CAIRO – 3 June 2017: As the world reels from a recent wave of horrific terrorist attacks, global leaders are calling for consolidated efforts in bringing an end to terrorist threats. In the wake of a number of recent statements, seminars and conferences tracing terrorist funds, one name repeatedly crops up as a leading terror financier: Qatar.
on May 25 quoted Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani rejecting accusations of supporting terrorism, outlining the emirate’s continuous efforts as part of an international coalition against ISIS, the U.S. State Department revealed in its
on Terrorism that “entities and individuals within Qatar continue to serve as a source of financial support for terrorist and violent extremist groups, particularly regional al-Qa’ida affiliates such as the Nusrah Front.”
Only a year earlier, in September 2014, Qatar had agreed to bring terror financiers to justice as part of a U.S.-led initiative called the
On May 9, Qatar’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani
with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and discussed Qatar’s efforts to stem terrorist group funding. According to the Qatari State Department, “The two leaders also reviewed Qatar’s continuing efforts to stop the financing of terrorist groups, including prosecuting suspected financiers, freezing assets, and introducing stringent controls to its banking system.”
But “three years into Tamim’s new regime, however, its record is still conspicuously incomplete,” revealed a report released by the Foundation for Defense of Democracy (FDD), a non-partisan policy institute.
The report, the second in a three-part series titled “
,” tracked Qatar’s support to terrorist organizations, dating back to 2013 and argued that “Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s reign was characterized by persistent negligence toward local U.S.-designated funders of al-Qaeda . . . some American officials have expressed hope that Emir Tamim would turn over a new leaf in Qatar’s approach to tackling terror finance.”
The West has been keeping a close eye on a number of key Qatari figures. In December 2013 the U.S. Treasury Department designated Qatar-based Abd al-Rahman bin ‘Umayr al-Nu’aymi a sanctioned terrorist financier.
Al-Nu’aymi, a former adviser to the Qatari government, was
of funding a number of jihadist groups including al-Qaeda in Iraq, the forerunner to ISIS, as well as al-Shabaab in Somalia and other groups in the Middle East.
dubbed Al-Nu’aymi “one of the world’s most prolific terrorist financiers.”
Another Qaeda financier, Qatari Central Bank employee Khalifa Muhammad Turki al-Subaiy, who was jailed for terrorist offenses in 2008 but released after only six months by Qatari authorities, was
in October 2014 of funding Islamist terrorists fighting in Syria and Iraq.
The US Treasury revealed that, “Recipients of the financing included an al-Qaeda terrorist who had been plotting to blow up European and American passenger jets using a toothpaste-tube bomb that could be smuggled on to aircraft,” The
noted, adding that al-Subaiy continued to be employed by the Qatari government despite being on the U.S. terror list and that, “The case highlights growing concern over the apparent failure of Qatar, one of the richest nations in the world, to crack down on financial terrorist networks in the country.”
The U.S. Treasury in 2013 quoted former undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen in its “Treasury Designates Al-Qa’ida Supporters in Qatar and Yemen”
, as saying, “It is essential for countries to take proactive steps to disrupt terrorist financing, especially where al-Qa’ida and its affiliates are concerned.”
“We will continue to work with our partners in the Gulf to ensure that charitable donations are not used to support violence in the region or elsewhere,” Cohen added.
Qatar’s counterterrorism efforts have long been criticized by U.S. officials; one
sent by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in December 2009 noted that, “Qatar’s overall level of counter terrorism cooperation with the U.S. is considered the worst in the region.”
“The remarkable truth is that few in the Middle East would be shocked,” The Telegraph
on September 20, 2014. “From Hamas in the Gaza Strip to radical armed movements in Syria, Qatar’s status as a prime sponsor of violent Islamists, including groups linked to al-Qaeda, is clear to diplomats and experts.”
Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, agrees. In a
article he argues that, “When the George W. Bush administration launched the war on terror, it overlooked Qatar’s track record, including that 9/11 mastermind Khaled Sheikh Mohammed had found shelter on Qatari soil.”
“Neither Bush nor Obama punished the Qataris for terrorism finance. Indeed, Qatar should have been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism by the State Department,” Schanzer added.
Qatar’s support for extremism has so infuriated its neighbors that Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE all chose to
their ambassadors from the emirate in March. At the time BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner explained that, “What lies behind this is a growing conviction felt in Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain that Qatar is unwilling to end its alleged support for Islamist and extremist groups in the region.”
On May 29, Head of the Libyan National Army Field Marshall, Khalifa Haftar, directly
Qatar and other countries of supporting terrorists in Libya by financing extremist groups. Haftar added the army found that “Qatar had funded terrorism and transformed the foreign communities in the country into terrorist cells.”
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi
on May 26 that “states” providing funding and logistics to terrorist groups must be punished, after an armed group opened fire at a bus carrying more than 50 Christians in Minya, killing 29, mostly children, and injuring at least 25.
The attack came one month after the Egyptian leader declared a three-month state of emergency in the aftermath of two churches bombings in Tanta and Alexandria last April that killed at least 44 people.
A report released in January 2017 by IHS Markit, a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions, indicated militants conducted 24,202 attacks worldwide in 2016, up from 18,987 in 2015. The Global Terrorism Index 2016
revealed that there was a 650% increase in fatal terror attacks on people living in the world’s biggest economies in 2015.
Five countries, namely Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan, experienced the worst attacks, accounting for 72% of all deaths from terrorism in 2015, according to the report.
“Similarly, only four groups were responsible for 74 percent of all these deaths; ISIL, Boko Haram, the Taliban and al-Qa’ida,” the report added.
, leader of the Libyan Combat Front Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam pointed the finger at Qatar and blamed the emirate for funding armed militias in Libya.
The National Human Rights Commission in Libya also urged the International Criminal Court and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to call for a comprehensive international investigation into Qatar’s political interference in Libya’s internal affairs.