Qatar’s Quiet University Influence Campaign

Written by Jack Elbaum

What’s happening: Since 2001, Qatar funneled $4.7 billion to U.S. colleges, including some taxpayer-funded campuses, likely an attempt to buy soft power across the country.

  • The numbers:These donations include $1.8 billion to Cornell, almost $700 million to Texas A&M, $740 million to Carnegie Mellon, $760 million to Georgetown, and $602 million to Northwestern.

Influence: At Northwestern’s Qatari satellite campus, its leading journalism program signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Qatar state-run media outlet Al-Jazeera to “facilitate knowledge transfer, increase student engagement, and strengthen collaboration.”

  • Hot take: Al-Jazeera has long featured Muslim Brotherhood voices and has been praised by Hamas. The president of Northwestern’s faculty senate in Qatar even admitted professors there enjoy only “limited academic freedom.”

Zoom out: It’s not just universities. Qatar holds between $750 billion to $1 trillion worth of assets around the world, with investments in Fortune 500 companies and even the Empire State Building.

What’s really going on: Qatar’s goal is to buy influence on as many fronts as possible in America to taint public opinion and turn Israel toxic in policymaking, to spread its brand of political Islam, and to head off any U.S. criticism of its regime.

Why it matters: Qatar is providing a safe haven for some leaders of Hamas right now amid the terror group’s war on Israel— and too many American leaders are looking the other way, perhaps due to the country’s financial ties throughout the American economy.