Palestinian journalists are seen through a glass window at the offices of the Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera in the West Bank city of Ramallah July 15, 2009. The Palestinian Authority banned Al-Jazeera television from operating in its territory and threatened legal action over allegations it broadca.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of US congressmen has asked the Justice Department to examine whether Al Jazeera, a media organization based in Doha, operates as a foreign agent for Qatar in the United States.
The letter was endorsed mostly by Republicans but signed by a handful of Democratic lawmakers. It notes that the State Department has “indicated” Al Jazeera “is state-controlled,” and that it often features “favorable coverage of US State Department-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, including Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria.”
“Al Jazeera’s record of radical anti-American, antisemitic, and anti-Israel broadcasts warrant scrutiny,” the letter continues. “American citizens deserve to know whether the information and news media they consume is impartial, or if it is deceptive propaganda pushed by foreign nations.”
The letter references reports that Al Jazeera directed agents to pose as volunteers for US-based Jewish and Israel advocacy organizations in order to spy on their activities.
The network partially acknowledged the operation by sending letters to organization leaders and officials about a pending documentary.
Should the Justice Department conclude that Al Jazeera does indeed operate at the direction of the Qatari government, it would be forced to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
The move would not be unprecedented: Russia Today, a Moscow-based network, was compelled to register under FARA in the fall of last year.