Authorities say a retired four-star general suppressed “incriminating” documents and lied about his role in an unlawful foreign lobbying campaign on behalf of Qatar. The FBI has seized his computer data.
Former Marine General John R Allen, who led US and NATO forces in Afghanistan before being appointed to run the renowned Brookings Institution think-tank in 2017, is facing a potential criminal charge, according to new federal court files released Tuesday.
It’s part of a broader probe that includes Richard G Olson, a former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan who pled guilty to federal charges last week, and Imaad Zuberi, a well-known political fundraiser who is serving a 12-year sentence for corruption. As part of the investigation, several members of the US Congress have been interviewed.
The court documents outline Allen’s alleged behind-the-scenes efforts to assist Qatar influence US policy in 2017, when the gas-rich Persian Gulf monarchy and its neighbours were embroiled in a diplomatic dispute.
Zuberi “viewed the diplomatic situation as a business opportunity,” according to the documents, and began working on selling lobbying services to Qatar. He reached out to Olson, who in turn contacted Allen.
In a WhatsApp chat quoted in the lawsuit, Zuberi wrote to Olson, “If we can do this, we will own half of Qatar.”
Individuals advocating for a foreign government must register with the Department of Justice under US federal law.
In a search warrant application, FBI agent Babak Adib stated, “There is considerable evidence that these FARA violations were deliberate.” He was alluding to the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Allen allegedly lied to US officials about his role in the lobbying campaign and neglected to disclose “that he was simultaneously pursuing multimillion-dollar commercial partnerships with the government of Qatar,” according to Adib.
During a 2020 interview with law enforcement officials, the FBI claimed Allen offered a “false account of events” about his work for Qatar and neglected to produce key email exchanges in response to an earlier grand jury subpoena.