Abu Dhabi: Qatar has been too lax for too long in the fight against terror finance, said an expert on terrorist finance.
Dr David Andrew Weinberg, a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank in Washington, DC, investigating Qatar’s links to terror funding, told Gulf News the US has long accused Qatar of turning a blind eye to terror finance.
“This was why a senior US Treasury official called Qatar ‘a permissive jurisdiction for terror finance’ in 2014 and said that year that Qatar was granting legal impunity to terror financiers under US and UN sanctions,” Dr Weinberg said.
Dr Weinberg added as recently as February 2017, the former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury Department said that designated terror financiers continued to operate openly and notoriously in Qatar.
“On the anniversary of 9/11 in 2014, Doha signed on to the Jeddah Communique, agreeing not just to countering the financing of Daesh and other violent extremists, but also to ending impunity and bringing perpetrators to justice.
“Yet a month later, Treasury’s then-Undersecretary David Cohen revealed the existence of US- and UN-designated terror financiers in Qatar who have not been acted against under Qatari law. Similarly, in May 2016, the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security and International Trade and Finance Mark Mirk wrote that terror financiers under US and UN sanctions continue to enjoy such impunity in Qatar,” according to a report entitled Qatar and Terror Finance, authored by Dr Weinberg, released in January.
Asked whether Qatar will be put on Washington’s State Sponsors of Terrorism List, Dr Weinberg said Qatar will probably never be designated by the US Secretary of State as a state sponsor of terrorism — at the very least for geostrategic reasons.
“However, one of the laws that make up the US legal regime for such designations has a lower bar, one that Qatar has apparently violated, namely granting permission of a safe haven for operatives of any US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organisations, such as Hamas,” he said.
“That law, the Export Administration Act of 1979, mandates the imposition of additional licensing requirements for US exports to countries that are found by the US to have provided such a safe haven to terrorist groups,” Dr Weinberg said.
On why Doha regime supports terrorist groups, Dr Weinberg Qatar's rulers have a different view than the US or the UAE as to what constitutes a terrorist group.
“To this day, Qatar has yet to publish a list of banned terrorist groups in the manner that the US, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain have done. It also seems clear that Qatar has been supportive of Ahrar Al-Sham and of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, both of which are classified by the UAE, though not the US, as being banned terrorist groups,” Dr Weinberg said.
Qatar supported the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood organisations in countries across the region during the Arab uprisings in 2011, believing they represented the wave of the future. From Qatar’s perspective, being at the front end of this trend would showcase the country’s supposedly progressive leadership.
Doha had hosted Egyptian and, later, Syrian Brotherhood members for decades, including the maverick Egyptian cleric Yusuf al Qaradawi who has lived in Qatar since the 1960s. Qatar had also provided Brotherhood members an important means for disseminating their views via the state-funded media channel, Al Jazeera, since the mid-1990s.
Qatar’s relationship with the terrorist Brotherhood has functioned as an important bulwark against Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has viewed the Brotherhood as a significant domestic irritant since the 1990s, and designated it as a terrorist group in 2014. Qatar’s patronage of and influence over some parts of the group have served as a stick to wield against its more powerful neighbor.
Dr Weinberg stressed that Washington should press Qatar to end all aspects of its government's support for extremists, while at the same time ensuring that other Mideast governments do the same and also trying to help resolve the current crisis in a manner that does not leave room for Iran or Russia to exploit the situation.
Qatar has strongly denied funding Daesh and other terrorist organisations.
In his only broadcast interview, Qatar’s Amir, Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, said: “We don’t fund extremists” and explained that terrorism was “not acceptable in our culture and our religion”.
But he added: “There are differences between some countries, of who are the terrorists and who are the maybe Islamist groups, but we don’t consider them as terrorists.”
Dr Weinberg said he believes Qatar is using Al Jazeera TV to destabilise the region.
“Just one day after the Qatari Emir joined the Riyadh Declaration last month, that noted there is no excuse for terrorism or extremism, Al Jazeera yet again described a would-be terrorist as a martyr.
“Also, Al Jazeera's past incitement against multinational forces in Iraq was part of the reason why such a vacuum was created there for Iranian meddling and conquests by Daesh,” Dr Weinberg said.
Dr Weinberg also noted Qatar's support for extremist clerics.
“For example, Qatari state radio last month hosted Omar Abdulkafi, who reportedly has said Muslims should not walk on the same sidewalk as Christians and that 9/11 and the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks were a comedy film in which Muslims played no part,” he said.
Dr Weinberg cited repeated allegations from officials of Mideast or Western governments to news outlets alleging that Qatar paid multi-million dollar ransoms to terrorist organisations, including as recently as a report published on Monday in the Financial Times.
“In most instances, the purported recipient of such alleged Qatari ransoms was Al Qaeda's Syrian branch, but Qatar has also been accused to paying ransoms to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and more recently to Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq and to the terror-sponsoring government of Iran,” he said.
Qatar-linked terrorism supporters, named
Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain have collectively designated 59 individuals and 12 institutions that have financed terrorist organisations and received support from Qatar.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and the Kingdom of Bahrain are unified in their ongoing commitment to combatting terrorism, drying up the sources of its funding, countering extremist ideology and the tools of its dissemination and promotion, and to working together to defeat terrorism and protect all societies from its impact.,” according to a statement made available to Al Arabiya News Channel.
