January 24, 2024

Qatari Ambassador Faces Allegations of Spying on GOP Sens. Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton

Leaked documents have implicated Qatari Ambassador Meshal bin Hamad al-Thani, currently his country’s representative to the U.S. and formerly its ambassador to France, in alleged efforts to bribe a French minister and spy on U.S. lawmakers.

The revelation comes from documents exposed by Project Raven, an international scandal involving former U.S. intelligence operatives working for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as electronic surveillance specialists.

Project Raven, initiated during the Obama administration, involved U.S.-UAE cooperation against international terrorist groups initially. It evolved into surveillance against various targets, including Qatar, leading to tensions within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

According to documents exposed by Project Raven, al-Thani, then assigned to France, was allegedly involved in a 2016 effort to bribe French Secretary of State for Relations with Parliament Jean-Marie Le Guen.

The documents include a letter from al-Thani authorizing a payment of 160,000 euros to Le Guen for “future services to the state of Qatar.”

In addition to the bribery allegations, al-Thani was allegedly linked to a Qatari intelligence initiative named "Project ENDGAME."

The project involved hiring Global Research Associates (GRA), led by former CIA official Kevin Chalker, to spy on U.S. lawmakers. Targets included Senators Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton, Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, and former Representative Ed Royce.

The alleged executive summary of Project ENDGAME, prepared for the Qatari government by GRA, described former President Donald Trump and the targeted Republican lawmakers as “enemies with dark motives” dedicated to harming Qatar. The summary urged Qatar to run surveillance and influence campaigns in the U.S., using al-Thani as a key intelligence asset.

Project ENDGAME targeted Cruz because of his efforts to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Diaz-Balart co-sponsored the 2017 bill to sanction the Muslim Brotherhood. The executive summary suggested that Qatar’s support for Hamas was a vulnerability exploited by its enemies.

The revelations have raised concerns among the targeted lawmakers, with Senator Cruz stating it's time for the U.S. to reevaluate its relationship with Qatar. Diaz-Balart expressed no surprise at the revelations and emphasized the need for such reconsideration.

Both Cotton and Royce declined to comment, and the Biden State Department referred inquiries to the FBI, which neither confirmed nor denied specific investigations. A lawyer representing Chalker noted that neither he nor his company faced any pending indictments.

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