Exposed: How Qatar manipulates American media

16/04/19

Qatar’s shadowy funding of lobby groups and infiltration of the US media has created a climate of “fear” and is deterring American journalists from investigating Doha’s activities, it has been alleged.
A raft of allegations has emerged about how commentators paid by Qatar have appeared on mainstream US television, with no explicit acknowledgement of their allegiance to Doha.
Qatar is also taking part in “information warfare” by paying a vast network of lobbyists, as well as funding media outlets and think tanks, according to “Blood Money,” a new film about Doha’s attempts to sway political opinion in the US.
That, along with allegations that Doha sponsored the hacking of at least one US critic’s emails, is deterring journalists in Washington from pursuing Qatar-related stories, according to David Reaboi, of the US-based think tank Security Studies Group.

Reaboi, who appears in “Blood Money,” said that Qatar is spending so much on lobbying in Washington that journalists are unsure which of their sources are on Doha’s payroll.
“I’ve had private conversations with journalists who would just like to keep their heads down,” Reaboi told Arab News.
“Everyone is aware Qatar is throwing so much money around DC, and so many people are on the take. Why ruin these relationships by running an aggressive piece that will hurt their friends and associates? … Journalists will shy away from certain topics because their sources are somehow invested.”
Reaboi also cited the example of the wealthy US businessman Elliott Broidy, an outspoken critic of Qatar. Broidy sued the government of Qatar and a New York lobby firm over the alleged hacking of his email. A judge dismissed Broidy’s lawsuit, but suspicions have grown that Qatar had a hand in other hacking operations, according to reports.

DECODER

Murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s Washington Post columns were “shaped” by an executive at the Doha-funded Qatar Foundation, it emerged in December. The executive drafted material and prodded Khashoggi to take a harder line against the Saudi government, according to the newspaper.

Reaboi said that such cases have created a climate of “fear” among US journalists.
“They’ve seen the stories about Qatar critic Elliott Broidy and how Qatari hackers worked with lobbyists and (Washington) DC PR shops to try to ruin his life and livelihood by leaking his emails and confidential documents,” he said.
“They’ve also seen or heard the stories about how soccer players, Bollywood stars, think tank experts, and — perhaps most ominously, for members of the media — journalists have had their email accounts hacked. It’s better, many of them think, just to steer clear of the story at all.”
Commentators in “Blood Money,” a film by Mike Cernovich, allege Qatar funded the Brookings Institute think tank with “at least $24 million” on the understanding that its experts support Doha’s agenda. Brookings did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted by Arab News.
“My hope is, that when people see ‘Blood Money,’ they begin to take a closer look at the media and messaging that comes their way,” said Reaboi. “Many of us believe that Qatar’s promotion of Islamism — and the Muslim Brotherhood specifically — is detrimental to America’s national interests.”

FASTFACTS

Selected US news outlets that have been influenced by Qatar include CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times and MSNBC.

Several mainstream media outlets have been accused of hosting commentators that are on Qatar’s payroll, including CNN, which has often hosted Mehdi Hasan, a longtime presenter at the Doha-funded Al Jazeera TV network.
“Hasan is an employee of a thoroughly state-run and controlled media outlet with particularly aggressive message control — unlike, for example, the BBC— and he has been given a platform and credibility in the US through relentless promotion by cable news channels like MSNBC and, especially, CNN,” Reaboi said.
Al Jazeera did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Instances of Qatar’s influence over the US media are sometimes more oblique. Murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s Washington Post columns were “shaped” by an executive at the Qatar Foundation, an entity funded directly by Doha, it emerged in December. The executive, Maggie Mitchell Salem, proposed topics, drafted material and prodded Khashoggi to take a harder line against the Saudi government, according to the newspaper. Salem was a former US State Department employee working at the Qatar Foundation; Washington Post colleagues were shocked by the revelation at the time.
Aside from instances of Qatar apparently infiltrating the US media, “Blood Money” also says that Qatar targeted US news shows and social media accounts that it knew had the attention of US President Donald Trump. It also cites estimates that “over 1,500 people have been hacked by Qatar,” including human rights activists and journalists.
“The very real hacking threat by Qatar has made journalists afraid to cover Qatar,” said filmmaker Cernovich in “Blood Money.”

