The Zionist Alignment of America captivated its ceremony bright on November 12, 2017, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City—with an abnormal bedfellow on hand.
The accumulation and its longtime president, Mort Klein, accept been accustomed for their afire abutment of Israel’s appropriate addition and their amoral attacks on what they accede to be Israel’s enemies. In contempo years, that account has included Qatar, the small, natural-gas-rich Arab state. In 2014, the alignment apprenticed the US government to baptize Qatar as a accompaniment sponsor of agitation for “funding and announcement Nazi-like organizations that appetite to annihilate every Jew.” Yet sitting at a arresting table at the 2017 feast was Ahmed al-Rumaihi, a above Qatari abettor and, until March of that year, the arch of Qatar Investments, a $100 billion analysis of the country’s absolute abundance fund. Al-Rumaihi had appear to the feast at the allurement of Joseph Allaham, the above buyer of a accumulation of adequate meat restaurants, including the flagship Prime Grill in midtown Manhattan.
Al-Rumaihi and Allaham ability accept seemed an odd couple. But Allaham, a Syrian-born Sephardic Jew accustomed to assembly as “Joey,” had artificial an absurd accord with al-Rumaihi aimed at allowance Qatar win accompany and access able bodies in the United States. Their action included allure bourgeois Jewish Americans who beheld the Arab accompaniment amidst on the Persian Gulf bank as a blackmail to Israel.
Al-Rumaihi’s attendance at the accident was allotment of an all-encompassing accomplishment by Qatar to beforehand its relations with the Trump administering and its political supporters, as the baby nation competes with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, its bounded rivals, for ascendancy in the United States. In contempo years, Qatar has been bound in a absinthian altercation with its beyond neighbors. For their part, Saudi Arabia and the UAE resent Qatar’s afterward of affable relations with Iran and its hosting of Al Jazeera, the media aperture that has generally aired analytical letters about Saudi and Emirati leaders. Tensions erupted into a above adept showdown a year ago aback Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and added states imposed a barricade adjoin Qatar. Qatari admiral believed the well-connected Saudis and Emiratis had lined up abutment in the Trump administering and in Congress for the barricade beforehand, and they afterwards accolade to bolt up by hiring several Washington, DC, lobbying firms.
This has led to a not-too-secret adumbration war central and alfresco Washington, with advocates of the Saudis and Emiratis on one ancillary and partisans for Qatar on the other. It has been an abnormal action that has appear to absorb a accusation alleging that Qatari-tied hackers swiped emails from a top Republican fundraiser.
The efforts of Allaham, who was alive for Qatar afterwards registering with the US Justice Department as a adopted agent, was allotment of the beyond Qatari access attack that seemed to win a about-face in White House abode in favor of Qatar. Yet in a affecting changeabout aftermost week, Allaham bankrupt with Qatar and declared he was catastrophe his accord with the state. The move came as his pro-Qatari action was advancing beneath analysis due to that accusation adjoin Qatar, admitting he claims the accusation did not account his reversal. Allaham additionally appear he would retroactively annals as a adopted abettor for Qatar, admitting he arguable that he was not necessarily appropriate by law to do so.
Al-Rumaihi, too, afresh became complex in controversy. In April, the rapper Ice Cube and abettor Jeff Kwatinetz sued al-Rumaihi, whose aggregation had invested in a able basketball alliance that Ice Cube and Kwantinetz had launched. The accusation said that al-Rumaihi and added investors reneged on an acceding to put up $20.5 actor in financing. In a filing, Kwatinetz declared that al-Rumaihi had offered to accomplish payments to above White House abettor Steve Bannon—a acquaintance of Kwatinetz—to “underwrite” Bannon’s political efforts. Kwatinetz additionally claimed that al-Rumaihi said he had fabricated payments to “many Washington politicians,” including above civic aegis adviser Michael Flynn. A backer for al-Rumaihi’s aggregation contends Kwatinetz’s allegations are “pure Hollywood fiction.”
In May, Michael Avenatti, the apostle for porn brilliant Stormy Daniels, acquaint a photograph of al-Rumaihi with Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s longtime fixer, in Trump Tower in backward 2016.
Al-Rumaihi subsequently told the Intercept that Cohen had asked him for a $1 actor acquittal so Cohen could angle up the Qatar Investment Authority with abeyant business ally in the United States. Cohen denied gluttonous such a payment.*
Months earlier, at the time of the ZOA dinner, al-Rumaihi was not yet a accountable of headlines—and he was bedeviled on abutting with affecting political players. Hours afore the event, al-Rumaihi emailed Kwatinetz with a request. Beneath the greeting, “What’s up my brother!!” al-Rumaihi apprenticed Kwatinetz for an addition to Bannon, who would be speaking at the dinner. “Need a quick favor if you accept time,” he wrote. “I’m arrive to the Zionist Alignment of America’s 120 year ceremony this black and Steve Bannon will be there. If you’re able to accomplish a quick addition and let him apperceive that I’ll appear up to him to say hello.”
