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August 2, 2023 MEMRI Daily Brief No. 510

A Terror Enabler In Beverly Hills And Bel Air – Part I

August 2, 2023 | By Yigal Carmon*
Qatar | MEMRI Daily Brief No. 510

Did the United States grant a visa to former Qatari prime minister and foreign minister Hamad bin Jassim – who headed a state that has the death penalty for homosexuals[1] and who was personally involved in providing millions of dollars of support to U.S.-designated terrorist groups (including Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria),[2] to Hamas in Gaza, to Hizbullah in Lebanon, and even to Iran's IRGC?[3]

Bin Jassim is comfortably residing in his multi-million dollar luxury mansion in Bel Air while developing his billion-dollar business empire (which includes the Maybourne Hotel in Beverly Hills).

The Maybourne Hotel in Beverly Hills (formerly the Montage) (source: Wikipedia Commons)

Any person seeking a visa to the United States – including current and former foreign government officials – must answer several security-related questions as part of the application, including: "Have you ever or do you intend to provide financial assistance or other support to terrorists or terrorist organizations?"[4]

Question from U.S. Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form (DS-160).

If bin Jassim answered "No" to this question, he would have been lying and subject to immediate expulsion from the United States.

And if he answered "Yes" and was nonetheless granted a visa, perhaps this was through the known Qatari methods. These same methods were employed with regard to the FIFA 2022 World Cup, which according to media sources was held in Qatar due to generous bribery.[5] Similarly, the European Parliament was recently rocked with scandal when several of its members were investigated for accepting bribes from Qatar. Former European Parliament vice president Eva Kaili was even found in possession of over €1,000,000 in cash from Qatar, and she was detained on charges of corruption and money laundering.[6]

Left: FIFA trophy statue in front of Qatar's Stadium 974, a World Cup venue (Source: Shutterstock). Right: Cash found in possession of former European Parliament vice president Eva Kaili (inset), a central suspect in the "Qatargate" European Parliament corruption scandal (source: Dailymail.co.uk, December 14, 2022)

The Goal Of This Article

This article is not intended against the current Qatari government, which hosts the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command and is a major non-NATO ally of the U.S. The focus of this report is former Qatari prime minister Hamad bin Jassim, who is no longer a Qatari government official. In fact, according to Arabic-language media[7] and social media,[8] bin Jassim conspired against the government of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Aal Thani in 2020. The purpose of this article is to initiate hearings in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate about Hamad bin Jassim's activities in government as prime minister and foreign minister regarding the extent to which his activities harmed American lives and interests via support for terrorist organizations and whether he deserves a visa to settle in Los Angeles.

Support For Terrorist Organizations

In the 1990s, the Qatari government gave sanctuary and protection to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) – who was involved in planning the "Bojinka" bomb plot to down 11 U.S. airliners over the Pacific Ocean, was involved in planning to assassinate the pope and former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and was connected to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing – in the Water Department of the Doha municipality.[9]

In 1996, when bin Jassim was serving as Qatar's foreign minister, the U.S. government went to arrest KSM in Qatar and gave advance notice only to Qatar's emir. That same night, KSM vanished, only to reappear five years later as the mastermind of 9/11. As Richard Clarke, counter-terrorism advisor to Presidents Clinton and H.W. Bush, wrote: "Had the Qataris handed [KSM] over to us as requested in 1996, the world might have been a very different place." [10]

Indeed, the entire Aal Thani family, including the emir and Interior Minister Abdallah bin Khaled Aal Thani, is guilty in providing safe haven to KSM, and Qatar therefore shares key responsibility in the 9/11 attacks.[11]

 

Right to left: Hamad bin Jassim, Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa, Qatari Interior Minister Abdallah bin Khaled Aal Thani (Source: Alarabiya.net, January 8, 2019)

In addition, on several occasions and across several years, particularly in his capacity as Qatar's Prime Minister, bin Jassim met with Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah with the goal of assisting in rebuilding southern Lebanon, which is a Hizbullah stronghold. It should be recalled that Hizbullah is responsible for (at least) three mass-casualty terrorist attacks against U.S. targets in Beirut: the 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing (in which 63 people were killed), the Beirut barracks bombings (in which 241 U.S. marines were killed), and the 1984 U.S. Embassy annex bombing (in which 23 people were killed). Moreover, the Qatari government's aid to Hizbullah, particularly by means of weapons shipments,[12] endangers the nearly 10,000 U.S. troops stationed at the CENTCOM headquarters in Doha. 

