Qatari terror list met with scepticism by Saudi-led quartet

Many of those who have sought refuge in Qatar are wanted in Egypt and, in some cases, have already been convicted in absentia.
Sunday 01/04/2018
A member of the Saudi Royal Guard stands on duty inside the hall where the first meeting of the defence ministers of the 41-member Saudi-led Muslim counter-terrorism alliance took place in Riyadh, last November. (AFP)
Vigilant neighbours. A member of the Saudi Royal Guard stands on duty inside the hall where the first meeting of the defence ministers of the 41-member Saudi-led Muslim counter-terrorism alliance took place in Riyadh, last November. (AFP)

CAIRO - Qatar’s issuance of a terror list of 19 individuals and eight entities has done little to impress decision-makers in the Saudi-led Arab Quartet, which cut off diplomatic and trade ties with Doha over allegations of supporting militant groups.

The Qatari list, analysts said, was an attempt by Doha to convince the Trump administration that Qatar is serious about combating terrorism. “The truth, however, is that Qatar has a very long way to go to prove that it is fulfilling the demands of the anti-terror quartet,” said Emirati writer Jasim Khalfan.

The Quartet — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — accuses Qatar of financing extremist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood. The four countries sought to combat what they view as Qatar’s destabilising policies in the Arab region by withdrawing their ambassadors from Doha and cutting off diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar.

The Quartet sent Qatari authorities a list of demands, including suspending media attacks against them, to be met before relations could normalise. They later sent a list of 59 individuals and 12 institutions that allegedly financed terrorism and received support from Qatar.

Doha accused the four countries of seeking to isolate Qatar based on political, not security, concerns.

Qatar’s terror list includes ten people mentioned in the list of 59 issued by the Quartet. Among the most prominent names on the list is Abdul Rahman al-Nuaimi, a Qatari human rights advocate, who has been designated a terrorist by the United States and the United Nations for allegedly providing financial support to terrorist organisations.

The list includes 11 other Qatari nationals, four Egyptian, two Saudi and two Jordanian nationals. It includes six entities from Qatar, the branch of the Islamic State in Sinai and Al Ihsan Charitable Society, which is active in Yemen.

Qatar’s release of the list comes ahead of an Arab League meeting scheduled for this month in Riyadh and before US President Donald Trump is to meet with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz met with Trump in mid-March and discussed the standoff over Qatar’s alleged sponsorship of terrorism.

The Quartet has not officially reacted to the Qatari list but UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the list proved the Quartet’s position.

“Qatar confirms the evidence against it and that its support for extremism and terrorism is the core of its crisis,” Gargash wrote on Twitter.

Questions have been raised about the seriousness of the Qatari list after it was revealed that one of the figures on the list, Mubarak al-Ajii, participated in the government-sponsored Doha triathlon. Ajii has been identified by the US Treasury as an associate of Hajjaj al-Ajmi, a known financier of Jabhat al-Nusra, which had been an al-Qaeda affiliate.

To prove it is serious about joining in the fight against terrorism, analysts said, Qatar needs to take several measures, including those specified in the Quartet’s list last June.

Qatar has become a haven for Islamists, including Egyptian leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Many of those who have sought refuge in Qatar are wanted in Egypt and, in some cases, have already been convicted in absentia. Cairo says Muslim Brotherhood leaders hiding in Qatar are destabilising Egypt by financing terrorist attacks and inciting members of their movement to break the law.

Qatar allegedly finances militant activities in Arab countries by sponsoring charities that are thought to be covers for terrorists, analysts said.

“Many of the Qatari-funded charities and organisations are nothing more than fronts for huge terrorist networks that are active everywhere in the world,” said Saudi political analyst Ibrahim Nazir. “This funding must come to an end for terrorism to stop.”

The anti-terror quartet has specified the role being played by Qatar’s media in spreading fake news and fomenting unrest.

The Qatari news channel Al Jazeera has been criticised for its reporting in several Arab countries, including on the Saudi-led campaign against the Houthi insurgency and Iran’s expanding role in Yemen.

Al Jazeera has turned into a platform for Islamists encouraging unrest in Egypt, experts said.

“This, too, must stop if Qatar really wants to convince us that it is acting against terrorism,” said Kamal Habib, an Egyptian specialist in political Islam. “Doha cannot keep offering support to the terrorists and giving them a platform from which they vent their venom and then claim that it is serious about fighting terrorism.”

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