British PM Pulls MB Report

IPT, by John Rossomando  •  Mar 16, 2015

British Prime Minister David Cameron pulled a report Monday which was widely expected to recommend against labeling the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

The review, led by Britain’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sir John Jenkins, also is expected to suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities in the United Kingdom should be more open and remain under review. No concrete policy recommendations are expected; however, it is expected to name a network of linked organizations alleged to be involved in extremist activities.

This network reportedly included a complex web of at least 60 organizations, think tanks, TV channels and charities with links to the Muslim Brotherhood. The British government decided in December that it would release only a summary of the full report.

Cameron requested the report in April, reportedly at the instigation of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

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The anticipated recommendations could place Britain at odds with Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which classified the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization last year. The UAE included the U.K.-based Cordoba Foundation, headed by Muslim Brotherhood leader Anas al-Tikriti, and the Muslim Association of Britain(MAB) on its list of terrorist organizations.

Al-Tikriti previously served as MAB’s spokesman and has a track record of supporting Hamas. He also supported Islamist terrorists in their fight against U.S. and U.K. troops following Saddam Hussein’s fall.

British ministers worry that being too tough on the Brotherhood could annoy Qatar, which recently signed an intelligence agreement with the U.K.

Disputes over the Muslim Brotherhood’s terror connections delayed the report’s scheduled release, but the Financial Times suggests that the report is unlikely to see the light of day prior to Britain’s May 7 elections.

“I would like to update the House [the UK parliament] that a report into the main findings of the Muslim Brotherhood Review will be published alongside the Government’s new counter-extremism strategy,” Cameron told the MPs in a writtenstatement.

Cameron’s decision to pull the report even surprised his Liberal Democratic coalition partners. They reportedly agreed to its publication on Friday.

The Muslim Brotherhood hopes to use the report as political cover in its fight against the Egyptian government’s crackdown.

“If the British government claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a terrorist organization, the crackdown on MB members in Egypt could be eased,” MB lawyer Mohammed al-Damatti told the Cairo Post.

***

Postponed; UK Media Gets In Wrong About The Brotherhood And Terrorism

By gmbwatch on March 16, 2015:

The Financial Times in the UK is reporting that UK Prime Minister has intervened to postpone the publication of an investigation he ordered into the Muslim Brotherhood. According to a Financial Times report:

March 16, 2015 David Cameron has made an eleventh-hour intervention to postpone the publication of a controversial report into the Muslim Brotherhood in an attempt to avert a potential row with Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The long-awaited report was due to be published on Monday afternoon but Mr Cameron’s move now means it is unlikely to be released before the UK general election on May 7, if at all. It was expected to conclude that the Muslim Brotherhood should not be proscribed as a terrorist organisation, although its activities in Britain should be more transparent and kept under review.

The Brotherhood has been banned by Saudi Arabia and the UAE; some ministers say the two Gulf countries pressured Mr Cameron into setting up the investigation in the first place.”

The Brotherhood has been banned by Saudi Arabia and the UAE; some ministers say the two Gulf countries pressured Mr Cameron into setting up the investigation in the first place.Just hours before its scheduled publication, Mr Cameron pulled the report, saying it should instead be released alongside the coalition government’s new counter-extremism strategy. Some officials in the Foreign Office had expressed concern the report could undermine Britain’s relations with key Gulf allies.

Downing Street said publication would happen “as soon as possible” but gave no guarantee this would take place before the House of Commons is dissolved at the end of this month. Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Conservative foreign secretary, said the delay was “bound to raise eyebrows”, adding: “It’s not a very impressive example of how to handle a sensitive subject.”

Read the rest here.

Although the Financial Times and other UK media are reporting that the the UK investigation will not designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, the GMBDW is forced to conclude that any failure to so designate the Muslim Brotherhood represents a political decision and not a decision based on the available evidence. The Financial Times report did cite a comment by the GMBDW editor on the importance of the UK to the European Muslim Brotherhood, part of a broader set of comments also reported in The Independent today, but neither paper included his comments on the relationship between the Brotherhood and terrorism and the GMBW has extensively documented that global Brotherhood networks are enmeshed with terrorism at a number of different levels. While the GMBDW awaits the publication of the UK report before drawing any final conclusions, we are deeply skeptical that any of the above evidence below, for example, was taken into account.

To begin with, the Global Muslim Brotherhood has long been engaged in rhetorical tactics relating to terrorism that serve in various ways to legitimize the phenomenon. In 2008, we published an analysis titled “Muslim Brotherhood Positions On Terrorism- Denial, Deception, Defense, And Obstruction” that examined these tactics in detail. As recently as April 2013, we reported on an article published by an individual tied to the Canadian Muslim Brotherhood that neatly illustrates each of these four tactics. However, the Global Muslim Brotherhood support for terrorism goes far beyond rhetorical tactics. It is clear that the whole of the global Brotherhood acts in support of Hamas which is not surprising given that Hamas is intimately related to the Brotherhood and the Hamas charter says that it is “one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine.” This support takes many forms including both political support as well as financial support as demonstrated for example by the Union of Good (UOG), a worldwide coalition of charities headed by global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi that has provided financial support to both the Hamas  “social” infrastructure, as well as its terrorist activities.

Yet the relationship of the Global Muslim Brotherhood with terrorism extends beyond support for Palestinian terrorism despite the common notion that there is a “firewall” between the Global Muslim Brotherhood and groups such as Al Qaeda. For example, global Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi has had a long standing relationship with Abd al-Rahman bin ‘Umayr al-Nu’aymi (Nu’aymi) who was designated by the US Treasury in December 2013 for providing financial support to al-Qa’ida, Asbat al-Ansar, al-Qa’ida in Iraq, and al-Shabaab. Al-Nu’aymi also heads the Global Anti-Aggression Campaign (GAAC), an international Islamist umbrella group which is comprised of Islamist scholars tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood as well as Salafi-Jihadi scholars including individuals designated as terrorists by the US. We have reported that Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood leader and Qaradawi associate Rachid Ghannouchi had spoken at a December 2011 GACC meeting along with Dr. Walid Musa’id al-Tabatibai (aka Walid al-Tabtabai), a well-known Kuwaiti parliamentarian and Salafi leader who authored a letter praising Osama Bin Laden. In June 2013, we reported that a  conference on Syria was held in Cairo that included Youssef Qaradawi as well as more than 70 religious organizations from across the Arab world and that was jointly organized by various Islamist and Muslim Brotherhood groups in the Middle East and Europe together with the GACC. Also attending the Cairo conference was Salah Sultan, close to Qaradawi and last reported as the subject of an Egyptian arrest warrant as part of the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.

For background on the UK investigation, go here.

Qatar’s Ties to Militants Strain Alliance

The U.S. has a regional military headquarters at Qatar’s al-Udeid base, where ex-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke with troops in 2013. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

The U.S. has a regional military headquarters at Qatar’s al-Udeid base, where ex-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke with troops in 2013. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Persian Gulf state’s relationships in the region are both useful and a worry to the U.S.

WSJ, by JAY SOLOMON and NOUR MALAS, Feb. 24, 2015:

DOHA, Qatar—During President Barack Obama ’s first term, some members of his National Security Council lobbied to pull a U.S. fighter squadron out of an air base in Qatar to protest the emirate’s support of militant groups in the Mideast.

The Pentagon pushed back, according to former U.S. officials involved in the discussion, saying a regional military command the U.S. maintains at the base was vital to American operations in the region. The issue was decided in late 2013 when the U.S. extended its lease on the base and didn’t pull out any planes.

The episode, not previously reported, reflects long-standing divisions within the Obama administration over America’s widening alliance with Qatar. The problem is that the very traits making the Persian Gulf emirate a valuable ally are also a source of worry: Qatar’s relationships with Islamist groups.

Secretary of State John Kerry has formed a tight partnership with Qatari diplomats, using them as conduits for messages to Hamas in the Palestinian territories, to Afghanistan’s Taliban and to jihadist rebel groups in Syria and Libya, according to State Department officials. Mr. Kerry has lauded Qatar’s role in seeking to negotiate an end to Israeli-Hamas fighting last summer.

