The Biden administration announced Tuesday a $1 billion arms sale to Qatar, despite the Arab nation’s strong ties to groups the United States has listed as terrorist organizations.
The announcement from the State Department came as Qatar hosts the World Cup and during halftime of the match between Iran and the U.S. The State Department said the move will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the U.S., and called Qatar “an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.”
“The proposed sale will improve Qatar’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing electronic and kinetic defeat capabilities against Unmanned Aircraft Systems,” the State Department said in a statement that appeared to allude to attacks carried out or sponsored by Iran.
While it is true that Iranian-backed proxies have targeted Qatar, the Gulf country does have deep ties to terrorism. Earlier this month, The Times of Israel noted that three neighboring countries, along with Egypt, severed ties with Doha in 2017, accusing it of financing terrorism.
Members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2017 accused Qatar of funding U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations, such as Hamas, as well as several extremist groups operating in Syria.
“Qatar has openly housed Hamas leaders, Taliban leaders, and has several individuals who have been sanctioned by our U.S. Treasury Department, and it has failed to prosecute them,” former Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) said during testimony. “At least one high-ranking Qatari official provided support to the mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks against our country, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad.”
The report also noted Qatar’s ties to international terrorist Khalifa Mohammed, who financed al-Qaeda and the 9/11 mastermind. Mohammed was tried and convicted in absentia in 2008 by Bahrain for his terrorist activity, and arrested, only to be released by Qatar six months later, she added.
“Many individuals and charities in Qatar have been known to raise large sums of money for al-Qaeda, the Nusra front, Hamas, and even ISIS,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “In Qatar, there are three buckets: Terror financing by the government; terror financing done in Qatar through their own citizens that their government may not know about; and terror financing in Qatar that the government knows about but does nothing to stop.”