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Qatar’s support for extremists undermines regional and international security

Provides direct financial and logistical support to internationally-designated terrorist groups

Harbors sanction-designated or wanted individuals including former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Yusuf al-Qaradawi, as well as seven al-Qaeda financiers and three Taliban operatives

Qatari commitment to counterterrorism efforts must be complete and unequivocal

Counterterrorism packages of 2004 and 2014 must be fully enforced

As signatory to the 2014 Jeddah Communique—Qatari is obligated to end terror/terror financing

Despite passing counterterrorism legislation and partaking in U.S.-led counterterrorism initiatives, Doha continues to directly fund internationally-designated terrorist groups and harbor internationally-designated operatives.

CEP’s QATAR-HARBORS Campaign seeks to end Qatari government support for terror groups and individuals.

Specifically, CEP is calling on Qatar to arrest, expel, or otherwise cut off support to sanction-designated or wanted individuals currently domiciled in Qatar

CEP is also calling on Qatar to halt all support—financial, material, and strategic—to internationally-designated terrorist groups including Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Nusra Front, and the Taliban.

Overview

Qatar—a longtime U.S. ally and member of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS—has supported and harbored international terrorist organizations and individuals. The hydrocarbon-rich Gulf country sends direct financial and material support to internationally-designated terrorist groups such as Hamas and the Nusra Front,“Qatar says gives $30 million to pay Gaza public sector workers,” Reuters, July 22, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-palestinians-gaza-qatar-idUSKCN1021AQ; Dov Lieber, “Haniyeh seeks to pay Hamas ‘military personnel’ with Qatar’s money,” Times of Israel, August 2, 2016, http://www.timesofisrael.com/haniyeh-seeks-to-pay-hamas-military-personnel-with-qatars-money/; Miriam Karouny, “Insight - Syria's Nusra Front may leave Qaeda to form new entity,” Reuters, March 4, 2015, http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-mideast-crisis-nusra-insight-idUKKBN0M00G620150304. and knowingly permits internationally-designated or wanted terrorist leaders and financiers to operate within its borders.Peter Kovessy, “Qatar FM: Hamas leader to remain in Doha as ‘dear guest’,” Doha News, January 13, 2015, https://dohanews.co/qatar-fm-hamas-leader-remain-doha-dear-guest/;
Shabina S. Khatri, “Egypt demands extradition of Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi from Qatar,” Doha News, February 5, 2014, https://dohanews.co/egypt-demands-extradition-of-sheikh-yusuf-al-qaradawi-from-qatar/;
“Report on the Inquiry into: The Department of Defense’s May 2014 Transfer to Qatar of five law-of-war detainees in connection with the recovery of a captive U.S. soldier,” Committee on Armed Services, December 9, 2015, https://armedservices.house.gov/sites/republicans.armedservices.house.gov/files/wysiwyg_uploaded/Report%20on%20the%20Inquiry%20into%20the%20Taliban%20Five%20Transfer_0.pdf;
“Treasury Designates Al-Qa’ida Supporters in Qatar and Yemen,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, December 19, 2013, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2249.aspx;
“Treasury Designates Twelve Foreign Terrorist Fighter Facilitators,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, September 24, 2014, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2651.aspx;
Andrew Gilligan, “Minister’s family ties to terror,” Telegraph (London), November 1, 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/qatar/11203140/Ministers-family-ties-to-terror.html;
“Treasury Designates Financial Supporters of Al-Qaida and Al-Nusrah Front,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, August 5, 2015, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl0143.aspx.
On June 5, 2017, seven countries—Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, the Maldives, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen—announced that they were severing diplomatic ties with Qatar as a result of the country’s support for terrorist and extremist groups in the region.Hilary Whiteman and Katie Hunt, “Saudi Arabia, UAE, others cut ties with Qatar: Live updates,” CNN, June 5, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/05/middleeast/qatar-diplomatic-rift-live-blog/index.html;
“Arab powers sever Qatar ties, citing support for militants,” Reuters, June 5, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-gulf-qatar-idUSKBN18W0DQ.
In severing ties with Qatar, Saudi Arabia announced that it was working to “protect national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism.” Bahrain and others similarly cited national security concerns and Qatar’s destabilizing activities in the region as reasons for the split.Tamara Qiblawi, Mohammed Tawfeeq, and Elizabeth Roberts, “Qatar rift: Saudi, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt cut diplomatic ties,” CNN, June 5, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/05/middleeast/saudi-bahrain-egypt-uae-qatar-terror/index.html;
“Statement of the Kingdom of Bahrain on the severance of diplomatic relations with the State of Qatar,” Kingdom of Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs, June 5, 2017, http://www.mofa.gov.bh/Default.aspx?tabid=7824&ItemId=7473&language=en-US.

