Qatar or how the Gulf country hired former CIA agents to carry out "criminal activities"

Former Republican National Committee finance chief Elliot Broidy has accused the Gulf monarchy of orchestrating "a network of criminal activity"
Logo of the World Cup in Qatar 2022

PHOTO  -   Logo of the World Cup in Qatar 2022

A new accusation of bribery and intimidation by former Republican National Committee finance chairman Elliot Broidy is putting FIFA in check. Broidy has accused Qatar of orchestrating "a network of criminal activity" to sabotage their rivals in order to win the candidature to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Republican economist claims that the Gulf nation hired former U.S. CIA and military intelligence agents to organize "criminal activities against it and its business". 

A week ago, Elliot Broidy filed a lawsuit in U.S. Federal Court revealing evidence of the "criminal activity network" set up by the government of Qatar and an American company to win the contract to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. According to this document, the Gulf country paid Global Risk Advisors (GRA), a private security company based in New York, more than $100 million to "intimidate and silence FIFA officials". 

Specifically, the complaint alleges that "hackers" recruited by GRA and belonging to the U.S. national security agency or the central intelligence agency had attacked Broidy in reprisal "for his criticism" of the Gulf monarchy. "Global Risk Advisors offered Qatar some of the best trained former counterintelligence personnel in the world to help secure the country's host status," says the complaint, which has been accessed by several U.S. media outlets, including the digital Town Hall. "As the controversy has unfolded, GRA has highlighted its ability to use the skills of the intelligence community and covert action campaigns to neutralize key voices in the growing chorus of critics advocating that the 2022 World Cup be reassigned to a different host country," they have said. 

This operation was directed, according to the legal document, by GRA Director General Kevin Chalker, a former CIA agent and adjunct professor at Yale. According to the information Town Hall has had access to, Kevin Chalker was criticized for "neutralizing" Theo Zwanziger, the former president of the German Football Association, who was a member of FIFA's executive committee at the time, through "covert operations or the use of IT platforms".  Although the American company had originally asked Qatar for more than $500 million, it received only one-fifth, which was directed at this type of illegal activity, according to the complaint. 

Trabajadores en el estadio Al Bayt, construido para el próximo campeonato de fútbol de la Copa Mundial de la FIFA de 2022, durante una gira por el estadio de Al Khor, al norte de Doha (Qatar)
AFP/ GIUSEPPE CACACE - Workers at Al Bayt Stadium, built for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup football championship, during a tour of Al Khor Stadium, north of Doha, Qatar

The complaint filed by Elliot Broidy also specifies some of the tactics used to achieve this purpose. Thus, allegedly in December 2017, a technique called spear phishing was used to "gain access to Mr. Broidy's confidential documents in order to manipulate and strategically disseminate them for the purpose of harming him economically", the complaint continues. "Chalker celebrated the launch of the spear phishing campaign that same evening, Wednesday 27 December 2017, by bringing members to Sapphire Gentlemen's Club in New York City," they have criticised. Broidy believes it was not an isolated incident, but part of a wider campaign overseen by Qatar. 

According to this legal document, the Gulf country was not working alone with Global Risk Advisors. Qatar also reportedly hired Stonington Strategies LLC, a Delaware-based company, in order to increase its influence "in the Republican, American-Jewish and other conservative supporters of the U.S. president".  The federal lawsuit memorandum states that GRA and other companies "intercepted confidential and proprietary information" from dozens of people in order to benefit Qatar. 

"Because he was in contact with most of the politically connected foreign diplomats residing in the United States, pirates and spies intercepted the ambassador's correspondence and communications with the aim of accessing confidential information, especially from U.S. citizens, including senior government officials," reads the document, which has also been accessed by the Al Arabiya newspaper.  Among the victims of this attack, according to the newspaper, are James Lammond, project manager at the Center for American Progress, a research center, as well as Christine Wood, a consultant with Culpeper National Security Solutions, a security consulting firm and allegedly a former CIA employee; Ric Stirling, an investigative journalist and open defender of the Assad regime in Syria; or anyone else that Qatar might consider a threat to its interests. 

The International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) World Cup to be held in Qatar in 2022 has been the center of controversy in recent months. Organizers of this event last week reported the first death from coronavirus among the workers who are building the facility. The shadow of corruption has reappeared over the organisation of the World Cup in recent months. Last April, an investigation by the United States claimed that FIFA executives Ricardo Teixeira of Brazil, the late Nicolás Leoz of Paraguay and an unidentified third member received money in exchange for their support of the Qatari bid. However, Qatar has always denied these allegations.