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JERUSALEM – Al Jazeera, which this week announced it purchased Al Gore’s Current TV for $500 million, has a long history of close ties to and support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Al Jazeera’s founders, themselves close to the Muslim Brotherhood, have long attempted to gain influence in the U.S., including through the financing of Arabic classes in American public schools via a Muslim Brotherhood-linked charity.

Al Jazeera this week announced a plan to establish a new U.S. cable news channel, tentatively call Al Jazeera America, utilizing the purchase of Current TV.

The Qatar-financed network is hoping to retain and even increase Current TV’s distribution rights in more than 40 million homes to broadcast its own new network.

Al Jazeera Director General Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani announced, “By acquiring Current TV, Al Jazeera will significantly expand our existing distribution footprint in the U.S., as well as increase our newsgathering and reporting efforts in America.”

Thani explained the new network seeks to provide domestic and international news for an American audience. Al Jazeera reportedly plans to open new bureaus across the U.S. and increase the network’s staff domestically to over 300 employees.

Al Jazeera has a long history of close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, rose to fame in the Arab world after Al Jazeera gave him his a major platform. Many regard Qaradawi as the de facto spiritual leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Qaradawi achieved star status because of his regular sermons and interviews on Al Jazeera.

The Arab news network strongly supported the revolution against former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and has taken a friendly tone toward the country’s new Muslim Brotherhood leadership.

Al Jazeera was founded with financing from the emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who previously served as the network’s chairman.

The network is still financed largely from Qatar, where its headquarters are located.

The current chairman of Al Jazeera is Sheik Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani, the Qatari emir’s cousin.

WND previously reported an Arabic language program established in several U.S. schools is funded by a Qatar group that maintains close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, while the group’s founder started the Al Jazeera television network.

The Qatar Foundation International, or QFI, a nonprofit group financed by the government of Qatar, last year gave Harlem’s Hamilton Heights, a K-5 public school, a $250,000 grant to support the Arabic program for three years.

The school’s Arabic language program was reportedly developed by QFI and the Global Language Project.

In addition to the Harlem school, WND found that QFI just awarded “Curriculum Grants” to seven U.S. schools and language organizations to “develop comprehensive and innovative curricula and teaching materials to be used in any Arabic language classroom.”

The schools include Bell High School, a Los Angeles public school, and Safford K-8 in Arizona’s Tucson Unified School District.

QFI, based in Washington, D.C., is the U.S. branch of the Qatar Foundation, founded in 1995 by Qatari ruling emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Al Jazeera founder.

Thani is still the group’s vice-chairman, while his wife, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, chairs the organization’s board.

In January 2012, the foundation launched the Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics under the guidance of Tariq Ramadan, who serves as the center’s director.

Ramadan is the grandson of the notorious founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al Banna. Ramadan was banned from the U.S. until 2010 when the Obama administration issued him a visa to give a lecture at a New York school.

The Qatar Foundation, meanwhile, named several institutions after Qaradawi, one of the top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The foundation even instituted the Shei Yusuf Al Qaradawi Scholarships and in 2009 established a research center named the Qaradawi Center for Islamic Moderation and Renewal.

Qaradawi has personally attended scores of foundation events, including conferences at which he served as a keynote speaker.

In May, Qaradawi was in the news after he told Egyptian Muslims it was their religious duty to vote for one of three Islamic candidates in the country’s presidential election, describing them as the “best for Egypt” because they will “apply the Islamic Shariah and achieve justice.”

The Investigative Project on Terrorism documents Qardawi openly permitted the killing of American troops in Iraq and praised the “heroic deeds” of “Hamas, Jihad, Al-Aqsa Brigades and others.”

Reports by the London newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat repeated Israeli claims that Qaradawi once served to fund “the heart of Hamas,” the Al-Islam Charity, through his Welfare Coalition.

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