The Qatari government has lent support to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)David Andrew Weinberg, “Terrorist Financing: Kidnapping, Antiquities Trafficking, and Private Donations,” Foundation for Defense of Democracies, November 17, 2015, 8, http://docs.house.gov/meetings/FA/FA18/20151117/104202/HHRG-114-FA18-Wstate-WeinbergD-20151117.pdf., Hamas “Qatar says gives $30 million to pay Gaza public sector workers,” Reuters, July 22, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-palestinians-gaza-qatar-idUSKCN1021AQ; Dov Lieber, “Haniyeh seeks to pay Hamas ‘military personnel’ with Qatar’s money,” Times of Israel, August 2, 2016, http://www.timesofisrael.com/haniyeh-seeks-to-pay-hamas-military-personnel-with-qatars-money/., the Muslim Brotherhood“Egypt returns $2 billion to Qatar in sign of growing tensions,” Reuters, September 19, 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-qatar-deposits-idUSBRE98I0N020130919., the Nusra Front Miriam Karouny, “Insight - Syria's Nusra Front may leave Qaeda to form new entity,” Reuters, March 4, 2015, http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-mideast-crisis-nusra-insight-idUKKBN0M00G620150304; “Syrian Nusra Front announces split from al-Qaeda,” BBC news, July 29, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-36916606; Erika Solomon, “Outside Help Behind Rebel Advances in Aleppo,” Financial Times, August 8, 2016, https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:1pPIFlb05uUJ:https://www.ft.com/content/da076830-5d77-11e6-a72a-bd4bf1198c63+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us. , and the Taliban“Q&A: Afghan Taliban open Doha office,” BBC News, June 20, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-22957827; Associated Press, “Taliban reaffirms authority of its Qatar ‘political office,’” Dawn, January 25, 2016, http://www.dawn.com/news/1235165.—including through direct money loans, ransom payments, and supplies transfers. Qatar is also currently harboring at least 12 sanction-designated or wanted individuals, including former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Yusuf al-Qaradawi, three U.N.-sanctioned Taliban operatives, and at least seven al-Qaeda financiers.Peter Kovessy, “Qatar FM: Hamas leader to remain in Doha as ‘dear guest’,” Doha News, January 13, 2015, https://dohanews.co/qatar-fm-hamas-leader-remain-doha-dear-guest/; Shabina S. Khatri, “Egypt demands extradition of Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi from Qatar,” Doha News, February 5, 2014, https://dohanews.co/egypt-demands-extradition-of-sheikh-yusuf-al-qaradawi-from-qatar/; “Report on the Inquiry into: The Department of Defense’s May 2014 Transfer to Qatar of five law-of-war detainees in connection with the recovery of a captive U.S. soldier,” Committee on Armed Services, December 9, 2015, https://armedservices.house.gov/sites/republicans.armedservices.house.gov/files/wysiwyg_uploaded/Report%20on%20the%20Inquiry%20into%20the%20Taliban%20Five%20Transfer_0.pdf; “Treasury Designates Al-Qa’ida Supporters in Qatar and Yemen,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, December 19, 2013, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2249.aspx; “Treasury Designates Twelve Foreign Terrorist Fighter Facilitators,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, September 24, 2014, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2651.aspx; Andrew Gilligan, “Minister’s family ties to terror,” Telegraph (London), November 1, 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/qatar/11203140/Ministers-family-ties-to-terror.html; “Treasury Designates Financial Supporters of Al-Qaida and Al-Nusrah Front,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, August 5, 2015, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl0143.aspx. Although these individuals have been publically sanctioned by the United States or United Nations, or are the subject of INTERPOL arrest warrants, they are able to live with impunity—and in some cases, in luxury—within Qatar.