U.S. officials also have praised Qatar for using its channels to broker the release of Westerners held hostage, including U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was swapped last year for five captured Taliban commanders.

Champions of the U.S.-Qatar alliance, especially in the Defense and State departments, say Qatar is indispensable to the struggle against Islamic State, the group also called ISIS or ISIL. U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State often launch from the air base in Qatar, al-Udeid, said American officials, who added that Qatar’s air force has provided surveillance and logistical support.

But Qatar also has given financial or diplomatic support to Mideast rebel groups, including some that seek to establish Islamic law or have ties to al Qaeda, according to U.S. and Arab officials as well as Western diplomats in the region. The support includes providing sanctuary to leaders of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, which Qatar acknowledges.

For years, Islamist rebel fighters from Libya and Syria traveled to Qatar and returned with suitcases full of money, according to rebels who were interviewed and to Persian Gulf government officials. American officials said the U.S. has uncovered Qatari connections—such as involvement by members of the emirate’s elite business, religious and academic circles—in financing for Hamas, al Qaeda and Islamic State.

In September, the U.S. Treasury Department said publicly that an Islamic State commander had received $2 million in cash from an unnamed Qatari businessman. The following month, a Treasury official publicly criticized Qatar for failing to act against what he called terrorist financiers living in the emirate.

Last week, Qatar protested when Egypt bombed Islamic State forces in Libya who had beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians. An Egyptian diplomat responded by publicly accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism, which Qatar denied.

Visit from the emir

A chance to air these issues comes Tuesday as Qatar’s emir, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, meets with President Obama at the White House.

In interviews, senior Qatari officials denied their government funds or has funded terrorist organizations. They said Qatar has a right to have diplomatic ties with Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist movements that they said have broad support in the Arab public. (The U.S. lists Hamas as a terrorist organization but not the Brotherhood.)

P1-BS882A_USQAT_16U_20150223182714“We are not a bloc-mentality-belonging country. We create platforms for dialogue,” said Qatar’s foreign minister, Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah. “If this approach allows us to bring long-lasting peace and security in our region, we will not be affected by any criticism.”

Washington’s ambassador to Qatar, Dana Shell Smith, said the U.S. relationship with the emirate “is a fundamentally good one, and we share a number of important interests. We don’t agree on everything, but we are always frank with each other about‎ where we disagree and why.”

U.S. and Arab officials say there are signs Qatar has begun paring back support for the most extreme militant groups following repeated warnings from Washington and certain Arab states. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates pulled their ambassadors from Doha in March 2014 to protest Qatar’s foreign policy, but have since returned the diplomats to their posts.

Washington and the American oil industry played leading roles in Qatar’s emergence on the global stage. Qatar was among the less wealthy Gulf states in the 1980s, before the export of its plentiful natural gas was made possible by technologies developed by U.S. oil companies that later became Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips .

“The American companies were really the ones who took a big bet on Qatar when others wouldn’t,” said Mr. Attiyah. “That’s part of the core of our special relationship.”

Qatar now has the world’s highest per capita income, says the International Monetary Fund. Several U.S. universities, including Georgetown, Northwestern and Cornell, have opened campuses in Doha.

In 2003, the Pentagon moved the regional headquarters of the U.S. Central Command to Qatar’s al-Udeid air base, a move that gave the emirate a sense of security from potentially hostile neighbors.

Qatar also invests in the U.S. Last month, Qatar’s finance minister said his government would invest $35 billion in the U.S. over five years, in areas such as technology and infrastructure.

The “Arab Spring” protests of late 2010 and 2011 deepened Washington’s alliance with Qatar but also exposed divisions in the two countries’ visions for the Mideast. Qatar began promoting a brand of pro-Islamist foreign policy that confused Washington and alienated some Arab allies.

One Gulf-region government official described a Sheraton hotel in Doha as a hangout for Islamists from Libya, Syria, Egypt and the Palestinian territories. A spokesman for Sheraton owner Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. noted that the hotel hosts hundreds of international travelers daily and said, “We do not do business with terrorists nor condone or facilitate any activity that is antithetical to our company values.” He said the firm works with law enforcement, including retaining passport information for all guests.

Read more

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Congress to Obama Admin: U.S. Billions Are ‘Enabling’ Terror Regimes in Qatar

Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani / AP

Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Feb. 23, 2015:

Congress is warning that billions of dollars in U.S. arms sales to Qatar could be enabling the Arab country’s support for leading terrorist organizations and allies, according to a letter to the administration being circulated on Capitol Hill.

Qatar, long one of America’s top Arab military allies in the Middle East, has been funding and providing refuge to an increasing number of terrorist groups and allies in recent years, including most recently the Islamic State (IS).

The United States sends billions of dollars and arms to Qatar to keep it as a strategic regional ally.

Congress’ concern about Qatar’s support for the terror group comes ahead of a high-profile meeting between the country’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, and President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday.

The letter, which is being circulated Rep. Doug Lamborn (R., Colo.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, calls out Qatar for being “the world’s safe haven for terrorist groups and militia leaders.” It urges U.S. officials to “reassess and reevaluate” America’s multi-billion dollar military alliance with the country.

The sharp focus on Qatar, a key military ally that receives billions in arms from the United States, come as the country faces increased scrutiny over an uptick in support for radical jihadist groups plotting against the West.

The lawmakers say the billions in U.S. assistance to Qatar could be enabling terror regimes there to thrive.

“America’s military footprint in Qatar may be enabling the Al Thani regime to offer up its territory as a fundraising center for terrorists around the region,” states the letter addressed to newly installed Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, according to an advance copy obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. “The past few years have seen Qatar grow into a major hub for terrorist operatives and terrorism finance.”

Qatar claims to support America’s campaign against Islamic State (IS) terrorists, yet does little to help the cause, the lawmakers say.

“The Qatari government turns a blind eye to terrorist fundraising for al Qaeda and the Islamic State by U.S.-designated persons within its borders,” the letter states.

“The Qatari government has also actively financed, advocated for, and—at least until recently—hosted the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, a relationship that Doha is only being compelled to reconsider after increased pressure from other Gulf States, not the United States.”

“Further evidence suggests that Qatar has directly armed or financed multiple Islamist groups in the region, undermining U.S. objectives in pivotal countries such as Libya, Egypt, and Syria by pushing those places toward violent extremism,” the letter states.

Key leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and Taliban also have “found a safe haven in Qatar,” where they have free rein to “safely coordinate radical activities and in some cases even terrorism in the region without interruption,” according to the letter.

As Qatar accommodates and funds terror groups such as Hamas, IS, and al Qaeda, it simultaneously cashes in on massive U.S. arms deals. The lawmakers maintain that this U.S. money only emboldens the Qatari government.

“U.S. reliance on Qatar’s support such as the Al Udeid base in Qatar has emboldened the Qataris to believe they can undermine and damage American interests and efforts in the region without consequence,” they write. “America’s strategic interests should not be undercut or held captive.”

“Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, and the [United Arab Emirates] all have advanced bases which can support the same U.S. aircraft and facilities, possibly making the need for such an extensive installation in Qatar redundant,” they propose.

The lawmakers urge Carter and the Defense Department to begin developing “a strategy to hold Qatar accountable for their support of terrorism, including a serious exploration of positioning some of our military assets with other allies in the region.”

On Tuesday, Obama will host Qatari Emir al Thani at the White House.

“The president looks forward to discussing with Sheikh Tamim political, economic, and security issues of mutual concern to our two countries,” it said in a statement. “The United States and Qatar have a long-standing partnership and this meeting is an opportunity to further that relationship along with our shared interest in supporting stability and prosperity in the Middle East.”

An American Ally’s Grand Mosque of Hate

Sophie James/Alamy

Sophie James/Alamy

New proof that the richest little emirate in the world is playing a double game with Washington and the so-called Islamic State.

Daily Beast, Jamie Dettmer, Feb. 19, 2015:

The Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab Masjid Doha is the biggest mosque in the emirate of Qatar, and it is a fountain of hate.

Built mainly in the first half of the 20th century mixing traditional and modern Islamic architecture, the air-conditioned, red-carpeted, chandelier-lit central hall can accommodate 11,000 men at prayer with a special enclosure for 1,200 women.

