Iraqi sources confirmed to Saudi newspaper Okaz that Qatar’s foreign minister met with his counterpart in Baghdad last week, and asked him to transfer half a billion dollars, intended as ransom money for the release of kidnapped Qataris, as a gift from Doha to support popular mobilization militias.
In early April, Doha sent its ambassador in Baghdad to try to secure the release of 24 Qatari nationals who were kidnapped by Iraqi militias.
Three days later, an aircraft carrying an adviser of the Qatari Emir and Doha’s foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani when airport staff were surprised by 23 bags containing nearly half a billion dollars.
“When the plane arrived, we promised to provide the Qatari delegation with protection. We were surprised to find many bags in the plane’s cargo containing hundreds of thousands of dollars. We did not want to make a big issue out of it so we said we’d secure the money until later discussions,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told reporters.
For its part, Qatar tried to justify its actions, where the Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told reporters that the funds entered Iraq with Baghdad’s knowledge, and asked them to provide assistance for the release of the kidnapped Qataris.
A Qatari hunting party kidnapped in southern Iraq in 2015 were freed and was being handed over to a Qatari delegation in Baghdad on April 21.