 

This article was first published in  Arab News

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Qaradawi and Qatar: the hate preacher who became Doha’s spiritual guide

01/04/19

  • Don’t let the Muslim cleric fool you: For decades he has fanned religious hatred and violence
  • Despite his fatwas demonstrating his extremist tendencies, he remains unchecked by his host country

JEDDAH: Yusuf Al-Qaradawi is next in our series “Preachers of Hate.” He is one of the fountainheads of the Muslim Brotherhood, the religious-political organization that has been sanctioned and proscribed by Gulf states and many Western countries.

The Brotherhood’s followers are accused of fanning religious hatred and promoting a cult of violence in order to achieve political power.

In a recent tweet, Al-Qaradawi claims that he is not a preacher of hate and that he spent 25 years promoting moderate thought.

“I stood against extremism and extremists for approximately a quarter of a century. I saw its threat to deen and dunya (religion and the temporal world), on the individual and society, and I have reinforced my pen, tongue and thought (to support) the call for moderation and reject exaggeration and negligence, either in the field of fiqh and fatwa (Islamic jurisprudence and legal pronouncement in Islam) or in the field of tableegh and da’wah (guidance and preaching),” he tweeted.

But his track record reveals exactly the opposite. He has justified suicide bombings, especially in Palestine, has repeatedly spoken out against Jews as a community, and has issued fatwas (religious edicts) that demean women.

In a fatwa on his website, he states that martyrdom is a higher form of jihad. In a 2005 interview on the BBC’s “Newsnight” program, he praised suicide bombings in Israeli-occupied Palestine as martyrdom in the name of God. “I supported martyrdom operations, and I am not the only one,” he said.

He encourages Muslims who are unable to fight to financially support mujahideen (those engaged in jihad) everywhere in foreign lands.

This can hardly be described, according to what he says in his tweet, as a stand against terrorism.

Al-Qaradawi has issued fatwas authorizing attacks on all Jews. On Al Jazeera Arabic in January 2009, he said: “Oh God, take Your enemies, the enemies of Islam … Oh God, take the treacherous Jewish aggressors … Oh God, count their numbers, slay them one by one and spare none.” He has a similar disdain and a deep-seated hatred of Europeans.

On his TV show in 2013, broadcast from Doha to millions worldwide, Al-Qaradawi lambasted Muslim countries as weak, and called on citizens to overthrow their governments and launch a war against all who oppose the Brotherhood, describing them as “khawarij” (enemies of Islam).

A revolt against then-Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who hailed from the Brotherhood, began on June 30, 2013.

That Al-Qaradawi is an Islamic supremacist, and has total disdain for Europe and its culture, can be gauged from one of his lectures on Qatar TV in 2007. “I think that Islam will conquer Europe without resorting to the sword or fighting. Europe is miserable with materialism, with the philosophy of promiscuity and with the immoral considerations that rule the world — considerations of self-interest and self-indulgence,” he said. “It’s high time (Europe) woke up and found a way out from this, and it won’t find a lifesaver or a lifeboat other than Islam.”

Observers in the Middle East are perplexed by Qatar’s support and granting of citizenship to an incendiary ideologue such as Al-Qaradawi, especially since Doha claims that it is fighting terrorism.

One of the major reasons for the Anti-Terror Quartet — comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain — boycotting Qatar is Doha’s promotion of terrorism and its active support to terrorists.

When the late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden became a menace to world peace, and when he unleashed terrorism in different parts of the world, Riyadh took the logical step of stripping him of his Saudi citizenship.

Political observers feel that Qatar should have done something similar in Al-Qaradawi’s case. He is a renegade cleric who was accused of ordering the assassination of political figures in his home country Egypt, and who was sentenced to death in absentia.

Qatar should have handed him over to Egypt, but it did not. Instead, it granted him citizenship.

In a 2017 exclusive interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the Doha Forum, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani was asked why his country continued to support Al-Qaradawi. His answer was instructive. “He is a Qatari citizen who carries Qatari nationality, and an elderly individual, and thus we cannot tell him to depart Qatar,” Al-Thani said. “The Qatari constitution does not allow for the submission of any Qatari citizen to foreign judiciary, be it in an Arab or non-Arab country.”

Salman Al-Ansari, founder of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee, refers to the Law of Political Asylum, promulgated by Qatar.

He said this grants terrorists and extremists certain privileges under the pretext of asylum, “the most important of which is escape from legal pursuits.”

To all intents and purposes, he added, the law gives terrorists the right to residency and Qatari citizenship, and the ability to move freely between states using false names and nationalities.

