CAIRO: “If there’s real will to defeat terrorism before it arrives to Egyptian territory in a clear and intensified fashion, there should be preemptive strikes against those who aid the terrorists……I specifically mean the Qatari airplanes that aid them through Sudan.”
Deputy Head of Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies Amr Hashem Rabie, speaking on the Al Jazeera network on Monday following the release of a video confirming the mass murder of 21 Egyptians in Libya, was promptly cut off from speaking in his interview and removed from the air of the Qatari-owned network.
Tensions between the Qatari-owned network and Cairo are nothing new; since the July 2013 ouster of Mohamed Morsi, Al Jazeera has been seen as a mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood and an apologist for other Islamicist governments.
A number of Western and Arab governments have issued restrictions and rulings against high-ranking Qatari officials over allegations of funneling money to terrorist organizations, including the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. A number of these officials, however, continue to find protection under Doha.
Libya has been in a free-fall into a security vacuum over the past year; in January 2014 five Egyptian embassy employees were kidnapped and then released. Tripoli, the former capital, has now fallen to the so-called National Salvation government, and most other territories are under the control of Islamist militias “supplied with weapons by sympathetic countries such as Qatar,” said Alan J. Kuperman in an article for the March/April 2015 issue of Foreign Affairs.
In September, Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni accused Qatar of sending three military planes loaded with weapons to Tripoli, which is controlled by an armed opposition group. He also accused Sudan of facilitating the Qatari efforts to reinforce gunmen in the country. According to the U.S. treasury site, Qatari citizen Abdel Rahman bin Umar al-Nuami is responsible for sending at $600,000 to al-Qaeda representatives in Syria in 2013, and had also facilitated the transfer of more than $2 million to al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq. In mid-2012, he also provided $250,000 to leaders in Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab. The Telegraph reported in November 2014 that Nuami, a former president of the Qatar Football Association, who is reportedly “well-connected to the ruling elite,” continues to live “with impunity” in Qatar.
“It’s deeply concerning that these individuals, where sufficient evidence is in place to justify their inclusion on the US sanctions list, continue to be free to undertake their business dealings,” said Stephen Barclay, the Conservative MP for North East Cambridgeshire, told The Telegraph in September 2014.
In October, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani visited 10 Downing Street to meet with Prime Minister David Cameron for lunch to discuss the fight against militant Islamic groups, the Telegraph reported. Although Qatari bases are used by coalition forces to assist the Free Syrian Army in the fight against the IS group in Syria, damning evidence exists that their coffers are being filled by the same state that purports to fight them.
“Give your money to the ones who will spend it on jihad, not aid,” stated Sheikh Hajaj al-Ajmi, one of six listed by the American government as a fund-raiser for Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the New York Times reported in September 2014.
A Lebanese court convicted the cousin of Qatar’s foreign minister of funding international terrorism in absentia in late 2014; Abdulaziz bin Khalifa al-Attiyah was initially detained in Lebanon after American and British intelligence tipped off authorities, but was able to leave after diplomatic pressure from Doha, the Telegraph reported in November 2014.
The international response to the murder of the 21 Egyptian Copts is still in its infancy, with Cairo calling on the United Nations Security Council to issue a resolution authorizing use of force against the Islamic State. Qatar’s role in the coalition remains to be seen.
Since the death of Saudi King Abdullah, reconciliation between Egypt and Qatar had been in cautious beginning stages; Anwar Eshki, chairman of the Jeddah-based Centre for Strategic and Legal Studies, said efforts are continuing under the new regime, the Daily Mail reported last week. If Qatar continues to be suspected as a sponsor of militias responsible for Egyptian deaths, however, any improvement seems unlikely.