Direct Government Funding and Support

The Qatari government has paid ransom demands, shipped supplies, and funneled billions of dollars of funding—to internationally-designated extremist groups throughout the Middle East and North Africa.David Andrew Weinberg, “Terrorist Financing: Kidnapping, Antiquities Trafficking, and Private Donations,” Foundation for Defense of Democracies, November 17, 2015, 8, 9-14, http://docs.house.gov/meetings/FA/FA18/20151117/104202/HHRG-114-FA18-Wstate-WeinbergD-20151117.pdf; “Egypt returns $2 billion to Qatar in sign of growing tensions,” Reuters, September 19, 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-qatar-deposits-idUSBRE98I0N020130919; Mick Krever, “Qatar's Emir: We don't fund terrorists,” CNN, September 25, 2014, http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/25/world/meast/qatar-emir/; Yusuf Kanly, “Is Turkish foreign policy successful?,” Hurriyet Daily News, October 21, 2013, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/is-turkish-foreign-policy-successful.aspx?pageID=449&nID=56527&NewsCatID=425; Miriam Karouny, “Insight - Syria's Nusra Front may leave Qaeda to form new entity,” Reuters, March 4, 2015, http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-mideast-crisis-nusra-insight-idUKKBN0M00G620150304. These groups include al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Nusra Front, and the Taliban.David Andrew Weinberg, “Terrorist Financing: Kidnapping, Antiquities Trafficking, and Private Donations,” Foundation for Defense of Democracies, November 17, 2015, 8, 9-14, http://docs.house.gov/meetings/FA/FA18/20151117/104202/HHRG-114-FA18-Wstate-WeinbergD-20151117.pdf; “Egypt returns $2 billion to Qatar in sign of growing tensions,” Reuters, September 19, 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-qatar-deposits-idUSBRE98I0N020130919; Mick Krever, “Qatar's Emir: We don't fund terrorists,” CNN, September 25, 2014, http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/25/world/meast/qatar-emir/; Yusuf Kanly, “Is Turkish foreign policy successful?,” Hurriyet Daily News, October 21, 2013, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/is-turkish-foreign-policy-successful.aspx?pageID=449&nID=56527&NewsCatID=425; Miriam Karouny, “Insight - Syria's Nusra Front may leave Qaeda to form new entity,” Reuters, March 4, 2015, http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-mideast-crisis-nusra-insight-idUKKBN0M00G620150304.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Pensinula (AQAP)

Based in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, AQAP is known for its English-language magazine Inspire, as well as its involvement in both the 2009 Christmas Day bomb plot and the 2010 Times Square bomb plot. The group claimed responsibility for the massacre at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo in 2015. It has seized and controls territory across Yemen’s southern provinces, where it seeks to implement sharia (Islamic law).

Designated by:

Australia, Canada, Israel, United Kingdom, United Nations, United States

Qatari Support:


Hamas

The ruling terror party of the Gaza Strip, Hamas openly seeks the destruction of Israel. The group uses suicide bombings, rocket and mortar attacks, shootings, and kidnappings in pursuit of its stated objectives.

Designated by:

Australia, Canada, Egypt, EU, Israel, Japan, Jordan, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States

Qatari Support:


Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood—founded in Egypt in 1928—is a transnational Islamist organization with branches worldwide. In the 1950s, Brotherhood theologian Sayyid Qutb legitimized the use of violent jihad—and the killing of secular Muslims—in order to implement sharia. Analysts argue that the Brotherhood’s ideology has spawned groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Designated by:

Bahrain, Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates

Qatari Support:


Nusra Front a.k.a. Jabhat Fateh al-Sham

The Nusra Front, a.k.a. Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, is a territory-controlling jihadist insurgent group operating in Syria. Long known as al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the group claimed to have formally renounced ties to its mother group in July 2016. The Nusra Front has carried out military campaigns, kidnappings, suicide bombings, and assassinations, and is reported to receive the highest number of foreign fighters in Syria after ISIS. It currently operates under an Islamist umbrella organization known as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (Assembly for the Liberation of Sham).

