Qatari Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani – REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/File Photo Qatari Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani – REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/File Photo

Qatar: how big is the risk?

Wed, Apr. 25, 2018

CAIRO – 24 April 2018: The Al Thani family, the absolute ruler of the Emirate of Qatar with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, holds three percent of Siemens, controls ten percent of Deutsche Bank's shares and is involved in many European oil companies with multi-billion share packages. At the same time, the Al Thani family is involved in international terrorist financing, a new book reveals.


What is the risk of Qatar launching a stock market crash? Whether it's because uncertainties, even terror, possibly financed with money from Qatar, are detrimental to the economy - be it because the Emir of Qatar, for example, asserts his influence, religiously motivated.


"We finance the fight against our freedom" - this is the title of the book by Sascha Adamek. The European brings out an extract.


Diplomatic hub and terrorist financier


From a social point of view, Qatar is a land between past and future, and those who criticize conditions in the country should always keep in mind that some excesses are due to extremely rapid economic development. As late as 1950, only 47,000 people lived on the peninsula.


From a peripheral location of the Arabian Peninsula, inhabited by a few thousand Bedouins, has become in only half a century a modern boom country with one of the richest states in the world. And the more the country modernizes economically, the more contradictory it becomes socially: The Qatari legal system is based on Sharia, which shows in everyday life that, for example, the consumption of alcohol and pork are prohibited.


The Federal Foreign Office points out to German travelers that in Qatar homosexuality and the "exchange of tenderness in public" are punishable. Occasionally there are serious human rights abuses due to Qatar Sharia law. When a 22-year-old Dutch woman reported to the police that she had been raped, the authorities put her in prison for three months. The rape victim was accused of "extramarital sexual intercourse". At the end she paid a fine of 750 euros. The rapist was punished with 140 lashes.


In turn, the customs of capitalist globalization have long prevailed in the economy of the emirate. Even though the emirate companies usually belong to members of the ruling family and we are dealing with a traditional oligarchy, there is the possibility for Western investors to acquire at least minority stakes.


However, it is better for the Qatari to rely on their Qatari business partners and simply invest.


In this regard, Qatar is flexible, because the last thing you want is to be discouraged with Western partners. The economic development driven by ambition and skill of the royal family Al Thani brought with it almost all negative manifestations of an unbridled market economy.


But the ambitious leadership of the country would not like to be associated with this: not with human rights violations on the mammoth construction sites for the World Cup. And not with allegations of corruption in the intricate world of football commerce.


Those in charge of Qatar, however, are particularly silent when asked about the support of Islamist organizations, let alone Islamist terrorists. Qatar rightly claims to have kept open channels of communication for all parties in the complicated network of Middle Eastern conflicts.


While a cold war has long since erupted between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Qatar, which also follows the Sunni-Wahhabi faith as the official state religion, maintains good relations with Shiite Iran. Incidentally, this is one of the reasons for the 2017 crisis between Qatar and other Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.


In particular, the Emirates and Egypt have frequently warned Qatar in recent years about support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which is classified as a terrorist organization in these countries. The export of Islamist ideology, for example via the Qatari channel Al Jazeera, was in their eyes a threat to the stability of their own countries.


Qatar traditionally sits diplomatically between the chairs. For example, the U.S. is allowed to use the Qatari military air base Al Udeid, some 30 kilometers west of Doha, from which many attacks have flown against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the same time, the Taliban briefly opened an official Liaison Office in Doha in 2013. In 2014, Qatar's good relationship helped free American soldier Bowe Bergdahl from the Taliban hostage.


He was exchanged for five Taliban in Guantánamo. Also, the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas maintains an office in Doha and is also politically supported by the Qatari leadership. In the Gaza Strip, when an Israeli soldier was mistakenly believed to have been kidnapped, the U.S. asked Qatar for help in its liberation.


Qatar acts like block-independent Switzerland, and yet the emirate is not completely independent. For these humanitarian interventions have become possible only because of the massive financial and political support of Qatar for various Islamist groups in the world.


In June 2014, Steve Clemons of Atlantic Monthly wrote that a senior Qatari official told him he could personally identify every commander of Al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's spin-off in Syria. Clemons also wrote at the time that another official had denied that Qatar was supporting the so-called Islamic State because "this is a Saudi project".


