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“Al-Qaeda terror financier worked for Qatari Government Ministry of Interior,” By Robert Mendick, Chief Reporter, Telegraph (thanks to TMI) October 12, 2014
Photo: Win McNamee / POOL
An al-Qaeda money man was employed by the Qatari government despite being officially designated a terrorist by the US.
Salim Hasan Khalifa Rashid al-Kuwari channelled hundreds of thousands of dollars to al-Qaeda through a terrorist network while working in the Gulf state’s Ministry of Interior.
The disclosure will add to the pressure being heaped on Qatar to do more to stop the financing of Islamist terrorists across the Middle East, as well as in Pakistan, Afghanistan and North Africa.
Qatar has been accused of either directly funding terrorist groups or turning a blind eye to financiers based there.
American sources have suggested Qatar, the world’s wealthiest country per head of population, has overtaken Saudi Arabia as the leading source of private donations to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil), as well as to al-Qaeda.
According to official US Treasury documents, Kuwari, 37, provided “financial and logistical support to al-Qaeda”.
The US alleges he was integral to a network running al-Qaeda’s “core pipeline” for moving money and operatives between the Middle East and south Asia.
The official terrorist designation against him goes on: “Based in Qatar, Kuwari has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial support to al-Qaeda and has provided funding for al-Qaeda operations, as well as to secure the release of al-Qaeda detainees in Iran and elsewhere.”
The US accuses Kuwari of operating in a network with another Qatari, Abdallah Ghanim Mafuz Muslim al-Khawar, 33. According to the US documents, “Al-Khawar has worked with Kuwari to deliver money, messages and other material support to al-Qaeda elements in Iran.
Like Kuwari, Khawar is based in Qatar and has helped to facilitate travel for extremists interested in travelling to Afghanistan for jihad.”
A US think tank, which is researching Qatar’s links to terrorist funding and is expected in the coming weeks to publish a dossier in which it will identify about 20 Qatari or Qatar-based terror financiers, has now uncovered evidence that Kuwari worked for Qatar’s Ministry of Interior before being placed on the terror list in 2011.
Kuwari is listed as working in the Ministry of Interior’s civil defence department in 2009, two years before being named by the American government as an al-Qaeda financier.
He has been questioned and held twice by the Qatari authorities for terror offences: once in 2009, after which he appears to have been given his old job back, and again in 2011. It is understood he still lives freely in Doha. Qatar refused to comment last week on his status.
The Ministry of Interior was headed until last year by a controversial and powerful member of the ruling al-Thani family, Abdullah bin Khalid al-Thani, who was also formerly the minister of religious affairs.
He is accused in the official 9/11 Commission report of giving shelter to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the attack on New York’s Twin Towers. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was given a job with the Qatari government in 1992.
Four years later, he fled the country after being tipped off by a senior official in the Qatari government that the Americans were planning to arrest him for a car-bomb attack on the Twin Towers in 1993.
The disclosure of Kuwari’s employment for the Qatari government follows an investigation by The Telegraph that showed another senior al-Qaeda financier – also with links to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – had worked for Qatar’s Central Bank.
The Telegraph reported how Khalifa Muhammad Turki al-Subaiy was jailed for six months in Qatar for his role in funding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, only to be released and seemingly allowed to carry on fundraising. Subaiy appears to be well connected in the upper Qatari echelons.
A diplomatic cable sent in May 2008 hinted at a dispute between the Qatari intelligence agencies and the country’s then all-powerful prime minister, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al Thani – known as HBJ for short – over the handling of the Subaiy case.
The cable by the US’s then chargé d’affaires, Michael Ratney, said: “HBJ was involved very early on, but to the consternation, we believe, of Qatar’s security agencies.”
Subaiy was released after six months, in September 2009, and immediately added to a United Nations list of individuals subject to targeted sanctions because of their terrorist links.
Documents released last month by the US Treasury allege that Subaiy is now funding Islamist terrorists fighting in Syria and Iraq. Recipients of the financing included an al-Qaeda terrorist who had been plotting to blow up European and American passenger jets using a toothpaste-tube bomb that could be smuggled on to aircraft. Likewise, Qatar refuses to say what status Subaiy has now.
Another Qatari terror financier on both a US and UN blacklist is Abd al-Rahman bin Umayr al-Nuaymi, who is accused of sending £1.25 million a month to al-Qaeda jihadists in Iraq. The group was the forerunner to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil). Nuaymi is also alleged to have given £375,000 to al-Qaeda in Syria.
Nuaymi has been a senior figure in Qatar, having been a president of the Qatar Football Association and founder of a charity linked to the royal family, the Sheikh Eid bin Mohammed al-Thani Charitable Association.
A human-rights charity set up by Nuaymi in Geneva said last week that Nuaymi was not under arrest in Qatar despite being designated a terrorist financier by the US last December and subsequently by the UN.
Nuaymi, who was arrested in the late Nineties in Qatar for criticising some members of the ruling family, has denied the accusations and claimed the US was plotting against him.
Dr David Weinberg, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank investigating Qatar’s links to terror funding, said: “The United States blacklisted Kuwari in 2011 as part of the biggest terror finance bust in years, which US officials described as al-Qaeda’s core pipeline for moving money and operatives between the Middle East and south Asia. And what did Qatar do? They let him out of jail three months later.
“When Kuwari and Khawar were arrested in 2009, the government apparently let Kuwari go back to his old job at the Interior Ministry. It is probably no coincidence that the interior minister at the time was Abdullah bin Khalid bin Hamad al Thani, whom US intelligence officials have said helped the mastermind of 9/11 and numerous other plots leave Qatar when US officials were preparing to arrest him.
“Yet another example of Qatar turning a blind eye to terror finance and letting wanted men escape punishment.”
Dr Weinberg is expected to publish a report on the Qatari terror links in the coming weeks and is expected to identify about 20 terror financiers with Qatari links.
He added: “Given that Nuaymi allegedly provided millions of dollars to Isil’s forerunner, al-Qaeda in Iraq, the fact that Doha has yet to take action against him undercuts the Qatari narrative that it is doing everything it can to fight Isil. One would think that punishing Nuaymi would serve as a powerful deterrent to others who might think about supporting Isil or other terrorist groups.”
Qatar has denied funding terrorism in the Middle East. In a statement, Dr Khalid bin Mohamed Al- Attiyah, its minister of foreign affairs, said: “The State of Qatar does not support – in any way – the radical groups who are terrorising innocent citizens and destabilising the Middle East. As we have stated repeatedly, again and again, we believe their actions are evil, abhorrent, and antithetical to all that Islam stands for.
“Our efforts to counter terrorism include many actions and initiatives. Internally, our Ministry of Finance and our central bank work closely with other governments to counter the financing of terrorism.
“Our Ministry of Internal Affairs also works closely with Interpol and other international security forces. Externally, we are a member of the Global Counter Terrorism Forum.”
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