 

This article was first published in Arab News

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Complaint registered against Qatar for promoting anti-Semitism at its book fair

Time: December 06, 2018  

Jonathan A Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director lodged a formal complaint to the US embassy in Doha about the book fair. (Twitter)

Qatar has raised eyebrows among Jewish organizations in the United States for promoting anti-Semitic textbooks and publications that incite hatred, during its annual International Book Fair, which is in its 29th year.

The book fair promoted books with titles on Holocaust denials, attacks on Jewish culture and material written by David Duke, a former KKK leader. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) one of the largest organizations in the US to combat anti-Semitism and bigotry, has lodged a formal complaint to the US embassy in Doha about the book fair.

The complaint urged William Grant, the US Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires at the US embassy in Qatar, to “leverage the embassy’s participation in the book fair to urge the Qatari government to stop promoting such hateful content.” ADL is hoping for the removal of such books from the state-funded book fair in Doha, according to The National newspaper.

“Once again, this high-profile, government-sponsored book fair is being used to promote blatantly anti-Semitic books that deny the Holocaust and accuse Jews of controlling the world and trying to undermine Islam,” said Jonathan A Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director in a statement.

“We call on the US embassy to make clear to Qatar’s government that this hate is unacceptable,” he said.

ADL

@ADL_National

’s state book fair is promoting titles like “The International Jew” & “The Myth of the Nazi Gas Chambers.” Unacceptable and we’re asking the US Embassy in Doha to urge them to stop boosting such hateful content. Our statement here: http://j.mp/2AYHUXA 

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Among the books that are being publicised at the Qatari book fair are ‘Lies Spread by the Jews’, ‘Talmud of Secrets: Facts Exposing the Jewish Schemes to Control the World’, ‘The History of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the History of the Corruption of the Jews, and the Demise of their Entity’, ‘Awakening to Jewish Influence in the United States of America’ by David Duke, ‘The Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Purported Temple’ and ‘The Myth of the Nazi Gas Chambers’. David Duke is a former Ku Klux Klan leader who is widely known for harboring anti-Semitic views.

Qatar has consistently showed its support for extremism, hosting on its media outlets extreme voices, including the extremist cleric Yusuf Al Qaradawi who has consistently spread anti-Semitism in his sermons and previously on a TV show hosted by Al Jazeera.

Since the boycott of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain, Doha attempted to rebrand its image in the United States and invited prominent Jewish-American figures including Alan Dershowitz. This approach has not had any effect, however, on its state-run book fair, which has embraced anti-Semitic textbooks and publications over the years.

This article was first published in Al Arabiya English  

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Ex-UN envoy, ringleader of Qatar hacking in US, using Morocco card to save himself?

Time: October 17, 2018     

Jamal Benomar speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Sanaa on Sept. 28, 2014. (AP)

An alleged ringleader of a Qatari-backed hacking operation that targeted prominent Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy is seeking to dismiss a lawsuit on the grounds that he has diplomatic immunity.

The alleged ringleader, former United Nations official Jamal Benomar, claims in a court filing that he “is a member of the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations” and therefore enjoys diplomatic immunity.

The filing acknowledges Benomar’s contacts with Qatari officials and US-based Qatari agents but claims he “counseled Qatar at the request of his home government of Morocco,” the filing says.

Moroccan-born Benomar, who had a 25-year UN career and last served as special adviser to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for conflict prevention, has been sued by former Republican National Committee finance chairman Elliott Broidy for, allegedly, orchestrating the dissemination of Broidy’s stolen emails and other documents to the media in order to damage Broidy’s reputation.

Benomar’s attorney, Abbe Lowell of Winston and Strawn LLP, wrote in a pre-motion letter to a US district court that Benomar’s alleged diplomatic status makes him “immune from jurisdiction for actions performed in the course of his duties.” Benomar has never previously claimed Moroccan diplomatic status.

Counseled Qatar

Lowell argued that because the ex-diplomat “specifically counseled Qatar at the request of his home government of Morocco, Mr. Benomar enjoys derivative sovereign immunity not only based on Qatar’s immunity as a sovereign, but on Morocco’s immunity as a sovereign as well. Consequently, this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, and the case must be dismissed, because the alleged actions of Mr. Benomar are protected under derivative sovereign immunity.”

Lowell’s letter appears to try to protect his client, in a hacking campaign that targeted more than a thousand people in several countries. Spanning from 2014-2018, the hack’s alleged targets include Broidy, an ex-CIA official, a Democratic Party operative, and “range from Syrian human rights activists to Egyptian soccer players,” Bloomberg recently reported.

