Elite university's 'disturbing' Hamas connections probed by lawmakers


Utah Republican Rep. Burgess Owens is demanding the president of Northwestern University sever school ties with news outlet Al Jazeera following repeated reports of its connection to terrorist group Hamas, Fox News Digital has learned. 

“Turns out that Al Jazeera is not just a platform for anti-Israel, pro-terrorist propaganda; it is also a safe haven for Hamas supporters,” Owens said in comment to Fox News Digital.

“It is unacceptable for any American university that receives hundreds of millions of dollars in annual federal funding to partner with organizations whose members are terrorists or whose reporting incites terror on behalf of Hamas. President Schill testified before Congress that Northwestern was looking into its formal partnership with Al Jazeera, and in light of disturbing reports, I’m calling for immediate answers and action to ensure this corruption is nowhere near American students.”

Owens – alongside Republican Reps. Elise Stefanik of New York, Andy Ogles of Tennessee and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey – sent a letter Friday to Northwestern University President Michael Schill demanding answers on the school’s ties to outlet Al Jazeera, which is funded by the Qatari government. Northwestern has a satellite campus in Qatar, which includes a partnership with Al Jazeera that allows its students “to engage regularly with leading media industry professionals,” according to Northwestern’s website. 

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Utah Republican Rep. Burgess Owens in hearing with Northwestern President Michael Schill. (The Committee on Education and the Workforce/Youtube)

Earlier this month, reports surfaced that a journalist who previously wrote for Al Jazeera held three Jewish hostages in his home before he was killed by the Israeli military. The journalist was never an official employee of the outlet, the New York Post reported, but had a byline with the publication and other outlets in Gaza.  

Owens’ letter cited the journalist while demanding answers regarding the school’s ties to the Qatari-backed outlet. 

“On Saturday, June 8, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched a daring raid on Hamas to rescue Israeli hostages abducted during the horrific events of October 7. During the raid, the IDF discovered that three of the rescued hostages were held at Abdallah Aljamal’s home in Nuseirat. Aljamal, who was killed during the rescue, was a journalist who had published an article on Al Jazeera and whose information can be found on the Al Jazeera website,” the letter to Schill reads. 

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Northwestern University President Michael H. Schill, seen here when he was president at the University of Oregon, Jan. 1, 2020.  (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

“Unfortunately, this is not the first time Al Jazeera has been connected to terrorists or terrorist organizations. According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Al Jazeera and its reporters have been connected to Hamas throughout the Israel-Hamas War. For example, a Palestinian journalist named Mohammad Wishah working for Al Jazeera was discovered to have been a commander in Hamas’s anti-tank missile unit who went on to work in research and development for Hamas, and posted a photograph of himself with Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar on social media,” the letter continues. 

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A terrorist from Hamas takes part in a military parade to mark the anniversary of the 2014 war with Israel, near the border in the central Gaza Strip on July 19, 2023. (Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/File Photo)

The lawmakers listed other reports linking Al Jazeera to Hamas, including a correspondent accused by the IDF of serving as a “platoon deputy commander” for Hamas, as well as two Al Jazeera journalists accused by Israel of “operating a drone that posed a threat to Israeli soldiers” before they were killed in an airstrike. 

“The fact that Northwestern would partner with Al Jazeera despite evidence showing a number of its journalists are active members, and even leaders, of Hamas, as well as its dissemination of propaganda on behalf of Hamas, is deeply troubling. It is unacceptable for an American university that receives hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding annually to partner with organizations whose members are terrorists or whose reporting propagandizes on behalf of terrorist organizations,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to Schill. 

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“It is anathema to the American way of life and contrary to our education system which seeks to change hearts and minds through persuasion and dialogue rather than through brute force.”

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Rep. Burgess Owens attends the House committee hearing in the Rayburn Building on Feb. 1, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

During a fiery House hearing last month, Owens cornered Schill on the eye-popping sum in donations the elite school has reportedly received from Qatar.

“Do you think it’d be a good idea for the University of Northwestern to partner with a government that harbors terrorist Hamas, and Iranian operatives who fund terrorism? Yes or no?” Owens asked Schill, while sitting in front of a large billboard check prop depicting a $600 million donation from Qatar to Northwestern. 

“I’m not going to engage in yes or no answers,” Schill responded. 

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“Obviously, you don’t have a problem with that,” Owens said. “Northwestern’s school of journalism…” Owens continued before he was cut off by Schill. 

“I’m really quite offended by you telling me what my views are,” Schill interjected. 

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Students and residents camp outside Northwestern University during an anti-Israel protest in Evanston, Illinois, on April 27. (Jacek Boczarski/Anadolu via Getty Images)

“Did you know that the Northwestern school of journalism has a formal partnership with Al Jazeera?” Owens pressed the university president, who answered he was only recently made aware of the partnership. 

“I, in fact, just found out about that last week,” he responded. 

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“Let me make you aware of it then, because Al Jazeera – because of their pro-Hamas reporting – the secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, asked the Qatar prime minister to tone down Al Jazeera’s anti-Israel incitement. Also, it was Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt that have blocked Al-Jazeera because they are a pro-Hamas mouthpiece. My understanding is that you have a contract with the Qatar Foundation that expires at the end of the 2027-2028 academic year. Now that you know about Qatar, are you going to still renew that contract?” he asked. 

The hearing, held by the House Education and Workforce Committee, featured testimony from Schill, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway regarding their handling of campus antisemitism last school year after widespread protests, tent encampments and demands that schools divest from Israel. 

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Northwestern President Michael Schill, Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway and UCLA Chancellor Gene Block (University of Oregon/Rutgers/Getty )

Schill told the committee during the hearing that he was “concerned by the agreement” with Al Jazeera, adding “we are going to look into it.”

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The letter sent Friday demands an update by July 19 on Schill’s investigation into the ties to Al Jazeera, and called on the school president to “take immediate action” and end the Qatar campus’ partnership with the outlet. 

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The Weber Arch at Northwestern University on Nov. 13, 2020, in Evanston, Illinois. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

“Mr. Schill, in the Congressional hearing held on May 23rd, you expressed concern regarding Northwestern University in Qatar’s partnership with Al Jazeera. You promised in that hearing that you would look into that partnership. In light of these reports, we urge Northwestern University to take immediate action to end the existing partnership between Northwestern University in Qatar and Al Jazeera. We request that you respond to this letter by noon ET on Friday, July 19,” the lawmakers wrote. 

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Fox News Digital reached out to Northwestern University Monday afternoon but did not immediately receive a response. 



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