Terror Financiers “Operating Openly” in Qatar and Kuwait
David Andrew Weinberg
14th February 2017 - FDD Policy Brief
A White House readout following President Trump’s phone conversation Thursday with the emir of Qatar said the two leaders discussed stopping terror finance throughout the region. Washington has good reason to raise the issue: Just last week, the Obama administration’s Assistant Treasury Secretary for Terrorist Financing Daniel L. Glaser revealed that designated terrorist financiers continue to operate openly in Qatar and its Gulf neighbor Kuwait.
Speaking last Monday, Glaser stated that “there continue to be designated terrorist financiers operating openly and notoriously in both countries” – the first such admission by a current or former administration official since at least 2014.
Glaser, who recently joined the board of FDD’s Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance, gave Qatar and Kuwait credit for criminal prosecutions regarding terror finance. As he noted previously, Qatar has conducted criminal prosecutions of terrorist financiers, and according to local press, Kuwait has charged and even convicted a number of funders of terrorism. However, it remains unclear if any of the individuals targeted by either country include alleged terror financiers who were deemed important enough to merit designation on the U.S. or UN counterterrorism sanctions lists.
In correspondence after the event, Glaser stressed that Qatar has “done a good job within their own financial system and even within their charitable sector.”
However, Glaser noted in his public remarks that Qatar still has to make some “fundamental decisions” on combating terror finance, including not only criminal prosecutions but also enacting financial measures and simply ending its “toleration” of terror fundraising within its borders. Glaser added that the constructive steps Qatar has thus far taken have been “painfully slow.” Ultimately, he said, such measures will be fundamental to ensuring that terror financiers begin viewing both Qatar and Kuwait as “hostile environments” for their activity.
Adam Szubin, who served as Treasury’s acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, revealed in October 2016 that Qatar and Kuwait were enforcing their counter-terror finance laws selectively, targeting financiers of some terrorist groups but not others.
FDD research has highlighted Qatar’s longstanding negligence toward local terror financiers of al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch. That branch, formerly known as the Nusra Front, has grown to constitute the largest single branch in al-Qaeda’s history, according to Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk. Despite rebranding itself as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham in July 2016, it remains al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate according to the State Department.
FDD’s research documents the cases of six individuals accused of funding the Nusra Front and argues that Qatar has yet to take visible steps to convict and imprison any of them. As of mid-December 2016, Qatar had yet to file a single Mutual Legal Assistance request with the U.S. Justice Department. Such a request would be the main formal avenue for seeking American government evidence against terror financiers for use in court prosecutions. That omission is yet another worrisome sign that Doha has much to do to prove it is a reliable partner in America’s fight against terror finance.
David Andrew Weinberg is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the author of two FDD monographs on Qatar’s negligence toward private terror financiers. Follow him on Twitter @DavidAWeinberg
- See more at: http://www.defenddemocracy.org/media-hit/david-weinberg-terror-financi ers-operating-openly-in-qatar-and-kuwait/#sthash.o9cndAC8.dpuf _________________ www.rethink911.org www.actorsandartistsfor911truth.org www.mediafor911truth.org www.pilotsfor911truth.org www.mp911truth.org www.ae911truth.org www.rl911truth.org www.stj911.org www.l911t.com www.v911t.org www.thisweek.org.uk www.abolishwar.org.uk www.elementary.org.uk www.radio4all.net/index.php/contributor/2149 http://utangente.free.fr/2003/media2003.pdf
"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
Image caption Qatar's government said it believed the move was "unjustified"
Six Arab countries including Saudi Arabia and Egypt have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of destabilising the region.
They say Qatar backs militant groups including so-called Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda, which Qatar denies.
The Saudi state news agency SPA said Riyadh had closed its borders, severing land, sea and air contact with the tiny peninsula of oil-rich Qatar.
Qatar called the decision "unjustified" and with "no basis in fact".
The unprecedented move is seen as a major split between powerful Gulf countries, who are also close US allies.
It comes amid heightened tensions between Gulf countries and their near-neighbour Iran. The Saudi statement accused Qatar of collaborating with "Iranian-backed terrorist groups" in its restive Eastern region of Qatif and in Bahrain.
What has happened?
The diplomatic withdrawal was put into motion by Bahrain then Saudi Arabia early on Monday. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Yemen and Libya followed suit.
SPA cited officials as saying the decision was taken to "protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism".
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have given all Qatari visitors and residents two weeks to leave their territory.
