TIME Qatar

The Qatari Government Says the Tennessee Shooter Did Not Visit Qatar

Four Marines and One Sailor Killed In Military Center Shootings In Chattanooga, Tennessee
Hamilton County Sheriff's Office/Getty Images Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez poses for a mugshot photo after he was was arrested on April 20, 2015 on a DUI offense.

A statement says he merely transited through Doha airport

The Qatari government says the man identified by the FBI as having carried out the Chattanooga shooting merely transited through Doha’s international airport and “at no time” entered Qatar.

Reports on Monday said U.S. counterterrorism officials were piecing together a trip Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez made to the Middle East in 2014. A source told Reuters he had also traveled to Qatar at least once, although the reasons for the stopover and its duration were unknown.

But a statement released by the Qatari government’s communications team Tuesday claimed such reports were false.

“The individual known as Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez transited through Doha’s Hamad International Airport from Amman, Jordan to the United States in November 2014. At no time did Mr. Abdulazeez enter the State of Qatar.”

The statement continued: “The State of Qatar condemns these criminal acts such as those in Tennessee, which terrorize and kill innocent people. These acts are contrary to all humanitarian values, ethics, principles and religions and emphasize the need for unity and solidarity in order to renounce violence and reject terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, whatever its motives and causes.”

Abdulazeez, 24, killed four Marines and wounded three others in attacks on military centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on July 16. He was shot dead by police the same morning.

 

TIME National Security

U.S. Officials Probe Why Tennessee Shooting Suspect Visited Qatar in 2014

Four Marines and One Sailor Killed In Military Center Shootings In Chattanooga, Tennessee
Handout/Hamilton County Sheriff's Office/Getty Images Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez poses for a mugshot photo after he was was arrested on April 20, 2015, on a DUI offense

Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez also spent seven months in Jordan last year with his family

The chief suspect in the killing of five U.S. service members in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Thursday had traveled to Qatar at least once during a trip to the Middle East in 2014.

The reasons for Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez’s stopover in the Qatari capital Doha or the duration of his stay are still unknown, reports Reuters. Qatar has both native jihadist supporters as well as a U.S. air base.

Counterterrorism officials are also investigating a seven-month trip Abdulazeez took to Jordan in 2014 with his family. Officials are examining whether he became radicalized during this trip, but there is currently no evidence to suggest the 24-year-old had any contact with militant groups or individuals.

Abdulazeez, a Kuwaiti-born naturalized U.S. citizen of Jordanian descent, opened fire at a military recruiting center in Chattanooga on Thursday, before driving to a naval-reserve facility where he shot and killed four Marines. Three people were injured including a sailor who died the following Saturday. Abdulazeez was killed in a subsequent gunfight with law-enforcement officers.

On Monday, an official close to the investigation told Reuters that there was evidence that the suspect could have had access to jihadist propaganda online.

[Reuters]

TIME Formula One

Here’s Who Could Be Teaming Up to Buy Formula One

Dolphins vs. Buccaneers
Sun Sentinel—MCT via Getty Images Stephen Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins.

It could help the global sport break into the U.S. market

Stephen Ross, the 75-year-old co-founder of RSE Ventures and the owner of the NFL’s Dolphins, is looking to partner with Qatar to buy Formula One in a deal worth about $8 billion.

The investment would mean CVC Capital Partners, the private equity firm that currently owns the motor racing sport, would sell its 35.5% stake to RSE Ventures and Qatar Sports Investments, according to The Financial Times. At the moment, CVC has declined to comment on any discussions, and the FIA, the sport’s regulator, has yet to receive an application to approve the transaction.

It could be the push needed for F1 to break through into the U.S. market. The global sport, worth around $9 billion, only has one race in Texas on its calendar, and has perennially struggled to gain traction among American sports fans. Now, it could benefit from Ross’ helping hand. As chairman of global property group Related Companies, Ross helped to develop New York’s Time Warner Center. He is also in talks to bring a Major League Soccer team to Miami together with English footballer David Beckham.

The interest from Qatar is also said to have heightened in the midst of the ongoing scandal at football governing body FIFA over the country’s winning bid for the 2022 World Cup. According to the FT, a majority stake in F1 would help fill the country’s portfolio in sports, an essential part of the country’s long-term ambitions. The Qatar group also owns French football club Paris St Germain.

