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Beverly Hills Lawmaker Asks City Council to Probe Antisemitic Qatari ‘Terrorist Enabler’

Former Beverly Hills mayor John Mirisch will ask Council to look into MEMRI report and bin Jassim’s antisemitic remarks.
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August 18, 2023
Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Hamad bin Jassim, a former prime minister of Qatar and owner of the Maybourne Beverly Hills hotel and much else, is slated to relocate from London to Bel Air,triggering concerns due to his antisemitism and enabling of terrorism.

Just last year (January 28), Hamad bin Jassim, who is known by his initials HBJ, told the Kuwaiti media outlet Al Qabas: “Imagine oil [was sold] by some Jews…what would be the price of a barrel oil? It would be the most expensive thing in the world.” The prominent think tank the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) first located and translated HBJ’s antisemitic comment.

Beverly Hills City Council member John A. Mirisch, a former mayor of the city, told the Jewish Journal that “Mr. bin Jassim’s statement is vile and yet another manifestation of the virus of Jew-hatred, something we in Beverly Hills, one of the few Jewish-majority cities outside Israel, have always condemned in the strongest of terms.”

He continued, “I intend to ask the City Council to look into the MEMRI report, as well as Mr. bin Jassim’s remarks and to pass a resolution condemning any and all expressions of Jew-hatred, as well as any violations of human rights.

Obviously, local government has nothing to do with issuing visas, but from my perspective, violent antisemites and violators of human rights should not be welcome in our city or country.”

The alleged terrorism activities of HBJ when he served as the prime minister and foreign minister of the tiny oil-rich Gulf state of Qatar were first documented in an early August report by MEMRI.

According to their report, “A Terrorist Enabler in Beverly Hills and Bel Air — Part 1,” in the 1990s, the Qatari government “gave sanctuary and protection to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) — who was involved in planning the ‘Bojinka’ bomb plot to down 11 U.S. airliners over the Pacific Ocean, was involved in planning to assassinate the Pope [John Paul II] and former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and was connected to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing — in the Water Department of the Doha municipality.”

The report continued, “In 1996, when bin Jassim was serving as Qatar’s foreign minister, the U.S. government went to arrest KSM in Qatar and gave advance notice only to Qatar’s emir. That same night, KSM vanished, only to reappear five years later as the mastermind of 9/11. As Richard Clarke, counter-terrorism advisor to Presidents Clinton and H.W. Bush, wrote: ‘Had the Qataris handed [KSM] over to us as requested in 1996, the world might have been a very different place.’”

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is currently incarcerated in the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, played a key role in the 2002 murder in Karachi, Pakistan, of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who grew up in Los Angeles.

Mirisch said, “While I don’t think the residents of Beverly Hills are specifically at risk because of Mr. bin Jassim’s presence here, our police department is very good, it seems that people and regimes that violate human rights make the world as a whole a more dangerous, less safe place. People and regimes that condone, finance and enable terrorists, as well as engage in comprehensive campaigns to stoke Jew-hatred and other forms of bigotry, are people who make the world as a whole a more dangerous, less safe place.”

The MEMRI report includes a photograph of Hamad bin Jassim with Hassan Nasrallah, secretary-general of the U.S.-designated terrorist movement Hezbollah. Hezbollah, one of the world’s most lethal antisemitic organizations, is the chief strategic partner of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

MEMRI wrote: “In addition, on several occasions and across several years, particularly in his capacity as Qatar’s Prime Minister, bin Jassim met with Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah with the goal of assisting in rebuilding southern Lebanon, which is a Hezbollah stronghold. It should be recalled that Hezbollah is responsible for (at least) three mass-casualty terrorist attacks against U.S. targets in Beirut: The 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing (in which 63 people were killed), the Beirut barracks bombings (in which 241 U.S. marines were killed), and the 1984 U.S. Embassy annex bombing (in which 23 people were killed).”

It is unclear whether HBJ secured a visa from the U.S. State Department. A spokesperson for the department told the Jewish Journal that “Visa records are confidential under U.S. law; therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases.”When asked about the MEMRI report, the spokesperson said, “We have no comment on the report at this time.”

A State Department spokesperson added that HBJ “is not an accredited diplomat in the United States.”

