In fighting terrorism, we often see that suicide bombings, drone strikes, and raids on safe houses command the most attention. Some of the most important work, however, occurs behind the scenes. And those are the efforts to choke off the money financing terror globally.
Rarely do such efforts make headlines, but one newsworthy and notable exception has been recent actions by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt to force Qatar to cut off its support of terror networks.
Qatar is a small, but extremely wealthy nation in the Persian Gulf. It has the highest per capita income in the world, earning vast sums of money from the sale of natural gas from its fields. For years, it has channeled sizeable portions of those proceeds into support for terror kingpins around the Mideast.
Now, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, the Maldives, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen have all broken diplomatic ties with Qatar, demanding it cease its support for extremism and terrorism. The Qataris may wish to pretend otherwise, but the accusations being leveled are legitimate.
Hamas is the ruling terror party in the Gaza Strip. Its openly avowed objective is the elimination of Israel. The group uses rockets, missiles, and suicide attacks in a sustained terrorist offensive directed at Israeli citizens. Qatar has been providing financial support to Hamas since at least 2008. It has repeatedly delivered sums in the hundreds of millions of dollars to Hamas, currently allowing the former leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal to live on its soil.
The Muslim Brotherhood is an international extremist organization with a harsh ideology not much less severe than al-Qaida. It is in many ways the father of most of today’s Islamic terrorist groups, dating back to 1920s Egypt. It has been designated as a terrorist group by several Middle Eastern nations — a concept that’s also been floated in Congress within the past several years, one that the Obama administration successfully resisted.
During Muhammed Morsi’s term as President in Egypt, Qatar gave the Brotherhood $7.5 billion. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a senior Brotherhood cleric, currently lives in Qatar with the permission of its government. He is being actively sought by a number of Western nations for outstanding arrest warrants.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is the most dangerous branch of the organization whose attack on the United States began the so-called war on terror.
Qatar has been shown to have donated funds to rebuild a Yemeni mosque on behalf of a known AQAP financier. Qatar has also made millions of dollars in ransom payments to AQAP. Those payments have been proven to have been used by AQAP to expand its network and finance attacks.
The Al-Nusra Front is a terror group active in Syria and a spin-off of al-Qaida. It has carried out suicide bombings, kidnappings and assassinations. In 2015, Qatari officials began meeting with Nusra leaders. Shortly thereafter the Qataris began to ship to Nusra weapons and supplies and to also bankroll the group. One payment alone totaled $100 million. Since 2015, Nusra officials have been allowed to raise funds openly inside Qatar.
Qatar also has extremely close ties with Iran, the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism. High level meetings between Iranian and Qatari officials are frequent. Qatar has been accused by both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia of supporting and encouraging Iran-backed militants on their soil.
It's critical to success in the war against Radical Islamic extremism that Qatar bring its behavior in line with international norms. It has taken decades of painstaking work to get to this point, as nation by nation, the Mideast has recognized the necessity to cut off the financial lifeblood for terrorism and radical ideology. We have come too far to stop now.
Not only must the nations currently faced off with Qatar demonstrate resolve, but the U.S. must offer them every encouragement and every possible degree of support. We have troops and installations on Qatari soil. Moving them will be costly.
Nothing will be as costly, however, as backing off and looking the other way, while millions of dollars in support go to murderers and fanatics. We can build other bases elsewhere if need be, but Qatar must change course.
Charles "Sam" Faddis is a Veteran, retired CIA operations officer, Assistant Attorney general (Wash.) and published author. With degrees from The Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland Law School, he is a Senior Contributing Editor for Homeland Security Today, contributor to sofrep.com, Newsmax, and The Hill among others. He regularly appears on many networks as a national security and counter-terrorism expert. Sam is the author of "Beyond Repair: The Decline And Fall Of The CIA" and "Willful Neglect: The Dangerous Illusion Of Homeland Security. "To read more of his reports, Click Here Now.
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