The country of Qatar, an Arab partner in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, IS), fosters a “permissive jurisdiction” that allows private donations to the jihadists group and other terrorists in the Middle East, a report by a Washington, D.C.-based think-tank found.
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) in a recent report authored by David Weinberg, a senior FDD fellow, reveals:
Individuals taking advantage of Qatar’s ‘permissive jurisdiction’ for terror finance have provided funding in recent years to the leaders of [the Islamic State], the Khorasan Group, the Nusra Front (under which Khorasan operates), al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Shabaab, the Taliban, Lashkar- e-Taiba, and core al-Qaeda in Pakistan, to name just a few.
“This is a serious problem for U.S. interests that is unlikely to go away without an equally serious change in U.S. policy,” the report adds.
The few jihadist groups that were listed as recipients of funds from individuals benefiting from Qatar’s laissez-faire attitude towards terrorist financing have been officially designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S. government.
According to Weinberg, an expert on Persian Gulf affairs and terrorist financing, millions of dollars run through Qatar to terrorist groups across the Middle East, including the violent and brutal extremist Islamic State.
“The amount of money flowing through Qatar to terrorist groups is significant enough that the U.S. is never going to be able to truly defeat IS and al-Qaeda until this money dries up,” he told Breitbart News. “Saudi Arabia says it has seized $10 million in accounts that were sending money to terrorists through Qatar and Kuwait. In the last twelve months, the U.S. has revealed at least two instances of Qatari nationals who it says gave $2 million or more to terrorist leaders of the Islamic State or al-Qaeda.”
Qatar is playing a double game with the West by acting like a partner in the fight against terrorism while funding jihadists across the Middle East, according to Weinberg.
“It is certainly true that Qatari jets have provided symbolic participation in the airpower mission against the Islamic State,” he notes in the report. “However, Qatar’s representatives reportedly sat down to negotiate with terrorists from al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in September and still seem to be mediating between Lebanon and these groups on its border.”
“Additionally, government officials from both the West and regional countries accuse [Qatar’s capital] Doha of handing out ransoms to such organizations to the tune of tens of millions of dollars,” adds FDD. “More broadly, Qatar’s efforts to curb terror finance are woefully inadequate.”
The report details Qatar’s refusal to deal with “over twenty individuals under U.S. or U.N. sanctions” for terrorism financing.
“Qatar’s terror finance problem is the result of weak enforcement. It reflects a serious lack of political will and represents a grave threat to U.S. interests,” mentions the report. “Qatar’s historical legacy of negligence against terror finance stretches back over two decades.”
Over the past decade, a number of major Qatar-based terror finance cases have come to light “in which Doha’s policies fell considerably short of full enforcement, allowing suspected terror financiers to continue their activities after coming under initial scrutiny.”
The “mishandling of these cases cannot be attributed to a lack of institutional capacity or societal opposition but instead must be understood as willful negligence on the part of Qatari authorities,” reports FDD.
The Arab nation’s military relationship with the U.S. has impacted efforts against Qatar-based financiers of terrorism, the expert told Breitbart News.
“America has soft-pedaled its criticism of Qatar during both the Obama and Bush administrations because Qatar hosts America’s most important military base in the region,” Weinberg told Breitbart News.
“U.S. forces at that base have been engaged in fighting the Islamic State, but they could do so from elsewhere in the region instead,” he suggested. “The cost of moving some or all forces out of that base pales in comparison to the cost of letting Qatar’s territory be an ATM for terrorists in Syria and Iraq, and from Africa to Pakistan.”
Unless the United States takes action, Qatar will continue its “willful negligence” and turn the other way when confronted by evidence of individuals funding the very same terrorist groups that American lives and taxpayer funds are being devoted to fighting.
“Qatar has a serious problem with terror finance that is long-lasting and is not going to go away until America changes the Qatari calculus,” Weinberg told Breitbart News. “There is no persuasive way to explain Qatar’s failed record at combating terror finance, other than negligence.”