Jordan Schachtel of Conservative Review has a detailed report out today on a clandestine project that has been launched in South Carolina by the tiny, disproportionately influential, infamously pro-Islamism nation of Qatar. Along with increasingly Islamist Turkey, Qatar is one of the two chief contemporary bankrollers of extremist Sunni madrasas and insidious pro-Muslim Brotherhood academic sinecures alike. Qatar is infamous for its cozy ties with Hamas — and even with al-Qaeda.
And now, it seems, the Qatari regime’s pernicious tentacles are finding a new home in the Palmetto State.
The Qatar-run Barzan Holdings was launched March 12, 2018, intended to act as “a commercial gateway for the defense industry in Qatar.” One week later, a subsidiary company, Barzan Aeronautical, was incorporated in South Carolina. The aircraft program appears to be in the very early stages of development. Barzan Aeronautical’s website lists a target launch date of May 2019. …
In interviews, Qatari officials have stressed that the one-year-old Barzan Holdings project is a top-priority project for advancing Qatar’s defense goals. In November, the ruler of Qatar himself paid a visit to the Barzan research and development center.
Information on the nature of the mission of Barzan Aeronautical first surfaced in Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filings last year through the Department of Justice. A high-powered K Street law firm, Ott, Bielitzki & O’Neill PLLC, defined the Barzan Aeronautical mission as a project dedicated to “development and production of surveillance aircraft” for Qatar. Just a couple of weeks ago (without any media coverage), Barzan Aeronautical submitted its own FARA filing, describing its mission as aiding “in procurement / development of airborne ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance] systems for the foreign principal,” which is the state of Qatar.
It therefore appears that the world’s leading exporter of militant Sunni Islamism is now heavily invested in the “development and production of surveillance aircraft” in the state of South Carolina.
As Schachtel notes, the Qatari regime’s ties with various South Carolina politicians run quite deep. A very top donor to South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s recent successful gubernatorial campaign was Imaad Zuberi, who is a lobbyist representing Qatar Investment Authority. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has also met face-to-face with Zuberi “to discuss potential investments in real estate, infrastructure and other business sectors,” reported The Post and Courier of Charleston in February 2018.
Qatari influence in the United States is routine and hardly abnormal. As The Daily Caller reported in December, Department of Education data show that the Qatari government has given a whopping $1 billion to American universities since 2011. According to that same Department of Education data, this represents the most money given by a foreign nation to American universities over the period 2011-2016 — ahead of substantially larger countries such as the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, China, and Canada. The top American university recipient of Qatari government donations has been Georgetown University; accordingly, the Middle East Forum has described Georgetown University’s Middle East studies faculty as “the most intolerant, ideological, anti-Israel, and pro-Islamist in the United States.”