Re-inaugurated in 2011, the Grand Mosque was renamed after the founder of Wahhabism in the desert wastes of the Arabian Peninsula in the 18th century. Although his extreme and ascetic view of Islam has come to be associated mainly with the Saudis, it is also the official faith of incredibly rich little Qatar, which sits on a spit of land and a huge amount of natural gas in what most people know as the Persian Gulf. And Wahabbism, whether Saudi- or Qatari-funded (their zealous zillionaires compete), has provided the underpinning for the extremism in the Muslim world that spawned al Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State.

So Qatar, which is also home to a major American military installation, to branches of major American universities (Northwestern, Georgetown, and Carnegie Mellon among them) and to Al Jazeera television, whose English and American branches are responsible for award-winning reporting, tries to be many things to many different audiences.

But the Islamic State and its self-anointed caliph are highlighting the deep contradictions, and nowhere is that more obvious than at the Grand Mosque.

Thus, Qatar’s authorities were quick to condemn this month the burning alive of captured Jordanian pilot Muadh al Kasasbeh. One would expect such a reaction from a country that is part of the international coalition arrayed against the Jordanian’s murderers.

Yet in Doha’s cavernous Grand Mosque on the Friday after the ISIS barbarians posted a video of the grisly killing, an imam who is also a member of the country’s Supreme Judicial Council offered the considered opinion that the Jordanian should have been traded in a prisoner swap or ransomed in accordance with Islamic principles. This, even though ISIS clearly never had any such intention and had lied in negotiations, claiming al Kasasbeh was alive when he was most certainly dead.

In recent weeks, the Qataris have come under increasing pressure from the Obama administration and other Western governments to curb the emirate’s ties with radical Islamist movements—U.S. officials say Qatar has now replaced its neighbor Saudi Arabia as the source of the largest private donations to the Islamic State and al Qaeda affiliates.

When the spotlight is on—when jihad moneymen in Qatar and their funding networks are exposed and attract high levels of Western protest—Qatari authorities take some limited actions.

But there seems to be no persuading Qatar to stop running with the hare and hunting with the hounds—and that remains the case with providing platforms for ideological fellow-travelers of ISIS and al Qaeda or their supporters. And when Western attention is focused elsewhere, the Grand Mosque rings to sermons promoting the same intolerant strain of Islam endorsed by ISIS and used to justify the group’s barbarity.

 

On the Friday before ISIS posted the horrific footage of the burning pilot, a preacher sermonizing from the Grand Mosque’s minbar prayed for the destruction of the faithful of other religions. “Allah, strengthen Islam and the Muslims, and destroy your enemies, the enemies of the religion,” intoned Saudi cleric Sa’ad Ateeq al Ateeq. “Allah, destroy the Jews and whoever made them Jews, and destroy the Christians and Alawites and the Shiites.”

His comments wouldn’t have been out of place in ISIS-controlled Mosul or Raqqa. He also beseeched Allah to save the al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the third-holiest site in Islam, from the “claws of the Jews.”

Al Ateeq, who was on his sixth visit to the state-supervised Grand Mosque since 2013, reserved his most bellicose remarks for the part of the sermon called theduaa, when the preacher encourages the faithful to join in guided prayer.

Within minutes, Qatar’s Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs promoted al Ateeq’s remarks on Twitter. And the sermon was broadcast on several local television channels, including Qatar TV, the official state channel, signaling another stamp of approval, according to analysts Oren Adaki and David Andrew Weinberg of the U.S.-based think tank the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), who unearthed the video of al Ateeq’s sermon.

“This is another example showing that Qatar’s commitment to the war on terror is ambiguous,” argues Weinberg. “The emirate shows one face to the international community projecting a desire to help in the fight against terrorist organizations, while providing a platform for the preaching in their own backyard of the same kind of hate-filled extremism of ISIS.”

Doha’s Grand Mosque has long been a stopover for militants from across the region heading to wage jihad in the Levant. And despite the emirate’s membership in the coalition against ISIS, and while U.S. warplanes launch their bombing raids on the militants in Syria and Iraq from the American airbase in Qatar, the landmark mosque has remained a top venue to hear radical Islamic sermonizing.

Last September, Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad al Thani insisted while on a visit to Germany that the emirate “will never support terrorist organizations.” But in addition to the failure of the emirate’s authorities to stop Qatar being used as a hub for terror financing, there seems to be no will by the government to curb the promotion of a radical ideology that is helping to fuel jihadist groups.

Government invitations to extremist preachers have continued apace. Visiting preachers at the Grand Mosque in the past three years have included: Kuwaiti Hamid Abdullah al Ali, who has been blacklisted by the U.S. and UN for funding jihadists in Iraq and who in his sermon on March 2, 2012, praised the “great jihad” being waged in Syria by al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra; Nabil al-Awadhi, another alleged jihad financier, who has delivered at least three sermons there; and Hamid Hamad al Ali, who refers to himself as an “al Qaeda commando.”

But then maybe it isn’t surprising there has been no letup in the roster of militants allowed to use the Grand Mosque. Harith al-Dhari, allegedly a major jihadist fundraiser, was a guest of honor when the current emir’s father inaugurated it in 2011.

Qatari officials reject the charge they are encouraging radical Islam, insisting they oppose extremists. “We are repelled by their views, their violent methods and their ambitions,” Khalid al Attiyah, the emirate’s foreign minister, said in a statement last year in response to claims that Qatar has offered a variety of assistance—including sanctuary, money, and weapons—to radical groups from the the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hamas in Gaza to Islamist militias in Libya and jihadists in Syria.

But the Qataris’ claims of innocence as they leverage their wealth and strategic location to maximize their influence and hedge their bets across the region is increasingly frustrating allies in the coalition against jihadists.

Last month, the U.S. released the admitted al Qaeda operative Ali Saleh Kahlah al Marri from a federal prison prior to his completing a 15-year sentence, citing “time served,” and also as part of a repatriation agreement. Qatari authorities had sought his release from U.S. custody for years—offering among other things to swap him for an American couple held in jail in Doha.

On his arrival in Qatar, al Marri was welcomed as a returning hero. And not just by family members but by local celebrities and officials. As video footage demonstrated, he even received a congratulatory phone call from the emirate’s prime minister.

Analysis: Former al Qaeda operative freed, sent home to Qatar

By

Editor’s Note: For more on Qatar’s track record in fighting terrorism, see Dr. Weinberg’s report for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Center on Sanctions & Illicit Finance, Qatar and Terror Finance, Part 1: Negligence.

972_ali_almarri_2050081722-7128Ali Saleh Kahlah al Marri, an admitted former al Qaeda operative, has been released from a American jail and permitted to return home to Qatar.

No formal statement has been released yet by either government, but it is being reported that al Marri’s release was the result of a bilateral agreement between the Qatari and American governments. According to the US Bureau of Prisons, a prisoner with the same name and estimated age (ID number 12194-026) was freed on Friday.

Additionally, a source from al Marri’s family told the Qatari press he was recently released and arrived in Doha Saturday. Soon afterwards, the story was confirmed by Agence France Presse (AFP), which spoke to al Marri’s nephew.

This followed statements by two of his former attorneys that he was expected to be released within days. And photographs have been posted on social media that reportedly show al Marri coming home to his children for the first time in over a decade. A Kuwaiti newspaper posted video of a man identified as al Marri at the airport in Doha bumping noses with male relatives and kissing his mother’s feet.

An al Qaeda sleeper agent

Ali Saleh Kahlah al Marri was at one point the only enemy combatant detained on US soil. According to the terms of a plea deal he accepted in 2009, al Marri “was instructed by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to enter the United States no later than September 10, 2001″ and to await further instructions. Mohammed, also known as KSM, was serving at the time as the chief of al Qaeda’s external operations and is considered the mastermind of 9/11 attacks. According to the FBI in 2009, “Ali al-Marri was an al-Qaeda ‘sleeper’ operative working on U.S. soil.”

President George W. Bush indicated that the US intelligence community believes al Marri discussed various targets with KSM, including “water reservoirs, the New York Stock Exchange, and United States military academies.” Bush also described him as “a present and grave danger to US national security.”

