Treasury official says Qatar sponsors terrorismMarch 14, 2014
In the bluntest comments yet by U.S. officials about Qatar’s role in financing international terrorism, Treasury undersecretary David Cohen cited Qatar while speaking about state sponsors of terrorism during remarks to the Center for a New American Security on March 4.
Cohen referred to Qatar immediately after stating that “Iran is not the only state that provides financial support for terrorist organizations.” Cohen pointed to Qatar’s funding of Hamas and terrorists in Syria as problematic areas.
Previously, Treasury officials have stopped just short of suggesting official state sponsorship by the Qatari monarchy, focusing rather on private fundraisers and donor networks based in Qatar.
Excerpts from Cohen’s speech follow. Kuwait doesn’t come off too in his remarks either:
…But, distressingly, Iran is not the only state that provides financial support for terrorist organizations.
Most notably, Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas, a group that continues to undermine regional stability. Press reports indicate that the Qatari government is also supporting extremist groups operating in Syria. To say the least, this threatens to aggravate an already volatile situation in a particularly dangerous and unwelcome manner.
With new leadership in Doha, we remain hopeful that Qatar – a country that in other respects has been a constructive partner in countering terrorism – will continue to work closely with us to oppose and combat those who adhere to the warped and murderous ideology of Hamas and al-Qa’ida…
[A] number of fundraisers operating in more permissive jurisdictions – particularly in Kuwait and Qatar – are soliciting donations to fund extremist insurgents, not to meet legitimate humanitarian needs. The recipients of these funds are often terrorist groups, including al-Qa’ida’s Syrian affiliate, al-Nusrah Front, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the group formerly known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI)…
Constraining this flow of funds is particularly challenging in an era when social media allows anyone with an Internet connection to set himself up as an international terrorist financier. We see this activity most prominently in Kuwait and Qatar, where fundraisers aggressively solicit donations online from supporters in other countries, notably Saudi Arabia, which have banned unauthorized fundraising campaigns for Syria.
Private fundraising networks in Qatar, for instance, increasingly rely upon social media to solicit donations for terrorists and to communicate with both donors and recipient radicals on the battlefield. This method has become so lucrative, and Qatar has become such a permissive terrorist financing environment, that several major Qatar-based fundraisers act as local representatives for larger terrorist fundraising networks that are based in Kuwait…