A bipartisan group of congressmen urged the Trump administration open an investigation into the Qatari-funded news outlet Al Jazeera which published a story that detailed months-long spy operation on American Jews and supporters of Israel. Congress wants the media company to be identified as a foreign agent, according to U.S. media outlets on Saturday.
The congressman argue that Al Jazeera should register as a foreign agent under U.S. law. Such a designation under the Foreign Agents Registration Act would show Al Jazeera is under the thumb of the Qatari government, which funds its operations, and not an independent news organization, as it claims to be, the letter proposed by the congressmen said.
Al Jazeera has been sending letters to a slew of Jewish organizations and pro-Israel individuals asking them to comment on what appears to be secret recordings that the news outlet claims confirms Jewish meddling in foreign affairs, congressmen said.
The lawmakers referenced the Al Jazeera spy operation on the American Jewish community as evidence the outlet is operating on behalf of Qatar, which continues to finance terrorism.
Former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani has earlier said that he regretted establishing the Al-Jazeera channel, as it has caused many problems for Qatar, in an interview with Qatar TV on Thursday.
Al Thani pointed out that he was among those who participated in the establishment of Al Jazeera based on the instructions of former Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.
“We established Al-Jazeera because Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa wanted to have a clear voice for the Arab citizen about what is happening in the Arab world, so there’s no news for Qatar broadcast on the channel,” he added.
Qatar’s relations with several Arab and Gulf States have been strained since May 24, when the Qatari state-run news agency reported Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani’s statements, in which he regarded Gulf foreign policy with Iran as “unwise.”
On June 5, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen decided to cut all diplomatic ties with Qatar, hurling allegations that the state supports terrorism. Ports and airspace were cut off to Qatari vessels.
The countries listed 13 demands to be met by Qatar, including severing ties with terrorist groups, closing down the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera satellite channel, downgrading ties with arch-rival Iran and closing a Turkish air base in Qatar.
Qatar was given a deadline that ended on Sunday to meet the demands. Kuwait request to extend the deadline by 48 hours and the four Arab states agreed.