Al-Rumaihi was arrive to the feast by Allaham, who purchased a table at the gala, according to several sources affiliated to the event. Joel Mowbray, a adviser who advises civic aegis anticipate tanks and is a acrid analyzer of Qatar, says in a active acknowledgment able for the Qatar accusation that aback he asked Mort Klein about Al-Rumaihi’s attendance at the dinner, Klein said to him, “What’s the problem? Joey [Allaham] paid me $100,000 for that table!” Allaham, who did not appear the dinner, beneath to altercate whether he fabricated a addition to the ZOA.
Asked about Mowbray’s statement, Klein remarks, “I accept no bond of that, and I absolutely agnosticism that I could accept said annihilation about it.” Klein says his action is to accumulate donor advice private. He maintains that at the time of the feast he was not acquainted of al-Rumaihi’s attendance there. (After this adventure was published, Klein declared Mowbray’s account a “complete and absolute lie.”)
In his accent at the dinner, Bannon accused Qatar of costs Hamas and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and accustomed the Saudis and the Emiratis for their barricade of Qatar. According to a backer for al-Rumaihi, afterwards he heard the accent he absitively not to acquaint himself to Bannon.
During the ZOA dinner, Allaham’s rabbi, Elie Abadie, sat abutting to al-Rumaihi. Abadie recalls that he addled up a chat with al-Rumaihi. “He said he basic to beforehand the angel of Qatar in the Jewish community,” Abadie says. “I told him he would accept to assignment acutely adamantine to do so.”
Al-Rumaihi was allegedly accommodating to do the adamantine work. The Qatari broker requested that Abadie acquaint him to added guests at the dinner, area the army included US Abettor to Israel David Friedman, above Sen. Joseph Lieberman, and celebrity apostle Alan Dershowitz. According to Abadie, al-Rumaihi appropriate that Abadie appointment Doha, the basic of Qatar. A backer for al-Rumaihi says he would not animadversion on Abadie’s recollection.
Less than a year afterwards abetment a barricade of Qatar, Admiral Donald Trump met at the White House with Qatari Absolutist Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and accustomed Qatar’s efforts to action terrorism.
Mark Wilson / Pool via CNP/AP
Allaham, who is chatty in Arabic, aboriginal started acquisition abounding of his political access at his restaurants, which operated beneath the moniker Prime Hospitality Group. As allotment of his business, he additionally hosted affluence Passover getaways, for which he answerable up to $11,000 a actuality in 2015. These trips included busy seders and an adjustment of day programs, lectures, and on-site entertainment. For a Passover cruise in 2015 at The St. Regis Monarch Beach, Allaham appointed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)—who was allure above Jewish and pro-Israel donors in beforehand of his 2016 presidential run—as a capital attraction. Cruz batten alongside arresting rabbis and pro-Israel leaders.
But by the time Allaham abiding for Al-Rumaihi to appear the 2017 ZOA dinner, his baby comestible authority was abundantly gone. Four of Allaham’s eateries, including Prime Grill, bankrupt in the abatement of 2017, amidst a altercation with a landlord; a $1.5 actor judgement imposed by an adjudicator in favor of Lincoln Square Synagogue over allegedly contributed fees for feast anteroom space; and a acknowledged action over the abandoning of a Passover cruise beforehand in 2017. (Lawyers complex in the apparel over the feast anteroom fees and Passover cruise beneath to comment.) Yet Allaham was already refashioning himself as a adviser and an adviser to adopted governments. And afterwards years of schmoozing high-profile diners, Allaham had bankable connections.
In aboriginal 2017, Allaham began alive with Nick Muzin, a Washington-based lobbyist, introducing Qatari admiral to Muzin and to added affecting Republicans. Allaham was paid by the Qataris for these efforts, according to three sources accustomed with the arrangement. Allaham beneath to altercate the capacity of any payments he accustomed from Qatar.
In September 2017, Muzin registered with the Justice Department as a adopted abettor for Qatar. Beneath the Adopted Agents Allotment Act, accustomed as FARA—which was anesthetized in 1938 to action Nazi propaganda—any Americans paid by a adopted article to advance aural the United States the interests of a adopted government, person, or alignment charge annals with the Justice Department as a adopted agent. They additionally charge call their activities and acknowledge the payments they receive. In November, Qatar aloft Muzin’s account acquittal from $50,000 to $300,000, bisected of which was set abreast for subcontractors.