TIME Egypt

Senior al-Jazeera Reporter Ahmed Mansour Detained in Germany on Egypt’s Request

GERMANY-EGYPT-MEDIA-ARREST-JAZEERA
JOHN MACDOUGALL—AFP/Getty Images Supporters of ousted Egyptian Islamist president Mohamed Morsi stage a demonstration to ask for the release of detained Al-Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour in front of the local court of Berlin's Tiergarten district, where Mansour is being held in custody on June 21, 2015

Protesters are demanding the 52-year-old's immediate release

Ahmed Mansour, a presenter for al-Jazeera’s Arabic-language channel, has been arrested in Berlin at the request of the Egyptian government.

The New York Times says it’s the first time a Western government has acted to comply with one of Egypt’s many extradition requests. An extradition hearing will take place on Monday, according to the BBC.

In 2014, Mansour was sentenced to 15 years in prison in absentia by an Egyptian court. The 52-year-old Egyptian national was convicted of torturing a lawyer during the 2011 Tahrir Square uprising. He denies the charges.

Mansour was arrested at Tegel airport in Berlin as he boarded a flight to Qatar, where his employer is based. Since former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in 2013, al-Jazeera has been critical of the current government, headed by Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the New York Times reports.

Protesters gathered outside the facility where Mansour is being held on Sunday to demand his release.

“It is quite ludicrous that a country like Germany would enforce and support such a request made by a dictatorial regime like the one we have in Egypt,” Mansour said in a video he recorded while in the Berlin prison.

TIME Soccer

FIFA Puts 2026 World Cup Bidding Process On Hold

Jerome Valcke fifa congress zurich
Fabrice Coffrini—AFP/Getty Images This May 30, 2015 photo shows FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke during a press conference following the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich.

FIFA had planned to outline a schedule for the bidding process this week

FIFA has placed the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup on hold in the wake of recent corruption allegations.

In a statement released Wednesday, FIFA said that further administrative decisions regarding bidding will be resumed “at a later date.”

FIFA had plans to outline a schedule for the bidding process this week. However, the May 27 indictment of 14 individuals on FIFA-related corruption charges, the June 2 resignation of FIFA President Sepp Blatter, and the ongoing investigation into the bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups — controversially awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively — have forced the Zurich-based organization to reevaluate.

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, who was not named in the May 27 U.S. indictment but has faced suspicion over a $10 million payment made in relation to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, told the BBC that it would be “nonsense” to begin a bidding process under current circumstances. FIFA has denied that Valcke authorized the payment.

Voting to determine the host of the 2026 World Cup is slated to take place May 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

TIME FIFA

Major FIFA Sponsors Don’t Want to Talk About Qatar, Either

adidas Starts Production of Brazuca Match Balls
Lennart Preiss—Getty Images for adidas Brazuca match balls for the FIFA World Cup 2014 lie in a rack in front of the adidas logo on December 6, 2013 in Scheinfeld near Herzogenaurach, Germany.

Few want to discuss soccer's most important crisis

After Wednesday’s news that the U.S. government indicted top soccer officials on charges of racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering, FIFA’s corporate sponsors expressed concern, saying they were monitoring the situation. They did their predictable finger-waving.

“Our sponsorship has always focused on supporting the teams, enabling a great fan experience, and inspiring communities to come together and celebrate the spirit of competition and personal achievement,” Visa, one of FIFA’s parters, said in a statement. “And it is important that FIFA makes changes now, so that the focus remain on these going forward. Should FIFA fail to do so, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship.”

But companies like Visa should have reassessed their FIFA sponsorship long before the arrests. Because while the scale of the alleged corruption — over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks, according to the Justice Department — is shocking, another scandal has been brewing for years now. And this one involves the loss of many lives.

In December 2010, FIFA awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, a tiny, oil-rich Gulf state with little existing World Cup infrastructure and a dangerously hot climate, for both players and the thousands of migrant workers that have been needed to built the World Cup edifices. As a result, a humanitarian crisis has unfolded. According to a March 2014 report from the International Trade Union Confederation, 1,200 World Cup workers from Nepal and India have died in Qatar since 2010. The ITCU estimates that 4,000 workers could die before the 2022 World Cup kicks off. The Washington Post, drawing on multiple sources, created a graphic comparing World Cup worker deaths in Qatar with fatalities associated with other major sporting events, like the 2012 London Olympics, the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The differences are stunning.

On top of that, the Nepalese labor minister recently told The Guardian that many World Cup migrants from Nepal have not been permitted to return home from Qatar to mourn family members killed in the April 25 earthquake, which claimed over 8,000 lives.

