A new report asserts that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, may have been a foreign agent working for the government of Qatar in order to change U.S. policy against Saudi Arabia and in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Writing in The Federalist, Jim Hanson, president of Security Studies Group and a former member of U.S. Special Forces, notes that the Post admitted in an article on December 21 that an executive at Qatar Foundation International worked with Khashoggi to influence Khashoggi’s columns so they aggressively targeted the Saudi government. The Post wrote, “Text messages between Khashoggi and an executive at Qatar Foundation International show that the executive, Maggie Mitchell Salem, at times shaped the columns he submitted to The Washington Post, proposing topics, drafting material and prodding him to take a harder line against the Saudi government.” Hanson notes, “The Qatar Foundation denies they were paying him to produce the anti-Saudi material.”
But then Hanson ups the ante considerably as to Khashoggi’s possible status as a foreign agent, writing:
But during Security Studies Group research for our report on the information operation after his death, we heard from reliable sources familiar with the investigation that documents showing wire transfers from Qatar were found in his apartment in Turkey. They were immediately put out of reach by Turkish security services, so they did not show the collusion between Khashoggi, Qatar, and Turkey prior to his death. We have published a new, unredacted set of findings about the case. It is damning to Qatar, Turkey, and the Washington Post. Khashoggi may have been operating in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act by doing this on behalf of Qatar.
Hanson points out Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood, which is regarded as a terrorist organization by many Gulf nations; members of Congress have pushed for naming the group a terrorist organization.
Hanson adds that Turkey and Qatar drove the narrative after the killing of Khashoggi and fed their chosen information to “major Western English-language journalist outlets.”
Hanson points out that Qatar is currently flirting more seriously with Russia, Iran, and Turkey, which is inimical to American interests; that Qatar has hacked into the personal information of Americans; that Qatar is friendly with extremist groups including the Taliban in Afghanistan.
In January 2017, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies delineated Qatar’s support for terrorist groups:
The State Department revealed in its 2015 Country Reports on Terrorism that “entities and individuals within Qatar continue to serve as a source of financial support for terrorist and violent extremist groups, particularly regional al-Qa’ida affiliates such as the Nusrah Front.” Qatar has historically also been described by the U.S. as a site for the private financing of other terrorist groups besides Nusra. Al-Qaeda’s senior leadership is alleged by Washington to have received support from Qatar- based donors, as is al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, al-Qaeda operatives in Iran, and al-Qaeda in Iraq, the forerunner to IS.
According to Treasury, the Islamic State’s “Amir of suicide bombers” made arrangements “to receive approximately $2 million from a Qatar-based ISIL facilitator,” who enlisted his “assistance with fundraising efforts in Qatar.” There is no sign Qatar ever acted against this unnamed financier. Qatar hosts Hamas moneymen under U.S. counterterrorism sanctions and has even directly financed the group. The U.S. has also reported the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba having fundraised in Qatar.
A previous version of this story identified Jamil Khashoggi as a reporter for The Washington Post. He was a columnist.