Dubai: Blacklisted terrorists from Al Qaida and Daesh have been able to tap into their bank accounts despite a UN asset freeze, according to documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal.
The reason for this, the documents showed, are loopholes in the the current UN Security Council sanctions procedures.
Qatari financier, Khalifa Al Subaiy, is among those who have accessed their funds.
The US believes Al Subaiy to be a longtime funder of Al Qaida’s senior leadership, including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
The UN has allowed Al Subaiy to take up to $10,000 a month from frozen accounts for “basic necessities”, despite being placed on the terror blacklist in 2008.
Astonishingly, the Security Council has approved 71 out of 72 requests, the documents show.
While blacklisted terrorist are, in theory, not allowed any access to their financies, a loophole in the sanctions policy allows their home crountries to applied for exemptions to give them access to small amounts of money for food, housing and basic necessities.
But member countries are not properly monitoring the blacklisted terrorists living within their borders.
Some UN officials who spoke to the Wall Street Journal say the exemptions procedure is too loosely structured and lacks oversight.
A more selective process is needed because practically anyone who asks for the exemption now is being granted it.
The revelation of Al Subaiy’s financies came from a leaked data base from the Qatar National Bank, the WSJ reported.
The bank admitted its systems had been breached by unknown hackers in 2016.
Asked why a designated terror supporter would have an active account, both the bank and a spokesman at Qatar’s Embassy in Washington declined to comment on Mr. Subaiy’s case, citing confidentiality.
Al Subaiy was tried and convicted in absentia in 2008 in Bahrain on charges of financing and facilitating terrorism, then was arrested in Qatar and imprisoned for six months, according to the U.N.
Upon his release, Al Subaiy reconnected with Al Qaida agents and resumed organizing funds in support of the group, as well as linking up with operatives in Iran in 2009, 2011 and throughout 2012, and sending cash to senior Al Qaida leaders in Pakistan through 2013.
“I would be hard-pressed to find someone more prominent than him in the whole terrorism financing side,” said Hans-Jakob Schindler, a senior director at the Counter Extremism Project and former adviser to the U.N. Security Council. told the Wall Street Journal.
Al Subaiy’s six-month sentence was criticised by former U.S. Treasury officials for its leniency.
U.S. security analysts said Qatar’s assurances that it would monitor his activities fell flat after the UN revelations that he had continued his activities.
Other Gulf countries have complained that Qatar doesn’t adequately enforce U.N. sanctions and allows for terrorism financing,contributing to a bitter regional rift.