Qatar accused of channeling millions to terrorists in Syria

The allegation is that there was a conspiracy organised “by high-ranking members of the Qatari ruling elite” to “actively support and facilitate” al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists in the Syrian civil war.
Wednesday 09/06/2021
A 2015 file photo shows a fighter from Syria’s al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front holding his group flag as he stands in front of the governor building in Idlib province, north Syria. (AP)
A 2015 file photo shows a fighter from Syria’s al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front holding his group flag as he stands in front of the governor building in Idlib province, north Syria. (AP)

LONDON--Qatar is trying to stop a London court case into allegations that the emirate funnelled hundreds of millions of dollars to al-Nusra Front terrorists in Syria.

It has been alleged in the High Court that the emir’s private office was the centre of a secret web that fed money to the al-Qaeda-linked terrorists.  In 2019, nine Syrians, currently living in the Netherlands and unnamed, lodged a claim for damages against leading politicians, civil servants, two Qatari banks and wealthy businessmen and several charities.

The lawsuit accuses the Qatari businessmen of using their Qatari bank accounts to allow money to be withdrawn in Turkey and Lebanon and then carried over the border to Syria for the Nusra Front.

The allegation is that there was a conspiracy organised “by high-ranking members of the Qatari ruling elite” to “actively support and facilitate” al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists in the Syrian civil war.

It is being claimed  that money was laundered for terrorism via significantly over-priced construction contracts, the purchase of property at inflated prices and overpayments to Syrian migrant workers. The claim also alleges this clandestine funding operation was carried out with the Muslim Brotherhood who had meetings in Turkey with prominent Qatari individuals and representatives of jihadist groups operating in Syria.

All defendants have refuted the claims vigorously and some of those accused have said they are victims of a state-orchestrated campaign to damage Qatar’s international reputation.

At the moment the High Court in London is still deciding whether it actually has jurisdiction in the case. Lawyers for Qatar argue that since the plaintiffs, now reduced to eight, along with all the other parties have no links to the UK,  there are no grounds for the case to be heard there. The plaintiffs should have launched their action in the courts in Qatar.

The court also directed the claimants to limit their evidence at the next hearing, scheduled for November, to alleged attempts by Qatar to interfere with the proceedings. Lawyers for the refugees had claimed they had evidence of bribery and intimidation by agents of the Middle East state.