So FIFA’s most galling corruption isn’t directly connected to the headline-grabbing U.S. indictments. (Yesterday, the Swiss government announced it has launched a criminal investigation into the bid process for both the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 Cup in Qatar). If anything, the publicity surrounding the arrests will shine further light into the Qatar crisis.

And what do Visa and other sponsors have to say about Qatar? Not a whole lot.

TIME reached out to six companies listed in FIFA’s “2015-2022 sponsorship portfolio:” FIFA partners Adidas, Coca-Cola, Hyundai/Kia and Visa, and World Cup sponsors Anheuser-Busch InBev and McDonald’s. We did not seek comment from the seventh sponsor, Russian gas giant Gazprom, whose sponsorship is listed as “2018 only” — connected with the World Cup in Russia. We asked each of them: “how can your company support an organization that is staging an event in Qatar, a place where a humanitarian crisis has unfolded during World Cup preparations, a place where, according to one report, at least 1,200 people have died during World Cup preparations, a place where migrant workers were reportedly not allowed to go home to mourn earthquake victims in Nepal?”

No company made any executive available to answer this question. TIME directly emailed the question to John Lewicki, head of global alliances for McDonald’s and Lucas Herscovici, vice president consumer connections (media, digital, sports & entertainment) at Anheuser-Busch InBev. Neither executive directly responded. We got a flurry of statements. A Visa rep directed TIME to the statement it posted Wednesday in response to the arrests. “Our disappointment and concern with FIFA in light of today’s developments is profound,” the statement said, in part. “As a sponsor, we expect FIFA to take swift and immediate steps to address these issues within its organization. This starts with rebuilding a culture with strong ethical practices in order to restore the reputation of the games for fans everywhere.” When we pointed out that that statement was not specific to the loss of life in Qatar, the rep directed us to an earlier statement, released May 19. “We continue to be troubled by the reports coming out of Qatar related to the World Cup and migrant worker conditions. We have expressed our grave concern to FIFA and urge them to take all necessary actions to work with the appropriate authorities and organizations to remedy this situation and ensure the health and safety of all involved.”

An Adidas rep sent along a statement: “The adidas Group is fully committed to creating a culture that promotes the highest standards of ethics and compliance, and we expect the same from our partners. Following today’s news, we can therefore only encourage FIFA to continue to establish and follow transparent compliance standards in everything they do. adidas is the world’s leading football brand and we will continue to support football on all levels.” This statement, too, is a response to the arrests, not our Qatar question. We pointed this out to Adidas. A spokesperson said this was the company’s standing response.

More than 20 hours after this story was published, Adidas sent another statement: “The adidas Group is committed to ensuring fair labour practices, fair wages and safe working conditions in factories throughout our global supply chain. These active efforts are guided by our core values as a company as well as by our Workplace Standards – contractual obligations under the manufacturing agreements the adidas Group signs with its main business partners. The Workplace Standards are based on the International Labour Organization’s (ILO’s) core labour rights conventions.

“We are in a constant dialogue with our partner FIFA and know that FIFA has repeatedly urged the Qatari authorities to ensure decent conditions for migrant workers in the country. There have been significant improvements and these efforts are ongoing; but everyone recognizes that more needs to be done in a collective effort with all stakeholders involved.”

A Hyundai representative also did not answer the question directly, saying through a statement, “as a company that place the highest priority on ethical standards and transparency, Hyundai Motor is extremely concerned about the legal proceedings being taken against certain FIFA executives and will continue to monitor the situation closely.” A Kia official said in a statement: “Kia Motors takes seriously any reports concerning the poor treatment of migrant workers involved in the construction of venues for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It is our understanding that FIFA and related authorities are taking immediate steps to secure appropriate standards of welfare for all workers involved in these projects, and we will continue to monitor developments in Qatar very closely.” Hyundai is the parent company of Kia.

The statement from McDonald’s: “McDonald’s is committed to doing business around the world in a manner that respects human rights. We have expressed our concerns to FIFA regarding human rights issues in Qatar and know they are working with local authorities to address those concerns.”

Coke: “The Coca-Cola Company does not condone human rights abuses anywhere in the world. We know FIFA is working with Qatari authorities to address specific labor and human rights issues. We expect FIFA to continue taking these matters seriously and to work toward further progress. We welcome constructive dialogue on human rights issues, and we will continue to work with many individuals, human rights organizations, sports groups, government officials and others to develop solutions and foster greater respect for human rights in sports and elsewhere.”

Anheuser-Busch InBev: “We expect all of our partners to maintain strong ethical standards and operate with transparency, and are committed to business practices that do not infringe on human rights. We continue to closely monitor the situation through our ongoing communications with FIFA, including developments in Qatar.”