The plea bargain accepted by al Marri acknowledged that his computer’s search history included research on “various cyanide substances” according to “the method taught by al Qaeda for manufacturing cyanide gas,” as well as research on “dams, waterways and tunnels in the United States, which is also consistent with al Qaeda attack planning regarding the use of cyanide gases”. The plea deal also noted that “between 1998 and 2001″ he “attended various training camps because he wished to engage in jihad”.

In other court documents, US officials alleged that KSM chose al Marri to be an al Qaeda sleeper agent because he had a family and would therefore be less likely to attract suspicion. He was pulled over in a routine traffic stop two days after 9/11 when a police officer saw al Marri’s son standing up in the moving car’s back seat.

Al Marri was then briefly arrested on an old warrant for driving under the influence and raised authorities’ suspicions when he paid his $300 bail out of a briefcase full of bundles of hundred dollar bills. Al Marri would later acknowledge receiving these funds from an al Qaeda financial facilitator in the United Arab Emirates, Mustafa Hawsawi, whom KSM had instructed him to visit. Soon afterwards, al Marri was detained again when law enforcement officials confirmed a telephone at his home had been used to contact Hawsawi, whom they had already connected to one of the 9/11 hijackers.

Hawsawi was captured alongside KSM in early March 2003 and then held in the CIA’s controversial detention and interrogation program before being transferred to Guantanamo, where he remains in detention.

Reason for release unclear

Al Marri’s release seems to be the end result of a process set in motion by President Obama during his first month in office.

Read more at Long War Journal

Report: Qatar to banish Hamas’ Mashaal, who will relocate to Turkey

Hamas’ political bureau, is expected to leave his base in the Qatari capital of Doha and relocate to Turkey, Turkish press reports indicated on Tuesday.

Qatar has reportedly been under pressure from the international community to cease serving as a host of organizations considered by the West to be terrorist groups.

Hamas on Tuesday denied reports that Mashaal has been expelled from Qatar.

“There is no truth to what some media outlets have published over the departure by brother Khaled Meshaal from Doha,” Hamas official Ezzat al-Rishq told Reuters by telephone.

Another Hamas source confirmed that Mashaal was still in Doha and has no plans to leave the country.

The ruling family in Doha has been accused of providing financial and political support to Hamas and other extremist groups in the Middle East.

Last year, the emir of Qatar denied accusations that the Gulf sheikhdom is a sponsor and supporter of Islamist terrorist organizations.

In an interview with CNN, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani rejected suggestions that the groups that Doha was backing were terrorist in nature.

“We have to see the difference between movements,” Al-Thani told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “I know that in America and some other countries they look at some movements as terrorist movements. In our part of the region, we don’t.”

The Qatari leader did say that his government opposed “certain movements in Syria and Iraq,” a reference to the Islamic State. He denied accusations that Qatar was funding IS or that his government was turning a blind eye to private citizens’ activities in support of the group.

In the interview, Al-Thani never mentioned Hamas by name, despite the fact that his government is known to provide financial support to the Palestinian Islamist movement.

Israeli officials have denounced Qatar for backing Hamas.

Earlier this year, Israel’s envoy to the UN, Ron Prosor wrote an op-ed for The New York Times in which he deemed Qatar “the Club Med for terrorists.”

“In recent years, the sheikhs of Doha, Qatar’s capital, have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Gaza,” Prosor wrote. “Every one of Hamas’s tunnels and rockets might as well have had a sign that read ‘Made possible through a kind donation from the Emir of Qatar.’”

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Hamas’s International Triangle of Bases: Gaza, Turkey and Qatar

by Yaakov Lappin
Special to IPT News
December 18, 2014

1104In recent years, the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas has developed into a truly international entity. Today, it enjoys three territorial bases of operation: Gaza, the seat of the Hamas regime, Turkey, and Qatar.

According to Israeli intelligence estimates, each base serves a different purpose. The three branches have worked, alternatively, in harmony and in discord, together and independently, in line with the various terrorist activities they pursue.

“These are not the same leaderships,” one security source said, speaking of the Hamas command structure in each base.

“Qatar is home to Hamas’s political branch, headed by Khaled Meshaal. In Turkey [in the city of Istanbul], Hamas maintains a military branch headquarters, which sets up terrorist infrastructure. This headquarters is comprised partly of former Hamas prisoners who were ejected from Israel during the [2011] Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange. In Gaza, there are both military and political operatives.”

Each branch plays a unique role, and relations between them fluctuate.

Hamas’s headquarters in Istanbul is headed by Salah Al-Arouri, a senior figure in the military wing who is focused on rejuvenating Hamas terrorism cells in the West Bank, and using it as a springboard for orchestrating deadly attacks against Israel.

Gaza is home to the main military wing, the Ezzedin Al-Qassam Brigades, whose operatives focus on building up their offensive rocket capabilities, tunnel networks, and, like Arouri, they also seek to also set up West Bank terrorism cells.

On Thursday, Hamas held what is described as its largest military exercise since the summer war against Israel.

Gaza is also home to Hamas’s political wing, headed by Ismail Haniyeh.

“They all have their own interests. Those in Gaza have one point of view, those abroad have another. There have, in the past, been disagreements,” the source said.

One example of such internal conflict was the dispute between Khaled Meshaal and Hamas in Gaza over when to end the summer war with Israel. Meshaal pushed Hamas to continue the fighting, despite growing calls by Hamas in Gaza to agree to a ceasefire. The conflicting positions were partly the result of geography: Hamas in Gaza had a better real time understanding of the heavy costs Israel was inflicting on it during the fighting than the overseas Meshaal, who, from his luxurious Qatari surroundings, could afford the privilege of calling for more fighting.

Nevertheless, a basic level of cooperation and consent exists among all three branches. Saleh Al-Arouri in Turkey would not have embarked on a major mission to set up a large-scale Hamas terrorist network in the West Bank, plan atrocities against Israel, and aim to topple the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, without approval from Khaled Meshaal and Hamas in Gaza.

Cooperation may not always be close, but it exists.

“There are connections,” the security source said. “Hamas in Gaza is connected to those trying to orchestrate terrorism in Judea and Samaria. There is a circle of cooperation.”

Arouri could seek and receive assistance from Gaza, as he has done, but he can also try to work independently. “There are no laws,” the source stressed.

In recent months, the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] uncovered two intricate Hamas terror plots to inflict mass-casualty attacks on Israelis, and to weaken Fatah in the West Bank. Both were tied to Arouri.

This discovery has led Israeli defense chiefs to become more vocal about the Hamas base in Turkey.

“Hamas’s terrorism headquarters are in Gaza and in Istanbul. It is unbelievable that a NATO member is hosting the headquarters of a terrorist organization in its territory,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told his Spanish counterpart earlier this month.

“We have stopped a coup planned by Hamas, which was organized in, among other places, its Turkish headquarters, against [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] Abu Mazen in Judea and Samaria. We saved him from this revolution. Hence, there is much significance and importance in our having freedom to operate security-wise in Judea and Samaria,” Ya’alon stated.

Likewise, at the end of November, the Shin Bet and IDF announced that they had broken up a large-scale international Hamas terrorist infrastructure that was in the planning stages of multiple mass-casualty attacks, including an intended bombing of a soccer stadium in Jerusalem.

The plot included car bombings, bombing Jerusalem’s light rail system, and targeting Israelis overseas.

This case illustrates the growing centrality of Istanbul to Hamas terror activities in the West Bank. Hamas’s headquarters in Turkey has become a key command and planning center.

Earlier this year, the Shin Bet announced the thwarting of another large Hamas network in the West Bank, set up by Saleh Al-Arouri in Istanbul, and headed locally by a Hamas member in Ramallah.

Hamas funneled more than a million shekels [more than $250,000] to terror operatives to prepare a series of attacks, which were designed to allow it to shift attention away from Gaza, and ultimately lead to the fall of the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority, according to Israeli investigation. This would be achieved by provoking Israel into harsh responses in the West Bank, destabilizing the area and leading to the toppling of the PA.

Hamas has come a long way since the days when its founders, Muslim Brotherhood operatives in the Palestinian territories, set up indoctrination and social support centers.

