Hamas Patron Qatar Quietly Bankrolling Group Building Medal of Honor Memorial in DC

Hamas Patron Qatar Quietly Bankrolling Group Building Medal of Honor Memorial in DC
US Army medal of honor

The oil-rich Hamas ally has spent billions buying influence in the United States.

By Chuck Ross, Washington Free Beacon

The National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation had a great 2021.

In June, the group held a successful forum featuring two Medal of Honor recipients and former acting secretary of defense Christopher Miller. That December, President Joe Biden signed a law green-lighting the group’s plan to construct a monument in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial honoring America’s greatest war heroes.

The National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation enjoys broad bipartisan support: Every living former president serves as an honorary director on the group’s board, save Donald Trump. Along with its memorial in Washington, D.C., the group is at work on a museum in Arlington, Texas, to honor the 3,517 Medal of Honor recipients. It counts among its largest donors Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

But the foundation has another donor, one that stands out among former presidents and Texas football tycoons: Qatar, the oil-rich Gulf monarchy that has come under fire in recent months for supporting Hamas and other terrorist groups.

The foundation lists “the people of Qatar” as one of its “Founders Circle” donors, the highest rung of patrons. In reality, the money flows from the authoritarian Qatari government, controlled by the Thani family dynasty. The Qatari embassy has pledged $5 million in all to the foundation, according to previously unreported documents submitted to Congress last year.

That makes the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation another spoke in Qatar’s multi-front approach to buying influence and prestige in the United States. Qatar has spent $6 billion on lobbying and funding for American universities and think tanks, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

“This is consistent with Qatar’s M.O.,” Jonathan Schanzer, a senior vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said of Qatar’s funding. “It’s buyer beware. [The National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation] certainly isn’t the first to take money from the Qataris, and they won’t be the last.”

Qatar’s influence activities are of concern to many policymakers because of the monarchy’s relations with Hamas, Taliban, and Iran.

“Foreign adversaries have no place in American schools and certainly don’t have a place in a museum honoring American military heroes,” Rep. Kevin Hern (R., Okla.), the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, told the Free Beacon. Hern has pushed for legislation to require nonprofit organizations to disclose their foreign donors. “These donations are a back-door loophole for countries like Qatar and China to expand their influence in the United States.”

Qatar is technically an American military ally: It hosts Al-Udeid Air Base, a jumping-off point for many American military missions. But Qatar also finances Hamas and harbors senior leaders of the terrorist group in its capital, Doha.

That relationship has come under heightened scrutiny after Hamas’s attack on Israel on Oct. 7, in which more than 1,000 Israelis were murdered. The Qatari government said that it “holds Israel solely responsible for the ongoing escalation” due to what it called “ongoing violations of the rights of the Palestinian people.” Qatari officials have served as intermediaries in negotiations between the United States, Israel, and Hamas, but have been highly critical of the Israeli government.

Qatar has enlisted three of its lobbyists—SGR Government Relations, BGR Government Affairs, and former U.S. ambassador to Qatar Chase Untermeyer—to lobby on issues related to the museum, according to government records. SGR Government Affairs helped arrange the June 2021 event, which featured Qatar’s defense attaché, to highlight “the critical and meaningful role Qatar has played as an enduring U.S. military ally,” according to the firm’s lobbying disclosures.

In 2022, BGR and Untermeyer contacted Texas state officials on behalf of Qatar to invite participants to a groundbreaking ceremony for the museum in Arlington, Texas. The Qatari embassy posted photos from the event on social media.

A person familiar with Qatar’s donation said the monarchy has given $2 million so far to the foundation and will provide the additional $3 million by 2026. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, defended the relationship, noting Qatar’s status as a non-NATO ally of the United States.

“Qatar is proud to honor U.S. women and men who serve their country in uniform,” the person told the Free Beacon. “For more than 30 years, Qatar and the United States have been defense cooperation partners. Qatar takes seriously its burden sharing responsibilities, and contributes significant resources to its defense cooperation with the United States.”

The foundation, which raked in $156 million in donations between 2018 and 2022, did not respond to requests for comment.

The foundation’s board of directors and advisory board are a who’s who of retired military and intelligence leaders. Former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama are honorary directors of the foundation. Leon Panetta and Robert Gates, each of whom served as CIA director and secretary of defense, are on the advisory board and “leadership council,” respectively. Former CIA directors David Petraeus and Michael Hayden are also on advisory board.

Numerous Medal of Honor recipients are directors and board members as well. In addition to Jones, its 94 “Founders Circle” members include Bank of America, Boeing, and JPMorgan.

But the affiliation with Qatar should give all involved pause, according to Schanzer, who investigated terrorism financing at the Treasury Department under then-president Bush.

“If their goal is to maintain a level of legitimacy,” Schanzer said, “they will need to weigh this carefully.”

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