In his book “In the way of harm: from the strongholds of al-Qaeda to the heart of ISIS,” Yosri Fouda, a former Al-Jazeera reporter, wrote about how the former Qatari emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, allegedly paid $1 million to attain videos of his interviews with al-Qaeda members.
According to his book, Fouda secretly met with al-Qaeda members in 2002 and was waiting for the group to send the recordings.
“While he was spending his summer vacation in London, Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani, chairman of the Al-Jazeera board, called to invite me to dinner. This was normal considering the professional and friendly relationship between us,” Fouda wrote.
“When I arrived to an Italian restaurant in James Street, I saw him waiting for me near the door. We went inside and to my shock, I saw a man casually dressed in denim, having minestrone soup. It took few seconds before I realized I was looking at Qatar’s emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani,” he added.
Fouda said that he was warmly welcomed and asked to sit down.
“The emir said he had to suspend his vacation to see me. He did not waste time and immediately asked me where the tapes (of the interviews) were. I explained what happened and told him that mediators got involved and are trying to bargain with us to get a donation before they deliver the tapes,” Fouda said.
According to Fouda, the conversation went as follows:
Qatari emir: How much do they want?
Fouda: They said they want $1 million.
Qatari emir: And what do you think?
Fouda: Of course not.
“The emir then looked at me as if he’s looking at a naïve man and said ‘isn’t it better if we pay them and take our tapes?’” Fouda said, adding that Qatar’s emir “wanted to get the tapes, no matter the cost.”
This meeting between Qatar’s emir and Fouda was within the context of al-Qaeda’s choice to pick Al-Jazeera to broadcast a movie on the first anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
If true, this narration by Fouda suggests strong links between al-Qaeda and Al-Jazeera. The former Qatari emir became involved in this in 2002. Fouda did not reveal why the emir took this task upon himself without assigning a security or political figure to carry it out.
There are other sources which suggest a link between al-Qaeda and Qatar.
In his book “Inside Al-Qaeda,” author Rohan Gunaratna wrote: “It’s certain that a member of the royal family in Qatar supports the al-Qaeda organization.”
ABC News quoted American intelligence officials as saying that late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden visited Abdullah bin Khalid Al-Thani, a member of Qatar’s ruling family, between 1996 and 2000 in Qatar.
ABC also quoted a former CIA official as saying that other members of the ruling family sympathized with al-Qaeda.