(L R) Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal arrive for a meeting in Doha..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A report released this week demonstrates how Qatar plays a double game with the West – funding terrorist groups throughout the region while acting like an ally and responsible player on the world stage.
The report, “Qatar and Terror Finance: Negligence,” is the first in a three-part series by The Foundation for Defense of Democracies and its Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance.
It links Qatari financiers with the leaders of Islamic State; al-Qaida’s Syrian branch, Nusra Front; al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula; Somalia’s al-Shabaab; the Taliban; and Pakistan’s core al-Qaida and Lashkar-e-Taiba.
It names over 20 people who have been blacklisted by the US or the UN on terrorism- financing charges but have not been dealt with by Qatari authorities.
“Qatar’s terror-finance problem is the result of weak enforcement,” the report says. “It reflects a serious lack of political will and represents a grave threat to US interests.”
“Qatar’s performance in the fight against terror finance tests the notion that it is a reliable friend and ally.”
The report’s author, David Andrew Weinberg, a specialist on Gulf affairs and a senior fellow at the Washington- based think tank, told The Jerusalem Post that besides to Hamas, large funds are heading to Nusra Front and to Islamic State.
“On Tuesday, 24 members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee called on the US administration to sanction any government in the future that provides material or financial support to Hamas,” noted Weinberg.
“Qatar and Turkey are in Congress’s sights, and they apparently run the risk of being called state sponsors of terror – a category that under US law involves serious penalties, such as a possible arms embargo for enabling terror against Israeli civilians by backing Hamas,” he said.
“Qatar has a long history of being a location for funding al-Qaida in Iraq, which later became Islamic State,” said Weinberg, adding: “It would not have been possible for Islamic State to do what it is doing today without the assistance it got out of Qatar when the group was still affiliated with al-Qaida.”
Prominent Iraqi terrorism financiers have been given immunity by Qatar, asserts Weinberg.
Some US officials say that Doha is the region’s leader in giving donations to terrorist organizations in Syria and Iraq, notes the report.
Asked if the US government is likely to act more strongly against Qatar’s negligence, Weinberg responded, “The executive branch in America has muted its criticisms of Qatar over the last two administrations because Qatar hosts an important US base.”
“The obvious answer is to consider moving the base, something I have been told George W. Bush asked his government to look into during his presidency,” he said.
Asked whether this and the abusive working conditions of workers preparing for the FIFA 2022 World Cup, to be held in the Gulf state, could lead to the country losing the games, Weinberg responded that Abdulrahman al-Nuaymi, whom the US government has accused of giving millions of dollars to al-Qaida and Islamic State’s forerunner in Iraq, was reportedly a former president of the Qatar Football Association.
“Nuaymi received a lifetime achievement award from the Qatar Olympic Committee when the head of that committee was the current emir of Qatar,” he said.