An organization linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Qatari government is making a $1 billion real estate investment in the hope that the complex will “become the unequivocal centerpiece of Downtown D.C.” Among its features is a Qatari cultural center named Al-Bayt, or “Home.”
The 10-acre project, named CityCenterDC, is an initiative of Qatar Foundation International. According to its website, it is a “U.S.-based member of Qatar Foundation” in Doha. It is also its main financier.
In 2008, the chairperson of the Qatar Foundation and the Qatari Emir established the Al-Qaradawi Research Center. Qaradawi is the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and vocal supporter of its Palestinian wing, Hamas. He advocates the doctrine of "gradualism;" an incremental and practical strategy to stealthily advance the sharia agenda around the world.
The Research Center’s stated objective is promoting the ideology of Qaradawi, who it describes as a “pioneer of Islamic thought and presently its main theorist.” He teaches his followers to wage “jihad with money.”
The Qatar Foundation is also connected to the International Institute of Islamic Thought, a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity. Dr. Jasser Auda, the Deputy Director of the Qatar Foundation’s Center for Islamic Legislation, also teaches for IIIT.
Former U.S. Treasury Department terrorism-financing analyst Jonathan Schanzer explains, “Qatar is the ATM of the Muslim Brotherhood movement and its associated groups.” Qatar has drawn the ire of moderate Muslims for its generous subsidizing of Islamists.
The Qatari government hosts Al-Jazeera, a pro-Islamist propaganda television network, in Doha. Qaradawi has his own weekly show on the network. Al-Jazeera has most recently been in the news for reportedly paying for the lodging of Muslim Brotherhood officials that have fled Egypt.
CityCenterDC’s listed investment partners are Qatari Diari, Barwa Bank, the First Investor and Tanween. All are based in Qatar. The Qatari Diari is owned by the Qatari government. The Barwa Bank and First Investor are explicitly sharia-compliant and are regulated by the Qatari government.
Sharia Finance Watch keeps track of the dangers of sharia-compliant investing. As the website explains, this means that an institution has an acknowledged Islamic authority making sure that its activity does not violate Sharia.
“Among the decisions these scholars make is the donation of 2.5% or more of annual earnings to Muslim charities,” the website explains.
Sharia financing gives the Islamists’ immense economic power and the ability to direct finances towards entities they deem to be sharia-compliant. This means it is likely that revenue generated from Qatar’s investments in Washington, D.C. will flow to Islamist charities and organizations.
The Qatari government is on a global influence-buying spree, including in the West. The birth of Al-Jazeera America is just one example. It is making massive investments in powerful European companies and Muslim-majority areas of France known for their hostility to local authorities. Qatar is also subsidizing the construction of large mosques in Italy, Ireland, Spain and elsewhere.
Nabil Ennasri, president of an Islamic group in France explains that this is a long-term influence operation on the part of Qatar.
“[French Muslims] will one day, whether it is welcome or not, play an important role in French politics. Investing in this population is a way of recruiting supporters who will — consciously or unconsciously — further Qatari interests,” he said.
Qatar’s pro-Muslim Brotherhood ally, the Turkish government, is up to similar activity. In May, the Clarion Project reported how the Turkish government is building a 15-acre, $100 million mega-mosque in Lanham, Maryland.
The Muslim Link says it “will likely become the largest and most striking examples [sic] of Islamic architecture in the western hemisphere.” Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan visited the construction site, as have leaders from two U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entities.
The Qatar Foundation’s ideological leader, Sheikh Qaradawi, has repeatedly preached that Muslims must pursue "gradualism" and present the sharia-based economic system as a superior alternative to what the West has to offer. As Qaradawi put it, wage “jihad with money.”
These real estate investments aren’t just a business opportunity. It’s a way of expanding the Islamist economic machine and spreading its political influence.
Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on top-tier TV stations as an expert on counterterrorism and Islamic extremism.