According to the report, the hackers’ IP addresses “linked back to the internet service provider, Ooredoo, which is majority-owned by Qatari government agencies.” Broidy’s attorney, Lee Wolosky, filed a letter with the court outlining what he described as “fatal flaws” with Benomar’s argument.

“To date, the US government has not agreed to extend diplomatic immunity to [Benomar],” adding “according to the United Nations, the Moroccan Mission to the UN retained Defendant as a consultant or advisor on August 1, 2018 – after the July 23, 2018 filing of this lawsuit.”

Benomar has been sued by former Republican National Committee finance chairman Elliott Broidy for orchestrating the dissemination of Broidy’s stolen emails. (File photo: AP)

Wolosky further alleges that “Benomar’s participation in the conspiracy to hack and distribute [Broidy’s] electronic information was disclosed through discovery.” That discovery produced communications by Benomar’s “co-conspirators, one of whom stated he was ‘sure’ Defendant ‘took the credit’ for personally reviewing the hacked materials before they were distributed to the press.”

Personal ‘profit’

The letter also discloses that Benomar “profited personally from the scheme,” pointing out that he was recently appointed to the Lagardère Supervisory Board, a multinational media conglomerate headquartered in Paris in which the largest shareholder is Qatar Holding LLC, a part of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

Wolosky writes in his letter: “In a deposition, one of Defendant’s co-conspirators testified that their work was done for “money” and that he was considering suing the Defendant because the co-conspirator was owed ‘five to ten million.’”

A source close to Broidy said: “Elliott was surprised and disappointed that the Kingdom of Morocco chose to become involved in this matter, considering the country’s close relationship with the United States. Morocco is playing a dangerous game by attempting to aid Qatar’s effort to shield Benomar from culpability for hacking American citizens on US soil.”

“There is no legal precedent to support the notion that Benomar, who no longer holds an active diplomatic position for any country, deserves diplomatic immunity,” the source added.

Benomar is best known for his tenure as the UN’s special envoy in Yemen, where he was responsible for attempting to mediate that country’s civil war between Iranian-armed Houthi rebels and the government.

The Saudi-led coalition of Gulf states – excluding Qatar – accused Benomar of being fixated on Hadi-Houthi peace talks and on his own legacy, instead of emphasizing continued Houthi aggression. Benomar’s time as envoy was also marked by indications of his pro-Qatar bias, Broidy’s lawsuit notes.

This article was first published in Al Arabiya English  

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Qatar denies paying a ransom to free hostages; hacked texts say otherwise

Apr 28, 2018

The payments were part of a larger deal that would involve the Iranian, Iraqi and Turkish governments as well as Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia and at least two Syrian opposition groups, including al-Nusra Front, the notorious Sunni rebel faction linked to al-Qaida.

One morning last April, in the 16th month of a grueling hostage negotiation, a top Qatari diplomat sent a text to his boss to complain about a brazen robbery being perpetrated against his country.

Qatar had entered secret talks to free 25 of its citizens from Iraqi kidnappers, yet the bargaining had turned into a kind of group shakedown, the official said, with a half-dozen militias and foreign governments jostling to squeeze cash from the wealthy Persian Gulf state.

“The Syrians, Hezbollah-Lebanon, Kata’ib Hezbollah, Iraq — all want money, and this is their chance,” Zayed bin Saeed al-Khayareen, Qatar’s ambassador to Iraq and chief negotiator in the hostage affair, wrote. “All of them are thieves.”

And yet, the Qataris were willing to pay, and pay they did, confidential documents confirm.

In the April text and in scores of other private exchanges spanning 1½ years, Qatari officials fret and grouse, but then appear to consent to payments totaling at least $275 million to free nine members of the royal family and 16 other Qatari nationals kidnapped during a hunting trip in Iraq, according to copies of the intercepted communications obtained by The Washington Post.

The secret records reveal for the first time that the payment plan allocated an additional $150 million in cash for individuals and groups acting as intermediaries, although they have long been regarded by U.S. officials as sponsors of international terrorism. These include Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iraqi paramilitary group linked to numerous lethal attacks on U.S. troops during the Iraq war, the records show.

The payments were part of a larger deal that would involve the Iranian, Iraqi and Turkish governments as well as Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia and at least two Syrian opposition groups, including al-Nusra Front, the notorious Sunni rebel faction linked to al-Qaida. The total sum demanded for the return of the hostages at times climbed as high as $1 billion, although it is not clear exactly how much money ultimately changed hands.