Designated by:

Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, EU, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Nations, United States

Qatari Support:

[Qatar is] promising Nusra more support, i.e. money, supplies etc., once they let go of the Qaeda ties. Unamed Qatari government official, March 2015

Taliban

The Taliban is an Afghanistan- and Pakistan-based jihadist insurgent group that has carried out numerous deadly terrorist attacks in the region, including the shooting of Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan’s Swat Valley in October 2012, the December 2015 assault on Kandahar Air Field which left 50 dead, and the December 2014 massacre at the army-run school in Peshawar that killed 148 people, 132 of whom were schoolchildren. Taliban insurgents and ISIS militants in eastern Afghanistan have cooperated against the Afghan government since mid-2016.

Designated by:

Canada, EU, France, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Russia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Nations, United States

Qatari Support:

Harboring Terrorist Leaders and Financiers

Leaders

Qatar harbors internationally-designated and banned terrorist leaders, including former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal,Peter Kovessy, “Qatar FM: Hamas leader to remain in Doha as ‘dear guest’,” Doha News, January 13, 2015, https://dohanews.co/qatar-fm-hamas-leader-remain-doha-dear-guest/. Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Yusuf al-Qaradawi,Alessandra Gennarelli, “Egypt’s Request for Qatar’s Extradition of Sheikh Yusuf Al- Qaradawi,” Center for Security Policy, May 27, 2015, http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/2015/05/27/egypts-request-for-qatars-extradition-of-sheikh-yusuf-al-qaradawi/. and three U.N.-sanctioned Taliban operatives.“Report on the Inquiry into: The Department of Defense’s May 2014 Transfer to Qatar of five law-of-war detainees in connection with the recovery of a captive U.S. soldier,” Committee on Armed Services, December 9, 2015, https://armedservices.house.gov/sites/republicans.armedservices.house.gov/files/wysiwyg_uploaded/Report%20on%20the%20Inquiry%20into%20the%20Taliban%20Five%20Transfer_0.pdf. Many of these individuals are reported to live in extravagance in Doha’s most exclusive neighborhoods.Globes, “The Corruption at the Head of Hamas,” Jerusalem Post, July 20, 2014, http://www.jpost.com/Business/Business-Features/The-corruption-at-the-head-of-Hamas-363550; Sami Yousafzai, “Taliban Leaders Are Living in Luxury in Qatar,” Newsweek, March 24, 2015, http://www.newsweek.com/2015/04/03/taliban-leaders-are-living-luxury-qatar-316122.html.

Khaled Meshaal Leader of Hamas

Designated by: United States

Meshaal is a dear guest of Qatar [who] is living [here] among his relatives. Foreign Minister Dr. Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah, January 2015

Yusuf Al-Qaradawi Muslim Brotherhood Ideologue

Banned from: France, United States, United Kingdom.

Subject of an INTERPOL alert calling for his arrest.

  • Qaradawi’s fatwas (legal rulings) have called for the murder of U.S. civilians and troops in Iraq, the execution of homosexuals, and the killing of Jews “down to the very last one.”Melanie Phillips, The World Turned Upside Down, (New York: Encounter Books, 2010), 214; “Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: Homosexuals Should Be Punished Like Fornicators But Their Harm Is Less When Not Done in Public,” MEMRI, June 5, 2006, http://www.memri.org/clip_transcript/en/1170.htm; “Reactions to Sheikh Qaradhawi’s Fatwa Calling for the Abduction and Killing of American Civilians in Iraq,” MEMRI, October 6, 2004, http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/1231.htm; Oren Kessler, “Analysis: Yusuf al-Qaradawi- a ‘man for all seasons,’” Jerusalem Post, February 20, 2011, http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Analysis-Yusuf-al-Qaradawi-a-man-for-all-seasons.
  • Spearheads the Qaradawi Centre for Research and Modern Thought at Qatar’s Education City, a “multiversity” campus started by the Qatari royal family. The University comprises Western universities including Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Georgetown, Northwestern, Texas A&M, and Virginia Commonwealth.Steven Stalinsky, “Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradawi and Qatar’s Education City Hosting American University Branches: Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown, Northwestern, Texas A&M, Virginia Commonwealth, Cornell & Others,” MEMRI, February 18, 2010, https://www.memri.org/image/IA_Qaradawi.pdf.

