December 30, 2015 | Quote
How Qatar Is Funding al-Qaeda — and Why That Could Help the US
Ask Americans to name the terror group they fear most, and they’ll probably says ISIS, even though it was al-Qaeda that killed more than 3,000 people on 9/11/2001. ompared to ISIS, al-Qaeda is seen as the “devil we know,” not the band of barbaric thugs who burn people alive, rape children, and destroy or pilfer historic artifacts for sale on the black market.
The rivalry between the two terror groups has even prompted the unthinkable—that the U.S. and al-Qaeda would somehow work together to defeat ISIS. Last August General David Petraeus, former CIA director and commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, urged the Pentagon to consider empowering al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front in Syria to fight ISIS. Petraeus, like others, believe Nusra is “moderate” compared with the tactics of the Taliban or ISIS, and could be an asset. But aligning with the lesser of two evils of terrorism is a policy fraught with pitfalls.
Today, Al-Qaeda is not working alone. It’s getting help from one of the United States’ Middle East allies—Qatar. A little noticed event highlights Qatar’s influence.
A prisoner swap between the Lebanese government and al-Qaeda's branch in Syria, Al-Nusra Front in early December showed how powerful the group has become on the ground. The deal released 16 Lebanese soldiers and police officers who were captured during a joint ISIS-al-Nusra operation along with 29 civilians, some of whom are known terrorists.
Qatar’s long history with terrorism funding starts from the very top: the royal family, according to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. A friend of the royal family in Qatar, the 61-year-old hardline businessperson and professor Abd al-Rahman al-Nuaymi, was designated a global terrorist by the U.S. in December 2013. Nuaymi is a Qatari who lives and operates in Qatar. The U.S. Treasury Department placed sanctions on him and declared him a “Qatar-based terrorist financier and facilitator who has provided money and material support and conveyed communications to al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen for more than a decade.”
Nuaymi was transferring $2 million a month to al-Qaeda in Iraq. He also sent roughly $576,000 to Abu Khalid al-Suri, al-Qaeda's Syrian representative, and $250,000 to the Somali jihadist group, al-Shabaab. He funded Asbat al-Ansar, a Lebanese terrorist group associated with al-Qaeda that was blacklisted in 2001. Nuaymi is still a free man in Qatar. “Doha refuses to arrest him, a choice that speaks volumes about its priorities on terror finance,” says David Andrew Weinberg, a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
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