John R Allen, the retired four star general who commanded US troops in Afghanistan and now heads the Brookings Institution, is being investigated over undisclosed lobbying for Qatar.
Federal law in America mandates that anyone lobbying for a foreign government must register with the Justice Department. It is known as the Foreign Agents Registration Act or FARA. The Justice Department, for some years, has been attempting to crackdown on the violators of this law.
According to a report in the New York Times, court documents state that General Allen "secretly lobbied for the government of Qatar, lied to investigators about his role and tried to withhold evidence sought by a federal subpoena, according to court documents."
These court documents are the latest evidence in a broad investigation that the US Justice Department is carrying out to look into the influence that wealthy Arab nations like Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) wield in Washington DC.
The court filings lay out evidence that General Allen carried out a secret lobbying plan along with Richard G. Olson, who served as America's ambassador to the UAE and Pakistan.
Olson participated in the Qatari lobbying effort just one year after he left the diplomatic service. He has pleaded guilty.
According to the court filing, it is Olson who brought in General Allen. Olson recruited General Allen and arranged for him to meet top Qatari officials. They both planned to secretly lobby for the Qatari government.
General Allen travelled to Qatar after negotiating a payment of $20,000 as "speaker fees". The court documents quote a message from General Allen stating that he is willing to “work out a fuller arrangement of a longer term relationship.”
Other messages mentioned in the court documents indicate that General Allen pursued other business interests with firms in Qatar, one of which agreed to provide him with a commission of $1 million.
According to the report by Times, the FBI has not yet determined if he received this payment.
During this time period, General Allen met several time with senior officials in the US administration, include the erstwhile NSA and numerous members of Congress. General Allen never mentioned to these people that he was being paid by a foreign government for his work.
Last August, General Allen had been interviewed by US federal agents. He has been accused of lying to them and obstructing the investigation by withholding important documents.
Before commanding troops in Afghanistan, General Allen served as the deputy commander of US Central Command. The Central Command is responsible for the Middle East and has a large base in Qatar.
He used his time at the Central Command to form strong ties with the leaders of the gas-rich kingdom, including Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, whose regime has been accused of terror funding and extremism but is trying to rebrand itself as moderate.
According to the New York Times, in 2016, General Allen was an adviser to Hilary Clinton's presidential campaign. Although the report states that at that time, General Allen hadn't started his lobbying efforts for Qatar. He also spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC).
Apart from currently leading the Brookings Institution, a think-tank based in Washington DC, General Allen also served as the board member of SparkCognition, an artificial intelligence company based in Texas.
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