An Al Arabiya recent expose on Qatar’s open relationship between government officials and known terrorist financiers, some of whom are on Doha’s on terror sponsor list, has shed light on the country’s lack of seriousness on addressing its ties and support of extremists groups.
Last week, Al Arabiya reported that know terrorist financier Abdulrahman al-Nuaimi had been living out in the open despite having just been designated as a terrorist by his own country a month earlier.
On April 11, Qatari newspapers publicly congratulated Nuaimi on the wedding of his son in Doha. The wedding was attended by Qatar’s Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani, a number of prominent Qatari personalities including current and former editors of Qatari newspaper and Khaled Meshaal, former political leader of Hamas Islamist group.
Nuaimi was designated as terrorist by the US government in December 2013 and the UN in September 2014 for providing financial support to terrorist organizations in the region.
The US Department of the Treasury said at the time that Nuaimi ordered the transfer of almost US$600,000 to al-Qaeda through its representative in Syria. He had also planned to transfer another $50,000 at a later time.
US intelligence also revealed that Nuaimi also financed al-Qaeda in Iraq back in 2001 by sending $2 mln per month to the organization for a year.
Furthermore, the US Treasury proved that Al-Nuaimi financed al-Shabaab militant group in Somalia after he had converted a quarter of a million dollars in mid-2012.
Qatar’s flip-flop over Nuaimi
Senior Qatari officials have denied to both US government and media about the whereabouts of Nuaimi. As recently as January, the New York Times’ Declan Walsh initially reported that it was common knowledge that Nuaimi was believed to remain at liberty in Doha. Walsh then had to retract his reporting and issued a correction after a senior Qatari official said that they had received new evidence in Nuaimi’s ongoing case on terror charger and had been arrested pending a second trial.
Nuaimi’s presence at his son’s wedding last Wednesday contradicted those reports.
Qatar’s relationship with Nuaimi has never been this open. According to a leaked cable from the US embassy in Doha dating 2010, Nuaimi was arrested in 2000 by Qatar’s former Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa for criticism of his wife Sheikh Moza bint Nasser’s increasing public role. A couple of years before that, he was arrested for writing an open letter to Qatar’s consultative council criticizing alcohol sales and coeducation at Qatar University as un-Islamic.
A year after his release, Nuaimi was promoted in his position as an academic at Qatar University and later served as the former president of Qatar’s National Football Association. He would go on to establish the Sheikh Eid Charity, designated by the Anti-Terror Quartet of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt as a terror entity.
Terror sponsors at liberty in Doha
Nuaimi was among the 11 nationals named under Qatar’s own terror list released in March. Ten of the individuals on the list were already included in three of the terror lists issued by the quartet.
Among those designated by Qatar was Mubarak Mohammed bin Saad bin Ali Alajji, a Qatari national who collected funds for al-Qaeda via non-governmental networks under an official cover.
Less than two weeks after being designated as a terror actor, Alajji would openly take part in the Doha Marathon and even received 3,000 Qatari riyals from a Qatari official for his participation in the event.
In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt broke off diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar alleging Doha openly supported and financed terror and extremist groups in the region.
A month later, the United States and Qatar signed an agreement that aimed at combating the financing of terrorism. “The agreement which we both have signed on behalf of our governments represents weeks of intensive discussions between experts and reinvigorates the spirit of the Riyadh summit,” Tillerson, the former US Secretary of State, said at the time.
Only in #Qatar. The father of the groom? Just sanctioned even by Doha as a terrorist, yet free to pose for pics at the wedding. And the wedding is publicly blessed by a top religion anchor for state media & also by a daily columnist for a major paper (that spews anti-Semitism) pic.twitter.com/D2RtaWjSzi— David A. Weinberg (@DavidAWeinberg) April 14, 2018
Despite the steps, observers have called into question the spirit of Qatar’s intent to follow through on identifying, pursuing and punishing terror financiers when nationals on its own list are free to roam the country.
“It’s hard to know what’s worse: that Nuaymi was free to attend his son’s wedding weeks after being designated a terrorist by his even own govt & months after #Qatar told NYT he was in jail, or that it seems the party was attended & blessed by a top religion anchor for state media,” tweeted David A. Weinberg, Washington Representative for International Affairs at the Anti-Defamation League.