Qatar is financing Palestinian terror and trying to hide it - opinion

Qatar has gone to great lengths to whitewash this reality.

 FORMER HAMAS head Khaled Mashaal in an interview with Reuters in Doha, 2020. (photo credit: NASEEM ZEITOON/REUTERS)
FORMER HAMAS head Khaled Mashaal in an interview with Reuters in Doha, 2020.

In one year, Qatar will be the center of the universe. By hook and by crook, the tiny oil-rich nation won the rights to hold the 2022 World Cup. Billions have been spent to turn the desert sands into a plush grass green; futuristic stadiums have been built, as have extravagant infrastructure projects that will transport, house and feed the hundreds of thousands of spectators who are expected to fly into the country. Some of the sport’s greatest names will showcase their amazing foot skills in Doha playing for their national teams while a billion fans watch the games live via satellite.

Daniel Turgeman, from southern Israel, would most certainly have been glued to the TV to root for his hero, Argentina’s Lionel Messi. Daniel wore the soccer icon’s jersey whenever he could, but he won’t be watching his favorite player dazzle on the soccer pitch next December. Daniel was only four-and-a-half years old when he was killed by a Hamas rocket in 2014 – the warhead that snuffed out the life of this rambunctious soccer-loving child was paid for by Qatar.

Young Daniel Turgeman isn’t the only victim whose life was lost because of Qatar’s financial investment in the fundamentalist Palestinian terror groups. I know. I represent over 65 plaintiffs – all American citizens – who had family members murdered or who were themselves wounded in terror attacks perpetrated by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad which could never have taken place without the billions of dollars that Qatar, Qatari banks, and Qatari charities, have sent to the Gaza Strip.

Qatari cash pays for weapons and explosives used in terror attacks against Israeli citizens; Qatari money has financed the construction of an extensively elaborate underground network of terror tunnels that rival some of the most efficient subway systems in the world; money that was supposed to be used for concrete and steel which should have been earmarked for homes and hospitals was diverted to build a subterranean city to move terrorists and store weapons. 

And, of course, Qatari money has bought missiles – thousands of them – that have been fired at Israel’s population centers indiscriminately killing scores of men, women and children.

General overall view of the Doha downtown city center skyline and cityscape and the Doha Bay, Doha, Qatar, Sep 26, 2019. (credit: KIRBY LEE-USA TODAY SPORTS)General overall view of the Doha downtown city center skyline and cityscape and the Doha Bay, Doha, Qatar, Sep 26, 2019. (credit: KIRBY LEE-USA TODAY SPORTS)

Qatar is Palestinian terror’s financial sugar daddy. Without the Gulf state’s money, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad would be bankrupt. 

QATAR HAS a long history of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and fundamentalist Islamic terrorist groups. In testimony to the 9/11 Commission and Congress, Jamal al-Fadl, Osama bin Laden’s former business aide who defected to the US in 1996, confirmed that the Qatar Charitable Society was one of al-Qaeda’s major sources of funding. 

In 2002, a federal court proceeding in the Northern District of Illinois connected Qatari money to al-Qaeda’s bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania in August 1998. 

Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal, two Hamas leaders, reside in Doha in lavish luxury and are flown around nefarious Middle Eastern capitals on Gulfstream jets provided by the ruling al-Thani clan in Doha. Before America’s August 2021 pullout from Afghanistan, Taliban leaders have found sanctuary in the Qatari capital.

Embracing terrorist groups, while promoting itself as a moderate nation that is on the front lines in the war on terror, is part of Qatar’s long-standing national policy of guaranteeing its survival by making friends with the most despotic elements in the Middle East. 

Qatar has gone to great lengths to whitewash this reality. The Qatari government has invested billions of dollars in the top universities in the world, even establishing satellite campuses in Doha, to influence future generations of global leaders.

The Qatar Foundation is a nonprofit entity that, according to its website, is dedicated to science, research and education; it has an endowment worth over $8 billion. Both the foundation and Qatar Airways, the nation’s flag carrier and routinely reviewed as one the world’s top airlines, sponsor some of the most successful soccer franchises in the world. Money – lots of it – has bought Qatar unblemished respectability on the global stage.

But that money has also opened the State of Qatar to legal accountability. With the Antiterrorism Act of 1990 and amendments to the law that would follow, the US federal government can target the flow of monies to terrorist groups and hold them liable for the destruction those funds pay for. The money that enabled Hamas and the Islamic Jihad to kill and destroy has come through Qatari state banks and state-run royal charities. 

Additionally, amendments to the Antiterrorism Act allow American citizens who were victims of terror to sue for damages in federal court all the parties responsible for the crimes if the victims were also American citizens. 

Shurat HaDin has successfully sued the governments of Iran, Syria and North Korea in federal court. We have helped bring down Middle East terror banks that financed the murders of innocent men, women and children. 

Now, a year away from the biggest spectacle in the world as Qatar launches an expensive primetime media blitz promoting itself as an oasis of calm and wonder in preparation for the 2022 World Cup, it is time that the spotlight on the country’s nefarious investments are exposed and the American citizens murdered and maimed by this endless well of blood money receive the justice they deserve. 

The writer is president of Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center.