“It’s very bad business right now to be associated with FIFA,” says Ben Sturner, president and CEO of Leverage Agency, a sports marketing firm. “The Qatar situation is going to force more sponsors away. They have to go away. It’s the humane thing to do.” Do iconic brands like McDonald’s, Coke, and others really feel this way?

If so, they aren’t saying.

TIME Companies

Famous Logos Redesigned in Protest Are Pretty Shocking

Qatar Looks To 2022 FIFA World Cup
Sean Gallup/Getty Images DOHA, QATAR - OCTOBER 24: Arab men sit at a shoemaker's stall with a replica of the FIFA World Cup trophy in the Souq Waqif traditional market on October 24, 2011 in Doha, Qatar. Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup football competition and is slated to tackle a variety of infrastructure projects, including the construction of new stadiums. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Pressure is mounting over worker deaths in Qatar

More than 1,400 workers have died at World Cup construction sites in Qatar, and now designers are putting the pressure on FIFA’s sponsors.

Today, nine FIFA officials were arrested in Switzerland and indicted with U.S. corruption charges—but these arrests appear unrelated to the worker deaths in Qatar. A new campaign led by the International Trade Union Confederation, a global trade group representing workers’ rights, calls for more attention on the dire issue and estimates that there will be 62 worker deaths for each World Cup game played in Qatar. As a result, major World Cup sponsors like Visa and Adidas have issued stern statements of concern, but have not pulled their sponsorships.

A number of designers online have taken up the mantle of pressuring those same sponsors by redesigning their corporate logos, tweaking the art and adding the slogan “proud sponsor of the human rights abuses of World Cup 2022.” They have submitted designs with the logos of Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Adidas, Sony and others.

The new logo designs are being posted at Bored Panda, where anyone on the Web can submit additional designs. Many of them also play with the official slogans of the sponsors, such as one that takes Sony’s “make believe” and changes it to “make slavery.”

Some of the most striking redesigns are below:

Adidas

Sony

McDonald’s

Coca-Cola

Visa

TIME Soccer

FIFA Steps Closer to Delaying Qatar’s 2022 World Cup Until Winter

FBL-WC-2022-ETHICS-QATAR
AFP/Getty Images A general view taken on November 13, 2014 shows Khalifa Stadium in Doha which is undergoing complete renovation in preparation to host some of the matches for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

FIFA task force recommends playing tournament in November and December to avoid overwhelming heat

A FIFA task force has recommended delaying the 2022 World Cup tournament in Qatar until winter, rather than risk exposing players and fans to a summer climate where temperatures can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce hailed the recommendation as a “common sense” solution, which the executive committee will likely adopt when the committee convenes in Zurich on March 19 and 20, BBC News reports.

Boyce also acknowledged concerns from football leagues that a winter game would disrupt other longstanding tournament schedules. The 2023 African Cup, for instance, would most likely be pushed back by a winter World Cup.

“It is eight years away and people should have enough time to make it work,” Boyce said.

Read more at BBC News.

TIME Saudi Arabia

Prince Charles Will Raise Plight of Christians During Saudi Arabia Visit

Prince Charles visits Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, Feb. 8, 2015.
Sam Tarling—Corbis Prince Charles visits Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, Feb. 8, 2015.

The Prince of Wales is also likely to ask for clemency for a jailed Saudi blogger and two women arrested for driving

Prince Charles has spent much of his adult life feeling he can’t win. He’s often criticized for doing too much, “meddling” in issues of the day, yet his opponents are just as apt to accuse him of doing nothing useful at all. On Tuesday these apparently contradictory responses to the heir to the throne of the United Kingdom will crackle across the headlines and flare into scornful tweets and posts as he arrives in Saudi Arabia on a trip that has already taken in Jordan, moved on to Kuwait and will also include Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. His frequent sojourns in the Middle East rarely fail to spark controversy, and his visit to Saudi Arabia could scarcely come at a more delicate time.

The Kingdom, unlike his own, is grappling with the upheaval caused by the transition from a long-reigning monarch to a newcomer. King Salman has succeeded to the throne vacated by the Jan. 23 death of his older half-brother King Abdullah and is already rolling back some of the cautious reforms Abdullah implemented. The nation also sits at the center of the interlocking crises gripping the Middle East. It is both a wellspring of jihadism and a crucial bulwark against the march of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and other militant groups. But it is Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights and freedoms that is likely to play loudest for the Prince. Two cases, in particular, are causing outrage: Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger, who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for championing free speech in postings such as these, and Loujain al-Hathloul and Maysa al-Amoudi, two women sitting in Saudi jails, originally detained for the offense under Saudi law of driving a car despite the accident of birth that made them female.