Qatar, which acknowledged receiving help from multiple countries in securing the hostages’ release last year, has consistently denied reports that it paid terrorist organizations as part of the deal. In a letter last month denouncing a published account of the events in The New York Times, Qatar’s ambassador to the United States asserted, “Qatar did not pay a ransom.”

“The idea that Qatar would undertake activities that support terrorism is false,” wrote the ambassador, Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad al-Thani. The letter does not deny that Qatar paid money to end the crisis but suggests that the recipients were government officials, citing a Qatari initiative with Iraq to “strengthen bilateral relations and ensure the safe release of the abductees.”

The conversations and texts paint a more complex portrait. They show senior Qatari diplomats appearing to sign off on a series of side payments ranging from $5 million to $50 million to Iranian and Iraqi officials and paramilitary leaders, with $25 million earmarked for a Kata’ib Hezbollah boss and $50 million set aside for “Qassem,” an apparent reference to Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and a key participant in the hostage deal.

“You will get your money after we take our people,” al-Khayareen writes in an April 2017 text, recounting his conversation with a top official of Kata’ib Hezbollah.

The texts are part of a trove of private communications about the hostage ordeal that were surreptitiously recorded by a foreign government and provided to The Post. The intercepted communications also include cellphone conversations and voicemail messages in Arabic that were played for Post reporters for authentication purposes, on the condition that the name of the foreign government that provided the materials not be revealed.

Qatari officials declined to comment on specific issues raised in the text exchanges. But one senior Middle Eastern official knowledgeable about the communications said the sums mentioned in the texts referred to proposals that were floated by negotiators but ultimately rejected. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also asserted that some of the texts appeared to have been edited or repackaged to give a misleading impression. The official did not dispute reports that hundreds of millions of dollars of Qatar’s money were flown to Baghdad in April 2017, just days before the release of the hostages. Iraqi officials confiscated the cash, which has not been returned.

Other governments, including some in the West, have paid ransoms to known terrorist organizations to win the release of kidnapped citizens. For example, France and Spain paid cash to kidnappers — either directly or through state-owned companies — to free French and Spanish nationals captured by the Islamic State group or al-Qaida affiliates between 2010 and 2014.

But Qatar’s bargaining with militants over the hostage affair would become a flash point in a larger feud involving the country and its Arab neighbors, some of whom have repeatedly criticized Qatari leaders over what they say are the country’s cordial ties with Iran and support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups identified with political Islam. Weeks after the hostages were freed, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates joined three other Arab states in severing relations with Qatar, triggering a diplomatic crisis that escalated into a virtual blockade on shipping and air travel in and out of Qatar.

The rift has occasionally prompted the Trump administration to take sides. Last June, President Donald Trump voiced support for the blockade and blasted Qatar as a “funder of terrorism at a very high level.” But he lavished praise on Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim al-Thani, when he visited Washington this month, calling him a “big advocate” for combating terrorism financing.

This article was first published in the Seattle Times

Qatar paid $275m to Iranian and Iraqi officials in secret hostage deal

Apr 28, 2018 

Doha handed at least $50m to Iranian spy chief Qassem Soleimani alone

Qatar made secret payments totalling at least $275 million (Dh1 billion) to Iraqi and Iranian officials widely believed to be sponsors of international terrorism in order to secure a hostage release last year, intercepted messages suggest, a development that observers say shows how the tiny Gulf state is playing “video games” with the region.

The payments were made just days after a 25-member Qatari hunting party, including nine members of the royal family, were released last year after being kidnapped in southern Iraq, according to a conversation between the Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and its ambassador to Iraq, Zayed bin Saeed Al Khayareen, who served as chief negotiator, the Washington Post first reported.

Most galling for Qatar’s Gulf neighbours was to who its senior diplomats made the payments: a series of officials with links to the funding of extremism throughout the Middle East. The Qataris were abducted in southern Iraq in December 2015 and, although no group publicly claimed responsibility, the intercepted communications appear to show Doha dealing with a wide range of actors to obtain their release.

At least $50 million (Dh183m) was set aside for “Qassem”, or Qassem Soleimani, the shadowy leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force that sponsors Tehran’s proxy groups across the Middle East, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Houthi rebels in Yemen and Shiite militias in Iraq.

At least $150 million was handed to five individual intermediaries in total, the Post said, including the leader of Kataeb Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Iraqi militant group marked by the US as a foreign terrorist organisation. Included in the deal were also Hezbollah, Iran’s prized militia, and the Al Nusra Front, a Syria-based extremist group with links to Al Qaeda.

