Qatar plays a major role in financing Islamist groups in Europe, mainly through its Qatar Charity NGO, according to a latest report by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR).
At least 138 projects across Europe, many related to Muslim Brotherhood associated organizations, were being bankrolled by Qatar Charity (QC), according to the 104-page report released on Monday.
Citing a 2019 report by French journalists Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, ICSR built its report profiling the Muslim Brotherhood groups that receive funding and support directly from Qatar.
“An entire system to help build mosques and Islamic centers,” Chesnot and Malbrunot write in their book “The Qatar Papers – How the Emirate Finances Islam in France and Europe.”
“Qatar Charity’s mission statement refers to a system of values ‘that is centered around integration and inclusiveness’. But its goal in Europe, argue Chesnot and Malbrunot, is ‘to strengthen Islamic identity and help spread and entrench political Islam in Muslim communities throughout Europe’,” the ICSR cited the French writers.
Qatar Charity is a controversial organization funded by the Qatari ruling family and listed as a terrorist body by the Anti-Terrorist Quartet which includes the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt.
According to Qatar Papers, between 2011 and 2014 Qatar Charity funded five projects related to Muslim organizations in Switzerland. They include the Museum of Islamic Civilizations in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the Muslim Cultural Complex of Lausanne, and the Salah-Eddine mosque in Bienne.
Among Qatar’s network members in Switzerland, Mohamed Karamous and his wife Nadia received €1.2 between 2011 and 2013 through seven bank transfers from Qatar Charity, according to the book.
It reveals that Nadia Karamous was directly recommended by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Qatar-based spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. The book also reveals that Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan is receiving €35,000 per month from the Qatar Foundation as a “consultant.”
A document from the French financial watchdog Tracfin says he also received €19,000 from the Swiss Muslim League in early 2018 at the time of his arrest on rape allegations.
Also, bank documents show that before his arrest he withdrew €590,000 from Qatari bank accounts, according to the book. Ramadan and his wife bought two apartments in Paris during the same period.
According to ICSR’s report, over the previous 22 years, QC has signed 77 cooperation agreements with UN and international organizations worth $76 million. In 2014, QC cooperated with the American government’s aid agency, USAID, during the floods in Malaysia; USAID distributed tents provided by QC.
“However, QC has been suspected of supporting terrorist and extremist groups for some years. In a federal terrorism case in 2002, American prosecutors alleged that QC served as a major financial conduit for funding Al‑Qaeda’s attacks against the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998,” read a part of ICSR’s report.
ICSR’s report also cited footage from December 2012, in which the logo of Qatar Charity can be seen on boxes of aid in a video announcing the creation of the Syrian Islamic Front, described by two counterterrorism experts as “an umbrella group of six organizations that is considered one of the key jihadi elements within the Syrian opposition.”