Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar addresses the UN General Assembly in New York..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The emir of Qatar denied accusations on Thursday that the Gulf sheikhdom is a sponsor and supporter of Islamist terrorist organizations.
In an interview with CNN, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani rejected suggestions that the groups that Doha was backing were terrorist in nature.
“We have to see the difference between movements,” Al-Thani told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “I know that in America and some other countries they look at some movements as terrorist movements. In our part of the region, we don’t.”
The Qatari leader did say that his government opposed “certain movements in Syria and Iraq,” a reference to the Islamic State. He denied accusations that Qatar was funding IS or that his government was turning a blind eye to private citizens’ activities in support of the group.
In the interview, Al-Thani never mentioned Hamas by name, despite the fact that his government is known to provide financial support to the Palestinian Islamist movement.
Israeli officials have denounced Qatar for backing Hamas.
Earlier this year, Israel’s envoy to the UN, Ron Prosor wrote an op-ed for The New York Times
in which he deemed Qatar “the Club Med for terrorists.”
“In recent years, the sheikhs of Doha, Qatar’s capital, have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Gaza,” Prosor wrote. “Every one of Hamas’s tunnels and rockets might as well have had a sign that read ‘Made possible through a kind donation from the Emir of Qatar.’”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, in an interview last month with The Jerusalem Post
, cautioned against exaggerating the leverage Qatar has over the terrorist organization.
Qatar was hosting Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Doha, and funding them handsomely, to ensure that they only operate outside its borders, Liberman said. He characterized this as Qatar paying for protection from the terrorist organization.
“It is paying protection money in order to ensure security and quiet and calm inside Qatar, so they would work only outside,” he said. “I don’t know how much they are able to influence Hamas. I think Hamas has more influence on Qatar, than Qatar does on Hamas.”