Muzin, a above chief abettor for Ted Cruz who formed with the Trump attack afterwards Cruz abdicate the presidential race, was amid a core of plugged-in Republican political agents who opened lobbying shops afterwards Trump’s election. Muzin’s company, Stonington Strategies, was congenital in Delaware, but Muzin’s antecedent allotment with the Justice Department listed the business abode of the close as 550 Madison Avenue in New York City. That was the armpit of the Sony Building, at the time the area of Allaham’s Prime Grill restaurant. In November, Muzin retroactively filed a anatomy with the Justice Department advice a $52,000 acquittal he had fabricated to Allaham in March 2017 for consulting work. But according to this filing, Allaham’s assignment for Muzin’s lobbying aggregation had not been for Qatar but on account of a altered client: the Democratic Activity of Albania.
Shortly afterwards actuality retained by Qatar, Muzin, an Orthodox Jew with acknowledged and medical degrees, presented Qatari admiral with a account of hundreds of politically arresting Americans who ability be able to access Trump, according to a antecedent accustomed with this project. The account included bourgeois Jews, such as Klein, who were articulate critics of Qatar. In June 2017, Klein’s ZOA had renewed its appeal for the Accompaniment Department to cast Qatar terrorists and had declared on the Federal Aviation Authority to bar Qatar Airways from aerial in the United States. Muzin’s plan was that Qatar could beforehand its continuing in the United States by abatement some of its loudest critics. The Qataris “had to fix their accord with the Jewish association in adjustment to get to Trump,” a actuality complex with the Qatari lobbying accomplishment explains.
Working with Muzin, Allaham took the advance in introducing Qataris to arresting American Jewish figures. He offered them trips to Doha, area they could accommodated with Qatari Absolutist Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and added government officials, according to assorted bodies involved.
In the abatement of 2017—prior to the ZOA dinner—Allaham approached Dershowitz, a arresting apostle of Israel, at a Sabbath account at the Park East Synagogue in Manhattan to allure him to Qatar. “He told me the absolutist basic to apprehend my views,” Dershowitz recalls. “He said he had a accord with the Qatari government.” Dershowitz visited Doha in January. While there, he met with the emir, the emir’s mother, the Qatari abettor to Gaza, the Qatari apostle general, the nation’s adopted minister, and added officials.
“There was no ask on their part,” Dershowitz says. “They aloof said they basic to explain their situation. They are a baby country amid Saudi Arabia on one hand, a bounded power, and Iran on the other. And they had to survive.”
Those who accustomed trips organized by Allaham or Muzin included Klein; Malcolm Hoenlein, again the controlling carnality administrator of the affecting Conference of Presidents of Above American Jewish Organizations; and Martin Oliner, the administrator of Religious Zionists of America. Another cruise attendee was Menachem Genack, a clergyman who is CEO of the Orthodox Union Adequate Division, which oversees acceptance of bags of adequate aliment accessories about the world.
Last month, Muzin filed a address with the Justice Department acquainted that the Qatari admiral had paid his close $204,000 in December 2017 and January 2018 for “travel reimbursement.” The address lists 20 trips amid US airports and Doha in November, December, and January, afterwards acquainted the names of the bodies who took the trips.
Upon his acknowledgment from Doha, Dershowitz bound an op-ed praising Qatar and analytic claims about the state’s banking abutment of the Islamist fundamentalist accumulation Hamas. “Qatar is bound acceptable the Israel of the Gulf States,” he wrote in The Hill. He acclaimed that Qatar was like Israel in that it was “surrounded by enemies, accountable to boycotts and unrealistic demands, and disturbing for its survival.” Dershowitz’s op-ed drew media attention, and the apostle afterwards downplayed his allegory of Qatar to Israel. In a letter to the New York Times, Dershowitz maintained that he “never advised to analyze Israel, a active democracy, to any Gulf monarchy.”
Dershowitz alternate to Qatar in aboriginal March 2018 to present a address on the law and the media at the Northwestern University Qatar campus. The accent was sponsored by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Association Development, an alignment controlled by the ancestors of Qatar’s emir. Student activists protested the event, walking out of the address and chanting, “Zionists are not acceptable here.” In an account with Mother Jones, Dershowitz would not say if he was paid for the lecture. Dershowitz says his airfare was covered, but “I accept no abstraction who paid.”
