Qatar is harboring Islamists and jihadists
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Despite international criticism, the small peninsula state of Qatar has long played an outside role in harboring Islamists, including violent jihadists — whether the political leadership of Hamas, or the “unofficial Embassy” of the Afghan Taliban.
The recent decision by several Arab States to designate a number of Qatari-hosted Islamists as terrorist entities has once again raised the issue of Qatari’s support for both violent and non-violent Islamists. And perhaps no individual sheltered by Qatar is as notorious or influential as the nonagenarian cleric Yusuf Al Qaradawi.
Yusuf Al Qaradawi is a Qatar-based cleric, Al-Azhar University-trained Islamic jurist and a prolific writer and scholar. Born in Egypt in 1926, Qaradawi was an early member of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was even imprisoned by Gamal Abdel-Nasser as part of a crackdown following the Brotherhood’s involvement in an alleged assassination attempt. Egyptian hostility to the Brotherhood and its clerics led to Qaradawi’s long-term exile in Qatar, where he now lives as a personal guest and spiritual mentor to the Qatari Emir.
Despite his exile, Qaradawi remains a firm advocate of the Muslim Brotherhood and its political and paramilitary activities, to which he offers religious and ideological instruction. Qaradawi even continues to play a leading role within the management of the Muslim Brotherhood, and has twice been offered (though he declined each time) the position of the Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide.
Qaradawi’s global reach would not have nearly the same impact without the aid and support of Qatar’s ruling Al-Thani family, who have served as Qaradawi’s patrons since he was first exiled to Doha in the 1960s and granted Qatari citizenship.
Qaradawi arrived in Qatar during a period in which the small peninsula country was still a British protectorate. Unlike Muslim Brothers who traveled to Saudi Arabia following their expulsion from Egypt, Qatar had no substantial developed religious institutions and, as a result, Qaradawi became nearly the only prominent cleric in a country of mostly Salafi Muslims. As U.S. Ambassador Chase Untermeyer wrote in a 2005 State Department cable, Qaradawi is “the only Islamic thinker in Qatar who matters.”
Qaradawi since played a significant role in establishing the Qatari educational system, leading the Qatari Secondary School Institute of Religions, and later serving as a dean at Qatar University. Qaradawi is also deeply involved with the Qatar Foundation. Nominally independent of the Qatari government, the Qatar Foundation serves as a vehicle for promoting Qatar’s policy objectives and influence and promotes Qaradawi’s brand of Islamism through the Foundation-run al-Qaradawi Centre for Islamic Moderation and Renewal and the Qaradawi Scholarship for Islamic Studies.
Qatar has also long bankrolled many of the media forums that make up Qaradawi’s global reach, including the International Union of Muslim Scholars and the prominent website IslamOnline, which promotes the cleric’s fatwas and publicizes Qaradawi’s work. Qatar also provided Qaradawi with a prominent platform on its state-run satellite television channel Al Jazeera from which he has made some of his most incendiary speeches. Qaradawi has engaged in holocaust denial, the promotion of suicide bombings, and genocidal antisemitism – all broadcast on Al Jazeera.
Qatar’s financial sector has also sought Qaradawi’s name and authority. He has served as an advisor for Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB), Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) and the Qatar National Bank (QNB). All three of these financial entities have been blacklisted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) because, in part, of their associations with Qaradawi and Muslim Brotherhood entities. For his part, Qaradawi has become extremely wealthy as a result of gifts from the Al-Thani family.
QIB and QIIB are also believed to manage multiple accounts for Qatar Charity, the largest Qatar-based non-governmental humanitarian organization which has a long history of alleged support for terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda. Interestingly, observers note that Qatar Charity’s funding choices for jihadist efforts correlates with the list of “liberation” movements backed by Qaradawi.
Qaradawi is also a participant and prominent member of the Global Anti-Aggression Campaign (GAAC). GAAC is a union of Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood leaders originally founded in 2003 in organized opposition to the U.S.-led Iraq war. GAAC general secretary Abdulrahman al-Nuaimi is a Qatar-based and U.S. Treasury Department-labeled Specially Designated Global Terrorist, because of his alleged financing of Al Qaeda. He is also at the center of Emirati and Saudi allegations of Qatar terror finance.
Contrary to those who have argued that Qaradawi represents a moderate strain of Islamism, Qaradawi has long endorsed violence as a tool for achieving Islamist objectives. While he is perhaps most famous for his 2001 fatwa condoning Hamas suicide bombings, and his 2004 fatwa authorizing suicide bombing by Muslim women during the height of the 2nd intifada, Qaradawi has also embraced violent “liberation” movements in the Palestinian territories, Sudan, Eritrea, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Kashmir.
In addition, Qaradawi endorsed a fatwa for the killing of Americans in Iraq, including civilians, during the U.S. occupation; and has encouraged Muslims to travel abroad to fight in civil wars in Syria and Libya. And following the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government of Mohammed Morsi, Qaradawi also urged violence, stating that those who disobeyed the lawful ruler (meaning Morsi) should be killed.
Qaradawi, however, does more than simply preach violence. In 2008, the U.S. government designated the Qaradawi-led international charitable coalition known as “The Union of the Good” for its role in financing Hamas. The Israeli Security Agency has described the Union of the Good as “the umbrella organization for Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islamic charity funds.” Union of Good members have been found to support other jihadist groups, including Al Qaeda affiliates.
Qaradawi’s role in the advancement of Islamist thought should not be underestimated. In many ways, it is central to understanding the promotion and expansion of Islamist ideology around the world. In particular, Qaradawi has played a key role in establishing a branch of Islamic jurisprudence dealing with the issues of Muslims living in non-Muslim majority countries (known as Fiqh of Minorities, or Fiqh al-Aqalliyyat), together with another leading Muslim brotherhood thinker Taha Jabir Alwani.
As a result, in the West, Qaradawi is perhaps best known for prominent religious organizations such as the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) and the Federation of Islamic Organizations of Europe (FIOE). These organizations are predominately led by Muslim Brotherhood operatives who have undertaken to spread Qaradawi and the Brotherhood’s ideology, and to establish the infrastructure necessary to implement it.
The end goal for this effort is perhaps best understood by Qaradawi’s 1995 statement before the Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA) in Toledo, Ohio: “Conquest through dawah, that is what we hope for. We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America, not through the sword but through dawah.” Typically translated as “proselytizing”, in the Muslim Brotherhood context Dawahcarries with it a more specific meaning: ensuring Western Islam is Islamist-led.
Source: Weekly Blitz