Today, it is an international terrorist organization, which continues to plot new ways to murder and maim Israelis from its various bases, while it dreams of setting up a second Islamist-jihadist regime in the West Bank, as it did in Gaza.

Yaakov Lappin is the Jerusalem Post’s military and national security affairs correspondent, and author of The Virtual Caliphate (Potomac Books), which proposes that jihadis on the internet have established a virtual Islamist state.

The Threat of Qatar: Is the American Media and Political Class finally waking up?

Skyline of Doha at night - Wikipedia

Skyline of Doha at night – Wikipedia

By William Michael – Qatar Awareness Campaign

Over the past two days, several news reports have emerged that suggest the media and, yes, even some politicians in Washington, have begun to appreciate the threat posed by the small Gulf State of Qatar.

On December 9, a bipartisan group of 24 members of Congress wrote a letter to the Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, David S. Cohen, that stated in part:

“We are concerned about the ties between Qatar and Hamas, and we commend you on your speech before the Center for a New American Security, where you stated that, ‘Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas,’ and that press reports indicate that the Qatari government is also ‘supporting extremist groups operating in Syria,’ further adding to the instability of the region. As you noted in your speech, there are private fundraising networks in Qatar that solicit donations for terrorists. Qatar, in your words, is ‘a permissive terrorist financing environment.’”

It urged Treasury to focus on terrorist financing from Qatar and another Muslim Brotherhood-dominated country, Turkey. They made it clear that anti-terrorism officials in Treasury should do everything possible in their power to end Qatari and Turkish financing of jihadi groups. These groups have destabilized the Middle East and North Africa, and are a significant factor in America’s rapidly deteriorating relations with Russia.

On December 10, The Daily Beast published an article that, for the mainstream press, called Qatar out pretty straight: as they put it, they’re “the world’s most two-faced nation.”

Two-faced indeed. Qatar simultaneously hosts, and pays for the campuses of, Georgetown (where they help train American diplomats), Carnegie Mellon (which is in partnership with the Department of Defense), and Cornell, yet also hosts the Nazi-rooted Muslim Brotherhood. They try to pass themselves off as “progressives,” but have been implicated in funding the genocidal armies of ISIS. Qatar’s capital, Doha, is home to two large American military bases and CENTCOM for the region, yet 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was a guest of their Minister of Religious Affairs from 1992-1996.

How do they get away with this behavior? Surely, a lack of public awareness about the tiny country is one reason. Most Americans have never heard of Qatar, and even fewer know how to pronounce its name – “cutter,” or depending on the Arabic accent, “gutter.” And yes, anonymity is an asset to any criminal, especially a criminal regime.

But while anonymity only goes so far, a vast ocean of money goes much further. Qatar is, per capita, the richest country in the world (~$93,000 in 2013). With the globe’s third largest natural gas reserves (behind Russia and Iran), the less than 300,000 Qatari citizens have cash to burn.

And, since we’re on the topic of burning, Qatar’s foreign policy seems to be that of burning down their neighbors’ countries (unfortunately, with American backing). The Arab Spring, which a) caused widespread death and destruction in Egypt b) left Syria in an unending civil war, and c) still has Libya in a state of utter chaos, further complicated by a Qatari proxy war against Egypt and the UAE… all these Islamist insurrections were and are backed by the Qatari government; specifically, by the Muslim Brotherhood leaders who reside there and the sympathizing Al-Thani royal family. More than any other nation, it is Qatar who is seeking to re-establish an Islamic Caliphate. To accomplish this, they don’t much care if the world, and infidel, are lit on fire.

The other side of Islamist gangs, which is rarely given enough coverage in the media, is the organized crime aspect of these stateless, revolutionary entities. Whether it’s Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Qaeda in Iraq, AQIM across North Africa, or the Taliban in Afghanistan, Islamist terrorist organizations double as cartels. Narcotics, human trafficking, racketeering, and the usual terrorizing of local populations are their trademarks.

It should come as a surprise to no one that tiny, corrupt, and fabulously wealthy Qatar has at one time or another financed all of the above terrorist groups.

Do you think that the Al-Thanis do this out of the goodness of their Islamist hearts? Or is it more realistic to think that, just maybe, they are recipients of ill-gotten billions resulting from organized crime?

To explain the Qatari way of “diplomacy” to yourself, try this thought experiment. A man in a very expensive suit hands you five checkbooks. He gives you a mission: make as many friends as possible, who, should his reputation ever be questioned in public, will come to his defense. To accomplish this, you are permitted write checks up to $10 million and hand them out freely. Considering how much political coverage and favors can be purchased from American politicians and media for relatively less, it’s no wonder Qatar has so many “friends.”

In fact, Qatar’s “friends” comprise a veritable “Who’s Who” of the American (and even international) establishment. During the month of October, the Qatar Awareness Campaign, an ad hoc Coalition of concerned journalists, activists, publishers, and researchers published a letter each weekday, identifying American interests and individuals compromised by Qatari money and/or who toe the Qatari line. Many of the figures named might surprise you: Michael Bloomberg, ExxonMobil, Al Gore,John McCain, The Boeing Company, Miramax, the Chamber of Commerce, CNN, Harvard University,Bill and Hillary Clinton, FIFA, to name just a few.

Do you see now why it has taken so long for the political and media figures to finally peep up, even just a little? Hint: they’re bought off, paid for… and you – the American citizen – don’t have a blank checkbook like the terror masters in Doha.

Maybe, just maybe, the tide is beginning to turn. If the American public, and the global public, understood that the U.S. government had as one of its closest allies a narco-terror slave state, the politicians would be forced to act, if merely to save face. Terrorism in the United States is still a crime, and those who support it are therefore guilty under penalty of law.

Recently, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced he was resigning from his position as the civilian head of the Pentagon. Among the most prominent reasons given for his departure was the continuing debacle in the Middle East.   It was also reported that he never established a good relationship with Obama’s inner circle. In this respect, Hagel’s frustrations were certainly in no small part tied to Qatar; for it was the Qatari royal family, the Al-Thanis, who bankrolled and strategically coordinated the Arab Spring, and who remain so intimate with the administration as to accept and shelter the Taliban 5 for the deserter Bowe Bergdahl. (That infamous deal, it is worth mentioning, was finalized while the former Qatari Emir was visiting with Obama at West Point, attending the graduation of his son.)

Hagel, if pressed, may indeed admit that Obama’s alliance with Qatar and the Al-Thanis was the ultimate driver behind his resignation. Might we soon get some truth from the only Republican in Obama’s cabinet?

Secretary Hagel, your country needs you to speak up NOW!

Originally posted at Right Side News

Study: Qatar Fails to Crack Down on Terror Financiers

FeaturedImage_2014-12-10_162317_YouTube_QatarThe Tower, Dec. 18, 2014:

The Qatari government “has refused effectively to crack down” on “every important case of suspected terror finance involving a Qatari national in past years,” according to the first part of a study released Wednesday. The Daily Beast reported on the study, written by David A. Weinberg of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and highlighted some of the specific cases outlined in it.

The Daily Beast also observed:

When funding networks are exposed and attract high levels of Western protest, some action is taken by Qatari authorities to curb the excesses but charges are not filed, no one is imprisoned, at least for long, and then the actors resume their activities when the scrutiny disappears.

A Qatari fundraising campaign for Syria called Madid Ahl al-Sham has been endorsed by al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, as a conduit for donations—a validation the campaign advertises on its own Twitter page. Yet it was allowed to operate for 10 months after al-Nusra’s endorsement before finally it shut down. It remains unclear whether Qatari authorities intervened or the organizers decided to close up shop because of media attention.

The title of the first section of Weinberg’s paper (.pdf) is “Negligence,” though in some of the cases cited, the negligence of Qatari authorities appears to be willful. In regards to the case of Jarallah Marri, the study states:.

In July of 2008, Ali’s brother Jarallah became the only Qatari citizen repatriated from Guantanamo Bay based on explicit, written assurances provided by Qatar that he would not be permitted to travel outside the country and that Washington would be notified if he attempted to do so. And yet in early 2009, Jarallah appeared in Britain, where he was arrested on his second visit there since leaving Guantanamo. While in the U.K., he participated in a speaking tour with fellow Gitmo detainee Moazzam Begg. Britain added Begg to its terrorism blacklist this year and arrested him on accusations of funding and training terrorists in Syria, though he has since been released from jail, and the court case was dropped.

