Investigative Group

As Trump Meets With Qatar’s Emir, Education Department Is Investigating Whether US Colleges Took Terror-Linked Dollars


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Luke Rosiak Investigative Reporter
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  • The Department of Education says Georgetown University and Texas A&M have ties to Qatar and the Chinese technology firm Huawei.
  • It opened an investigation into both colleges, demanding to know what steps they took to ensure they weren’t taking funds linked to terrorism.
  • Qatar’s neighbors say the oil-rich state funds terror and meddles in other countries’ governments.
  • President Donald Trump is meeting with the country’s ruler Tuesday.

President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with Qatar’s ruler Tuesday as the U.S. Department of Education is investigating two American universities over their ties to the Middle Eastern nation and to determine what administrators did to ensure they didn’t take money linked to terrorism.

The schools, Georgetown and Texas A&M universities, are also connected to the suspected Chinese espionage firm Huawei, to a Chinese propaganda outfit known as Confucius Institute.

The Education Department fired off tough letters to the presidents of both universities, saying “whenever it appears an institution has failed to comply with the law, the Secretary of Education may request the Attorney General commence an enforcement action to compel compliance and to recover the full costs to the United States of obtaining compliance, including all associated costs of investigation and enforcement.”

“To meet our statutory duty, the Department has opened an administrative investigation of your institution and requests production of these records within thirty days,” the June 13 letters continued.

Both universities have taken hundreds of millions of dollars in cash linked to Middle East governments. The Education Department demanded records showing whether the universities complied with the law by scrutinizing whether any of the money they were taking came from sources who “engage in, or provide material support” for people who violate certain anti-terrorism laws.

It also asks what they have done to ensure that the money isn’t tie to people who “assist, sponsor … [or are] otherwise associated with, any person who is who is a ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist’ under Executive Order 13224.”

The U.S. government also asked Georgetown about its ties to “the government of Russia, its agencies, and agents, including but not limited to Kaspersky Lab and Kaspersky Lab US, its agents, employees, and affiliates. The time frame for this request is January 1, 2010, to the present.”

Top Foreign Funders of U.S. Universities, 2011-2016 (Source: Department of Education)
Country Amount
Qatar $1,024,065,043
England $761,586,394
Saudi Arabia $613,608,797
China $426,526,085
Canada $402,535,603
Hong Kong $394,446,859

Investigators specially asked both schools about terrorism in regards to Qatar, as well as the Saudi-funded Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown.

Qatar’s ruler, emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, will be in Washington this week to meet with President Donald Trump on Tuesday, according to Reuters. The White House said the leaders would discuss economic and security ties as well as counterterrorism issues, Reuters reported.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has engaged with the Qatari royal several times and will also attend Tuesday’s White House meeting.

Reuters noted that all of Qatar’s neighbors — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt — have completely blackballed the tiny, oil-rich country, saying it funds terror, backs Iran and engages in foreign meddling.

Qatar, meanwhile, has poured billions of dollars into avenues of influence aimed at shaping its image in the U.S.

Those include lobbying, nonprofits, the Doha Forum conference, funding the Brookings Institution think tank, Qatar’s state-owned media arm Al Jazeera, and billions of dollars to U.S. colleges, especially those in the D.C. area. (RELATED: Democrats Hid Gifts From Qatar, A Foreign Country With Interests Before The Committees They Chair)

Georgetown in particular is a fertile site for those hoping to influence foreign policy because it trains many of the State Department’s future diplomatic corps. Georgetown has received nearly $333 million from Qatar since 2011.

Georgetown received the Arab money at the same time that it was tasked by the U.S. government with shaping how K-12 textbooks treated the Arab world. In fact, an analysis by the Daily Caller News Foundation found that 12 of the 16 schools empowered to shape understanding of the Middle East in this way received money from Muslim nations.

The Education Department noted that both universities have ties to Huawei Technologies. It demands all communications between professor Theodore Moran and the Chinese technology firm. Moran teaches at Georgetown’s diplomat college and served on the U.S. National Intelligence Council from 2007 to 2013 when he was forced to resign after it was revealed that he was serving on Huawei’s board, a position he still holds.

“It is inconceivable how someone serving on Huawei’s board would also be allowed to advise the intelligence community on foreign investments in the U.S.,” then-Rep. Frank Wolf wrote to then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

The letter notes that at Texas A&M, its Qatari cash led to the Chinese company. Qatar funds an outpost of Texas A&M in that country, and Huawei and the international campus signed an agreement in which the Chinese firm pays for Texas A&M engineering students to intern at Huawei.

Texas A&M at Qatar professor of electrical engineering Ali Ghrayeb said the contract “offers our electrical engineering students a unique internship opportunity that will broaden their technical knowledge and prepare them for the job market upon graduation,” according to a 2015 announcement of the agreement.

Texas A&M has been extraordinarily protective of its relationship with Qatar. The public university is beholden to open records laws, but after a lawyer requested information about its funders, the school alerted Qatar instead of fulfilling the request.

Qatar then hired a politically-connected white-shoe law firm to intervene in the case and sued the Texas attorney general. The federal agency demanded records from Texas A&M about its actions in that case.

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