The Qatari officials’ phone conversations, text messages and voicemail messages were recorded by a foreign government who provided them to the Post on the condition it was not named, the newspaper said. The ransom payments, which Qatar has denied making, have been widely criticised by fellow Gulf Arab states for providing funding to terrorist organisations.

Qatari officials originally attempted to make the ransom payment in Iraq, but when officials sequestered and froze some $360 million inside 23 duffel bags, the Qataris looked for another payment route: Lebanon. The money was then sent through Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport to Iranian sponsor Hezbollah where it would make its way to Tehran, according to the New York Times.

The revelations were just another confirmation of what many observers in the region already knew: that Iran’s tentacles had stretched into many corners of the Middle East, and that Qatar was paying for them to reach further.

“It just goes to show you how much the IRGC is entrenched across the region,” Mohammed Alyahya, senior fellow at the Gulf Research Centre, said of the deal and the warming ties between Iran’s security elite and the Qatari regime.

“I think that’s one of the biggest factors that broke the camel’s back in terms of people’s assessment of Qatar in intelligence and security circles: the idea of Shiite militias and Sunni militias getting secretly flushed with cash by Qatar,’ Mr Alyahya told The National by phone. “And we’re not talking about one million or two million dollars, we are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Iraqi officials say it is no secret what is happening in their country. Iran, bolstered by such lucrative funds, is influencing events in the neighbouring country. For instance, the hunting party was being held by Iranian-funded Shiite militia Kataeb Al Imam Ali, linked to Kataeb Hezbollah.

“The latest Qatari revelations highlight the extent of foreign interference and the dismissal of Iraqi sovereignty whatsoever,” a spokesperson of Iraq’s National Alliance bloc, which is led by Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi, told The National by phone. “Regional states have been destabilising the country and have fuelled terrorism in the region”.

Jaber Al Jaberi, an Iraqi lawmaker representing Anbar, said that “Iran’s interference in Iraq has always been apparent, this is not something new” and that “their obstruction in Iraqi issues has always been for their own interests”.

A former European diplomat told The National that while they were not aware of the IRGC accepting funding from outside parties such as Qatar, “opportunistic benefit from a particular situation might conceivably be treated differently though” by the elite arm of the Iranian military.

It is this opportunistic streak that can be seen clearly in Tehran’s dealings with Qatar on the hostage release, Mr Alyahya said, with Iranian officials appearing to capitalise on Doha’s wanton adventurism.

“It’s very clear that the Iranians were taking the Qataris for a ride. They were literally swindling them,” he said of the large sums in question.

“It’s almost like the Qataris consider regional developments and unrest a video game that they can play when they are bored and walk away from when it gets difficult,” he continued. “They will fund Jabhat Al Nusra a little bit, then after that they will go and fund other Al Qaeda-linked groups without scrutiny, despite US and Saudi warnings, despite Emirati warnings. They put money in the hands of criminals.”

Qatar, by their own admission, knew the game that Iran was playing.

“The Syrians, Hezbollah-Lebanon, Kataeb Hezbollah, Iraq — all want money, and this is their chance,” Mr Al Khayareen wrote in an April 2017 text message to the Qatari foreign minister. “All of them are thieves.”

But the exchanges provide the clearest evidence yet that Doha’s top officials went along with Tehran’s pricey dance, regardless of the consequences.

This article was first published in the  The National

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Latest revelations reveal Doha’s duplicity

Apr 28, 2018

Its financing of extremism has threatened lives but it remains unrepentant at the chaos it has instigated

Sitting in the Oval Office earlier this month, Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani assured US President Donald Trump: “We do not tolerate people who support or fund terrorism”. Freshly leaked communications between Qatari officials and hostage negotiators for the Iran-backed militias who kidnapped 26 Qataris on a hunting trip in 2015 suggest otherwise. The documents, which include text messages and exchanges at the very highest level, paint a bleak picture of the murky dealings which could have resulted in at least $275 million – and possibly up to $1 billion – lining the pockets of extremists intent on destabilising the region. Some of that money has almost certainly funded weapons causing mass destruction and bloodshed in Yemen, paid for missiles for Houthi rebels to target Saudi Arabia and allowed militias to ransack Iraq and Syria.