The U.S. Ambassador to Qatar concluded that Marri’s travel was “almost certainly” the result of a conscious decision involving Qatar’s attorney general. The attorney general rejected any implication that he violated a U.S. commitment over Jarallah’s travel, stating that “he was bound only by signed judicial assistance agreements and not diplomatic notes,” but after a “full-court press” by the U.S. ambassador he demurred that Marri would be subject to a six-month renewable travel ban. Soon afterwards, the U.S. ambassador to Doha lamented that “the U.S.-Qatar  CT [counterterrorism] relationship is not working now and has not worked well for several years.” Qatar’s attorney general remains in his position to this day.

Qatar’s continued indifference to its citizens’ terror financing has prompted a bipartisan group of 24 Representatives to send a letter to David S. Cohen, Under Secretary of the Treasury Department for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, to take stronger action against “individuals, institutions, entities, charities, front companies, banks, and government officials who clearly violate U.S. laws by assisting Hamas and its proxies.” The letter specifically cited Qatar’s financing of Hamas.

As you know, Hamas traditionally relied on Iran for much of its financial and political support. However, others in the region have stepped up to provide support for Hamas. Qatar’s $400 million donation for Gaza reconstruction in 2012 bolstered Hamas’ credibility in Gaza and may have directly supported Hamas-backed entities. Qatar also allows Hamas’ top leader, politburo chief Khalid Mishaal, to operate out of its territory knowingly and with impunity. It was even widely reported in the press that Qatar threatened to deport Mishaal if Hamas had accepted an Egypt-backed ceasefire agreement to end this summer’s conflict in Gaza.

We are concerned about the ties between Qatar and Hamas, and we commend you on your speech before the Center for a New American Security, where you stated that, “Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas,” and that press reports indicate that the Qatari government is also “supporting extremist groups operating in Syria,” further adding to the instability of the region. As you noted in your speech, there are private fundraising networks in Qatar that solicit donations for terrorists. Qatar, in your words, is “a permissive terrorist financing environment.”

In Qatar’s Rise and America’s Tortured Foreign Policy, published in the October 2014 issue of The Tower Magazine, Jonathan Spyer identified Qatar’s support for Sunni extremists as a defining trait in its foreign policy orientation.

Qatar’s massive funding of terrorists and support of Islamic radicals seeking to destabilize neighboring Arab governments, has sharpened tensions in the region, highlighting the three way divide in today’s Middle East – moderate and Western-oriented Sunni Arab states, like Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Saudi, Bahrain, Kuwait and others; the Sunni extremists terrorist supporting states, Qatar and Turkey, who fund and promote forces like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas; and the dangerous and radical axis of Iran, Assad, and Hezbollah.

Congress Calls for Increased Sanctions on Hamas Allies

Khaled Meshaal , head of Hamas Politburo in Damascus / AP

Khaled Meshaal , head of Hamas Politburo in Damascus / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Dec. 9, 2014:

A bipartisan delegation of foreign policy leaders in Congress are calling on the Obama administration to increase U.S. sanctions on Hamas and its allies, including the terror group’s top financier, Qatar, and its close ally, Turkey, according to a letter sent Tuesday by lawmakers to the Treasury Department and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The administration can and should be doing more to crackdown on Hamas’ top allies, including Iran, Qatar, and Turkey, according to the letter, jointly endorsed by 24 of the 29 members on the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa and its Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade.

The letter—which is signed by the chairmen and ranking members of both committees—follows months of appeals by lawmakers and foreign policy experts to the Obama administration urging it to crackdown on Hamas’ main funders, particularly Qatar, which has kept the terror group financially afloat via major cash infusions.

“We believe that more can be done, and we urge Treasury to take all necessary measures to sanction individuals or entities that are directly or indirectly financing or materially supporting Hamas,” the lawmakers wrote to Treasury Department Under Secretary David Cohen, who handles terrorism and finance intelligence.

While the United States has navigated a diplomatic tightrope with Turkey and Qatar, who are considered close U.S. allies on many fronts, the lawmakers argue that all of Hamas’ backers should be hit with U.S. sanctions.

“Any entity or nation that continues to back this U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organization and provide it material and financial support should be sanctioned,” they wrote.

“We are requesting that Treasury use every tool available to designate all individuals, institutions, entities, charities, front companies, banks, and government officials who clearly violate U.S. laws by assisting Hamas and its proxies,” according to the letter.

Lawmakers also are requesting that the administration provide them with “specific public updates” about conversations taking place with the “Qatari government on previously designated, Qatar-based terrorist financiers that the Qataris have yet to act upon.”

Qatar’s relationship with Hamas has been particularly problematic for the United States.

While lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have called for greater pressure on the nation, the Obama administration has maintained that Qatar should play a key role in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Hamas traditionally relied on Iran for much of its financial and political support,” the lawmakers state, noting that Qatar donated $400 million to Hamas in 2012 .

“Qatar’s $400 million donation for Gaza reconstruction in 2012 bolstered Hamas’ credibility in Gaza and may have directly supported Hamas-backed entities,” they write. “Qatar also allows Hamas’ top leader, politburo chief Khalid Mishaal, to operate out of its territory knowingly and with impunity. It was even widely reported in the press that Qatar threatened to deport Mishaal if Hamas had accepted an Egypt-backed ceasefire agreement to end this summer’s conflict in Gaza.”

Turkey also remains one of Hamas’ top enablers.

“Turkey serves as the headquarters for Saleh al-Arouri, who is believed to head Hamas’ terrorist operations in the West Bank,” the lawmakers state. “In August, the media reported that he was behind an allegedly thwarted plot to topple, undermine, or replace the Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank. Also in August, al-Arouri stated that Hamas was behind the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens this June.”

In addition, Turkish charities, front companies, and even some banks are suspected of providing support to Hamas, according to the lawmakers.

“It’s no secret that Turkey and Qatar provide refuge to many Hamas operatives, and that both of these supposed American allies have become major terror financial hubs,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), chair of the subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.

“While the Treasury Department has taken significant action against Hamas and its supporters, more can be done to halt support for this terrorist group,” she said. “Both Turkey and Qatar have thus far been extremely lax in enforcing their terror financing laws and taking action against U.S. designated individuals or entities.”

Meanwhile, it also has come to light that one of Hamas’ top Iranian allies, Imad al-Alami, has been identified as residing in Turkey, according to a recent report by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

Al-Alami, who has traveled to Iran on many occasions, is designated as a terrorist by the U.S. government, though it is unclear what action the Obama administration will take in light of the recent revelations.

“I would argue now that Turkey is liable like Qatar as the top external headquarters for Hamas,” said FDD vice president for research Jonathan Schanzer. “It may have even surpassed it.”

Also see:

GCC states to create regional police, navy

A general view of the meeting of leaders during the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Doha on Dec. 9, 2014. (AFP)

A general view of the meeting of leaders during the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Doha on Dec. 9, 2014. (AFP)

Al Arabiya, Dec. 9, 2014:

Following the 35th GCC Summit on Tuesday, Gulf leaders announced in Doha the creation of a regional police force in addition to a joint naval force, the Associated Press reported.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah said the police force would improve cooperation against terrorism.

“It will be an Interpol-like force but inside GCC countries,” he told reporters at a news conference.

The police force will be based out of the United Arab Emirates’ capital of Abu Dhabi while the naval force will operate out of Bahrain.

The creation of the police force, known as GCC-POL, and the naval force, was announced at the conclusion of the Gulf bloc’s annual summit in Qatar.

Separately, in a communique read during the closing remarks, the leaders reiterated their support for a political solution in both Yemen and Syria and condemned the militias currently operating in Libya.

They also voiced their support of the Libyan elected national council as the legitimate body to govern the country.

In statements made during the closing of the summit, the leaders said they hoped that the newly-appointed U.N. peace envoy to Syria Staffan De Mistura be successful in expediting a solution.

