U.S. Ally Qatar’s Ties To Terrorism Scrutinized After Hamas Attack On Israel
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) shakes hands with Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani following their meeting and press conference in Doha on October 13, 2023. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on October 13, 2023, began a tour of six Arab capitals to build pressure on Hamas while Israel readies a massive offensive on the Gaza Strip following the militants' attacks. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP) (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images)
KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images

Qatar’s longstanding ties to terror groups are under scrutiny after one of those groups, Hamas, launched an unprecedented terrorist attack against Israel on October 7.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken crisscrossed the Middle East over the past week in an effort to prevent the war between Israel and Hamas from expanding. The secretary also wanted to make the U.S. position clear: Israel has a right to defend itself, and Hamas should be isolated from the Arab world.

Blinken took that message to the Qatari capital of Doha, telling Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani “there can be no more business as usual” between Qatar and Hamas, suggesting that the terror group’s leadership should not longer be given safe haven by the Qatary government. Qatar’s prime minister received the message coolly.

The Hamas politburo is the main decision-making body of the terror group and is comprised of 14 other members led by its chairman, Ismail Haniyeh. It is headquartered in Doha. Responding to a reporter’s question about banishing the politburo, the prime minister said that Hamas’ Doha office has become a necessary “way of communicating and bringing peace and calm into the region.”

“This is the purpose of that office. As long as we are keeping the communication open right now and focusing on putting an end for this conflict … That’s what our main focus is,” he said.

Qatar and the United States have enjoyed friendly diplomatic relations for decades. Doha hosts the Al-Udeid Air Force Base and U.S. Central Command’s forward headquarters, and it allows U.S. and NATO soldiers to use Qatar as a base of operations for missions in the Middle East. Recently, President Joe Biden put Qatar in control of a $6 billion humanitarian fund for Iran, traded to the Iranian regime along with five prisoners in exchange for five Americans.

While building inroads with the U.S. and the West, which has created profitable economic opportunities for Qatar’s oil industry, Qatar has maintained ties to Middle East terror networks, claiming to be a moderating force among the Arab world’s most extreme elements. Qatar is closely allied with Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism, and has worked with al-Qaeda affiliates, the Taliban, and others.

“Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas,” U.S. Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said in 2014. “Press reports indicate that the Qatari government is also supporting extremist groups operating in Syria.”

At the time, Qatar not only financed terror groups, but had created “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,” a major thoroughfare for terror financing, according to Cohen.

Hamas reportedly receives hundreds of millions of dollars a year in aid from Qatar; somewhere between $360 million and $480 million annually. Qatar uses a third of the aid money to purchase fuel from Egypt that is then shipped to Gaza, possessed by Hamas, and sold to fill the terror group’s coffers. The other two thirds is split between funding Gaza civilians and the paychecks of Hamas civil workers.

Qatar is home to the state-funded Al Jazeera network, often a platform for terror groups, that has justified Palestinian terrorism and antisemitism. On the day of Hamas’s invasion of Israel, Al Jazeera aired an over three-minute message from Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh calling on all Palestinians and their allies to unite against Israel.

Doha has strongly denied allegations that it supports terrorism. In 2017, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates published a joint statement accusing Qatar of “financing and harboring of extremist individuals and groups.”

The Qatari government responded: “The recent joint statement issued by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE regarding a ‘terror finance watch list’ once again reinforces baseless allegations that hold no foundation in fact.”

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