FBI Investigating Retired Marine General John Allen for Illegal Lobbying for Qatar

Newly appointed Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR) US General John Allen looks on

The FBI is investigating a retired four-star Marine general who commanded forces in Afghanistan and advised Hillary Clinton on her 2016 presidential campaign as part of a probe into an illegal lobbying campaign for Qatar, according to reports.

Federal prosecutors have obtained records indicating that retired Marine Gen. John R. Allen, current president of the Washington, D.C. think tank Brookings Institution, secretly lobbied for Qatar, lied about his role in the campaign, and tried to hold incriminating evidence from the government, according to the New York Times.

Allen is being investigated for allegedly violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act for lobbying American officials on behalf of Qatar while at the same time pursuing ”multi-million dollar business deals with the government of Qatar,” FBI agent Babak Adib wrote in a search warrant application, according to the New York Post.

“There is substantial evidence that these FARA violations were willful,” Adib wrote, according to the search warrant application obtained by the Associated Press (AP). Allen reportedly did not disclose his activities to the U.S. government, as required under FARA. He also reportedly lied to federal investigators during a 2020 interview and hid relevant emails in response to a grand jury subpoena.

The FBI probe has already ensnared at least one other high-profile foreign policy figure. Last week, former Ambassador Richard G. Olsen, who served as the Obama administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, pleaded guilty to charges of illegal lobbying for Qatar and failing to disclose gifts he received while he was an ambassador.

Allen reportedly lobbied former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in 2017 when Saudi Arabia and other nations announced a blockade against Qatar over accusations of supporting terrorist organizations. Allen asked McMaster to have the Trump administration issue a statement in support of Qatar. Allen reportedly did not tell McMaster he was there on Qatar’s behalf.

According to the AP:

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.”

Tillerson’s statement was reportedly a shift “away from earlier statements by the White House.”

Retired US Marine Corps Four-star General John Allen speaks on the final night of the Democratic National Convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 28, 2016. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

Retired US Marine Corps Four-star General John Allen speaks on the final night of the Democratic National Convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 28, 2016. (David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

Allen has denied ever working as a Qatari agent and has claimed his efforts to prevent a military conflict. A spokesman for Allen, Beau Phillips, said in a statement, according to the Times:

John Allen voluntarily cooperated with the government’s investigation into this matter. John Allen’s efforts with regard to Qatar in 2017 were to protect the interests of the United States and the military personnel stationed in Qatar. John Allen received no fee for his efforts.

A business executive, Imaad Zuberi, has also been charged and convicted in connection with the investigation, for violating foreign lobbying, campaign finance and tax laws, and obstruction of justice. He recruited Olson in his foreign lobbying campaign, who then recruited Allen.

Court documents state that Allen agreed to travel to the Qatari capital of Doha for a $20,000 “speaker’s fee,” with the possibility of a “fuller arrangement of a longer term relationship,” according to the Times. He also pursued business with firms affiliated with Qatar, including one deal for a commission of over $1 million.

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