Fazl Mohammad Mazloom Taliban’s former Deputy Minister of Defense

Designated by: United Nations


Nurullah Nuri Taliban’s former military commander

Designated by: United Nations


Abdul-Haq Wassiq Taliban’s former Deputy Director General of Intelligence

Designated by: United Nations

Financiers

According to former Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen, Qatar is a “permissive terrorist financing environment” that enables “private fundraising networks” to operate within its borders.“Remarks of Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen before the Center for a New American Security on ‘Confronting New Threats in Terrorist Financing,’” U.S. Department of the Treasury, March 4, 2014, https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2308.aspx.

Below are some of the designated or wanted members of those networks, all of whom are al-Qaeda financiers:

Abd Al-Rahman Bin ‘Umayr Al-Nu’aymi

Designated by: European Union, Turkey, United Kingdom, United Nations, United States


Khalifa Muhammad Turki Al-Subaiy

Designated by: United Nations, United States


Abd Al-Aziz Bin Khalifa Al-Attiyah

Wanted by: Lebanon


Salim Hasan Khalifa Rashid Al-Kuwari

Designated by: United States


Abdallah Ghanim Mafuz Muslim Al-Khawar

Designated by: United States


Abd Al-Latif Bin Abdllaha Salih Muhammad Al-Kawari

Designated by: United States, United Nations

  • Transferred funds to al-Qaeda. Responsible for providing Qatari-based financiers with proof that their funds were delivered to the terror group.“Treasury Designates Financial Supporters of Al-Qaida and Al-Nusrah Front,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, August 5, 2015, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl0143.aspx.

Sa’d Bin Sa’d Muhammad Shariyan Al Ka’bi

Designated by: European Union, Hong Kong, Pakistan, United Kingdom, United Nations, United States

Snapshot of Qatari Counterterrorism Legislation and Initiatives

Qatar has passed various counterterrorism laws since 2004. Today, Qatari authorities have available a wide range of legal tools in the fight against terrorism, both domestic and international. Below are the pillars of Qatari counterterrorism law:

Qatar has adopted numerous pieces of counterterrorism legislation, but the government refuses to fully enforce it. As Doha partakes in U.S.-led counterterrorism initiatives, the government simultaneously delivers funds and supplies to internationally-designated terrorist organizations and harbors internationally-designated operatives. As former Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen has said, there are extremist operatives in Qatar “that have not been acted against under Qatari law.”Jamie Dettmer, “U.S. Ally Qatar Shelters Jihadi Moneymen,” Daily Beast, December 10, 2014, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/12/10/rich-little-qatar-big-ugly-ties-to-terror.html. In May 2016, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) wrote in a letter to Secretary of the Treasury that “the Qatari government should do much more to match Jeddah Communique’s words with deeds.”Letter from Mark Kirk, United States Senate, May 10, 2016, http://freebeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/20160510-Kirk-Letter-to-SECTREAS-Lew-on-Qatar-Terrorist-Financing.pdf. As former Secretary of State John Kerry has said, Qatar “can’t continue to be an American ally on Monday that sends money to Hamas on Tuesday.”“Restoring Leadership in the Middle East: A Regional Approach to Peace,” Brookings Institute, March 4, 2009, https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/20090304_kerry.pdf; Christopher M. Blanchard, “Qatar: Background and U. S. Relations,” Congressional Research Service, May 16, 2011, 4.

Policy Prescriptions

In order to combat terrorism and terrorist financing, Qatar will need to fully enforce its own counterterrorism policies. Qatar would also do well to bolster its existing counterterrorism framework, including by designing, maintaining, and publicizing its own terrorist-designation system. The United States should recognize that pressuring Qatar to adopt this political will—and make any strides to its existing framework—is paramount to a strong and effective counterterrorism strategy.

[In America] they look at some movements as terrorist movements. In our part of the region, we don’t. Emir Tamim Al Thani, September 2014

Specifically, the United States must incentivize Doha to:

  • Arrest or expel all wanted and internationally-designated individuals inside its borders, including the 12 people outlined by CEP’s QATAR-HARBORS campaign
  • Expel or arrest all members of the Hamas and Taliban delegations currently domiciled inside Qatar
  • Halt all direct support—financial, material, and strategic—to internationally-designated terrorist organizations
  • Draft, publicize, and maintain a list of designated terrorist entities
  • Submit designated entities to the ramifications outlined in Qatar’s existing counterterrorism legislation
  • End ransom payments to terrorist organizations abroad