If any question remained about whether Al Jazeera is an independent news network or an organ of radical Islamist propaganda, it has now been put to rest.
The television news channel headquartered in Qatar was recently forced by the Federal Communications Commission to file a report disclosing its relationship to its foreign principal, in keeping with an amendment to last year’s National Defense Authorization Act. It transpires that the sole owner and shareholder of the parent company, Al Jazeera International, is none other than “The Emir of the State of Qatar,” listed explicitly in the legal documents as “Head of State.”
According to the regulations cited by the FCC, that means Al Jazeera is subject to the Foreign Agents Registration Act and should be subject to all the disclosure and restrictions that pertain to registered foreign agents operating in the U.S.
This news should come as no surprise to those familiar with Al Jazeera’s programming. For years, the network has faced allegations of propagandizing on behalf of Islamic terrorist groups such as Hamas and providing a platform for the most virulent anti-Semitism. That was confirmed in spades a few weeks ago when the network published (and subsequently took down) a video accusing Jews of exploiting the Holocaust to further Israel’s foreign policy, questioning the number of Jews murdered by Hitler’s Third Reich, and arguing that modern day Israel is carrying on genocide in the region comparable to the genocide of the Shoah.
Although Al Jazeera has long denied accusations that they are a mere mouthpiece for a Qatari regime that provides funding and safe haven for terrorist groups such as Hamas, that pretense can now be dispensed with. Last year, several House Republicans sent a letter to the Justice Department stating that “Al Jazeera’s record of radical anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Israel broadcasts warrants scrutiny from regulators to determine whether this network is in violation of U.S. law.”
Now, the jury is in, and it is time for the Justice Department to require Al Jazeera to register as a foreign agent under FARA. This would simply acknowledge a longstanding reality: Under the best reading of the current situation, the network is essentially a public relations agent for the government of Qatar operating on U.S. soil; under the worst reading, it is an extension of Qatar’s espionage apparatus.
Interestingly, America’s non-Islamist Arab allies in the region came to that conclusion long ago, when they instituted an embargo against Qatar in June of 2017. One of the demands of Western-aligned Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates was that Al Jazeera be shut down as a result of its constant incitement of jihadists and promotion of the pernicious ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. One particular sore point was the platform provided to Yusuf Al Qaradawi — an Egyptian-born leader of the Muslim Brotherhood operating out of Qatar—for his promotion of Holocaust denialism and incitement to terrorist violence against U.S. troops in the region.
But while our Arab allies have no trouble identifying Al Jazeera as a terrorism-promoting propaganda organ of the Qatari government (the primary funders of Hamas), the network still enjoys a strange and unwarranted reputation as an objective and independent Arab voice among many in the West, particularly those on the political Left. Leaders in the Democratic Party should be directly confronted with the question of whether they believe Al Jazeera to be a legitimate news source, or the propaganda outfit of the regime in Doha, which it so transparently is.
If the latter, then they should join House Republicans in demanding that Al Jazeera register as a foreign agent under FARA.