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The Trouble with Qatar

Taliban Hails 'Great Victory'

6:42 AM, Jun 2, 2014 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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Even if the Gitmo Five stay in Qatar for one year, they will have plenty of opportunities to aid their brethren. Senate Democrats openly objected to a similar deal in early 2012 for this reason. The Taliban Five are of great propaganda value to the Taliban for propaganda and can also help fundraise.  

A leaked State Department cable, dated December 30, 2009, contains a summary of the problem (emphasis added):

Qatar has adopted a largely passive approach to cooperating with the U.S. against terrorist financing. Qatar's overall level of CT cooperation with the U.S. is considered the worst in the region. Al Qaeda, the Taliban, UN-1267 listed LeT, and other terrorist groups exploit Qatar as a fundraising locale. Although Qatar's security services have the capability to deal with direct threats and occasionally have put that capability to use, they have been hesitant to act against known terrorists out of concern for appearing to be aligned with the U.S. and provoking reprisals. 

The situation has not improved since that cable was written in 2009. In its Country Reports on Terrorism for 2013, which was released in late April of this year, the State Department again sounded the alarm on Qatar. 

“Qatari-based terrorist fundraisers, whether acting as individuals or as representatives of other groups, were a significant terrorist financing risk and may have supported terrorist groups in countries such as Syria,” the report reads. And while President Obama and Secretary Kerry praised the Amir of Qatar as a valuable partner this past weekend, the State Department found that he had affected no change in Qatar’s pro-jihadist policies. The report continues: “The ascension of the new Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani did not result in any political changes that would affect the Government of Qatar’s ability to counter terrorism.”

The State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism for 2013 actually soft pedaled Qatar’s record when it comes to Syria, saying the Qatari-based fundraisers “may” have funded terrorists fighting in the rebellion against Assad. In fact, it is well-known that they have done so.

In December of 2013, the Treasury Department added a man named Abd al-Rahman bin 'Umayr al-Nu’aymi to the U.S. government’s list of specially designated global terrorists. Treasury described Nu'aymi as “a Qatar-based terrorist financier and facilitator who has provided money and material support and conveyed communications to al Qaeda and its affiliates in Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen for more than a decade.” 

In 2013, Treasury says, Nu'aymi “ordered the transfer of nearly $600,000 to al Qaeda via al Qaeda's representative in Syria, Abu Khalid al Suri, and intended to transfer nearly $50,000 more.” Until his death in late February, Abu Khalid al Suri served as the main Syrian representative for al Qaeda head Ayman al Zawahiri.

In other words, an especially conspicuous Qatar-based terrorist financier was sending cash to al Qaeda in Syria and al Qaeda’s senior leadership just last year. 

It strains credulity to believe that the government of Qatar doesn’t know what Nu’aymi is doing. Indeed, a leaked State Department cable from 2007 notes that Nu’aymi is “closely watched because of his hard-line tendencies.” At the time this cable was written, Nu’aymi had just hosted a conference for Somali jihadist groups, including those linked to al Qaeda. The cable’s author explained that while “there was no direct government support for the June conference, it had the tacit blessing of the [Government of Qatar].” 

The 2007 cable also dryly noted: “The Qataris have a recent history of seeking mediation roles in regional conflicts (Palestine, Lebanon), usually on the side of the groups the U.S. opposes (Hamas, Hizballah).”

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