A similarly random accident of birth gives Prince Charles a platform and an influence among the upper tiers of the Saudi establishment. Royals feel comfortable with royals. Yet that’s not the only reason the Prince has become, in the words of an official from Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, “a huge asset” to British diplomacy in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. He has assiduously been building on that innate advantage since 1993, when he delivered a speech just before embarking on a trip to Saudi Arabia. His words — startling at the time in their acknowledgment of Christianity’s own muddy history and his call for closer ties between Islam and the West — established his status as a friend of Islam; elsewhere it sowed silly rumors that still flourish in corners of the Internet, holding him to be a secret Muslim.

He has continued to reprise some of the themes of that first speech, most recently in a BBC interview just before his current travels during which he did his best to argue for religious faith as a unifying force rather than a divisive one. That view is pretty hard to marry up with the violent fractures in the region he is now touring, but it is to him an article of his own faith. That faith, despite the rumors, is Church of England Anglicanism but the Prince also believes in the common roots of religion and the interconnectedness of much more besides. “Islam — like Buddhism and Hinduism — refuses to separate man and nature, religion and science, mind and matter, and has preserved a metaphysical and unified view of ourselves and the world around us,” he told his audience in his 1993 speech on Islam.

For all these reasons, his Saudi hosts will treat him with the highest respect when he comes calling. That may well mean more photo opportunities that rebound against him, such as his participation last year in a traditional sword dance that inspired predictably scathing responses on social media

What is far less certain is that he will be able to intervene successfully on behalf of Badawi, al-Hathloul or al-Amoudi, though he is likely to use his high-level meetings to communicate the anxiety of Her Majesty’s Government about their plight. He will also raise concerns about the suffering of Christian communities in the Middle East, as he has done before and with increasing urgency as the turmoil in the region has deepened. He may have the ear of Saudi royalty but little or no sway over the country’s judiciary or its religious leaders, who operate in uneasy and fragile balance with the Saudi monarchy but are not under its control.

The imagery from his trip will not reflect these realities, producing instead a series of vignettes of a monarch-in-waiting cosying up to fellow royals, lending support rather than issuing challenges to the harsh regime. The role the Prince has carved out for himself in the region relies on him wielding such influence as he does have in private.

Catherine Mayer’s biography, Born to Be King: Prince Charles on Planet Windsor, is published in the U.S. on Feb. 17 by Henry Holt.

TIME Bowe Bergdahl

Guantanamo Detainee Exchanged for American POW Attempts a Return to Battle

Guantanamo Future
Charles Dharapak—AP A U.S. flag flies above buildings used for military tribunals for suspected terrorist prisoners at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base on Nov. 19, 2013.

A Taliban commander exchanged for the release of a POW attempts to return to the battlefield, raising questions about closing Guantanamo

When U.S. President Barack Obama agreed in May to exchange five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay for Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier who had been held captive for five years, his political opponents had a field day. They warned that the detainees risked returning to Afghanistan, and to militancy. Obama, with the backing of the government of Qatar that had agreed to host the men, promised that they would be kept far from the battlefield. Seems that the men may have had other ideas. According to CNN, U.S. military and intelligence officials now suspect that at least one of the detainees has made contact with Taliban associates in Afghanistan, suggesting that he, and perhaps the others, may be planning a return.

Considering that 29 percent of all U.S. detainees who were held in the Guantanamo detention center are either suspected of or confirmed to have returned to the fight, according to a March 2015 assessment by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, it shouldn’t be all that surprising. TIME’s Massimo Calabresi predicted as much back in June, just after Bergdahl was released. The recidivism rate, he wrote, “suggests that statistically at least one of the Taliban leaders will return to the field to fight Americans in Afghanistan, or elsewhere.”

At the time of the exchange, Taliban commanders who had been involved in Bergdahl’s capture, captivity and release, told TIME that the exchange — five of theirs for one of America’s — would encourage them to seek out more P.O.W.s. So far, that hasn’t happened. It’s not clear which of the five former detainees was reaching out to associates in Afghanistan, but as high-ranking commanders and former comrades-in-arms of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, any one of them could galvanize a movement that is slowly making gains in the wake of the U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan. Even if those plans have now been foiled, the incident may have one other far reaching consequence: as Obama attempts to close down Guantanamo for good, his opponents now have more ammunition for why he should not.

Read More: Behind the Scenes of Bowe Bergdahl’s Release

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