(New York, N.Y.) – A lawsuit recently filed in London by nine Syrian nationals alleges that Qatar provided hundreds of millions of dollars in support to al-Nusra Front, a former al-Qaeda affiliate and one of the strongest insurgent groups in Syria. The Syrian nationals are suing for financial damages, torture, arbitrary detention, and threats of execution by al-Nusra Front. They allege that a group of businessmen, politicians, civil servants, two Qatari banks, and multiple charities conspired on behalf of the State of Qatar, in coordination with the Muslim Brotherhood, to support al-Nusra Front’s operations by laundering money on the group’s behalf. Allegedly, funds from the Qatari accounts were sent either directly into Syria or to banks in Turkey, where they were then withdrawn and taken across the border to al-Nusra.
In April 2021, the U.S. Congressional Research Service reported that Qatar cited its ties to the al-Nusra Front as being “instrumental” in persuading the group to claim to sever its ties to al-Qaeda, a strategic move that freed Qatar to provide greater financial support to the ‘legimitzed’ group. Al-Nusra Front is designated as a foreign terrorist group by the United States, United Kingdom, eight other countries, and the European Union.
Along with al-Nusra Front, officials and organizations affiliated with Qatari leadership have historically provided significant financial support to numerous other terror organizations, including Hamas and other factions of al-Qaeda. Qatar’s links to terror organizations, including Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), furthers significant instability in the Middle East and poses grave danger to U.S. forces, allies and innocent civilians in the region.
Previously, in August 2019, eight Syrian refugees filed a lawsuit in the U.K. alleging Qatar-based Doha Bank channeled funds to al-Nusra Front. According to the complaint, Qatari brothers Moutaz and Ramez al-Khayyat used accounts at the bank to direct funding to al-Nusra Front during the Syrian civil war. The plaintiffs alleged they were subjected to “severe physical and psychiatric injuries” and displacement by al-Nusra Front. According to the lawsuit, the Khayyat brothers allegedly transferred large amounts of money via the bank to accounts in Turkey and Lebanon, where the cash was withdrawn and taken across the Syrian border for delivery to al-Nusra fighters, allowing al-Nusra “to cause loss and damage to the claimants.”
To read the Counter Extremism Project (CEP)’s Qatar resource, please click here.
To read CEP’s Al-Nusra Front resource, please click here.
To read CEP’s Qatar, Money, and Terror resource, please click here.