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Al Jazeera Must Register as a Foreign Agent of Qatar

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani enter a hall for a joint news conference, in Tehran, Iran, July 6, 2022. Photo: Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

Standing in a Gaza hospital this month, an elderly man with a bandaged arm told an Al Jazeera reporter a simple fact: “As for the resistance [Hamas], they come and hide among the people.” The man added: “They can go to hell and hide there.” The reporter promptly turned his back on the man and changed the subject.

Al Jazeera presents itself as a fully professional news-gathering organization. It says its mission is to provide “accurate, in-depth and compelling content that upholds the value of truth.” In practice, the network toes the line of its patron, the state of Qatar.

Qatar sponsors Hamas politically and financially, so it’s hardly surprising that an Al Jazeera correspondent would shut down an interview when it started to reflect poorly on Hamas. Indeed, Al Jazeera’s reporting after October 7 was incendiary enough that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly told the Qatari prime minister to “turn down the volume on Al Jazeera’s coverage” of the war in Gaza, because he knows the country has the power to do so.

The Qatari royal family established Al Jazeera in 1996. Today, the network operates across the globe in Arabic, English, and other languages. Qatar speaks through the network to audiences worldwide, but Al Jazeera does not dare question the autocratic rule of Qatar’s royal family.

The absence of scrutiny extends to the royal family’s relationships with a range of terrorist organizations. Hamas maintains a political office in Doha and receives over $100 million from Qatar every year. The leaders of Hamas live a life of luxury in Doha, as they rule over an impoverished population in the Gaza Strip.

Qatar also has ties to Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood, and, reportedly, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

If Doha sponsors the extremists, Al Jazeera amplifies their voices. Notably, the late Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, hosted a popular show on Al Jazeera through which he legitimized suicide bombings against Israelis.

Al Jazeera English pulled an anchor off air in 2013 after she failed to display sufficient sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood.

As Hamas slaughtered Israeli civilians on October 7, the group’s Doha-based political chief, Ismail Haniyeh, appeared on Al Jazeera to publicly congratulate the terrorists for their “great triumph,” and recruit fighters “to join this battle in any way they can.”

In October, Israel’s communications minister told Israel’s Army Radio that Al Jazeera is “a propaganda mouthpiece” of Hamas. This was hardly the first time such an assessment has been made. But in an increasingly hostile media environment (one that forces Israel to screen footage of Hamas’ massacre to prove it actually happened), more must be done.

Al Jazeera continues to defy US law by failing to register with the Department of Justice (DOJ) as a foreign agent.

DOJ ordered Al Jazeera+, an arm of Al Jazeera based in the United States, to register as an agent of Qatar in 2020. “Despite assertions of editorial independence and freedom of expression,” DOJ’s Chief of Counterintelligence and Export Control noted, “Al Jazeera Media Network and its affiliates are controlled and funded by the Government of Qatar.”

In 2021, a group of senators sent a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland claiming Al Jazeera+ had “willfully ignored DOJ’s mandate” and imploring the DOJ “to explain what, if any, steps it has taken to enforce the law.”

Al Jazeera+ has yet to register as a foreign agent. In February, lawmakers pressed Congressional leadership to suspend the Al Jazeera Media Network’s Capitol Hill press credentials “until the State of Qatar and its propaganda arm agree to adhere to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and other U.S. laws.”

Al Jazeera’s defiance of the law is even more troubling given its history of clandestine activity in United States. The state-controlled network conducted a months-long spy operation in 2018, recording individuals without their consent, to produce a documentary about pro-Israel organizations in Washington in an attempt to delegitimize them. The series was cancelled under pressure, but was eventually leaked online.

Secretary Blinken told Doha last month that “there can be no more business as usual with Hamas.” If that’s true, then the Biden administration must ensure Al Jazeera fully complies with US law by registering as a foreign agent.

Natalie Ecanow is a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a non-partisan research institute in Washington, D.C., focusing on national security and foreign policy. Follow FDD on X @FDD.

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Pope Condemns Anti-Judaism, Antisemitism Amid New Wave of Attacks Against Jews

Pope Francis waves after delivering his traditional Christmas Day Urbi et Orbi speech to the city and the world from the main balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, December 25, 2021. Photo: REUTERS/Yara Nardi

Pope Francis condemned all forms of anti-Judaism and antisemitism, labeling them as a “sin against God,” after noticing an increase in attacks against Jews around the world.

“(The Church) rejects every form of anti-Judaism and antisemitism, unequivocally condemning manifestations of hatred towards Jews and Judaism as a sin against God,” the pontiff wrote in a letter to the Jewish population of Israel dated Feb. 2 and made public on Saturday.

