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Qatari terror balancing act: Supporting counter-terrorism even while housing terrorist

The small, gas-rich nation has been at odds with its neighbors for financing, and sheltering extremists belonging to terror outfits like the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, etc. The spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaradawi, stays in Qatar and propagate the state-run media house Al Jazeera. Qatar also reportedly provided financial assistance to Egypt’s Brotherhood-led government in 2013. Also, a lot of high-level Taliban officials and their families have reportedly moved to the country.

Qatar, a safe haven for global Islamist groups, not only provides financial aid but also diplomatic mediation. The seventh round of negotiations of US-Taliban talks began in the Doha on Saturday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington is hoping for an Afghan peace agreement before September 1. Veteran Pakistani Editor Rahimullah Yusufzai said that Qatar has more influence on Afghan Taliban than Pakistan. The Taliban rejects any proposals to shift its Political Commission out of Qatar. He added that Qatar has maintained friendly relations with the Taliban, Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

Qatar is also known for helping the terror outfits with weapons. In a recent interview, Mohamed Fahmy, a former Al-Jazeera English journalist, exposed the role of Qatar and Turkey in supporting terrorist movements in Syria. Turkish top brass in the security apparatus help ISIS fighters and smugglers in entering Turkey, and later transporting weapons to Syria. Whereas Qatar is a member of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS and reportedly provides surveillance and critical operational and logistical support to the coalition forces.

The Italian big-data company VOICES analyzed more than two million pro-ISIS and anti-ISIS Arabic-language posts from Facebook and Twitter took from July 2014 to October 2014. The study found that Qatar was leading among all the countries from where pro-ISIS posts were originating. Qatar had about 47 percent pro-ISIS posts, followed by Pakistan (35 percent), Belgium (31 percent), United Kingdom (24 percent), United States (21 percent), and Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia (20 percent).

Ironically, Qatar is one of 30 founding members of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF). In 2010, Qatar launched Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Finance Law, which permits Qatari authorities to freeze the funds and assets of terrorists or terror organizations designated by the UN Security Council. Qatar very well knows the loopholes of the entire system. In the recent report, by all Street Journal showed that the UN granted permission to receive a monthly allowance of up to $10,000 from frozen accounts for ‘basic necessities. Al Subaiy was added to the United Nations terror blacklist back in 2008 for providing financial aid to leading al Qaeda figures, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, September 11 mastermind.

Qatar has adopted a contradictory regional strategy, as the emirate suppresses Islamist activity within its own territory, while harbouring Islamist forces, and funding their activities elsewhere, in order to inflate Qatari regional influence. Even during Arab Spring (2011), a lot of which Qatar boosted and choreographed through Al Jazeera in the name of supporting people there was no sign of any uprising or pro-democracy voices echoing indoors of Qatari royal palaces.

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