A retired four-star general at the center of an investigation into an illegal lobbying campaign for Qatar has had his electronic data seized by the FBI after authorities claimed he made false statements and withheld “incriminating” documents.
According to new federal court filings, former Marine Gen. John R. Allen — who led US and NATO forces in Afghanistan until he stepped down to join the Brookings Institution research group — may potentially face criminal charges for working behind the scenes to influence US foreign policy in favor of the small but wealthy Persian Gulf nation.
Allen allegedly lobbied U.S. officials to help Qatar in 2017 amid a diplomatic crisis between the monarchy and its neighbors while “simultaneously pursuing multi-million dollar business deals with the government of Qatar,” violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act [FARA], FBI agent Babak Adib wrote in a search warrant application, obtained by the Associated Press.
“There is substantial evidence that these FARA violations were willful,” Adib wrote. Allen is failed to disclose his business dealings with U.S. officials, he said.
The FBI has accused Allen of providing a “false version of events” about his work for Qatar during a 2020 interview with law enforcement officials. The agency claims he failed to produce relevant email messages in response to an earlier grand jury subpoena, according to the affidavit.
Allen was named in part of a growing investigation that has seen Richard G. Olson — former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan — plead guilty to federal charges last week. Imaad Zuberi, an influential political donor from California, was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2021.
The 77-page search warrant application appears to have been filed erroneously and was quickly removed from the docket Tuesday after AP reached out to federal authorities about the document.
Allen has denied ever working as a Qatari agent and claimed his efforts in the country were to prevent a military conflict in the region that would put U.S. troops at risk. He declined to comment on the application Tuesday.
Allen spokesperson Beau Phillips told AP last week that the former general “voluntarily cooperated with the government’s investigation into this matter.”
The Brookings Institution, which has received significant funding from Qatar for years, also declined to comment. The influential think tank said it no longer accepts Qatari money.
Olson and Zuberi were working together on a separate matter in Qatar when Saudi Arabia and other neighboring nations announced a blockade against Qatar in mid-2017 accusing it of supporting terrorist organizations.
After the blockade was announced, then-president Donald Trump appeared to support Qatar in the diplomatic crisis.
According to court documents, Allen lobbied then-National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster to have the Trump administration adopt a more Qatar-friendly tone.
In a June 9 email to McMaster, Allen wrote the Qataris were “asking for some help” and were requesting the White House or State Department to issue a statement calling on all sides involved to “act with restraint.”
Two days later, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a statement asking Gulf countries to “ease the blockade against Qatar” and asked “that there be no further escalation by the parties in the region.”
Federal authorities claim Allen persuaded Tillerson to issue the statement that had “shifted away from earlier statements by the White House.”
The blockade ended four years later in January 2021 after a deal was brokered with the help of Jared Kushner and other government officials.
With Post Wires