Ex-Nusra hostage Theo Padnos: Qatar’s ransom payouts were tactic to fund terror
An American journalist who was abducted in Syria by al-Qaeda-linked militants in 2012 has spoken of how Qatar’s efforts to secure his release in 2014 left him with concerns over the Gulf state’s funding of terrorism.
Theo Padnos entered Syria hoping to write freelance news stories but was kidnapped by the Nusra Front militant group over allegations he was a spy.
In an interview with Al Arabiya News Channel's current affairs program “Death Making”, Padnos said that Qatar had paid a ransom for his release.
He said he was left with the impression that the process of hostage-taking and paying ransom money was a way in which Qatar was able to fund Nusra Front indirectly.
During his imprisonment in locations in Aleppo and Deir el-Zour, he said he was tortured and heard other prisoners being tortured too, some for “stealing money coming from Qatar”.
He said the sharing of funds coming from Qatar was at the heart of a bloody conflict between members of the Nusra Front.
“During my imprisonment, I learned that there were negotiations between members of Nusra Front and a Qatari ambassador.
“I came out with the impression that hostage-taking and paying ransom to release the hostages is a way for Qatar to fund Nusra Front,” he added.