The Emir alone determines


What constitutes a terrorist organization and what constitutes a legitimate liberation organization is determined by the royal family in Qatar alone. And so it happens that Qatar enables the exiled Hamas Politburo to establish itself and tries to make the organization internationally attractive.


In his first interview with international media, 34-year-old Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani told CNN on September 25, 2014, "I know that in America and some other countries, some movements are seen as terrorist movements. But there are differences.


"Many observers, according to the Foundation for Defense of Democracy political scientist David Andrew Weinberg, interpreted the statement as referring to the Qatari-backed Hamas, but mistakenly said."


“Hamas is just one of the extremist networks, who benefit from Qatari financiers and the lax Qatari control."


It remains to be seen what effect the agreement between Qatar and the U.S. agreed to in July 2017 has on the stabilization of terrorist financing. For so far, the country was one of the states from which again and again officially and unofficially Islamic rebel groups and terrorist organizations of various orientations should have been funded - mostly by private foundations, which, however, are integrated into the elitist system of power of the emirate.


Officially, Qatar is on the side of western states in the "fight against terror", but halfhearted. In 2009, the State Department complained that Qatar was only very lenient against terrorist financiers in their own country. The criticism in the internal note was relentless: "In its cooperation with the U.S. in the fight against terrorism Qatar performs the worst compared to all other Gulf States."


Al-Qaida, the Taliban and other terrorist groups used Qatar as a place to raise funds, according to the State Department. In its most recent country report on terrorism, the U.S. State Department praises Qatar's efforts to combat the financing of foreign terrorists. In particular, all payments by welfare organizations abroad would be examined by a government-related control authority. A department in the Central Bank of Qatar supervises suspicious cash payments.


However, the report does not provide information on the efficiency of these facilities. Rather, it states, "Despite these efforts, businesses and individuals in Qatar serve as a source of funding for terrorist and violent extremist organizations, particularly those affiliated with al-Qaeda, such as Al-Nusra Front." Not much has changed in the situation since another major terrorist organization al-Qaida rivals the world - also the radical Sunni "Islamic State".


As late as mid-2014, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke quite unequivocally to the terrorist financiers from Qatar - and their assessment was not intended for the public. According to an email from campaign manager John Podesta published by Wikileaks, Clinton argued that she would use the traditional capabilities of intelligence work "to put pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the covert financial and logistical support for the Islamic State 'and other radical Sunni organizations'.


One of the more prominent cases was a 38-year-old official from Qatar's Ministry of the Interior. Salim Hasan Khalifa Rashid al-Kuwari is said to have smuggled hundreds of thousands of dollars into al Qaeda groups.


That's why the U.S. Treasury put him in 2011 on the list of international terrorists. Kuwari is said to have transferred funds from the Middle East to Asia Minor, especially to al Qaeda groups in Iran. Qatar responded by arresting Kuwari.


However, his offense, which in Germany, for example, would result in a prison sentence of several years, does not seem to have been a further problem in the Emirate. After only three months, he was released and returned to the Ministry of the Interior.


The minister helped the later top terrorist


His employer was at that time the now detached Minister of the Interior Abdullah bin-Khalid Al Thani - a member of the royal family. The man from the ruling house also has a relevant past in terms of international terror, which has to do with the later "mastermind" of the September 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.


The story, as described in the official report of the U.S. Congress on the events of September 11, 2001, began in 1992. Sheikh Mohammed had traveled to Bosnia from Afghanistan, where he had previously fought against the Soviets, to here Muslim militia against Serbs and to support Croats.


At that time Abdullah bin-Khalid Al Thani was Minister of Religious Affairs. At the suggestion of the minister Sheikh Mohammed is said to have moved soon after with his family to Qatar. He even got a job as an engineer at the power and water companies in Qatar. During this time, the later top terrorist also transferred money from Qatar to the account of one of the conspirators surrounding the first attack on the World Trade Center on 26 February 1993.


This is what the 9/11 report reported in any case. When the U.S. finally wanted to arrest Sheikh Mohammed in 1996, according to the 9/11 report, he fled to Afghanistan in time. From then on, he devoted himself to the preparation of the largest Islamist attack of all times: 9/11.

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