MidEast

Study: Qatar Fails to Crack Down on Terror Financiers

The Qatari government “has refused effectively to crack down” on “every important case of suspected terror finance involving a Qatari national in past years,” according to the first part of a study released Wednesday. The Daily Beast reported on the study, written by David A. Weinberg of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and highlighted some of the specific cases outlined in it.

The Daily Beast also observed:

When funding networks are exposed and attract high levels of Western protest, some action is taken by Qatari authorities to curb the excesses but charges are not filed, no one is imprisoned, at least for long, and then the actors resume their activities when the scrutiny disappears.

A Qatari fundraising campaign for Syria called Madid Ahl al-Sham has been endorsed by al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, as a conduit for donations—a validation the campaign advertises on its own Twitter page. Yet it was allowed to operate for 10 months after al-Nusra’s endorsement before finally it shut down. It remains unclear whether Qatari authorities intervened or the organizers decided to close up shop because of media attention.

The title of the first section of Weinberg’s paper (.pdf) is “Negligence,” though in some of the cases cited, the negligence of Qatari authorities appears to be willful. In regards to the case of Jarallah Marri, the study states:.

In July of 2008, Ali’s brother Jarallah became the only Qatari citizen repatriated from Guantanamo Bay based on explicit, written assurances provided by Qatar that he would not be permitted to travel outside the country and that Washington would be notified if he attempted to do so. And yet in early 2009, Jarallah appeared in Britain, where he was arrested on his second visit there since leaving Guantanamo. While in the U.K., he participated in a speaking tour with fellow Gitmo detainee Moazzam Begg. Britain added Begg to its terrorism blacklist this year and arrested him on accusations of funding and training terrorists in Syria, though he has since been released from jail, and the court case was dropped.

The U.S. Ambassador to Qatar concluded that Marri’s travel was “almost certainly” the result of a conscious decision involving Qatar’s attorney general. The attorney general rejected any implication that he violated a U.S. commitment over Jarallah’s travel, stating that “he was bound only by signed judicial assistance agreements and not diplomatic notes,” but after a “full-court press” by the U.S. ambassador he demurred that Marri would be subject to a six-month renewable travel ban. Soon afterwards, the U.S. ambassador to Doha lamented that “the U.S.-Qatar  CT [counterterrorism] relationship is not working now and has not worked well for several years.” Qatar’s attorney general remains in his position to this day.

Qatar’s continued indifference to its citizens’ terror financing has prompted a bipartisan group of 24 Representatives to send a letter to David S. Cohen, Under Secretary of the Treasury Department for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, to take stronger action against “individuals, institutions, entities, charities, front companies, banks, and government officials who clearly violate U.S. laws by assisting Hamas and its proxies.” The letter specifically cited Qatar’s financing of Hamas.

As you know, Hamas traditionally relied on Iran for much of its financial and political support. However, others in the region have stepped up to provide support for Hamas. Qatar’s $400 million donation for Gaza reconstruction in 2012 bolstered Hamas’ credibility in Gaza and may have directly supported Hamas-backed entities. Qatar also allows Hamas’ top leader, politburo chief Khalid Mishaal, to operate out of its territory knowingly and with impunity. It was even widely reported in the press that Qatar threatened to deport Mishaal if Hamas had accepted an Egypt-backed ceasefire agreement to end this summer’s conflict in Gaza.

We are concerned about the ties between Qatar and Hamas, and we commend you on your speech before the Center for a New American Security, where you stated that, “Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas,” and that press reports indicate that the Qatari government is also “supporting extremist groups operating in Syria,” further adding to the instability of the region. As you noted in your speech, there are private fundraising networks in Qatar that solicit donations for terrorists. Qatar, in your words, is “a permissive terrorist financing environment.”

In Qatar’s Rise and America’s Tortured Foreign Policy, published in the October 2014 issue of The Tower Magazine, Jonathan Spyer identified Qatar’s support for Sunni extremists as a defining trait in its foreign policy orientation.

Qatar’s massive funding of terrorists and support of Islamic radicals seeking to destabilize neighboring Arab governments, has sharpened tensions in the region, highlighting the three way divide in today’s Middle East – moderate and Western-oriented Sunni Arab states, like Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Saudi, Bahrain, Kuwait and others; the Sunni extremists terrorist supporting states, Qatar and Turkey, who fund and promote forces like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas; and the dangerous and radical axis of Iran, Assad, and Hezbollah.

[Photo: CBS News / YouTube ]