Congressman Mike Waltz (R-FL), a former Green Beret, sent financial titan Bill Gates a letter warning him that he might be exposed to counterterrorism sanctions because he is a primary owner of the Four Seasons Hotel chain, which has reportedly housed Hamas terrorists.
Cascade Investments, an assets management firm Gates founded and owns, “reportedly acquired a 47.5 percent stake in Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts when that company went private. In 2021, that control was increased by the purchase of 23.75 percent of the company from Prince al-Waleed’s Kingdom Holding Company, which increased Cascade’s share to 71.25 percent, giving it majority control of the company,” Waltz noted.
In 2015, senior Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal reportedly held a press conference in the Four Seasons in Doha, Qatar. In 2016, Meshaal reportedly used the same hotel for a closed-door meeting with then-Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
Hamas has been designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. Any U.S. persons who give the group material support can be hit with legal penalties, including up to life in prison.
Waltz wrote to Gates:
As you are the founder and owner of Cascade Investment, L.L.C, which has a controlling stake in Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, I write with dual purpose: to warn you of the counterterrorism sanctions to which you and your employees are potentially exposed and to ask you to take a personal stand against Hamas by publicly pledging to ban it from using the Four Seasons or any other properties you own.
According to news reports, Hamas personnel have used the Four Seasons in Doha for official Hamas-linked events in the past, such as a 2015 press conference by senior Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. In 2016, Meshaal further reportedly met with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu at the Four Seasons in Doha. Others have allegedly stayed there since, including during and after Hamas’s horrific terrorist attack that has so far resulted in at least 1,400 people killed in Israel, 3,400 others wounded, and 199 kidnapped. At least 260 people alone were killed at a music festival near Kibbutz Re’im. The State Department has confirmed that so far 30 U.S. citizens have been killed with another 13 unaccounted for. There is credible reporting of beheaded infants, people burned alive, others raped, still others likely to be tortured, with their agony broadcast, during the weeks ahead.
As you may know, Hamas has been designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189) since 1997. This designation carries two distinctive penalties. First, it exposes any U.S. persons who gives the group material support to significant legal penalties, including up to life in prison.
Perhaps more immediately, it mandates a broad exclusion from the United States any non-U.S. persons that engages in terrorist activity, including through actions like providing material support, such as housing, for terrorists. Names involved in this activity can be added to the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), the U.S. government’s central repository on international terrorist activity. Unlike a prosecution by the Justice Department, the bar for adding names to TIDE is usually much lower and is classified. Names from TIDE are then exported by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) to support watchlists like the Transportation Security Administration’s “Do Not Fly” list and the State Department’s visa database, among others. U.S. persons can also be added to TIDE. In 2017 – that is, before the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization and with its wide network of enablers became subject to the provisions of the designation – there were about 1.6 million people in TIDE. Though the Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security can issue exemptions for certain limited material support, among other things, as a matter of policy these can be reversed by a future administration.
In the case of the Hamas FTO, this directly concerns you and your employees. In 2007 Cascade Investment, an asset management firm which you own and which controls much of your foundation and your family’s money, reportedly acquired a 47.5 percent stake in Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts when that company went private. In 2021, that control was increased by the purchase of 23.75 percent of the company from Prince al-Waleed’s Kingdom Holding Company, which increased Cascade’s share to 71.25 percent, giving it majority control of the company.
I urge you to ensure that neither your companies, nor your employees, nor you yourself are providing such materiel support to Hamas or any other FTO. An affirmative finding by the government may not be communicated to you or them immediately, but rather revealed through either an indictment, through a future refusal of entry at a U.S. port, or some other action. I would advise you to socialize this knowledge with the staff of Cascade Investment, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and your Four Seasons hotel in Doha.
I further note with concern your silence on the appalling massacre of Israelis that occurred last weekend. This seems particularly difficult to understand given your focus on humanitarian causes and potentially carries significant reputational damage. I urge you and your companies to make a statement on behalf of the people of Israel and pledge to prevent any future use of the Four Seasons by Hamas.