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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Justice Department is being pressed to enforce its own demand that the U.S. arm of Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera register as a foreign agent.

Why it matters: The launch of Al Jazeera's new right-of-center U.S. media venture, Rightly, has refocused attention on the media company's alleged links to Doha, and DOJ's efforts to crack down on media outlets viewed as foreign interest mouthpieces.

  • Al Jazeera has portrayed the DOJ's action against its U.S. subsidiary as a concession to regional rivals such as the United Arab Emirates, raising questions about whether the network might experience a reversal of fortune if the Biden administration shifts course in the Middle East.

What's new: The Lawfare Project, a legal advocacy group that combats anti-Semitism in the U.S., sent a letter to the DOJ last week flagging "a potential violation of federal law" by Rightly and Al Jazeera subsidiary AJ+.

  • In September, the DOJ determined AJ+ acts "at the direction and control” of the Qatari government and hence must register as a foreign agent.
  • Rightly is bound by the same registration requirements, Lawfare Project senior counsel Gerard Filitti argued.
  • "This new media platform is nothing more than the latest attempt by Qatar to subvert American law and orchestrate a non-transparent and pernicious influence operation to affect and influence American politics and society," he wrote.

Background: The DOJ's foreign agent determination required AJ+ to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act within 30 days. It has yet to do so.

  • The company maintains no such registration is required, and DOJ's decision was politically motivated.
  • "Al Jazeera Media Network is a Private Foundation for Public Benefit under Qatari law; it is not owned by Qatar, and its content is not directed or controlled by the Qatari government nor does it reflect any government viewpoint,” a spokesperson told Axios Tuesday in an emailed statement.
  • A DOJ spokesperson declined to comment on AJ+'s FARA registration status.

Between the lines: Al Jazeera has long been the target of Qatar's Gulf rivals, which portray the news outlet as a propaganda organ for the country's ruling family.

  • U.S. lawmakers have also targeted Al Jazeera, saying, in one bipartisan congressional letter to the DOJ, that its U.S. broadcasting "directly undermines American interests."
  • Such criticism has made the fight over Al Jazeera's FARA registration a proxy battle over larger geopolitical fights.
  • When the company received the DOJ's determination letter last year, it accused the department of doing the bidding of Qatar's adversaries in the UAE.

The bottom line: Unless the DOJ rescinds its registration demand, AJ+ is still obligated to begin filing the necessary foreign-agent disclosures.

  • The financial and operational information it would be required to disclose under FARA would likely subject the company to further scrutiny by its critics in the U.S. and abroad.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
7 mins ago - Technology

Meet your doctor's AI assistant

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Artificial intelligence is breaking into the doctor's office, with new models that can transcribe, analyze and even offer predictions based on written notes and conversations between physicians and their patients.

Why it matters: AI models can increasingly be trained on what we tell our doctors, now that they're starting to understand our written notes and even our conversations. That will open up new possibilities for care — and new concerns about privacy.

What we know about the victims of the Indianapolis mass shooting

Officials load a body into a vehicle at the site of the mass shooting in Indianapolis. Photo:

Eight people who were killed along with several others who were injured in a Thursday evening shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis have been identified by local law enforcement.

The big picture: The Sikh Coalition said at least four of the eight victims were members of the Indianapolis Sikh community.

Pompeo, wife misused State Dept. resources, federal watchdog finds

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The State Department's independent watchdog found that former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated federal ethics rules when he and his wife asked department employees to perform personal tasks on more than 100 occasions, including picking up their dog and making private dinner reservations.

Why it matters: The report comes as Pompeo pours money into a new political group amid speculation about a possible 2024 presidential run.