“As a result of the continued violation by the authorities in Doha of the obligations and agreements signed by them, including the pledge not to support or harbor elements or organizations that threaten the security of states and to ignore the repeated contacts that they called upon to fulfill what they had signed in the Riyadh Agreement of 2013, its implementing mechanism and the supplementary agreement in 2014; The four States have agreed to classify 59 individuals and 12 entities on their prohibited lists of terrorists, which will be updated in succession and announced,” the statement added.
The majority of those entities sanctioned are linked to Qatar and are a manifestation of a Qatari Government policy of duplicity, the statement read.
List of Terror financiers and supporters
1. Khalifa Mohammad Turki Al Subaie - Qatari
2. Abdelmalek Mohammad Yousef Abdel Salam - Jordanian
3. Ashraf Mohammad Yusuf Othman Abdel Salam - Jordanian
4. Ebrahim Eissa Al-Hajji Mohammad Al-Baker - Qatari
5. Abdulaziz Bin Khalifa Al Attiyah - Qatari
6. Salem Hassan Khalifa Rashid al-Kuwari - Qatari
7. Abdullah Ghanem Muslim al-Khawar - Qatari
8. Saad Bin Saad Mohammad al-Ka’abi - Qatari
9. Abdullatif Bin Abdullah al-Kuwari - Qatari
10. Mohammed Saeed Bin Helwan al-Sakhtari - Qatari
11. Abdul Rahman Bin Omair al-Nuaimi - Qatari
12. Abdul Wahab Mohammad Abdul Rahman al-Hmeikani - Yemeni
13. Khalifa Bin Mohammad Al-Rabban - Qatari
14. Abdullah Bin Khalid Al Thani - Qatari
15. Abdul Rahim Ahmad Al Haram - Qatari
16. Hajjaj Bin Fahad Hajjaj Mohammad al-Ajmi - Kuwaiti
17. Mubarak Mohammad Al-Ajji - Qatari
18. Jaber Bin Nasser Al Marri - Qatari
19. Yusuf Abdullah Al Qaradawi - Egyptian
20. Mohammad Jassim al-Sulaiti - Qatari
21. Ali Bin Abdullah Al Suwaidi - Qatari
22. Hashem Saleh Abdullah Al Awadhi - Qatari
23. Ali Mohammed Mohammad al-Salabi - Libyan
24. Abdelhakim Belhadj - Libyan
25. Mahdi Harati - Libyan
26. Ismail Mohammad Al Salabi - Libyan
27. Al-Sadiq Abdulrahman Ali al-Ghuraini - Libyan
28. Hamad Abdullah Al Futtais Al Marri - Qatari
29. Mohamad Ahmad Shawky Islambouli - Egyptian
30. Tariq Abdelmagoud Ibrahim al-Zomor - Egyptian
31. Mohammad Abdelmaksoud Mohammad Afifi - Egyptian
32. Mohammad El Saghir Abdel Rahim Mohammad - Egyptian
33. Wagdy Abdelhamid Ghoneim - Egyptian
34. Hassan Ahmad Hassan Mohammad Al Dokki Al Houti - UAE
35. Hakem al-Humaidi al-Mutairi - Saudi / Kuwaiti
36. Abdullah al-Muhaysini - Saudi
37. Hamed Abdullah Ahmed al-Ali - Kuwaiti
38. Ayman Ahmad Abdel Ghani Hassanein - Egyptian
39. Assem Abdel-Maged Mohamed Madi - Egyptian
40. Yahya Aqil Salman Aqeel - Egyptian
41. Mohammad Hamada el-Sayed Ibrahim - Egyptian
42. Abdel Rahman Mohammad Shokry Abdel Rahman - Egyptian
43. Hussein Mohammad Reza Ibrahim Youssef - Egyptian
44. Ahmad Abdelhafif Mahmoud Abdelhady - Egyptian
45. Muslim Fouad Tafran - Egyptian
46. Ayman Mahmoud Sadeq Rifat - Egyptian
47. Mohammad Saad Abdel-Naim Ahmed - Egyptian
48. Mohammad Saad Abdel Muttalib Abdo Al Razaki - Egyptian
49. Ahmad Fouad Ahmed Gad Beltagy - Egyptian
50. Ahmad Ragab Ragab Soliman - Egyptian
51. Karim Mohamed Mohammad Abdel Aziz - Egyptian
52. Ali Zaki Mohammad Ali - Egyptian
53. Naji Ebrahim Ezzouli - Egyptian
54. Shehata Fathi Hafez Mohammad Suleiman - Egyptian
55. Mohammad Muharram Fahmi Abu Zeid - Egyptian
56. Amr Abdel Nasser Abdelhak Abdel-Barry - Egyptian
57. Ali Hassan Ebrahim Abdel-Zaher - Egyptian
58. Murtada Majeed Al Sindi - Bahraini
59. Ahmad Al Hassan al-Daski – Bahraini
List of terrorist entities:
1. Qatar Volunteer Center - Qatar
2. Doha Apple Company (Internet and Technology Support Company) - Qatar
3. Qatar Charity - Qatar
4. Shaikh Eid al-Thani Charity Foundation (Eid Charity) - Qatar
5. Shaikh Thani Bin Abdullah Foundation for Humanitarian Services - Qatar
6. Saraya Defend Benghazi - Libya
7. Saraya Al-Ashtar - Bahrain
8. February 14 Coalition - Bahrain
9. The Resistance Brigades - Bahrain
10. Hezbollah Bahrain - Bahrain
11. Saraya al-Mukhtar - Bahrain
12. Harakat Ahrar Bahrain - Bahrain Movement