2010, an arm of the Qatari government donated funds to help rebuild a Yemeni mosque for Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhab Muhammad `Abd al-Rahman al-Humayqani, an AQAP financier later designated by the U.S. Treasury. Qatari officials also reportedly attended the opening of the mosque.*
  • In 2012 and 2013, Qatar reportedly sent millions of dollars of ransom payments to AQAP. Those payments were believed to have directly enabled AQAP to rebuild its network and seize territory in southern Yemen.*

The ruling terror party of the Gaza Strip, Hamas openly seeks the destruction of Israel. The group uses suicide bombings, rocket and mortar attacks, shootings, and kidnappings in pursuit of its stated objectives.

Designated by:

Australia, Canada, Egypt, EU, Israel, Japan, Jordan, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States

Qatari Support:
  • Qatar’s financial support of Hamas dates back to at least 2008, when Doha reportedly pledged $250 million to Hamas one year after the terror group violently seized control of the Gaza Strip.*
  • In 2012, Qatar’s then-emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani pledged more than $400 million to Hamas to fund the construction of housing complexes and roads.*
  • In July 2016, the Qatari government announced that it would give $30 million to Hamas in order to help pay the salaries of Gazan public sector workers. The following month, Hamas’s deputy leader Ismail Haniyeh said that Qatar’s donations would also go toward paying Hamas’s “military personnel”.*
  • Qatar continues to host Khaled Meshaal, who served as Hamas’s leader from 2004 until May 2017. In 2015, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah referred to Meshaal—then the leader of Hamas—as a “dear guest of Qatar.”*
  • In early May 2017, Hamas announced updates to its charter at a press conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Doha.*
Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood—founded in Egypt in 1928—is a transnational Islamist organization with branches worldwide. In the 1950s, Brotherhood theologian Sayyid Qutb legitimized the use of violent jihad—and the killing of secular Muslims—in order to implement sharia. Analysts argue that the Brotherhood’s ideology has spawned groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Designated by:

Bahrain, Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates

Qatari Support:
  • The Qatari government lent or gave the Muslim Brotherhood a total of $7.5 billion during Mohammed Morsi’s tenure as President of Egypt, between June 2012 and July 2013.*
  • During this time, Qatar’s then-Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani personally transferred as much as $850,000 to the Brotherhood.*
  • The Doha-owned media outlet Al Jazeera has provided the Brotherhood with overwhelmingly positive press attention, particularly during the Arab Spring and Morsi’s rise and fall from power. In July 2013, 22 Egyptian-based Al Jazeera employees quit due to what they perceived as the company’s biased, pro-Brotherhood agenda.*
  • Brotherhood ideologue Yusuf al-Qaradawi continues to live freely in Qatar while preaching extremist messaging. Qaradawi is banned by the United States, United Kingdom, and France, and is the subject of an INTERPOL warrant for his arrest.*
Nusra Front
a.k.a. Jabhat Fateh al-Sham

The Nusra Front, a.k.a. Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, is a territory-controlling jihadist insurgent group operating in Syria. Long known as al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the group claimed to have formally renounced ties to its mother group in July 2016. The Nusra Front has carried out military campaigns, kidnappings, suicide bombings, and assassinations, and is reported to receive the highest number of foreign fighters in Syria after ISIS. It currently operates under an Islamist umbrella organization known as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (Assembly for the Liberation of Sham).

Designated by:

Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, EU, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Nations, United States

Qatari Support:
  • In 2015, Qatari government officials began meeting with Nusra Front leaders—including leader Abu Muhammad al-Golani—to hint that the group might receive Qatari support if it cut ties with al-Qaeda, according to Nusra and Qatari sources cited by Reuters. The Nusra Front did exactly that in July 2016. Less than two weeks later, the Financial Times quoted Syrian activists and rebels who alleged that Qatar had been sending weapons, supplies, and money to the Nusra Front “for weeks.” The United States retained the designated status of the Nusra Front—adding its new alias “Jabhat Fateh al-Sham”—reaffirming that the group “remains al-Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria.”*
  • Qatar has allowed Nusra Front commanders to fundraise inside the country, according to U.S. and Arab government officials.*
  • The Qatari government has reportedly negotiated hostage ransom transactions between the Nusra Front and various governments.*
  • Since at least 2013, Doha itself has reportedly made several ransom payments to the Nusra Front. In one instance in October 2013, Doha paid more than $100 million to the terror group, according to Lebanese and Turkish sources.*
  • The Qatari government has funneled guns and money to Ahrar al-Sham, a Nusra Front ally that operates alongside the group under the new umbrella coalition for Islamist Syrian rebels, Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham.*
[Qatar is] promising Nusra more support, i.e. money, supplies etc., 
once they let go of the Qaeda ties.
Unamed Qatari government official, March 2015


The Taliban is an Afghanistan- and Pakistan-based jihadist insurgent group that has carried out numerous deadly terrorist attacks in the region, including the shooting of Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan’s Swat Valley in October 2012, the December 2015 assault on Kandahar Air Field which left 50 dead, and the December 2014 massacre at the army-run school in Peshawar that killed 148 people, 132 of whom were schoolchildren. Taliban insurgents and ISIS militants in eastern Afghanistan have cooperated against the Afghan government since mid-2016.