In the latest developments:
The UAE has given Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave the country. UAE airlines Etihad Airways, Emirates and Flydubai said they would suspend all flights to and from the Qatari capital Doha from early Tuesday, local time
The Gulf allies said they had closed their airspace to Qatar Airways, which has suspended all its flights to Saudi Arabia
Bahrain's state news agency said it was cutting its ties because Qatar was "shaking the security and stability of Bahrain and meddling in its affairs"
The Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting Yemen's Houthi rebels also expelled Qatar from its alliance because of its "practices that strengthen terrorism" and its support of extremist groups.
Food, flights and football at risk
All you need to know about Qatar
Why has this happened?
US President Donald J. Trump (R), US First Lady Melania Trump (R-2), King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia (C) and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (L) opening the World Center for Countering Extremist Thought in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Image caption US President Trump met Egyptian President Sisi and Saudi King Salman in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago
While the severing of ties was sudden, it has not come out of the blue, as tensions have been building for years, and particularly in recent weeks.
Two weeks ago, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE blocked Qatari news sites, including Al Jazeera. Comments purportedly by Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani criticising Saudi Arabia had appeared on Qatari state media.
The government in Doha dismissed the comments as fake, attributing the report to a "shameful cybercrime".
Back in 2014, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar for several months in protest over alleged interference in their affairs.
The story behind Qatar 'hack'
More broadly, two key factors drove Monday's decision: Qatar's ties to Islamist groups, and the role of Iran, Saudi Arabia's regional rival.
While Qatar has joined the US coalition against IS, the Qatari government has repeatedly denied accusations from Iraq's Shia leaders that it provided financial support to IS.
Wealthy individuals in the emirate are believed to have made donations and the government has given money and weapons to hard line Islamist groups in Syria. Qatar is also accused of having links to a group formerly known as the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate.
The SPA statement accused Qatar of backing these groups, as well as the widely-outlawed Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, and that it "promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly".
Where key countries stand on IS
Where does IS get its support?
Qatar - Key facts
2m of whom are men
11,437 sq km in size (4,416 sq miles)
79 years life expectancy (men)
78 years for women
Source: UN, World Bank, MDPS
While on a visit to Riyadh two weeks ago, US President Donald Trump urged Muslim countries to take the lead in combating radicalisation, and blamed Iran for instability in the Middle East.
"It seems that the Saudis and Emiratis feel emboldened by the alignment of their regional interests - toward Iran and Islamism - with the Trump administration," Gulf analyst Kristian Ulrichsen told Reuters news agency.
"[They] have decided to deal with Qatar's alternative approach on the assumption that they will have the [Trump] administration's backing."
Is Saudi to blame for IS?
Saudi Arabia, too, has been accused of funding IS, either directly or by failing to prevent private donors from sending money to the group - allegations it denies.
In recent days, British Prime Minister Theresa May has also come under pressure from election rivals to publish a report thought to focus on the funding of UK extremist groups by Saudi Arabia.
What has been the reaction?
Image caption The World Cup will take place in Qatar in five years' time
Qatar, which is due to host the football World Cup in 2022, was critical of the decision.
"The measures are unjustified and are based on claims and allegations that have no basis in fact," the foreign ministry said. It added that the decisions would "not affect the normal lives of citizens and residents".
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaking in Sydney, urged the countries to resolve their differences through dialogue.
Qatar's stock market plunged in early trading on Monday.
One of the likely knock-on effects is on food stability: about 40% of Qatar's food is believed to come by lorry from Saudi Arabia.
The Doha News newspaper reported that people had rushed to supermarkets to stock up on food and water.
Why this decision, and why now? - Alan Johnston, BBC Middle East analyst
There have long been tensions not far beneath the surface. Qatar has often seemed out of step with its neighbours.
It has tended, for example, to side with Islamist forces in the Middle East - like the Muslim Brotherhood, which is reviled by the Saudis and the current Egyptian leadership.
Past efforts by the neighbours to pull the Qataris into line have had limited impact. But now Doha has suddenly come under much greater and more co-ordinated pressure.
The neighbours have been given new confidence by President Trump's approach to the Middle East. The Saudis and the Emiratis feel they have his support, and that now is the time to solidify the Gulf camp's approach to the challenges they see around them.
They believe this is the moment to make clear to the Qataris that their divergent views will no longer be tolerated.
And right now this small country's rulers will probably be feeling very lonely indeed.
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