New Evidence Implicates Qatar in Supporting Terrorist Groups with over $1 Billion

New Evidence Implicates Qatar in Supporting Terrorist Groups with over $1 Billion

Tuesday, 17 July, 2018 - 18:45
Hostages depart Baghdad International Airport in Baghdad, Iraq April 21, 2017. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
The BBC revealed on Tuesday new evidence that confirms the Qatari regime’s support for terrorist groups. The new report builds on another extensive one by the Washington Post that was published in April.

The BBC detailed how Qatar paid $1.150 billion for terrorist groups, including the Iran-backed “Hezbollah” Brigades in Iraq, as ransom for the release of hostages that were being held in Iraq. It said that Doha used Qatar Airways to transport the funds that it handed in cash to the terrorists.

Moreover, it added that the Doha regime enjoys ties with commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force Qassem Soleimani and had constantly coordinated with him to support the terrorist groups.

This included the forced displacement of four Syrian towns of their residents in what was known as the “four towns” deal.

According to the BBC, the Qatari ambassador to Iraq sent a voice message to the “Hezbollah” Brigades saying: “You should trust Qatar, you know what Qatar did, what His Highness the Emir's father did... He did many things, this and that, and paid 50 million, and provided infrastructure for the south, and he was the first one who visited."

The ordeal started on December 16, 2015, when the Qatari ruling family received word that 28 people from a hunting party in Iraq were kidnapped by armed groups. Some of the hostages were members of the ruling family. The list of captives was delivered to Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, who was about to become Qatar’s foreign minister. He realized that two of the hostages were his relatives.

Sheikh Mohammed and then Qatari Ambassador to Iraq Zayed al-Khayareen spent the next 16 months trying to resolve the hostage crisis.

The BBC reported that the Qataris paid over a billion dollars to release the captives. The funds went to terrorist groups and members, such as Lebanon’s “Hezbollah,” the Iraqi “Hezbollah” and Soleimani himself, who is under US and European Union sanctions.

Qatar has denied paying such a ransom to terrorists, saying that the funds remain inside a vault at Iraq’s central bank.

The BBC added that Qatari officials were aware that the kidnappers belonged to the Iraqi “Hezbollah” and that Khayareen had sent a text message to Sheikh Mohammed, saying: “I told them, 'Give us back 14 of our people... and we will give you half of the amount.'" The "amount" was not clear at that stage.

Five days later, the group offered to release three hostages. "They want a gesture of goodwill from us as well," the ambassador wrote. "This is a good sign... that they are in a hurry and want to end everything soon,” reported the BBC.

Two days later the ambassador was in the Green Zone in Baghdad, a walled off and heavily guarded part of the city where the Iraqi government and foreign embassies are located.

The kidnappers turned up, not with hostages but with a USB memory stick containing a video of a solitary captive. Doha had kept this development under wraps.

In April, the ransom rose to $1 billion. Soleimani entered the picture, demanding Doha intervene to end a Syrian regime siege against two Syrian towns in exchange for opposition factions to end a siege against two others.

The BBC concluded that $1.150 were indeed paid, which culminated in the implementation of the “four towns” deal and release of the Qatari hostages on April 21, 2017.

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