Texas A&M Closing Its Controversial Campus

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton made the following statement about Texas A&M closing its campus in Qatar (The news follows disclosures from a Judicial Watch lawsuit on behalf of the Zachor Legal Institute that disclosed nearly half a billion in funding from the Qatar regime for Texas A&M.):

 Texas A&M’s decision to close its Qatar campus is a recognition how reckless and dangerous it is for a taxpayer-supported institution to take money and partner from a known supporter of terrorism especially now that terrorism has raised its ugly head so dramatically again in the Mideast. Texas A&M has more work to do to extract itself from Qatar’s hooks. And Judicial Watch will continue to push for transparency on Qatar influence operations here in America.

The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents voted on February 8 to cancel its contract with the  Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, which funded the campus, ending the 20-year-old program. It reportedly will take four years to finally close out the program. 

Judicial Watch and the Zachor Legal Institute – with the assistance of Jennifer S. Riggs of Riggs & Ray, P.C. in Austin, Texas – have spent more than five years successfully fighting the Qatar Foundation in Texas courts for information about the funding of Texas A&M. The records that have been produced so far have shown that over $522 million was given by Qatar to the state university from January 1, 2013, to May 22, 2018, including more than $485 million from the Qatar Foundation.  In addition, because of Judicial Watch’s court victory, Texas A&M produced contracts that suggest Texas A&M provided an assignment of sensitive intellectual property to the Qatar Foundation.

In 2019 Judicial Watch intervened under the Texas Public Information Act (TPIA) on behalf of its client Zachor Legal Institute, which had made two requests for details of the Qatar government’s funding of the campus but was denied. Zachor is a U.S.-based advocacy group dedicated to combating the spread of anti-Semitism.

In March 2023 Judge Amy Clark Meachum of the District Court of Texas for Travis County ordered the documents be made public.  

In May 2023 Judicial Watch received records from Texas A&M indicating that it received $485,811,921.33 in grants and contracts from the Qatar Foundation, which had fought the release in Texas courts.

Qatar has aligned itself with Islamic terrorists and extremists, which has placed it at odds with the United States, Israel and other U.S. allies in the Middle East. In October 2023, the U.S. Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on terrorist group members and financial facilitators in Qatar and other nations. Judicial Watch argued in court that the Qatar government sponsors and supports the Qatar Foundation for Education.

In October 2018 Qatar filed suit against the Texas attorney general to prevent the disclosure of its funding information. On April 29, 2019, Judicial Watch filed a petition to intervene on behalf of Zachor.

 Judicial Watch pointed out in its petition that the U.S. Congressional Research Service has found serious issues worthy of investigation with Qatar’s involvement in discrimination and terrorism:

The Qatari government has been identified as a vocal purveyor of anti-Semitism and promoter of extremist terrorist groups. The merits of this case ask whether the Qatar Foundation (a private entity) will be allowed to use the (Texas Public Information Act) to preclude public scrutiny of its involvement with and influence on a public university.

Judicial Watch reported in May 2019 that Qatar had given $1 billion to American universities since 2011, with more than $830 million directed to three U.S. universities—Georgetown, Northwestern, and Texas A&M. Each opened satellite campuses in Qatar.

Zachor’s President Marc Greendorfer stated:

First, we wouldn’t have been able to obtain this shocking information without the work of Judicial Watch.  For small organizations like Zachor, partnering with Judicial Watch creates a veritable David standing against the Goliaths who would otherwise shut down public scrutiny of their harmful alliances.  Second, we also intend to continue our work combating terror and hate that is fed by the deep pockets of countries like Qatar. While our focus is on fighting antisemitism, this issue is one that affects every American and we are grateful to have such a strong and effective partner.

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The motto of Judicial Watch is “Because no one is above the law”. To this end, Judicial Watch uses the open records or freedom of information laws and other tools to investigate and uncover misconduct by government officials and litigation to hold to account politicians and public officials who engage in corrupt activities.