Swalwell’s alliances with Qatar Foundation show how Islamist state seeks influence

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Rep. Eric Swalwell, a member of the House intelligence committee, is under pressure following the exposure of  an expensive junket to Qatar  where he met with the organization leading Qatar’s foreign subversion campaign.

According to a recent report by the Washington Free Beacon, Swalwell took an opportunity during the trip paid for by the U.S.-Qatar Business Council to meet with the Qatar Foundation, a notorious quasi-governmental non-profit best known for its connection to Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, who has played a historical role in promoting jihadist violence and supporting the designated terrorist group Hamas.

The Qatar Foundation, founded by the Qatari royal family, serves as one of several non-profit entities through which the small peninsula nation promotes its Islamist agenda. As Center Senior fellow Dave Reaboi writes in his book Qatar’s Shadow War:

We tend to think of foundations as kinds of non-partisan non-profits; the Qatar foundation, however is different. It exists to advance the priorities of the state. Even as it has been routinely criticized for promoting Islamic extremism, including antisemitism, the Qatar Foundation has been since its inception, a way for the Emirate to project soft power —usually influence, in one way or another— in the service of its national interests.

One way the Qatar Foundation achieves this influence is through its affiliation with American universities which are paid to operate campuses at Doha’s Education City, also home to the Al-Qaradawi Centre for Research and Modern Thought.

The Qatar Foundation also controls the Brookings Center Doha, and together with sizeable donations exhibits significant control over the Brookings Institution, an influential liberal think tank. Former Brookings Doha visiting fellow Saleem Ali has said “there is a no-go zone when it came to criticizing the Qatari government.”

Swalwell has been a vocal critic of Qatar’s main rival Saudi Arabia, even prior to the Doha trip. In particular Swalwell jumped into the Jamal Khashoggi affair with both feet, using the death of the Islamist activist and Washington Post Columnist as a rhetorical club against then President Donald Trump. Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident with ties to the Qatari regime, was killed by Saudi agents during what may have been a botched rendition attempt. Evidence later showed that Khashoggi’s columns may have been part of a larger influence campaign run out of the Qatar Foundation.

The decision by Swalwell to agree to meet with Qatar Foundation leaders is yet another example of the Democrat congressman’s bad judgment when it comes to foreign influence. Swalwell has already faced criticism following the exposure of his intimate relationship with Chinese spy Christine Fang, who raised money for Swalwell’s congressional campaign while posing as a student. Swalwell’s willingness to meet with Qatar Foundation representatives, despite the organization’s role in both promoting jihadist ideology and as the leading edge of Qatar’s foreign subversion campaign, is yet another indicator in a pattern of behavior which shows he is fundamentally unequipped to serve on the U.S. Intelligence Committee.

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