 The intercepted communications, leaked to the Washington Post, spell out the level of Qatar’s financing of terror and collusion with those who seek to sow instability across the region. The Qatari excursion to southern Iraq in December 2015, which included nine members of the royal family, came at a time when ISIS was leaving a trail of devastation throughout the country. It was foolhardy at best and at worst, endangered the lives of scores of people, not to mention those indirectly threatened by rescue money which might have ended up in the hands of militias. In the 16 months it took to secure the release of the Qataris, hundreds of millions were dispatched to paramilitary leaders, including $50 million to Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and $25 million to Iraqi Shiite militants Kataib Hezbollah. An additional $150 million was said to have funded hostage negotiators and intermediaries. While it is not clear how much of the money ended up in nefarious hands, the extent of Qatar’s flawed dealings and dubious alliances is becoming increasingly clear.

Its actions have enabled murderous outfits, which have sought to spread terror and chaos throughout the region and ruined the lives of ordinary people. Yet rather than showing any remorse for its actions, Qatar has edged closer to Tehran and increased the security threat to its neighbours in the Arab world. The divisions in the region today have been deepened by its irresponsible actions, yet still its officials insist they have the region’s best interests at heart – all while threatening ordinary citizens by flying fighter jets dangerously close to civilian planes and claiming to weed out terrorism while simultaneously being photographed cosying up to its chief financial backers at a wedding – the same celebration that hosted Hamas former head Khaled Mashaal. Qatar’s recklessness has cost lives but it is unrepentant for the suffering it has needlessly inflicted by backing those who seek to harm and disrupt Middle Eastern stability. Its dangerous behaviour will only strengthen the resolve of the quartet in protecting its citizens and standing strong together in the face of extremism and its backers.

This article was first published in the  The National

Letter to Qatar: Abandon PR, change attitude, and siege would be lifted

Apr 26, 2018

LONDON: Four Arab ambassadors have called on Qatar to improve relations with its neighbors, change its attitude and stop its support for extremism, terror and destabilization in the region.

The four ambassadors of Saudi Arabia (Mohammed bin Nawwa), Bahrain (Fawaz bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa), the UAE (Suleiman Al-Mazroui) and Egypt (Nasser Kamel) co-wrote a letter published on Wednesday in the Financial Times to answer an FT lead article titled “Qatar siege is meaningless.”

The ambassadors stressed in the letter that their governments had no plans to incorporate Qatar, as the FT claimed, but all they hoped for is that the Doha government committed to the international criteria to fight terrorism and “stop its support for terror and extremism in the region.”

In the letter, the four ambassadors reminded the paper that the prime minister of Qatar attended the wedding of the son of Abdel Rahman Al-Nueimi,who is listed on a US terror list, and is the main conduit to Al-Qaeda in Iraq where, according to the US, he funnelled millions of US dollars to the organization there.

The ambassadors added that Al-Nueimi is one of many sponsors of terror living and working in Qatar.

The ambassadors drew the readers’ attention to Qatar’s “double standard behavior” — saying one thing to the West, and doing the opposite.

They concluded the letter by demonstrating Qatar’s “duplicity.”

They said that Qatar has recently intensified the use of its media and PR to promote and support terror in the Middle East generally and in Saudi Arabia especially.

Recently Qatari broadcasters opened their airwaves to Houthi militia in Yemen and its propaganda calling for attacking Saudi Arabia.

In conclusion the ambassadors called on Doha to quit its public relations campaign and change its attitude — only then would the siege be over.

This article was first published by Arab News

Qatar PM attends terrorist’s son’s wedding

Time: April 22, 2018

Dubai: A picture has emerged on social media showing Qatari Prime Minister attending the wedding of a terror financer’s son.

The picture surfaced soon after Qatar stressed to the US that it has a zero tolerance towards terrorism.

The photograph shows Qatari prime minister, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, attending the wedding of the son of Abdul Rahman Bin Umair Al Nuaimi, who has been declared as a terror financer by the US and UN.

Abdul Rahman Umair Al Nuaimi is supposedly standing trial in Qatarfor financing terror.

The picture was taken on April 11, two days after US President Donald Trump, publicly praised Qatar’s efforts to stop the funding of terrorism during the visit of Qatari Emir, Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, to the White House. “You’ve now become a very big advocate, and we appreciate it,” Trump told Shaikh Tamim.

Qatar-linked people, groups on terror list

Shaikh Tamim was explicit in insisting that his country maintains a zero-tolerance policy against terrorism. “I want to make something very clear, Mr. President,” he said. “We do not and we will not tolerate people who fund terrorism. We’ve been cooperating with the United States of America to stop funding terrorism around the region.”

