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Dubai based PR firm hired producer of fake terrorist videos to make anti-Qatar film

General view of the newly constructed skyscrapers in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on April 25, 2017 [Ramazan Turgut/Anadolu Agency]
General view of the newly constructed skyscrapers in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on April 25, 2017 [Ramazan Turgut/Anadolu Agency]

A Pentagon “propagandist,” who previously headed a company that was paid half a billion dollars to produce fake terrorist videos in Iraq, was hired by a Dubai based company to create a film accusing Qatar of links to terrorism, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has revealed.

Charles Andreae, the CEO of Andreae & Associates which was contracted to produce the film, used to work for PR firm Bell Pottinger, the UK PR firm that was payed $540 million dollars to create fake terrorist videos in Iraq.

The firm was employed to produce the anti-Qatari film amidst a diplomatic row in which the Saudi and UAE governments cut ties with Doha, which it accused of supporting terrorism. Qatar has strongly denied the accusation and accused its neighbours of fabricating stories. US intelligence agencies have since confirmed that the UAE orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites to justify its unprecedented attack against Qatar.

According to the Bureau, Andreae was given over $500,000 to produce a six-part film linking Qatar with global terrorism. The film, entitled “Qatar: A Dangerous Alliance,” features a number of neo-conservative pundits making the UAE and Saudi case against Qatar in a 37-minute video.

Copies of the film are said to have been distributed at an event at the right-wing Hudson Institute think-tank last October. President Trump’s former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon is said to have been a keynote speaker at the event, as was former Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and General David Petraeus, former CIA director, the Bureau reported.

The contract only came to light following a newly-filed lobbying declaration with the US Department of Justice. US companies are required by law to disclose information on lobbying and PR work for foreign clients.

READ: Bahrain’s FM calls for prosecution of Qatari Al-Jazeera TV Channel

According to the declaration, Andreae & Associates was hired in August 2017 by Lapis Communications to produce, release and market “six multimedia products focused on an investigation into the role of the state Of Qatar and the state’s connection to global terrorism”. Lapis, the Bureau revealed, is a Dubai based strategic communications firm.

The declaration also confirmed that the activities carried out by Andreae & Associates for the production of the film were done on behalf of a foreign nation and “may include communications with members of Congress and Congressional staff, think-tanks, reporters, academics and media personalities”.

It’s reported that shortly after the Lapis contract with Andreae & Associates, the Emirati National Media Council gave a further $250,000 contract to a London PR firm. A chunk of the money is said to have gone to SCL Social for an anti-Qatar social media campaign. SCL Social is part of the SCL Group which also owns Cambridge Analytica, a firm now mired in controversy over harvesting Facebook users’ data for propaganda purposes and producing videos designed to bring down the political opponents of their clients.

The UAE has been running a relentless propaganda campaign against Qatar since it imposed a blockade on Doha with the support of its Gulf allies. Last March it was revealed that Abu Dhabi spent $2.5 million in lobbying Washington to take a position against Qatar.

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