According to the May 2023 London diplomatic list for the United Kingdom, HBJ is listed as a diplomat with the title of “Minister-Counsellor.”

When asked about the allegations that HBJ enabled terrorism,according to the MEMRI report and the congressional hearing, Blake Fox, director of communications for The Maybourne Beverly Hills, told the Journal: “Kindly note that your email has been well received. We do not have any comment to provide.” Fox also refused to issue a comment on HBJ’s reported anti-Jewish statement.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Journal, “Qatar is awash in untold billions, mostly generated by their oil profits. What then does it say about a man whose massive wealth and influence is built on the foundation of oil money that he still reportedly finds a way to deploy an antisemitic trope about oil? Maybe that passes for acceptable chitchat in a country that sponsors Al Jazeera’s anti-Israel agenda and buys influence in major universities, but it will not go unchallenged here.”

According to a 2023 Forbes article, the 63-year-old HBJ has an estimated fortune worth $1.2 billion.

Cooper added that Americans have noticed that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain made peace with the Jewish state, but Qatar has not.

“Americans will soon pause to remember the thousands of innocent victims murdered on 9/11. And many of us will remember too that Qatar gave safe haven to Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the mastermind of 9/11, who was also involved with the beheading of the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Pearl.” Directly addressing

HBJ, Cooper said your “new neighbors in Bel Air would be interested in learning more details about [your] storied career, including your upholding of the death penalty targeting gays.”

Human rights violations are widespread in the non-democratic state of Qatar, according to reports from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The persecution of gays in Qatar was part and parcel of HBJ’s rule over the Islamist nation.

HBJ did nothing to end Qatar’s death penalty for gays when he was prime minister. When asked about his role in upholding lethal homophobia in the Gulf state, the State Department spokesperson said, “We are not going to comment on unsubstantiated allegations about former officials based on press reports. Broadly speaking, we oppose the criminalization of adult consensual same-sex conduct.”

The London-based Human Dignity Trust, a leading LGBTQ rights organization, weighed in on the death penalty targeting gays in Qatar.

“The retention of the death penalty for consensual, same-sex sexual conduct is a gross violation of numerous international human rights standards, including the right to life and of the right to freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment,” Téa Braun, the chief executive of the Human Dignity Trust, said.  She added, “The trust calls for same-sex sexual acts to be decriminalized in the 66 countries across the world where criminalizing laws remain on the books, including Qatar, and urges states to immediately abolish the death penalty in all circumstances.”

When HBJ was part of the commanding heights of the Qatari political apparatus in the 1990s, the regime persecuted gay Americans and Filipinos.

The Cornell Daily Sun reported that “an American citizen in Qatar was sentenced to receive 90 lashes during a 6-month prison term for ‘homosexual activity,’ according to the U.S. Department of State’s report on human rights practices for 1996. In October of 1997, 36 gay Filipino workers were deported.”

Iranian Americans who live in Los Angeles expressed dismay at HBJ’s planned presence in the city.

Lawdan Bazargan, who has campaigned against Iran’s regime, told the Jewish Journal that “Hamad bin Jassim (HBJ) appears to be drawing inspiration from the playbook of bin Laden, the Saudi Arabian extremist who founded Al-Qaeda. Wealthy Muslim extremists such as Jassim appear determined to enforce their anti-LGBTQ and anti-women beliefs onto others, showcasing a sense of entitlement that positions them above human rights. These individuals, including Jassim, who maintains close connections with proponents of violence and terrorism, present a significant danger to both the Middle East and the global community.”

Bazargan, who was imprisoned in Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison in the 1980s for her dissident activities, added, “These ideologues appear to be anchored in the mindset of the seventh century rather than embracing the advancements of the 21st century. It is imperative that we take a stand against them and hold them accountable for their perilous rhetoric and actions.”

The Journal sent numerous press requests to Qatar’s embassies in Washington D.C. and London. Requests for comment were also sent to Qatar’s foreign ministry, to HBJ and his charity in Doha. No responses were received.

In 2021, nine Syrians filled a lawsuit in London against HBJ and other Qatari individuals, alleging “high-ranking members of the Qatari ruling elite” funneled funds to “actively support and facilitate” al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists in Syria, according to a report in The Times of London. The paper reported that representatives for the Qataris said the allegations were baseless

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