How Qatar used private companies to raise funds for terror groups
Qatar’s terror list comprising 19 individuals and eight entities – 11 of whom are Qatari nationals and six companies – has raised questions about how serious Doha is in dealing with funders of terrorist groups residing inside their country.
According to precedent, state-sponsor lists usually identify absconders who have fled their countries of origin or others whose whearabouts were unknown. Apart from that policy, countries who usually release such lists then pursue those identified and investigate further, both of which Qatar’s current government has not done so since issuing their list on Thursday.
Al Arabiya has noted that that some entities on Qatar’s terror list were companies not officially accused by the Qatari government for funding terrorism. For the first time, the list included entities that were unrelated to Qatari aid and charity institutions only, who have in the past been the preferred method to transfer funds to terrorist organizations. Thursday’s list included companies specialized in home decoration, home furnishings, building umbrellas and tents, telephone and car rental companies.
Admitting those companies on their list reveals how Qatar had willingly known of companies used by citizens to serve terrorism-related projects and financed extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Those entities included Al Ansar for Mobiles, Car Rental and Real Estate, Tiftinaz for Trade and Contracting, Jebel Omar for Trade and Contracting, Khebraat for Trade and Contracting, Al Dhahaibya for Umbrellas and Tents, and Al Ihitida for Furniture and Décor.
A quick search online has shown that Qatar has not blocked or banned any of the companies’ websites and phone numbers listed as contacts still worked at the time of this article’s publication.
Using small companies to fund terrorism
According to Qatar’s list, Al Dhahaibya for Umbrellas and Tents works primarily in real estate protperties for Qatari citizens’ houses. It was established as a business in 2011 and has worked in building tents and car park umbrellas for a number of well-known clients, the biggest of which is the Al Jazeera Media Network. Other clients listed on Dhahaibya’s included Qatar Insurance Company, Qatar Museums Authority, Q Jet, Al Fardan and Danat Qatar.
As for Khebraat Trading & Contracting Co was also establish in 2011 and specializes and consults in home building and construction works as well as interior design and decoration. On its website, Khebraat lists a number of Qatari citizens for whom it has built and designed homes for.
Other clients it has worked for included Qatari government intuitions like Qatar’s Supreme Education Council, Urbacon for Trading & Contracting, the Qatari Emiri Land Forces, the Qatari Ministry of the Environment, and Q Jet.
The companies’ websites, however, have not listed the names of their owners. However, Qatar’s terror list identified several Qataris whom observers have said have direct links with the entities identified. Some of those identified have already been identified in international terror lists, included that which the Anti-Terror Quartet of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt released last year, revealing how the depth of which Qatari money has long been used in terror financing across the region.
Among the names listed in the US Treasury-2015 Statement and the recent Qatari terror list was Saad Al Kaabi, who was charged for his links to al-Qaeda and involved in financing activities for the Nusra Front’s activities in Syria. He was the main facilitator from Qatar in providing financial support and services to al-Qaeda by transferring funds and organizing donation campaigns in Doha that were used to purchase and smuggling of weapons into Syria. He was also an intermediary who collected ransoms for hostages held by Nusra Front, in addition to his relation to Hamid al-Ali, who is listed on the terrorism list of the ATQ countries.
Qatar also listed Abdul Lateef Al Kawari who was designated as funder of terrorism since 2015 for his links to al-Qaeda.
According to the US Treasury, Kawari worked with al-Qaeda facilitators in early 2012 to coordinate delivering funds from foreign extremist donors who lives in Qatar. Since 2012 al-Kawari continued to collect funds for al-Qaeda, and on the same year he facilitated for one of the mediators to travel abroad carrying 10 thousands of dollars specified for al-Qaeda.
Another Qatari named was Khalid al-Buainain, who collected money to fund terrorists in Syria. He collected funds in cooperation with people listed on the US and UN sanctions list, and with al-Qaeda coordinators, including Saad al-Kawari and Abd al-Latif al-Kawari. He worked as a focal point for the fundraising campaign in Qatar between 2012 and 2014. In 2016, al-Buainain participated in the Qatar Charity delegation to Iraq, which included the Qatari official for the Qatar Charity, Mohammed Jassim al-Sulaiti, who is listed in the sanctions list of the four anti-terrorism countries.