Qatar and al-Nusra Front

Qatar stands accused of supporting and funding al-Nusra Front.Jay Solomon, “U.S.-Qatar Alliance Strains Coalition Against Islamic State,” Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2014, http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-qatar-alliance-strains-coalition-against-islamic-state-1412983181. The Qatari government helped broker the release of 13 nuns kidnapped by the group in December 2013. It brokered the August 2014 release of American hostage Peter Theo Curtis, as well as the September 2014 release of 45 U.N. peacekeepers.

On the release of the 45 U.N. peacekeepers, Qatar’s state-owned Al Jazeera called the peacekeepers “Fijian soldiers” that were kidnapped and “held” for two weeks by al-Nusra Front. The article emphasizes that the peacekeepers were reportedly in good condition and notes, “A UN spokesman said in New York on Thursday no ransom had been requested for the Fijian peacekeepers and none was paid.”“Syria Rebels Free UN Peacekeepers,” Al Jazeera, September 11, 2014, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/09/syria-rebels-free-un-peacekeepers-201491175643793356.html.

Nonetheless, rumors that Qatar paid the group a ransom fee soon circulated. Qatar’s foreign minister denied the claims,Daniel Bases, “Qatar's Foreign Minister Denies Paying Ransoms to Militant Groups,” Reuters, September 29, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/30/us-mideast-crisis-qatar-idUSKCN0HP02720140930. but Israel’s Channel 2 news station released video footage allegedly showing that Qatar paid the group $25 million in ransom.“Report: UN Had Qatar Pay Off Al-Qaida Fighters for Release of Fiji Peacekeepers,” Haaretz (Tel Aviv), October 11, 2014, http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/1.620228.

Al Jazeera did not cover any follow-ups to the story, including the Channel 2 report and the foreign minister’s statement. The Al Jazeera article regarding the release of the peacekeepers ends by highlighting Qatar’s seemingly helpful role in the hostage release process: “US officials have said that Qatar played a critical role in persuading the Nusra Front to free American journalist Peter Theo Curtis last month, whom the front had been holding hostage since 2012.”​“Syria Rebels Free UN Peacekeepers,” Al Jazeera, September 11, 2014, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/09/syria-rebels-free-un-peacekeepers-201491175643793356.html.