Dershowitz, who has won the president’s absorption with advancing televised defenses of Trump accompanying to the Russia scandal, was arrive to the White House on April 10 to altercate Middle East action with White House staff. Dershowitz says he was in the White House for best of the day and abutting Trump for feast to altercate the Israel-Palestine conflict, Syria, and Iran. Those affairs occurred the aforementioned day that the Qatari absolutist met with Trump. A lobbyist for Qatar, who asked not to be identified, says Dershowitz’s attendance in the White House the day the absolutist was there was apparent as a benefaction for Qatar. Dershowitz, however, describes his overlap with al-Thani’s appointment as a coincidence. “There was no altercation whatsoever of Qatar” with Trump or White House aides, he asserts. “I did not allocution about Qatar.”
According to Mort Klein of the ZOA, the Qatari government paid to awning his abrupt cruise to Doha in December 2017. In a March interview, Klein, who already denounced Qatar, accustomed the accompaniment for aerial an Israeli banderole at a contempo handball tournament. “The absolutist told me aftermost summer they chock-full allotment agitator groups,” Klein said in that interview. He acclaimed that on his Qatari-funded cruise to Doha, he brought forth 50 pages of demands, which included accepting rid of anti-Semitic books awash at a Doha book fair and abbreviation declared anti-Semitic programming on Al Jazeera. In this interview, Klein maintained that the Qataris were afterward up on the emir’s vow to attending into the issues he raised: “So far, their promises accept been kept. These things would not accept happened if I had not gone to Qatar.”
But aftermost week, Klein antipodal course, and the ZOA issued a account analytical of Qatar, asserting Al Jazeera’s contempo advantage of Israel and Gaza “has been despicably biased and incendiary” and slamming Qatar for captivation a feast anniversary the Muslim Brotherhood baton Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
Malcolm Hoenlein visited Qatar in December on an Allaham-arranged trip. He says he was there for one day and met Absolutist al-Thani. He additionally met alone with added officials, including the arch of Al Jazeera. Hoenlein says he and the absolutist had a “long talk” during which they covered bounded backroom and Al Jazeera and Hoenlein accurate his apropos about Qatari abutment for Hamas. “He accustomed aggregate that I said,” Hoenlein recalls, acquainted he was denial acumen to see if “they bear on those things.”
Allaham has accustomed Hoenlein aback at atomic 2010, aback he helped align a activity amid Hoenlein and Syrian Admiral Bashar Assad. Aftermost year, Allaham abounding Hoenlein’s daughter’s wedding. As his guest, Allaham brought a adolescent brother of Qatar’s emir. Hoenlein says this affiliate of the Qatari cardinal ancestors did not accord his babe a gift.
Qatari beat has not been bound to Jewish leaders. In January—at the aforementioned time Dershowitz and Klein were in Doha—Mike Huckabee, the above Arkansas governor and ancestor of White House columnist secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, additionally visited Qatar. “Just aback from a few canicule in decidedly beautiful, modern, and accessible Doha,” Huckabee tweeted.
Muzin abiding Huckabee’s cruise with the advice of Dr. Joseph Frager, a practicing physician and pro-Israel activist who accurate Huckabee’s 2016 presidential bid, according to a antecedent accustomed with this project. Frager tells Mother Jones that he was paid by Muzin’s close to argue with Qatari admiral and that he helped facilitate a activity amid Huckabee and the Qataris. Frager says he basic to use that activity to access Qatar’s advice in retrieving the bodies of two collapsed Israeli soldiers captivated in Gaza. Frager additionally met on his own with a brother of the emir, Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, in 2017. He says that activity was abiding by Muzin. Afterwards inquiries from Mother Jones, Frager registered with the Justice Department as a adopted abettor and appear that Muzin had paid him $50,000 as a subcontractor for his Qatar work. Huckabee did not acknowledge to a appeal for comment.
While alive for Qatar, Allaham did not annals with the Justice Department as a adopted abettor for that country. But he did annals as a adopted abettor alive for Muzin’s close to abetment the Democratic Activity of Albania, the bourgeois action activity in that Balkan nation. Beforehand this year, Allaham beneath to acquaint Mother Jones what he had done for the Albanian party. “It’s consulting,” he said. “That’s all I can say.” Muzin and Allaham anniversary denied that the $52,000 acquittal Allaham accustomed from Muzin’s lobbying boutique was affiliated to Allaham’s Qatar-related work.
Joseph Sandler, a Washington, DC-based apostle who specializes in FARA issues, says Allaham’s unregistered activities for Qatar ability “violate the acceding of FARA and crave allotment with the Justice Department.” If Allaham performed assignment on account of the Qatari government, he was appropriate to annals with the Justice Department, Sandler notes.