Designated by:

Canada, EU, France, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Russia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Nations, United States

Qatari Support:
  • Doha hosts the Taliban’s “political office,” which the group opened in June 2013. The Taliban has referred to the office as the only entity where Taliban negotiations are authorized to take place.*
  • In May 2014, Qatar received five Taliban operatives who had been transferred from Guantanamo Bay. Three of the five operatives were—and still are—under U.N. sanctions and several are believed to have reengaged in terrorist activities since arriving in Qatar, according to the U.S. Committee on Armed Services. Qatar reportedly subsidizes housing and provisions of these U.N.-sanctioned militants in one of Doha’s most exclusive neighborhoods.
Harboring Terrorist Leaders and Financiers


Qatar harbors internationally-designated and banned terrorist leaders, including former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal,* Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Yusuf al-Qaradawi,* and three U.N.-sanctioned Taliban operatives.* Many of these individuals are reported to live in extravagance in Doha’s most exclusive neighborhoods

Khaled Meshaal
Leader of Hamas

Designated by:
United States

  • Led Hamas from 2004 to May 2017. Meshaal oversaw Hamas’s transition from a guerilla terrorist organization into a terrorist/political hybrid.
  • Has held press conferences at internationally-owned businesses in Qatar, including the Four Seasons hotel in Doha.*
  • Meshaal resides “in the most luxurious hotel in the most beautiful district [in Qatar],” according to an Egyptian television host.*
  • Reported to own four towers and a commercial center on a seven-acre plot in Qatar, developed by a domestic real estate agency.
Yusuf Al-Qaradawi
Muslim Brotherhood Ideologue

Banned from:
France, United States, United Kingdom.

Subject of an INTERPOL alert calling for his arrest.

  • Qaradawi’s fatwas (legal rulings) have called for the murder of U.S. civilians and troops in Iraq, the execution of homosexuals, and the killing of Jews “down to the very last one.”*
  • Spearheads the Qaradawi Centre for Research and Modern Thought at Qatar’s Education City, a “multiversity” campus started by the Qatari royal family. The University comprises Western universities including Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Georgetown, Northwestern, Texas A&M, and Virginia Commonwealth.*
Fazl Mohammad Mazloom
Taliban’s former Deputy Minister of Defense

Designated by:
United Nations

Nurullah Nuri
Taliban’s former military commander

Designated by:
United Nations

Abdul-Haq Wassiq
Taliban’s former Deputy Director General of Intelligence

Designated by:
United Nations


According to former Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen, Qatar is a “permissive terrorist financing environment” that enables “private fundraising networks” to operate within its borders.*

Below are some of the designated or wanted members of those networks, all of whom are al-Qaeda financiers:

Abd Al-Rahman Bin ‘Umayr Al-Nu’aymi

Designated by:
European Union, Turkey, United Kingdom, United Nations, United States

  • Has transferred millions of dollars to al-Qaeda affiliates in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen.*
  • At one point, provided $2 million per month to ISIS’s forerunner, al-Qaeda in Iraq.*
  • Close associate of Qatar’s ruling Al Thani family. Holds prominent positions in several government-backed organizations.
Khalifa Muhammad Turki Al-Subaiy

Designated by:
United Nations, United States

  • Has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to al-Qaeda senior leaders in South Asia, including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.*
  • Arrested and jailed in Qatar in March 2008. Designated by the U.S. that July. Released by Qatari authorities two months after the U.S. designation with no further charges.*
Abd Al-Aziz Bin Khalifa Al-Attiyah

Wanted by:

  • Has funneled money to al-Qaeda and Nusra Front operatives in Lebanon.*
  • Has solicited donations for the Nusra Front over social media.*
  • Has voiced support for Osama bin Laden and ISIS on Twitter.*
  • In November 2014, a Lebanese court found Attiyah guilty in absentia for providing financial support to terrorist organizations. The Qatari government has dismissed those charges as politically motivated.*
Salim Hasan Khalifa Rashid Al-Kuwari

Designated by:
United States

  • Channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars to al-Qaeda through an Iran-based network.*
  • Facilitated the travel of extremist recruits abroad and secured the release of al-Qaeda detainees in Iran.*
  • Reportedly employed by Qatar’s Ministry of Interior even after his 2011 designation.*
Abdallah Ghanim Mafuz Muslim Al-Khawar

Designated by:
United States

  • Aided Kuwari in channeling hundreds of thousands of dollars to al-Qaeda through an Iran-based network.*Facilitated travel for militants to Afghanistan for jihad.*
  • Detained by Qatar in early 2011. Designated by the U.S. that July. Released by Qatari authorities three months after the U.S. designation—with no further charges.*
Abd Al-Latif Bin Abdllaha Salih Muhammad Al-Kawari

Designated by:
United States, United Nations

  • Transferred funds to al-Qaeda. Responsible for providing Qatari-based financiers with proof that their funds were delivered to the terror group.
Sa’d Bin Sa’d Muhammad Shariyan Al Ka’bi

Designated by:
European Union, Hong Kong, Pakistan, United Kingdom, United Nations, United States

  • Solicited donations for the Nusra Front over social media.*
  • Facilitated a Nusra Front hostage exchange.*
[In America] they look at some movements as terrorist movements.
In our part of the region, we don’t.
Emir Tamim Al Thani, September 2014

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