Report: Al Jazeera Paying for Exiled Muslim Brotherhood Leaders’ Hotel Rooms

Al Jazeera officials avoid comment on report

Muslim Brotherhood supporters, Egypt
Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Egypt / AP
November 6, 2013

Al Jazeera officials are keeping quiet following reports that the Qatari-owned news organization is funding hotel suites for the exiled senior leaders of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi in July, many of the Islamist organization’s high ranking officials fled to Qatar, where they are now being hosted by Al Jazeera, according to the Washington Post.

"Several of the [Brotherhood’s] exiles are living temporarily in hotel suites paid for by Qatar’s state-run Arabic satellite network Al Jazeera—and it is in those suites and hotel lobbies that the future of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and, more broadly, the strategy and ideology of political Islam in the country may well be charted," the Post reported Wednesday.

Al Jazeera and Al Jazeera America officials have kept quiet following the report, declining to respond to multiple requests for comment from the Washington Free Beacon.

Experts said the entanglement reflects the ongoing problems that Al Jazeera—and particularly Al Jazeera America—faces as both a news gathering organization and official arm of the Qatari government, which also funds the Muslim Brotherhood.

"It’s a channel dedicated to the Muslim Brotherhood," said terrorism expert and Foundation for Defense of Democracies scholar Khairi Abaza. "They fund the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s their anchor. So this is natural."

Al Jazeera America came under scrutiny earlier this year when it began broadcasts in the United States after purchasing former Vice President Al Gore’s failed television station Current TV.

The channel immediately came under fire for broadcasting conspiracy theories and carrying water for the Qatari government, which was a backer of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule in Egypt.

The station was also caught airing the staged death of a person it claimed was a Muslim Brotherhood supporter.

As the Muslim Brotherhood struggles to regroup following a widespread crackdown on its activities by the Egyptian military, it has found an ally in Al Jazeera and the Qataris, according to the Post.

However, Al Jazeera officials do not appear too keen on discussing the organization’s backing of the Brotherhood.

Three separate communications officials affiliated with Al Jazeera America declined to comment when approached by the Free Beacon.

"We only handle press/comments for Al Jazeera America," one official said following multiple requests for comment. "You would have to reach out to network's communications team in Doha for comment on this issue."

A request for comment from Doha officials sent via Al Jazeera English’s online contact form was not returned.

Abaza said that while Al Jazeera could have helped the Muslim Brotherhood official "in a more discreet" way, "this is what it is. They do it and they don’t care. And the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t care as long as they’re getting what they want."

Al Jazeera filed a lawsuit against the Egyptian military in September after it forcefully shut down the news group’s office, claiming that it was promoting pro-Brotherhood propaganda.

"We are not the kind to escape. We do not prefer exile," Ehab Shiha, chairman of the Egyptian Salafist al-Asala Party, told the Post. "We have a task: to communicate the crisis and deliver the message to the world."

The Brotherhood has already organized six or more meetings in Qatar, as well as several others in Turkey and Pakistan since Morsi’s fall, Egyptian officials said according to the Post.

Qatar has long served as one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s top allies, providing Egypt with nearly $8 billion in loans after Morsi rose to power. It also stands accused of making secret payments of up to $850,000 to Morsi’s associates.

Qatar additionally has emerged as a top backer of the terror group Hamas.

"Qatar is the ATM of the Muslim Brotherhood movement and its associated groups. And Hamas is of course a splinter of the Muslim Brotherhood," former U.S. Treasury Department terrorism finance analyst Jonathan Schanzer said to the Free Beacon in August.

Morsi was in an Egyptian court Monday after being charged with inciting violence.