Qatar has for years employed a former CIA officer to help spy on football officials as part of a sparing effort to win and keep the 2022 World Cup tournament, Associated investigates Press.
The PA investigation found that Qatar was seeking an edge in securing hosting rights by hiring a former CIA officer turned private entrepreneur, Kevin Chalker, to spy on rival bid teams and key officials of the football who chose the winner in 2010.
He also worked for Qatar in the following years to keep an eye on the country’s criticism in the football world, the AP revealed.
The investigation is based on interviews with former associates of Mr. Chalker as well as contracts, invoices, emails and a review of business documents.
The oversight job was to have someone pose as a photojournalist to keep tabs on a rival country’s candidacy, according to a review of files.
Mr Chalker also pledged he could help the country “maintain dominance” over its large population of foreign workers, according to an internal document from one of his companies reviewed by the PA.
Qatar relies heavily on foreign labor to build the stadiums and other infrastructure needed for the tournament.
Qatari government officials did not respond to requests for comment. Fifa also declined to comment.
Mr Chalker said in a statement provided by an official that he and his companies would “never engage in illegal surveillance”.
He declined requests for interviews or answers to detailed questions about his work. He also claimed that some of the documents examined by the PA were forgeries.
The AP has reviewed hundreds of pages of documents from Mr Chalker’s companies, including a 2013 project update report containing several photos of his staff meeting with various football officials.
Multiple sources with authorized access provided documents to the PA. The sources said they were troubled by Mr Chalker’s work for Qatar and requested anonymity because they feared reprisals.
The PA took several steps to verify the authenticity of the documents. This included confirming details of various documents from different sources, including former Chalker associates and football officials; cross-reference document content with contemporary news reports and publicly available business records; and review electronic document metadata, or digital history, if applicable, to confirm who created the documents and when.
Mr. Chalker did not provide the PA with any evidence to support his position that some of the documents had been forged.
He worked at the CIA as an operations officer for about five years, according to former associates. Operations officers typically work undercover trying to recruit assets to spy on behalf of the United States. The CIA declined to comment and generally does not speak of its former officers.
Mr Chalker’s background in the CIA was attractive to Qatari officials, former associates said.
“It was part of his mystique. All these rich young Qatari people play spy games with this guy and he sells them, ”said a former associate who requested anonymity.
The Sunday Times previously reported that former anonymous CIA operatives aided Qatar’s bid team in 2010, but the PA investigation is the most detailed to date.
Qatar’s successful bid has long been hampered by corruption allegations. He denied wrongdoing, but also had to push back against allegations of worker abuse and efforts by neighboring countries to isolate, weaken and embarrass him with an economic boycott and information warfare. .
Mr Chalker has presented his companies as an aggressive private intelligence and security agency that Qatar needs to achieve its ambitions.
“The time for half-measures is over and we need to seriously think about the importance of the 2022 World Cup for Qatar,” said one of the Global Risk Advisors project documents from 2014.
Mr Chalker also emphasized aggression and stealth, saying his plans included “broths” and “lightning rods”, psychological operations and “persistent and aggressive distractions and disturbances” targeting Qatar’s enemies. , while giving the country a “total denial,” the company records show.
Specific methods of espionage and hacking are classified, but there is no general prohibition on working for foreign governments.
The CIA sent a letter to former employees earlier this year warning them of a “negative trend” in foreign governments hiring former intelligence operatives, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the PA and reported for. the first time by The New York Times.
“We ask you to protect yourself and the CIA by protecting the classified commerce that underpins your business,” wrote Sheetal Patel, the agency’s deputy director for counterintelligence.
Congress is proposing legislation that would impose new reporting obligations on former U.S. intelligence officers working overseas.
Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski said, “There is so much Gulf money flowing through Washington DC. The amount of temptation out there is immense, and it invariably pulls Americans into things we shouldn’t be involved in. “