“Together with you, we, Catholics, are very concerned about the terrible increase in attacks against Jews around the world. We had hoped that ‘never again’ would be a refrain heard by the new generations,” he added.

The Pope noted that wars and divisions are increasing all over the world “in a sort of piecemeal world war,” hitting the lives of many populations.

Francis, 87, has condemned Hamas’ Oct. 7 cross-border attack from Gaza into southern Israel. He has also said on several occasions that a two-state solution was needed to put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In his letter, the pope also called, once again, for the release of those hostages still being held by militants.

He said his heart was torn at the sight of the conflict in the Holy Land and the division and hatred stemming from it, adding that the world was looking at the unfolding of events in the area with “apprehension and pain.”

He assured the Jewish community of his closeness and affection, “particularly (those) consumed by anguish, pain, fear and even anger,” repeating his call for the end of the war.

Francis said he prayed for peace. “My heart is close to you, to the Holy Land, to all the peoples who inhabit it, Israelis and Palestinians, and I pray that the desire for peace may prevail in all.”

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Israel Says It Has Struck More than 50 Hezbollah Targets in Syria Since Oct 7

Israeli soldiers take part in training session near the Israel border with Syria at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, February 1, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Gil Eliyahu/File Photo

The Israeli military said on Saturday that since the outbreak of the Gaza war on Oct. 7 it had struck more than 50 targets in Syria linked to the Iranian-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.

The remarks, in a briefing by chief military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari that mainly discussed efforts to beat back Hezbollah attacks launched in solidarity with Hamas, were a departure from Israel’s usual reticence about Syria operations.

“Everywhere Hezbollah is, we shall be. We will take action everywhere required in the Middle East,” Hagari said.

Israeli forces have attacked 34,000 Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, including 120 border surveillance outposts, 40 caches of missiles and other weaponry and more than 40 command centers, Hagari said. He put the number of enemy dead at more than 200.

Hagari said Israel had deployed three army divisions along its side of the Lebanese border in anticipation of Hezbollah getting involved after Palestinian Hamas launched a shock cross-border attack on Oct. 7, triggering the war in the Gaza Strip.

With tens of thousands of its northern residents having evacuated, Israel has threatened to escalate the Lebanon fighting unless Hezbollah backs off from the border – and has sought Western help in finding a diplomatic solution in Beirut.

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American Bases Attacked Within Hours of Retaliatory Strikes in Iraq

US White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby holds a news briefing at the White House in Washington, US, Aug. 4, 2022. Photo: REUTERS/Jim Bourg

i24 NewsAmerican bases once again came under attack by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and missiles, according to Shahab news agency, just a few hours after extensive retaliatory strikes by the United States against Iranian-backed militias in Syria and Iraq.

Following the death of three American soldiers by a drone strike in Jordan, the U.S. carried out strikes against 85 targets located at seven locations in the region, as well as imposing fresh sanctions and reportedly a cyber attack on Iranian targets.

American officials told The New York Times that the U.S. conducted covert cyber-operations against Iranian targets, but declined to provide further details. Though there were overt sanctions on officials from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) cyber division, including the department’s commander Hamid Reza Lashgarian, as well as on companies reportedly supplying the offensive programs.

Furthermore, the Saudi AlHadath channel reported that a senior commander of the Iranian-backed militias was killed in one of the U.S. strikes in Iraq. While other reports indicate that the attacks will result in “significant damage” to the capabilities of the targeted groups, with initial estimates of six dead and 11 wounded.

U.S. President Joe Biden described the operation as striking “targets at facilities in Iraq and Syria that the IRGC and affiliated militia use to attack U.S. forces. Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing.”

“The United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world. But let all those who might seek to do us harm know this: If you harm an American, we will respond,” Biden concluded.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups continue to represent a direct threat to the stability of Iraq, the region, and the safety of Americans. We will continue to take action, do whatever is necessary to protect our people, and…

— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) February 3, 2024

General Michael E. Kurilla, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) commander, posted on X a video of a B-1 bomber taking off, and wrote “Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups continue to represent a direct threat to the stability of Iraq, the region, and the safety of Americans. We will continue to take action, do whatever is necessary to protect our people, and hold those responsible who threaten their safety.”

According to reports, some of the arsenal used were long-range bombers like the B-1 that flew from the continental United States to carry out the attacks. National Security Council spokesman, John Kirby, said “there will be additional response action taken in coming days”.

In addition, some reports indicate the Jordanian Air Force participated in the strikes.

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