There’s a US-based organization that is being funded by Qatar. They have been tasked with furthering the terrorist-linked country’s national vision. What’s worse is they are influencing school curriculums around the US in K-12 schools with their donations. Over $30 million has been disbursed to public schools in the United States as a way of funding Arabic language programs.
Documents show that any school that accepts grants from the Qatar Foundation International are required to provide a certain amount of access to the foreign-funded organization. This includes at-will access to students. The Qatar Foundation International (QFI) organization has engaged in a number of activities that are considered to be crossing the line into overt propaganda on behalf of Qatar.
Essentially, the group has found a legal loophole that allows them to influence school curriculums without registering as a foreign agent. However, experts are wondering if they have crossed a boundary where they are now pushing overt propaganda.
The Wall Street Journal reported that QFI has dispersed all of this money to fund Arabic language programs. They have been doing so since 2009, too.
Memos from QSI stated that they exist as a way of promoting the nation’s goals of the Middle East. The executive director has also stated publicly that one of her bosses is a part of the Qatari royal family and also the CEO of the foreign Qatar Foundation.
With QFI claiming to be an educational organization, they do not have to register as part of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). With the loophole that they have found, it may leave schools around the United States vulnerable to interference, including not only funding Arabic language programs but also giving them access to student information.
Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist, has said that WFI is closely associated with the Qatar Foundation as well as the Qatari government. Since they have extensive functions to influence public policy in the US, the Department of Justice’s FARA unit needs to ensure that the organization is doing everything that they say that they’re doing – and nothing else. If any of the educational problems shape public opinion in a way that is propaganda-like, WFI should be required to register under the FARA and disclose their funding.
Holman isn’t the only one to question the overt propaganda of QFI, either. Oren Litwin, a Middle East Forum analyst also believes that the organization is pushing propaganda for the Qatari government. Litwin explains that quite a few of their activities cross a line. It’s also important to look at the strategic goal that the organization has – to further the nation’s goals. What that means in detail is not clear, which is why some research needs to be done before they continue to donate to any more schools. $30 million is a significant amount of money – and public schools may be in jeopardy of crossing propaganda lines when they are accepting the funds.
Since it is currently unclear as to whether the educational programs are part of an influential operation, the organization needs to be carefully researched. Further, if they register as a foreign agent under FARA, it would allow them to maintain compliance. At that point, schools can choose whether to accept the grant or not by understanding all of the information.
In 2017, Al Jazeera and QFI co-produced a propaganda video. Qatari residents spoke out about land and sea blockades. A number of other countries, including Egypt, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates have accused Qatar of funding terrorism, engaging in foreign meddling, and backing Iran. While the propaganda video is not part of the educational mission, it is advocacy.
The Justice Department was questioned in June by Republican lawmakers regarding Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera has been identified as a messaging tool for the Qatari government. It is thought that they, too, should be registering as a foreign agent.
In 2017, Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Qatar as a way of protecting national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism. The United Arab Emirates have identified similar issues. While Qatar continues to deny accusations that they harbor terrorists and engage in any kind of efforts to destabilize the Middle East, QFI continues to be allowed to fund Arabic language programs throughout K-12 schools around the country.
QFI has been organized as a private charity. At this point in time, they fund 22 public schools. In 2015, a memorandum went out to a Houston school district to say that QFI formed for the purpose of advancing the vision of “Her Highness Sheikha bint Nasser.” With such comments being made, an investigation needs to be opened.