August 7, 2019 | The Jerusalem Post

UAE and UK papers urge Qatar to stop funding terrorism

Qatar bank Al Rayan provides accounts to Hamas terrorist entities and BDS.
August 7, 2019 | The Jerusalem Post

UAE and UK papers urge Qatar to stop funding terrorism

Qatar bank Al Rayan provides accounts to Hamas terrorist entities and BDS.

Two stinging editorials this week in the United Arab Emirates’ The National and The Times of Britain demanded that the Gulf monarchy in Qatar pull the plug on its international financing of Islamic terrorism.

The UAE titled its Tuesday editorial “Stop Qatar’s funding of global terrorism,” noting that, “from Syria to France and now the UK, Qatar has repeatedly funded terror groups that have wreaked havoc across the Middle East and beyond.”

What prompted the editorials against Qatar was an August investigation by The Timesinto the Qatar-owned bank Al Rayan’s business with terrorist entities.

According to the London-based paper, “Al Rayan counts among its customers a charity banned in the US as a terrorist entity, groups that promote hardline preachers and a mosque whose long-term trustee is a Hamas leader.”

The paper’s eye-popping article added that the banks former “executive until April, Sultan Choudhury, was also an unpaid director, for seven years until 2016, of the British arm of a global religious institute whose speakers and instructors have included advocates of child marriage, female circumcision and the death penalty for adultery and apostasy.”

Al Rayan is considered “Britain’s oldest and largest Islamic bank.”

The Times titled its editorial “Finance for Fundamentalism: A bank owned by the Qatari state is providing services to Islamist-linked British groups that have been shunned by other UK banks. This activity must stop.”

The editorial stated that, “Qatar appears to be engaged in a dual diplomatic strategy. Deploying its vast oil wealth, it acquires investments in the West, meanwhile advancing its ideological goals by promoting extremist movements internationally. This is unacceptable. Qatar must be made to choose whether it is in alliance with or opposition to the West, and if it chooses wrongly, it must be isolated.”

The paper revealed that Qatar’s second-largest bank, Masraf Al Rayan, owns 70% of Al Rayan Bank. Masraf Al Rayan is largely controlled by the Qatari regime. The paper said the “remaining 30% stake is held by an investment arm of the emirate’s sovereign wealth fund. The British bank’s client list includes pressure groups, aid charities, mosques and the funders of satellite TV channels.”

The Times revealed 11 Islamic organizations that have accounts with Al Rayan. A number of the entities are linked to terrorist groups and promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement campaign against Israel.

For example, The Jerusalem Post located pro-BDS notices on the website of Interpal. The Times wrote of Interpal that it is “A Palestinian aid charity identified in a 2015 government review as part of the British infrastructure of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. It was designated as a terrorist entity by the US Treasury over alleged Hamas funding links, a charge it strongly denies.”

The chairman of Interpal Ibrahim Hewitt “has argued adulterers should be stoned to death, that men are by nature the leaders of women and that homosexuality is a perverted and depraved practice that ‘makes those who practice it slaves to their lusts, depriving them of decent taste [and] morals.’”

Al Rayan provides an account to the “Ummah Welfare Trust, a development agency that has faced criticism for working with organizations in Gaza that are banned in the United States for funding the terrorist group Hamas,” according to the paper.

In 2017, Saudi Arabia initiated a coalition of countries including the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, the Maldives, Mauritania, Senegal, Djibouti, the Comoros, Jordan, the Tobruk-based Libyan government and the Hadi-led Yemeni government to break diplomatic relations with Qatar due to the country’s support of terrorism.

US President Donald Trump declared in 2017 that: “The nation of Qatar unfortunately has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.”

The National concluded its editorial stating: “Qatar’s high-profile investments internationally, which include France’s Paris Saint-Germain football club and the UK department store Harrods, must not deter European states from investigating its ties to terror groups. Their oxygen supply must be cut off at the earliest opportunity, because the price paid for not doing so will be much higher.”

Benjamin Weinthal is a European correspondent at The Jerusalem Post and a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. 

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Issues:

Gulf States Palestinian Politics Sanctions and Illicit Finance