Additionally, the communique announced that the leaders unanimously supported the political roadmap in Egypt and President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud announced that the next summit is to be held in Riyadh.

Separately, as the leaders arrived in Qatar for the summit ahead of the meeting, they honored the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for receiving a certificate from the U.N. Secretary General recognizing him as a leader and supporter of the United Nation’s humanitarian work.

“Honoring the State of Kuwait is an honor for all GCC countries,” he said.

Speaking at the beginning of the summit, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said Tuesday’s meeting comes at a time of highly complex regional and international circumstances.

Prince Tamim also said he hopes the summit would mark the launch of a new march of GCC cooperation.

Read more

Also see:

Netanyahu’s epic understandings with Egyptian, Saudi and UAE rulers – a potential campaign weapon

áðéîéï ðúðéäå áîñéáú òéúåðàéí áîùøã øàù äîîùìä öéìåí : àîéì ñìîïDEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 6, 2014

The six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) rulers meet in the Qatari capital of Doha next week amid high suspense across the Arab world. Its agenda is topped by moves to finally unravel the 2010 Arab Spring policy championed by US President Barack Obama, moves that also bear the imprint of extensive cooperation maintained on the quiet between Israel and key Arab rulers.
DEBKAfile reports that the Doha parley is designed to restore Egypt under the rule of President Abdel Fatteh El-Sisi to the lead role it occupied before the decline of Hosni Mubarak. Another is to root out the Muslim Brotherhood by inducing their champion, the young Qatari ruler, Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to drop his government’s support.

At talks taking place in Riyadh ahead of the summit, Qatari officials appeared ready to discontinue the flow of weapons, funds and intelligence maintained since 2011 to the Brothers and their affiliates across the Arab world (Libya, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Hamas-ruled Gaza), as well shutting down the El Jazeera TV network – or at least stopping the channel’s use as the Brotherhood’s main propaganda platform.

The Doha summit is designed to crown a historic effort led by Saudi King Abdullah, UAE ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and President El-Sisi to undo the effects of the Obama administration’s support for elements dedicated to the removal of conservative Arab rulers, such as the Brotherhood.

They have found a key ally in this drive in Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who took advantage of the chance of an epic breakthrough in relations with the leading bloc of Arab nations, with immediate and far-reaching effect on Israeli security and its standing in the region.

Yet at the same time, Netanyahu has kept this feat under his hat – even while smarting under a vicious assault by his detractors – ex-finance minister Yair Lapid and opposition leader Yakov Herzog of Labor – on his personal authority and leadership credibility (“everything is stuck,” “he’s out of touch.”) and obliged to cut short the life of his government for a general election on March 17.
He faces the voter with the secret still in his pocket of having achieved close coordination with the most important Arab leaders – not just on the Iranian nuclear issue and the Syrian conflict, but also the Palestinian question, which has throughout Israel’s history bedeviled its ties with the Arab world.
When Yair Lapid, whom Netanyahu sacked this week, boasted, “I am talking to the Americans” while accusing the prime minister of messing up ties with Washington, he meant he was talking to the Americans close to Barack Obama, whom Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, hand in hand with Netanyahu, have judged adverse to their regimes.
This Arab-Israeli collaboration encompasses too many areas to keep completely hidden. Its fruits have begun breaking surface in a string of events.
This week, Israel apparently out of the blue, quietly agreed to Egypt deploying 13 army battalions in Sinai (demilitarized under their 1979 peace treaty), including tanks, and flying fighter jets over terrorist targets.

A joint Saudi-Israeli diplomatic operation was instrumental in obstructing a US-Iran deal on Tehran’s nuclear program.
Another key arena of cooperation is Jerusalem.
Friday, Dec. 5, Jordan announced the appointment of 75 new guards for the Al Aqsa Mosque compound on Temple Mount. The director of the mosque, Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, said they will begin work in the coming days.

This was the outcome of Jordanian King Abdullah’s talks with the Egyptian president in Cairo Sunday, Nov. 30, in which they agreed that the Muslim Waqf Authority on Temple Mount must change its mode of conduct and replace with new staff the violent elements from Hamas, the Al Tahrir movement and Israeli Arab Islamists, which had taken charge of “security.”.

The Moslem attacks from the Mount on Jewish worshippers praying at the Western Wall below and Israeli police have accordingly ceased in the two weeks since Israel lifted its age restrictions on Muslim worshippers attending Friday prayers at Al Aqsa. Israel groups advocating the right to Jewish prayer on Temple Mount were discreetly advised to cool their public campaign.

The Palestinian riots plaguing Jerusalem for months have died down, except for isolated instances, since, as DEBKAfile revealed, Saudi and Gulf funds were funneled to pacify the city’s restive Palestinian neighborhoods.

Cairo and the Gulf emirates have used their influence with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to get him to moderate his invective against Israel and its prime minister, and slow his applications for Palestinian membership of international bodies as platforms for campaigning against the Jewish state.

Concerned by the way the mainstream Arab world was marginalizing the Palestinian question, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal chose his moment Friday – ahead of the White House meeting between the Jordanian monarch and President Obama – to try and re-ignite the flames of violence in Jerusalem. He went unheeded.
Netanyahu may or may not opt to brandish Israel’s diplomatic breakthrough to the Arab world as campaign fodder to boost his run for re-election.  Whatever he decides, the rulers of Saudi Arabia, the Arab emirates and Egypt are turning out to have acquired an interest in maintaining him in office as head of the Israeli government, in direct opposition to President Obama’s ambition to unseat him.

Little Slave-State Qatar, For Whom All Foreigners Are Domestics

Qatari women with their children and housemaid strolling in Doha. Photograph: Stock Connection/REX Stock Connection/REX/Stock Connection/REX http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/feb/26/qatar-foreign-workers-slave-conditions

Qatari women with their children and housemaid strolling in Doha. Photograph: Stock Connection/REX Stock Connection/REX/Stock Connection/REX
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/feb/26/qatar-foreign-workers-slave-conditions

NER, by Hugh Fitzgerald:

When little Lebanon arrested the cousin of Qatar’s foreign minister for his links to Muslim terrorists, even littler Qatar managed to exert pressure — in Qatar’s case, that means money – to get him freed. Little Qatar, a slave-state where fewer than 200,000 shiftless Qataris are waited on, hand and foot, by  ten times as many wage-slaves (Qatar, the little sheiklet which rolls its foreign and domestic policies into one, and at home or abroad treats all foreigners as domestics), and if you are merely a worker, from Nepal, or India, you may well lose your life –hundreds have — as you endure the hideous working conditions, the slave-quarters, the heat, of indescribably nasty, vicious, brutal Qatar.

Qatar, which helped to persuade Sarkozy (Qatari money is all over Paris) to intervene in Libya, and he got the enthusiastic Cameron to join in this great crusade, and together they persuaded mighty America to help with its planes, and soon enough Qatar not only saw Qaddafy fall, but achieved its larger aim, of seeing fanatical Muslims (the kind the Western press, confused, calls “Islamists”), and the results in Libya are there for all to see. Qatar suppored Hamas to the hilt, providing a base for Khaled Meshaal and plenty of money for weapons. In Syria, Qatar supports with money — which means weapons — the Al-Nusra Front, that is Al Qaeda. What is it that Qatar does for the West? Nothing. Of course if you are an estate agent in Paris or Londonn, you may find the Qataris wonderful fellows. If you sell weapons, you won’t find a thing wrong with them. If you are one of the journalists employed by Al Jazeera, in the English-language “mild” version intended to spread Qatari, Arab, and Muslim propaganda, by slow degrees, putting the poison slowly into the system, you will stoutly assert that all these suspicions and charges are false, that Al Jazeera is run by people who are truly not under strict Qatari control  and publishes all kinds of pieces (as long as the Jihad against Israel is pushed, and those Westerners alarmed about Islam are mocked, and Qatari rulers and the slave-state of Qatar off-limits).

Now why do the Americans and other Western states not put pressure on Qatar? No visas for the Al-Thani to send their children to diploma mills in Boston, no more buying up of historic mansions in Paris into which elevators, and gyms, and ten-car garages are promptly put by their Qatari owners, no more shopping-sprees and season tickets to Madame-Claude-like brothels. And no more Al Jazeera, the pride and joy of Qatar, by  shutting it down, here and there and everywhere. Why let Qatar continue to get away with what it has been getting away with, which is to say, everything?