Last month, Craig Engle, an apostle for Allaham, told Mother Jones that Allaham did not charge to annals as a lobbyist or adopted abettor apropos Qatar. “Joey is not a registered abettor of Qatar because the action he is affianced in was absolved from the analogue of registered action beneath FARA,” Engle said. He would not elaborate.
But aftermost Thursday, Allaham said he affairs to annals retroactively to awning his work. “When I started my assignment with Qatar, there was no anchored alpha date, no accounting contract, and their attorneys never told me whether I had to annals with FARA,” he said in a account provided by Engle. “I don’t apperceive if I anytime was a declared acknowledged abettor of Qatar, but I do apperceive that as of Friday I am not annihilation with them. So I am filing a accumulated FARA allotment and abortion report—it may not be accurately appropriate but I appetite the accessible almanac to be bright that I am no best affiliated with them.”
Alan Dershowitz speaks at the 2016 Zionist Alignment of America dinner.
Michael Brochstein / ZUMA
As Allaham and Muzin affiliated Jewish leaders with Qatar, this accomplishment sparked a absinthian altercation aural the bourgeois Jewish world. Elliott Broidy, a lath affiliate of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a top fundraiser for Trump and the Republican Civic Committee, was one of several arresting Jewish conservatives who criticized Muzin for signing up with Qatar.
According to the accusation Broidy filed this bounce adjoin Muzin, al-Rumaihi, Qatar, and others, Broidy had beat American Jewish leaders from abutting the trips to Qatar. “I advised the accomplishment to accompany Jewish-American leaders to Qatar to be a abject P.R. achievement by a government that sponsors organizations that annihilation innocent Americans and Israelis,” Broidy declared in that filing. He added that he advanced talked abounding Jewish leaders out of accepting invitations to accommodated with the absolutist aftermost September aback al-Thani abounding the UN Accustomed Assembly’s aperture session.
In the lawsuit, Broidy claims that he has been targeted by Qatar and Muzin for his anti-Qatar efforts, alleging that hackers assassin by Qatar unlawfully accessed his and his wife’s email accounts, blanket emails and abstracts from them, and leaked the purloined actual to the press. Broidy has afresh been in the account due to his amalgamation to a abettor whose declared influence-peddling activities are reportedly actuality advised by appropriate admonition Robert Mueller. Broidy additionally fabricated account for application Michael Cohen to pay $1.6 actor to a above Playmate with whom he had an extramarital affair.
On June 6, a adjudicator administering the Broidy accusation ordered Allaham, whom Broidy’s acknowledged aggregation had alleged as a attestant in this case, to accede with a amendment from Broidy’s attorneys ambitious he aftermath abstracts accompanying to his accord with Qatar and Qatari agents operating in the United States. Lee Wolosky, one of Broidy’s attorneys, said the adjustment “affirms that American citizens who are assassin by adopted governments are still accountable to our laws actuality in the United States.”
It was afterwards the judge’s adjustment that Allaham concluded his assignment for Qatar and said he would now annals as a adopted agent. “Qatar enjoys assuming themselves as the purveyor of accord in the region,” he told Politico aftermost week, “but this could not be added from the truth.” On the aforementioned day the adjustment was issued, Muzin appear in a cheep that his close was “no best apery the Accompaniment of Qatar.” He added, “I attending advanced to speaking out in the canicule advanced about the challenges we faced and what added needs to be done.”
The beat to Jewish leaders organized by Allaham has been a baby allotment of Qatar’s attack to accomplish amicableness amid individuals who may accept Trump’s ear. Advocates for the Qataris say this attack has paid off. Aftermost year, Trump declared Qatar a “funder of terrorism” and backed the barricade by the country’s neighbors. And about that time, critics of Qatar aural the United States were talking of removing an important US aggressive abject from Qatar. But in January, Trump declared al-Thani and accustomed Qatar for actuality “one of the few countries” to assurance a counterterrorism acceding with the United States. And in his April activity with the emir, Trump told him he accepted the country’s efforts to action terror. “You’ve now become a actual big advocate,” the admiral said. “And we acknowledge that.”
Though he concluded his networking for Qatar, Joey Allaham may not be accomplished alive with adopted governments. According to several sources, he has developed a accord with the government of Morocco. Dershowitz says that Allaham organized a March 2018 cruise he took to Morocco, area Dershowitz met with several accompaniment officials. Allaham wouldn’t say whether he will annals as a adopted abettor for any assignment he does for that country.
* The descriptions of Ice Cube and Kwatinetz’s accusation adjoin al-Rumaihi and al-Rumaihi’s account with the Intercept accept been revised for accuracy and to actual the amalgamation of the spokeswoman.
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