Left: Bin Jassim with Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah (Source: Mediarelations-lb.org, October 7, 2019). Right: Nasrallah with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the late IRGC Qods Force commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani (Source: Khamenei.ir, September 25, 2019).

Indeed, as Qatar's foreign minister and prime minister, bin Jassim certainly had the prerogative of taking such actions on behalf of the Qatari emirate. However, it is one thing to support Hizbullah on behalf of the Qatari government, but it is another thing altogether to afterwards move to Bel Air.

These facts alone should have made it impossible for bin Jassim to acquire a visa to the United States.

I have served as advisor on countering terrorism to two Israeli prime ministers (Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin), and I am a retired colonel in Israel's Military Intelligence Corps. For 25 years, my organization, MEMRI,[13] has been monitoring terrorist and neo-Nazi threats in the West and has been assisting intelligence agencies throughout the West in foiling attacks (including in California and Los Angeles). I have spent over 50 years combatting terrorist threats. On the basis of my experience, I can attest: An individual who in the past was closely involved in assisting terrorist organizations which are still active today constitutes a threat to the citizens of the United States – and in this case, to the residents of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and Bel Air.

The next installments in this series of articles will cover the following:

  • Bin Jassim's background and past activities as Qatar's prime minister and foreign minister, which even include a policy of paying off journalists.

  • Similar information about other members of the Aal Thani family.

  • Qatar's antiLGBTQ policies and grave human rights abuses during the construction of the World Cup stadiums.

  • The 2017 Congressional hearing assessing the relationship between the U.S. and Qatar.[14]

*Yigal Carmon is President and Founder of MEMRI.

 

[1] Gaycitynews.com/strip-qatars-homophobic-regime-of-the-2022-world-cup-now/, September 18, 2020.

[2] Thetimes.co.uk/article/qatar-funnelled-millions-of-dollars-to-nusra-front-terrorists-in-syria-x5rnbsr3l, June 4, 2021.

[3] Washingtonexaminer.com/news/us-investigates-qatar-claims-finances-iran-revolutionary-guard, July 23, 2023.

[4] Travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/PDF-other/DS-160-Example_11-19-2020.pdf, p36.

[5] Nytimes.com/2020/04/06/sports/soccer/qatar-and-russia-bribery-world-cup-fifa.html, April 6, 2020.

[6] Politico.eu/article/cash-missing-eva-kaili-arrest-warrant-points-several-million-euros-qatargate-payments-belgian-police-bribery-ring-francesco-giorgi/, February 22, 2023.

[7] Youm7.com, Arabi21.com.

[8] https://twitter.com/Norashanar May 4, 2020; https://twitter.com/QtrGov  May 4, 2020

[9] Nydailynews.com/opinion/knew-qatar-trouble-article-1.3306729, July 6, 2017.

[10] Nydailynews.com/opinion/knew-qatar-trouble-article-1.3306729, July 6, 2017.

[11] See also The New York Times, September 10, 2019, page A19. It should also be noted that KSM was directly involved in the 2002 kidnapping and murder of American-Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl. See: Reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-alqaeda-pearl-idUSTRE74M27020110523, May 23, 2011.

[12] Zeit.de/politik/2020-07/katar-finanzierung-hisbollah-vorwuerfe, July 17, 2020.

[13] See Memri.org/about.

[14] Govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-115hhrg26427/pdf/CHRG-115hhrg26427.pdf.

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