Egypt calls for UN probe on Qatar giving terrorists $1 bln in Iraq

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Egypt on Thursday has urged the UN Security Council to open investigation over Qatar giving a “terrorist group active in Iraq” $1 billion as ransom.

On Monday, the Financial Times reported that Qatar paid $1 billion to release members of its royal family who were kidnapped in Iraq during a hunting trip.

Commanders of militant groups and government officials in the region told the Financial Times that “Doha spent the money in a transaction that secured the release of 26 members of a Qatari falconry party in southern Iraq and about 50 militants captured by jihadis in Syria.”

The paper said Qatar the money went to two blacklisted forces of the Middle East “an al-Qaeda affiliate fighting in Syria and Iranian security officials.”

Qatar has denied trying to pay ransom money to secure the release of 26 Qataris, including members of the country's ruling royal family, abducted in Iraq by unidentified gunmen. The Qataris were released in April, some 18 months after they were abducted during a hunting trip in southern Iraq.

“It is everywhere in the news that Qatar paid up to $1 billion to a terrorist group active in Iraq in order to release members of its royal family,” senior Egyptian UN diplomat Ihab Moustafa Awad Moustafa told the Security Council.

“This violation of the Security Council resolutions, if proved correct, shall definitely have a negative bearing on counter-terrorism efforts on the ground,” he said. “We propose that the council launch a comprehensive investigation into this incident and other similar incidents.”

Qatar’s mission to the United Nations was not immediately available for comment on Egypt’s call for an inquiry.

UN Security Council resolutions call on states “to prevent terrorists from benefiting directly or indirectly from ransom payments or from political concessions and to secure the safe release of hostages.”

“We also want to know how the Security Council can address such violations, these flagrant violations of its resolutions,” Moustafa said.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is ready to support any diplomatic efforts to resolve tensions between Qatar and other Gulf Arab states “if desired by all parties,” his spokesman said on Thursday.

“The Secretary-General is following the situation in the Middle East with deep concern,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. “He urges countries in the region to avoid escalating tensions and work instead to overcome their differences.”

(With Reuters)

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