Top Obama aide criminally charged as secret lobbyist for Qatari government

John R. Allen, a retired United States Marine Corps four-star general who commanded NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, is under investigation by the FBI for secretly lobbying on behalf of Qatar.

Court documents reveal the former general’s travels to Doha, Qatar’s capital, for a promised $20,000 speaker fee, though he never gave a speech and there is no record of the payment.

Records show he was negotiating deals with Qatari firms, one with a potential commission of over $1 million.

Allen is accused of lying to federal agents in interviews and hiding his financial interests in Qatar. He has “previously denied ever working as a Qatari agent,” and is cooperating with the investigation.

In June 2022, Allen’s electronic data was reportedly seized in relation to potential illegal lobbying on behalf of the government of Qatar pursuant to a warrant that was issued by a federal District Court in California.

Prosecutors obtained records that they believe show that Allen not only secretly lobbied for Qatar but also lied to investigators about his role and attempted to withhold evidence that was sought from him via a federal subpoena.

In the warrant application, FBI agent Babak Adib writes, “There is substantial evidence that these FARA violations were willful.”

From the DOJ website, FARA stands for Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938. “The central purpose of FARA is to promote transparency with respect to foreign influence within the United States.”

By requiring “agents of a foreign principal” to register and disclose pertinent interests and activities, the public makes informed decisions regarding that information.

The seizure of Allen’s data follows a number of high-profile convictions and trials by influential parties, some of whom Allen associated with.

Imaad Shah Zuberi, one of Allen’s primary business contacts, plead guilty and was sentenced in 2021 to 12 years in prison for lobbying and campaign contribution crimes. He was a donor to both former Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic US Senator Robert Menendez.

Another one of Allen’s associates, former U.S. Ambassador Richard G. Olson, pleaded guilty to charges for his role in an undisclosed lobbying campaign for the Qatari government.

Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a campaign adviser to former President Donald Trump, and two others were charged with “acting as agents of a foreign government,” for their relationships with senior United Arab Emirates officials, per the DOJ. He pleaded not guilty and was freed on a $250 million bond — one of the highest set in the world.

Barry Bennett, owner of the lobbying firm Avenue Strategies, was prosecuted for an undisclosed relationship with the embassy of Qatar. His firm accepted around $3 million over the course of a year.

Qatari officials approached a list of 250 “friends, associates, and well-placed admirers of (President Trump),” inviting them to Doha and covering their expenses as part of a multimillion-dollar lobbying effort, which is believed to have influenced the former president’s policy reversals.

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