Qatar Said To Run A Covert Training Camp For Syrian Rebels With U.S. Help

Soldiers walk at a Turkish military outpost overlooking the Syrian city of Kobani, on a hilltop outside Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

Soldiers walk at a Turkish military outpost overlooking the Syrian city of Kobani, on a hilltop outside Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

Huffington Post, By Amena Bakr, 11/26/2014

DOHA, Nov 26 (Reuters) – At a desert base, Gulf state Qatar is covertly training moderate Syrian rebels with U.S. help to fight both President Bashar al-Assad and Islamic State and may include more overtly Islamist insurgent groups, sources close to the matter say.

The camp, south of the capital between Saudi Arabia’s border and Al Udeid, the largest U.S. air base in the Middle East, is being used to train the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other moderate rebels, the sources said.

Reuters could not independently identify the participants in the program or witness activity inside the base, which lies in a military zone guarded by Qatari special forces and marked on signposts as a restricted area.

But Syrian rebel sources said training in Qatar has included rebels affiliated to the “Free Syrian Army” from northern Syria.

The sources said the effort had been running for nearly a year, although it was too small to have a significant impact on the battlefield, and some rebels complained of not being taught advanced techniques.

The training is in line with Qatar’s self-image as a champion of Arab Spring uprisings and Doha has made no secret of its hatred of Assad.

Small groups of 12 to 20 fighters are identified in Syria and screened by the Central Intelligence Agency, the sources said.

Once cleared of links with “terrorist” factions, they travel to Turkey and are then flown to Doha and driven to the base.

GROUND FORCE

“The U.S. wanted to help the rebels oust Assad but didn’t want to be open about their support, so to have rebels trained in Qatar is a good idea, the problem is the scale is too small,” said a Western source in Doha.

The CIA declined to comment, as did Qatar’s foreign ministry and an FSA spokesman in Turkey.

It is not clear whether the Qatari program is coordinated with a strategy of Western and Gulf countries to turn disparate non-Islamist rebel groups into a force to combat the militants.

Such efforts have been hampered by Western hesitancy about providing significant military aid, because it could end up with extremists. Gulf states dislike the West’s emphasis on fighting Islamic State. Assad is the bigger problem, they say.

“Moderate rebels from the FSA and other groups have been flown in to get trained in things like ambush techniques,” said a source close to the Qatari government who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic.

“The training would last a few months, maybe two or three, and then a new group would be flown in, but no lethal weapons were supplied to them,” one of the sources said.

SCREENING PROCESS

As the war against Assad has dragged on, frustrated rebels asked their trainers for more advanced techniques, such as building improvised explosive devices (IEDs), requests which were always denied.

“They complain a lot and say that going back they need more weapons or more training in IEDs but that’s not something that’s given to them,” said a Qatar-based defense source.

The Qatar project was conceived before the declaration of the hardline Islamic State, when militants belonging to its predecessor organization were not regarded as an international security threat.

The group’s rise in Syria and Iraq has hampered the rebellion: Moderate groups cannot fight Assad when the better-armed Islamic State seeks their destruction as it strives to build its “caliphate.”

In recent weeks, the Qataris, disappointed by lack of progress in the fight against Assad, have started to consider training members of the Islamic Front, a coalition of Islamist rebels less militant than Islamic State or the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, but stronger than the FSA.

None have been trained as yet, but Qatar has sought to identify candidates, the sources say.

Some analysts say screening Islamic Front fighters would be harder than FSA rebels, since some Islamists have switched between various groups.

ISLAMIST NETWORK

Training fighters from Islamic groups could displease fellow Gulf state the United Arab Emirates, which dislikes Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood’s international Islamist network.

But Saudi Arabia, which shares the UAE’s mistrust of the Brotherhood, is more indulgent of moderate Islamist forces when it comes to fighting Assad, diplomats say.

Asked about the Qatari training, a Saudi defense source said: “We are not aware of this training camp, but there’s one thing we agree on: Assad needs to go and we would not oppose any action taken towards that goal.”

To Qatar, ousting Assad remains a priority and youthful Emir Sheik Tamim has said that military efforts to tackle Islamic State will not work while the Syrian president remains in power.

A source who works with rebel groups said Qatar had delivered weapons, mostly mortar bombs, to the Islamic Front and some FSA brigades about two months ago and had paid some salaries for Islamic Front groups.

(Additional reporting by Dasha Afanasieva in Istanbul and Phil Stewart in Washington; Editing by William Maclean and Giles Elgood)

Obama Admin Wants Hamas Ally Qatar to Remain Chief Broker in Peace Process

Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh / AP

Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh / AP

Washington Free Beacon, By Adam Kredo, December 1, 2014:

The Obama administration is pressing for the Qatari government to remain a chief broker in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process despite the country’s longstanding financial support for the terror group Hamas, according to recent correspondence from the State Department to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Qatar—which has come under harsh criticism by lawmakers in recent months due to its longtime financial support for Hamas—has promised the Obama administration that it will not allow the terror group to benefit from a new $150 million cash infusion that is meant to go toward reconstruction efforts in the Gaza Strip, according to the letter.

The Obama administration will maintain its close ties with Qatar and push for it to have a key role in the tenuous peace process, despite protestations from lawmakers on Capitol Hill who say that the country cannot be trusted due to its close ties to Hamas, according to the letter sent by State Department officials late last month to Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.).

Although Qatar has pledged in past years to give Hamas at least $400 million in aid, it has assured the United States that the next $150 million sent to the Palestinians will not make its way to the terror group.

“Qatar has pledged financial support that would be directed to the Palestinian people in Gaza,” Julia Frifield, an assistant secretary for legislative affairs at the State Department, informed Roskam in a Nov. 21 letter. “Qatar assured us that its assistance would not go to Hamas. We continue to interact closely with the government of Qatar and will reinforce that such assistance should not go to Hamas.”

The Obama administration in turn will continue to rely on Qatar to serve a role in the peace process and to engage with Hamas, according to the letter.

“Qatar has said it wants to help bring about a cease fire to the ongoing hostilities in Israel and Gaza,” the letter states. “The Qatari government has engaged with Hamas to this end.”

While the United States still regards Hamas as a terrorist organization, “We need countries that have leverage over the leaders of Hamas to help put a ceasefire in place,” Frifield wrote. “Qatar may be able to play that role as it has done in the past.”

Lawmakers and experts remain dubious that Qatar can be taken at its word given its robust support for Hamas in the past.

“It’s an indisputable fact that Qatar has become the chief sponsor of Hamas—an internationally recognized terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel,” Roskam said earlier this year after he petitioned the administration to reassess its close ties to Qatar.

“With Qatar’s financial backing, Hamas continues to indiscriminately launch thousands of rockets at our ally Israel,” Roskam said. “The Obama administration must explain its working partnership with a country that so brazenly funds terrorism right before our eyes, even going so far as turning to Qatar to help broker a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.”

The administration cannot blindly trust Qatar to cut its close ties with Hamas, said one senior congressional aide who works on the issue.

“It appears the administration is willing to take Qatar for its word on funding some of the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations, and the notion that Qatar can simultaneously fund Hamas and help broker and Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty is laughable,” the source said. “Congress is intent on holding the Qataris responsible for their illegal behavior and send a message that under no circumstances should the United States tolerate such brazen support for terrorism.”

The State Department maintains that Qatar shares President Obama’s views about the Middle East peace process.

“Qatar has welcomed President Obama’s commitment to a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and shares the view that such a solution would advance security, prosperity, and stability in the Middle East,” the letter states.

In addition to its role in the peace process, the administration believes that Qatar can help in the international fight against terrorism and groups such as the Islamic State (IS).

“We remain strongly committed to working with Qatar to confront ongoing terrorist financing and advance our shared regional goals,” the State Department told Roskam, noting that more than 8,500 U.S. troops are housed at the country’s Al Udeid Air Base.

“We also have a productive relationship with Qatar on key regional issues ranging from Syria to Iran,” the State Department wrote.