Qatar funnelled hundreds of millions of dollars to al-Qaeda-linked terrorists fighting in Syria
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Qatar has been accused of facilitating a multi-million pound money laundering operation to fund terrorists in Syria.
Top Qatari politicians, businessmen, charities and civil servants are alleged to have used a private office belonging to the country’s emir and two banks to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda affiliate.
The allegations are contained within papers filed at London’s High Court this week on behalf of nine Syrians, who are claiming damages for financial losses, torture, arbitrary detention and threats of execution they claim to have suffered as a result of the scheme, or at the hands of Nusra Front.
All of the accused have vehemently and categorically denied the allegations. Qatar is due to host the next World Cup, taking place next year.
According to court papers, seen by The Times, the Qatari state – acting in league with the Muslim Brotherhood – concocted a conspiracy to ‘actively support and facilitate’ Nusra Front terrorists as they fought during the Syrian civil war.
The money was moved using over-priced construction contracts, over-priced property purchases, and over-payments to Syria workers, it is alleged.
Funds were sent either directly into Syria or to banks in Turkey, where it was withdrawn and taken across the border to the terror group, court papers claim.
Qatar National Bank, the Middle East’s largest financial institution, and Doha Bank are both accused of facilitating the transactions.
The banks ‘knew or ought to have known’ what the money was actually being used for, according to the lawsuit. Both have categorically denied the allegations.
The papers do not make specific allegations about the roles each defendant is alleged to have played, which are expected to be included in a future filing.
All the defendants will be entitled to lodge defence documents or argue that the case should not be heard by the English courts. The claim will only proceed if there is sufficient evidence to support it.
Nusra Front was founded in Syria by disciples of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who would later become the leader of ISIS but was then leading Al Qaeda in Iraq, who were sent from Iraq to establish a presence in Syria.
The group was founded in 2011 as Jabhat al-Nusra under the leadership of a jihadist using the nom de guerre Abu Muhammad al Golani, with the stated aim of overthrowing the regime of Bashar al-Assad and establishing an Islamist state.
In 2013, a major split occurred when Baghdadi attempted to merge al-Nusra with al-Qaeda in Iraq to create ISIS.
While some al-Nusra fighters joined with ISIS, Golani insisted that no such merger had occurred and rallied other jihadists around him.
The following year the two groups took up arms against one-another, with al-Nusra fighting against ISIS around Raqqa. They have remained hostile ever since.
Further splits have occurred within al-Nusra since, and the group has gone under several different names including Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham.
Today, it largely controls territory in Syria’s Idlib province – the last of the country’s provinces not recaptured by the Syrian army.
Nusra has been declared a terrorist organisation by the US since 2012, and America has never directly funded or supported the group.
However, it is widely thought that weapons provided to other ‘moderate’ groups have found their way into the hands of al-Nusra and that fighters trained by the CIA joined the group after entering Syria.
This was one of the main reasons given by President Trump for pulling the plug on the CIA’s training operation back in 2017, the New York Times reported.
Source: Daily Mail