Also this month, British ministers had welcomed the Emir of Qatar’s “commitment to tackle terrorism in all its manifestations, including terror financing”.

Another picture shows Khalid Mashaal, former leader of Hamas, which has also been labelled a terror organisation by the US, attending the wedding.

Al Nuaimi has been an adviser to the Qatari government. The US Department of Treasury in December 2013 said Al Nuaimi was providing financial support to Al Qaida’s different branches in the Middle East.

As a chief Al Qaida financier, Al Nuaimi has channeled millions of dollars from primarily Qatari-based donors to Al Qaida affiliates in Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and Iraq. In 2014, the Telegraph dubbed him “one of the world’s most prolific terrorist financiers.”

This article was first published Gulf News
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Qatar’s History of Funding Terrorism and Extremism – Fact Sheet

Time: April 01, 2018

 Sa’d bin Sa’d Muhammad Shariyan Al-Ka’bi: Qatari financier of Al-Qaeda affiliate AlNusrah
in Syria.
o Established donation campaigns in Qatar to aid a fundraising request from Al-Nusrah in
order to purchase weapons and food.
o Worked to facilitate a ransom payment to Al-Nusrah in exchange for a hostage being held
by the terror organization.
o Named Specially Designated Global Terrorist and sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury
Department on August 5, 2015.
o Listed on UN Security Council Sanction List on September 21, 2015.
 Abdallah Salih Muhammad Al-Kawari: Qatar-based Al-Qaeda financier and security official.
o Coordinated the delivery of Qatari-financing to support Al-Qaeda and facilitated
international travel for an Al-Qaeda foreign donor carrying tens of thousands of dollars
earmarked for Al-Qaeda.
o Named Specially Designated Global Terrorist and sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury
Department on August 5, 2015.
o Listed on UN Security Council Sanction List on September 21, 2015.
 Ashraf Muhammad Yusuf ‘Uthman ‘Abd al-Salam: Jordanian national, with Qatari ID card,
financier and operative for Al-Nusrah and Al-Qaeda.
o Facilitated the travel of military trainers to Syria to train Al-Nusrah in 2012.
o Facilitated the transfer of hundreds of thousands of dollars from U.S.- and UN-designated
financier and Qatar-based Khalifa Muhammad Turki al-Subaiy intended for Al-Qaeda in
Pakistan.
o Named Specially Designated Global Terrorist and sanctions by the U.S. Treasury
Department on September 24, 2014.
 ‘Abd al-Malik Muhammad Yusuf ‘Uthman ‘Abd al-Salam (AKA Umar al-Qatari):
Jordanian national, with Qatari ID card, financier, recruiter and operative for Al-Nusrah.
o Gave thousands of dollars and materials to support Al-Qaeda in Syria in 2012.
o Coordinated the transfer of thousands of dollars from UN and U.S.-designated Qatari AlQaeda
financier Khalifa Muhammad Turki al-Subaiy to AQ senior leadership.
o Named Specially Designated Global Terrorist and sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury
Department on September 24, 2014.
o Listed on UN Security Council Sanction List on January 23, 2015.

 Ibrahim ‘Isa Hajji Muhammad al-Bakr: Qatar-based financier and logical supporter of AlQaeda
and the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
o Served as a link between Gulf-based terrorist financiers and Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in
Afghanistan.
o Played a key role in a terrorist cell plotting a 2006 attack on U.S. military bases in Qatar.
o Named Specially Designated Global Terrorist and sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury
Department on September 24, 2014.
o Released by Qatari authorities after promising not to conduct terror activity in Qatar,
according to a September 2014 U.S. Treasury Department terror designation.
 Abd al Rahman bin Umayr al Nu’aymi: Qatar-based terrorist financier and facilitator.
o Provided money and material support to Al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria, Iraq, Somalia and
Yemen for more than 10 years.
o Considered among the most prominent Qatar-based supporters of extremists.
o Oversaw the transfer of more than $2 million per month to Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
o Named Specially Designated Global Terrorist and sanctioned by the UN on September
23, 2014 and U.S. Treasury Department on December 18, 2013.
 Khalifa Muhammad Turki al-Subaiy: Known Al-Qaeda associate and financier.
o Participated in financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating of acts or
activities of Al-Qaeda.
o Listed on the UN Security Council Sanctions list on October 10, 2008.

This article was first published Saudi Embassy.Net
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